Is it possible to fall in love when you have once been stung and hurt once in a love gone bad?
This is a question which Surya had pondered many times over. The answer always eluded him.
It all happened when he was into the second year of his engineering education. The first year was particularly good to him. He had scored high in almost all subjects. His parents, like other Indian parents, were all for rewarding good academic performance and so at the age of 19, Surya was a proud owner of a 100cc motorbike.
Life seemed full of promise and he flitted through it like a bird in favorable wind. At times he would tarry and think about his life, but since nothing was amiss, he would dismiss such thoughts as quickly as they appeared. He did not know that all of it would change in a while.
Surya had found a true comrade, in Thushar. They were classmates and had met during the interactions of senior students with juniors. Such interactions were fondly called as Personality Development Programs (PDP). Thushar was a matter-of-fact person who answered the seniors' questions boldly and he had to face a lot of heat. Surya realized that having such a person around would help him to pass unnoticed below the radar and draw away the attention of seniors and so he be-friended Thushar.
The friendship which had its beginning under such dubious circumstances, flourished and before long, they were bosom friends.
It was into this perfect little world of Surya, that she unknowingly stumbled in.
He met her on a wet and chilly morning of August. Surya enjoyed riding his bike when it drizzled. He felt the small droplets of rain, falling from the sky with wanton freedom, finally settling on him, caressing and comforting him and as always it made him think of God. Even though he was brought up in a very conservative family, his thoughts about God and his spiritual inclination were very liberal. He refused to indulge in the idea of a God who punishes people who do not worship him and showers blessings on those who praise Him. Whenever his parents tried to make him pray by threatening him about the wrath of God, he pictured his high school headmaster stooping down with a cane in his hand. But, invariably whenever it rained, Surya felt an overwhelming sensation of loneliness. In those hours of solitude, he felt an inexplicable presence which made him happy and sad, all at once.
Surya parked his bike and entered the academic block of his college. Students and teachers were walking in from all directions. She walked past him and she was dripping wet after running in the rain without an umbrella. She brushed her wet hair from her face and Surya was rooted to the ground. She looked around with a troubled expression on her face probably because her clothes were dripping water all over the floor and her books, which she hugged close to her body as if to protect them from some unspeakable evil, were also soggy from the rain. But Surya did not notice any of this. He was looking at her eyes. Here was an object upon which he could write poems upon poems and still not do justice to its beauty. Her hazel-brown eyes sparkled with a spirit that refused to be dampened even by the rain that had soaked her to her very skin. When her eyes met his, he felt that his soul had left him to embark upon a journey, never to return to him. It is uncertain whether she felt any such sensations because she gave him a quizzical look, as if to ask, "What are you looking at?" and hurried along to her classroom.
Surya could not move from where he was standing for a while. He was trying hard to remember those eyes and imprint them in his memory. It was more like trying to remember an elusive tune of music; the moment you feel that you have found it, it slips past and plays hide-and-seek with you. Somebody went past him and said, "Hi Surya". He came out of his reverie and realized that the vague memory of those eyes would haunt him. His life had taken a different turn at that very moment.
[To be continued]