I was standing on the balcony, staring blankly at the crashing waves. The mug of hot coffee in my hand had already grown cold. I was running my fingers over my face, pushing back my wind whipped hair and brushing away my tears at the same time. My cheeks were turning dry before getting wet again. The salty breeze was trying hard to dry up droplets of tears. I bent myself to place the empty coffee mug on the floor and turned away slightly to avoid the strong winds. And that was the first time when I saw him.
He was silhouetted against the pink sky, tall, dark, alone and frozen. He was standing there on that rock, looking straight, staring into the deep ocean just like I had been staring a few minutes ago. The sky grew orange, then into deep rust. The ball of fire was slowly sinking into the black waters. He stood there a little longer till darkness sneeaked in and slowly, head bowed low, stepped off the rock and walked away leaving his footprints behind on the wet sand. My gaze followed him until he vanished behind a clump of bushes. I shut the balcony door and went back into the empty room.
I was healing or at-least, I was supposed to pretend to be healing. It’s peaceful now, being away from the sympathy and shared tears. My grief was mine and mine alone. I missed Manav every minute of the day, but at-least I didn’t have people telling me, what a wonderful person he was and what a shock it was to have loose him in just a moment. Like I didn’t know, like I didn’t feel. Those few weeks in this small seaside town was exactly what I needed. An escape from everyone who knew me. They were well wishers who wanted to share my sorrow, but their good intentions were slowly driving me towards insanity. I needed to get away and ended up here in a sea facing five star resort.
Aah..! I was hungry. I went down for dinner. The couple who were staying next to my suite were already there. They looked up with their moment of togetherness and smiled at me. The lady got up and called out to the waiter to attend me as I was sitting quite for more than quarter an hour. “I was a writer, on a break to write a book”; that’s what they thought. Probably that was what justified my odd behavior.
The next morning I was walking on the sand barefooted as the eastern sky grew light. I was picking up shells and then throwing them back on the beach like I used to do when Manav was with me. I was dogging my toes into the cool sand and breathing in the fresh air while I was walking . I felt presence of Manav with me. It was warm inside my heart. I could clearly sense my pain fading away. Suddenly, I remembered of him. I went up to the rock where I saw him last night. I could not shake away that picture from last evening. That was the first time I had seen him in these two weeks, but I instinctively felt some sort of bonding with him. I sat on the rock, staring into the sea until it became too warm to stay outside.
I read few books, swam and took small walks in the shady gardens for the rest of the day, just as I had been doing for the past two weeks. The isolation and the sea had soothed me. I forced myself not to think of Manav, his smile, his absence, his love and those terrible days in the hospital after that accident. I also shouldn’t have survived , but I did.. Why..! I asked to myself and suddenly started missing him terribly that I almost burst into tears again.
That evening , I walked out to the balcony for a while. Twilight was my favorite part of that moment. The sky was changing colours and the clouds were blushing. My eyes were scanning the sea, the sky, the sands… and stopped on that rock. He was there again. Standing straight, alert, staring at the waves. Waiting.
Every evening I wanted to walk up to the beach and go closer to him, but something stopped me. I didn’t want to intrude into whatever it was that brought him there every evening. So I just stood there at my balcony with a cup of neglected coffee, watching him dissolve into the darkness.
It was my last day at resort. I walked past the packed bags on the floor. That was the last evening and I didn’t want to stand still and watch him from a far. So I went downstairs. I gave a little smile at the new guests who were sipping tea in the living room and walked outside. It was drizzling. I didn’t bother to pick up an umbrella. I stepped into the wind laden spray of raindrops and my feet took me across the damp sands towards him. I was standing there, still, silent, right behind him. He sensed me, but he did not turn. The waves came and went. He was staring silently and waiting for something with lifeless pair of eyes. The rain started becoming fiercer but he and I were there together. We weren’t talking. We hadn’t looked into each other’s eyes. He was lost into the waves and I was into him.
“Maggie..!”, a soft voice called from behind. I turned. A woman was approaching us, flustered and wet. She saw me standing there, behind him. With a curious glance at me, she instinctively shared her umbrella over my head. I smiled at her and then looked at him again. He hadn’t turned or moved an inch. Her eyes saw the question in my eyes and she started talking to me sadly.
“I work in that house, Miss.” she said, pointing to a house on the shore, beyond the bushes.
“It has been a year. They were playing in the beach one evening when she ran into the sea chasing a ball. She was just five years old. That little angle; her name was Megha. She never came back. We couldn’t even find her body”.
Tears filled the woman’s eyes though she didn’t allow the drops to fall.
“Her parents were so angry with him that they just abandoned him here and left to their city. They were here for holidays and lost their only child. He now lives with the old couple in that house. They are a lonely couple, they treat him like their own son now. But he hasn’t forgotten. He comes here every evening and waits for his little playmate to return from the ocean. Maybe he thinks she will be back someday or maybe he feels guilty that he couldn’t save her”. She shook her head sadly.
I looked at him, standing on that rock, completely soaked in the rain, but still unflinching in his wait. A tear rolled down my cheek. For the first time in months, it was not a tear for Manav.
“Maggie..Let’s go home..!”, the woman called again and grabbed his collar, almost dragging him. He turned. For the first time our eyes met.
“Forget everything Maggie..” I whispered with choked voice.
“They are not coming back. Your Megha and my Manav”. I bent down to touch him. He moved a bit closer and looked at me. Eyes limpid pools of sadness. May be he understood what I had told to him or may be he didn’t. But I was feeling empty inside. I let all the pain go out of myself at that moment. All he did was letting out a short bark, wagged his tail and walked away.