I really don’t know why I am sharing this, maybe because it happened to me and I want to know whether anyone else has faced a similar situation; or maybe because I could not sleep soundly last night as I was disturbed by the incident. I had heard somewhere that ‘if you have a problem, just write it down and it will help you get through it’. So here goes nothing….
It was Sunday morning and we all know what that means for people who work in the corporate sector. I was happy. This Sunday was special as I was going to meet someone special. I was going to meet my girlfriend. We had been dating for a year. I woke up and made my breakfast. Then what? Need to choose my outfit for the day. I was very confused but after spending a whole hour looking at options, I finally decided to wear something formal and classy. I took a shower, dressed and left the room.
We had planned to meet at Fancy Bazaar as she had some work there. I got a cab and reached at around 11:30 am. I called her and she told me that it will take another 15 minutes. I waited. I was standing at the bus stop, opposite to the Fancy Bazaar road as she was coming from Guwahati University. It would be easy for us to meet there. It was hot, so after a few minutes I decided to go to the park and wait there under the shade of a tree. I was facing the river. My earphones were on, in low volume.
‘The water level has decreased by now,’ an unfamiliar voice said. I unplugged my earphones.
I turned back and said, ‘What?’
The man said, ‘The water level has decreased by now. If you jump, you won’t die.’
I looked at him in confusion, ‘Why would I jump?’
He shrugged, ‘No. I was just saying that if anything goes wrong by the evening and you feel like jumping, it will be just a wasted attempt.’
I took a few steps back to avoid him. He took one step forward and asked, ‘What’s the time?’
I told him it was 11:45 am.
He said, ‘Time is moving too fast. Isn’t it?’
I nodded, ‘Yeah. It keeps changing and that’s why we respect it. Otherwise who’s going to care about it.’
He said, ‘That means if something or someone changes or if she changes for some reason, then you have the same respect for her?’
I was shocked, ‘Her?’
I checked the man from top to bottom. He was wearing a Khadims ‘chappal’, formal trousers and a formal shirt which hung loosely. He must have been around the age of 40-45. After having a conversation with him, I felt that either he is mentally sick or he may be a beggar. But whatever or whoever he may be, I just wanted to ignore him. I checked my watch. It was about to be 12.
While I was busy with my thoughts, suddenly the man called out. ‘What is your name?’
‘Akash Deka’ I lied because I do not trust anyone easily.
He then asked, ‘What are you doing? Studying?’
‘No, I work in a corporate office.’
He kept asking questions. ‘Why are you here? For some work?”
I shook my head. ‘No. it’s Sunday. I am here to meet someone.’
He said, “Please don’t mind. I was just seating here. Saw you were alone and so came to have a chat. Nothing else.’
‘It’s ok, Uncle. No problem.’
He asked, ‘So, you are from?’
I told him Six mile.
He said, ‘I often go there. Where in six mile?’
I said VIP road and then asked him, ‘By the way, you are from?’
He pointed towards the river, ‘North Guwahati. Can you see those hills and the temple?’
I nodded, ‘Ok. I have never been there. Hope to go someday.’
He said, ‘Yeah. You can go. It only takes 10 Rupees to reach there.’
Now he was really irritating me. I am not interested to know the fares. I just didn’t want to talk.
He again started asking questions, ‘So you are originally from?’
I told him that I was from Guwahati itself.
He next asked, ‘How many members in your family?’
I felt like I was applying for a passport. I replied in a low tone, ‘Me and my parents.’
He then said, ‘Oh. So you don’t have much people to talk to. But you can share with me.’
I turned and said, ‘Uncle, It’s ok. There is nothing wrong going on in my life. I have nothing to share.’
He then added, ‘You never know. Time changes. Isn’t It? What if the girl you are waiting for does not come? What if this meeting for which you have been waiting for a long time becomes the last one?’
I asked, ‘What are you talking about?’ He didn’t reply so I asked him about his family. He replied, ‘It is just me my sister and parents.’
‘And your wife?’
He said, ‘She is missing. I am still looking for her.’
Just then my phone rang and it was her. ‘I am waiting opposite the LIC building. Come fast,’ she said.
I replied, ‘Yes. I am coming. See you in 2 minutes.’
I then turned to the man, ‘Ok uncle, I need to go. Pleasure talking to you. See you.’
He then asked, ‘Where will we meet again?’
I was a bit puzzled, ‘What?’
He then said, ‘You just said see you’.
I then replied, ‘Definitely. Just like today. Someday somewhere sometime.Till then. Bye.’
He then asked for my number and I knew that he would not let me leave without it so I saved it on his iPhone. I was about to save the number under my original name but thankfully I didn’t do that and saved it as ‘Akash Deka’.
I then asked, ‘By the way what was your name? I forgot.’ He told his full name but I remember only his surname which was Hazarika.
As I was leaving, he said, ‘Don’t forget, you told me that you respect time just because it changes.’
I nodded and he added, ‘Apply the same with people too. Respect if someone changes. Resect their decision okay?’
I nodded. He then asked, ‘Will you come back to this place again?’ I shook my head and then he shared, ‘You can change your decision any time.’
I bid farewell and went to meet her. I reached within a minute and there she was. I was awestruck by her beauty. We talked for an hour and then went shopping. After that, we went to ‘Food Villa’ to grab a bite to eat. We were enjoying our meal when she suddenly spoke up, ‘Hey listen. I need to tell you something. I think… it’s not going to work anymore. I mean to say that…our relationship is not going to work anymore. I feel that we are good as friends but not as a couple!’
I was dumbstruck, ‘What? What’s wrong?’
She continued, ‘I think…things have changed. I feel like I am a changed person now. I like your company but when it comes to love, I don’t feel anything. So, I think it’s time we break up.’
I was speechless. The strange man and his words were resounding in my mind. Eventually I calmed down and replied, ‘Yeah, cool. If you have decided then it’s fine with me.’
She said, ‘I knew that you are the only person who knows me well and I was sure that you will respect my decision and you will accept my changes without holding any grudges.’
I asked, ‘So, it’s over here! Isn’t it?’
She nodded, ‘Yes, I guess.’
I had one last questions for her. ‘Don’t take it the wrong way but is there anyone else in your life?’
She shook her head, ‘No. No one else.’
I dropped her at Jalukbari then I took the bus. Seating near the window, I was recalling what happened that day and was trying to analyse everything. I was not worried about the break up. She didn’t feel the same as before so she broke up. I tried to convince myself but failed. Even then I knew that I will gradually overcome it.
But how is it possible that someone can predict my future? The way he was saying everything, it seemed as if he knew everything beforehand. Lots of things were going through my mind but I have no answers. I was trapped within a labyrinth which had no end.
Then suddenly, I decided to meet that man again. I got down off the bus at Fancy Bazaar. I went to the park and searched for him but he was nowhere to be found. I enquired about him but nobody knew about his whereabouts. I was searching for him there till about 8 pm after which I came back to home. I was sad because of the break up but I was more in shock. I had a lot of questions. Who was that man? How could he predict my future?
Suddenly I remembered that he gave me his number. I called him up but it was switched off! I called many time but it was of no use as the number was always switched off.
The incident left me confused and all the questions are still unanswered. Hope someday, somewhere, sometime, I will see you again, Mr stranger!
By Deep Talukdar