Sunday, June 24, 2007

Life Happens....


I felt as if I have seen him before… I noticed once again the big stuck out ears...the faintly familiar round face ....and I saw him watching me with an expression that said...'Havent I seen you somewhere..?'
In next few minutes the mystery was solved and I surprised him and myself too, by taking his pet name, ‘Nickel.'
‘You have the memory of an elephant.’ He commented, with wide eyes.
Nickel (I will call him by his pet name) was the bully at school whom I had frequently wished ill upon at one time. My desk used to be in front of his desk, and he would trouble me by pulling the chair just when I was about to sit, stick chewing gum on my hair stealthily, and steal my lunch box. He would perpetually tease me by calling me, ‘Palm Tree’ as I was tallest amongst all the girls and the skinniest too.
I had almost started to dread going to school because of him. My friends use to suggest me to tease him back for his big, stuck out ears and take my revenge; but I was so intimidated by him that I would just suffer silently. My nights would be full of fantasies about Nickel breaking his arms, legs, being rusticated from school or even dying. When he left school in the seventh grade, as his father got a transfer to another city, I remember feeling extremely happy....
As we drank our tea I told him all this and when he laughed I noticed a wariness in him, a kind of resignation that seemed so incongruous in Nickel ‘the big bully.’ He had once made me sharpen his pencil to the perfect point and had then poked it in my arm telling me that I need an injection to get some flesh on my body. I reminded him as we reminisced.
‘Ooops...I was bad!’ he said with a faint bitterness, a shadow crossing his eyes that used to sparkle with mischief as a twelve year old boy , and have now dulled and drooped with fatigue…or some hidden pain? Perhaps…
Instinctively I changed the topic, and we talked about our work, family and this continued until our plane landed at our destination...
All this while I did not ask for his number, nor did he mine, and when we parted near the conveyar belt, it was on the note of a silent agreement that we had no plans of seeing each other again ,unless perhaps we bump once again in between some journeys.
Nickel told me about his bitter marriage with a dominating woman who stole his confidence, and his belief in happiness, when she left him for another man. He loved her ‘too much’ he said, and perhaps that made him a vulnerable putty in her hands. ‘I wish she comes back to me ...’ he had spoken in one of his unguarded moments and had immediately looked away at the smoggy sky outside the window of the aircraft, not turning his head for a long time.
Life…I thought…it can be so cruel to the toughest amongst us all. I felt sad for Nickel . He was going through the most painful waiting in his life. Nothing is more ‘unrevivable’ (I know there is no such word, and it drives the point too) as a Dead Love…!
I realised that no matter what he did to me in school…I could never have wished such a suffering on him...