Dying Embers

Last week, one of my school friends asked if I wanted to join him and a few other old friends for lunch today. I was thrilled –it would be the first time in years that I would be meeting some of them. I told Sreeram that I was going and he was disappointed because we had previously made movie plans.

I told him that I did not want him to drop me off or pick me up or come in to say hi to my friends. I told him that it would be just like the old times when I was the tomboy and the butt of many jokes and that he would feel out of place. I told him that it would feel the same as it had during my school days, before I grew up, before I got married. It would make me feel absurdly young again, I told him. Shaking his head, he replied, “It will never be the same again…” I was justifiably mad at him and was sure in my heart that everything would be the same.

The friend who had invited me added the 5 of us to a group chat on FB to discuss the outing. He suggested plans and times and places. I replied enthusiastically. No one else did, though. A few did not bother to participate in the discussion. One was flippant. Another was obviously uninterested. One showed some inclination to join in but said that he had made plans to watch the German GP and couldn’t stay long. Until yesterday night, no definite plans were made. The so-called conversation petered down into nothing.

I did not tell Sreeram anything. I didn’t have to. It was of course too late by then to renew our movie plans. So we went for our customary Sunday morning walk. He cooked lunch while I browsed FB.

A girl who I had been to college with pinged me on FB chat. I had never spoken to her in 4 years of college life and another 3 years have gone by after our graduation. But I desperately wanted to feel connected to someone from my past. So I replied to her ‘Hi’. I asked her where she was and she told me. She was working for a famous MNC and I said that was awesome. Then she said, “KK, Bye” and signed out.

In retrospect, I think she may have mistaken me for another classmate who bore my name but was much friendlier and had signed out when she realized the mistake.

I think I had a few last vestiges of …. left (Hope? Longing? Faith?). I pinged an old college friend. We exchanged perfunctory pleasantries. There was silence for more than a few minutes. I wracked my brains for something to say. I asked him if he had seen The Dark Knight Rising. He said he didn’t have any company to go and watch movies with. I asked him if he had considered transferring back to his old location. He said that he had no good friends there either. Again, silence. I thought a forthright statement might help. I told him,

“Wow, we even seem to have run out of small talk.”

He was quick to laugh and deny it. He asked me how I was. I told him that he had already asked me twice and that I had told him I was doing very well. He then very kindly asked after my husband. I told him Sreeram was well too.

Then I signed out.

I don’t have much breath, I think, to try and coax these dying embers to come to life. And no more inclination left either.

Let me try and salvage what is left of this Sunday.


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