Thursday, December 25, 2008

Illini Union

A part of this piece was by Vikram. This is so purely fictional...

As I woke up that morning, I still could feel the pain in my back. It was chronic I thought. After a darkness of 25 years it could have been refreshing, especially when the morning was white outside. But I could not know that it was long 25 years. She looked extremely happy as she gave me some yellow pills. Apparently she knows me since ever and she was 25. Her mother also worked in Elizabeth Health Centre. I tried to say something to her, but she gave me look as if to shut up and went outside the room. There was really old piece of paper, which was lying beside my bed, a 2008 old driving licence of Illinois and some credit cards. All of them said the same, my name was or is Amit. The cellphone lying was really old Samsung model and I thought I owned it at some point of time. May be I should call somebody or anybody, who I could. But it was broken!

That piece of paper read somethign like this...

"A regular hot chocolate and a muffin please", I said to the man, who looked like a part time student, working in the store at the first floor of the union. He didnt get me and gave a questioning look followed by a delayed "sorry". I repeated myself, though this time in a more crappy and faulty english. Thankfully he got me and responded with the ever popular "mm hmm". Actually I had come, leaving my work at the office, to eat some crap at McD. But the damn shop was closed and so were others in the food court down in the basement. As result, I was standing in the middle with a pineapple orange muffin in one hand and a hot C in the other looking for a better place to sit. My eyes took me to the back hall where cosy big sofas and royal comfortable chairs welcomed my ass. I walked and chose a chair in front of the 2 meter high window hoping that hot drinks and chicks would go along.
It was nice warm weather outside. The grass was greener than last time. But there werent many 'people' around and for sure my hot C was unhappy about that. From the position where I was, one couldnt miss a pair of oldies sitting in the open under the shed. But eyes dont see what they optically should, instead they choose to be slaves of your heart. I turned my head zero-one-eighty many a time to spot a chicky, only to find my blue jeans discolour themselves with the brown hot C spilled in the process. I was tired and before I could start thinking random, eyes were allowed the freedom to look at. The old man and woman. Sitting next to each other right in front of me oblivious to the presence of a black bearded, curious guy in blue jeans sipping hot C. They looked happy, I realised they were coupled and its a real long life they must have seen together. The lady had a bag on her lap to which she held tightly with one hand as if she feared it would fall. She wore sunglasses and bright pink coloured clothes. Every time she completed a thought she would gesture with the free hand hinting everything is just fine. The man was more mundane. Wearing a blue t-shirt and a blue jeans, a combo I never tried, he had his hands rest on the armrest and held his head high looking at the cement stripped green fields of the quad. Often he would notice people and their actions and speak to himself. They were both silent. Infact it didnt occur to me till then that there hasnt been a spoken word between them.
Sometimes the old man would point at things he found funny and nostalgic and the lady would confirm his thoughts with a smile. And again they would look together at the sky or may be at the tall foellinger, the taj of the campus, and share memories, good and bad. Perhaps, he was a professor and might have taught...I couldnt complete this thought as I caught myself eating the paper glass. The hot C is no more and I had no clue who drank it but me. So that was a dollar and 45 cents blown in air, though a frac of it still felt liquid in my blue jeans. I unwrapped the muffin and with the first bite decided to eat it slowly with full gratification.
Both were still silent. She took out a book from her bag and started reading, looking up every two seconds to appreciate the sunny day. He added to his set of discretised movements a every now and then smile at the various coloured faces which entered and exited the back door to the union. He was the more expressive of the two as he would make her smile very often with his frequent gestures at the happenings in the rich quad. Or is it not the question of expressing, if what you live for is a smile of your lady love. Sometimes he would take his hands to the back of his head and would allow himself a sigh of relief and sometimes he will try to see what she is reading. I dont know but I felt that they dont seem to be disturbed by the time which passed them invisible. Or at least they didnt care. And I think how much they loved silence was how much they loved each....I discovered that muffin met with the same fate as hot C and the sweet pineapple orange flavour was displaced with the need of tasteless water. As I stood up, the work at the office kicked my brain and for a moment I forgot why I stood up. Next instant I look out and see the couple and then for some 'blessed' reasons known best to God I decided I need a sleep.
Often the undergrads, who really are under pressure, are found snatching sleep at the Illini unoin from their busy schedules. And seriously I had no reasons and very important works behind me to sleep there. But very soon I found a nice long sofa and in a flash jumped on to it with my ass facing the roof. I usually sleep in a minute or so, but the story is different if you just had a regular hot C. It took me around ten minutes to fall asleep and that was only after my mind got sick and tired of the fast, random, out of the deepest blue thoughts which I thought for this to work. I thought of spiderman 2 which we had planned to watch the day after, about the extravagant shots I hit the other day, how easy it is to waste time, conversations I had with two other vagabonds, front cover of sports illustrated 2004 ohh...veronica, front cover of Griffiths I was just reading, snaps of messy work I have done...
It was a dreamless sleep. But what a sleep it was. I slept for 2 hours but it felt I havent slept like this for ages. I was fresh and clean. I knew clearly I have some work to do and I should be going now. With my new found synergy I stretched myself and started walking. I exited through the back door and the evening view welcomed me with a pleasent temperature. I was walking fast and as I turned around to see the people in the open, I saw them. An acute deceleration followed, the couple were still there. They didnt look at me. I thanked them. I felt that I will never see them again, how often do you see people second time in your life! I said byes and started walking. As I increased my pace going away from them I heard them saying silently to themselves: No byes Vikram kyonki yeh zindagi bahut lambi hai aur humare paas waqt bahut kam. I took the short cut through grass and smiled.


Vikram.. I thought my name was Amit. I could not tell if the handwriting was mine. If something like this happened with Vikram.. I thought I would wait and ask Melissa.

(to be continued..)