Remarkably, those splendid smiles are still there.
Fifteen months have passed since we parted as classmates; since that brilliant convocation – where feverish voices, dazzling faces and heroic hearts stood tall in the black-gold ocean of our university. Congratulations poured in from all quarters, admiration crashed onto our feet as the cameras froze every emotion into timelessness. The warmth of our handshakes, the sparkling eyes that met across the sea of magnificence and the affectionate brush of our shoulders melted into our souls, as we stood like battle-weary kings and queens – having endured waves of assignments, relentless rivalries, heartbreaks and anguish. Time passed slowly, as we prepared to part – the bright flashes masking the pain of leaving behind a life of steadfast relationships, akin to the uncomplicatedness and kindness of the Shire that dwarfed the grandeur of Middle Earth.
Here we are, sitting in a silence that has grown on us. There’s a sea of faces around us, their memories drifting away into the darkness of the evening – conversations that waft into obscurity. Families that celebrate their togetherness, the clink of glasses as couples break into rapturous laughter every now and then. Smoke from the cigarettes dances in mid-air, weaving through our fingers, before melting away into the light of the chandeliers. There are no words exchanged, as we sit quietly – sipping at our glasses. The tiny bubbles, rising like an army through the mug of dark ale, explode into a moist coolness onto our cheeks. The lambent gold of the lamps paint shadows on our faces, the expensive music pervades the room and its heavy silence. We exchange knowing glances, laughing softly at our memories, as I let my fingers intertwine with my lover’s.
My classmates crack jokes, as our table breaks into peals of laughter. We dig into memories of those golden days; a temporary respite from lives limited by hours spent behind tiny desks, the narrowness of the graphs and charts. The days spent travelling on the dusty roads, under the punishing sun, have cast long shadows on our faces. As we sit on our chairs, our souls utterly spent, drinking away our troubles – we question the very fabric of our existence. The fetters of our present, veil the luxuriant past; our heydays are buried deep within us.
Yet, we endure.
We are survived by those dreams that we dreamt, when we stepped foot as strangers, three years back. Time has been unkind to us, some of us more than the others. Our relationship has survived, like the dogged wild flower that grows on those cold, grey rocks – devoid of the warmth of the sun, or the comfort of the rain. Our friendships have weathered the distances that separate us, the years that have been stolen from us. But there are creases, those uncharacteristic glimpses at the wristwatch. Promises that are hidden by the apologetic laughter that rings from our table. But we remember.
One night, when the world’s not watching anymore, we’d like to be able to lie down on the hard, cold rooftop of our buildings and watch the misty moon glimmer from within the clouds. We’d like to be able to put up our feet on the parapet and watch the sun melt away into the broken hills. We’d be sitting at the beach – watching the silver waters crawl under our feet, while the fire crackles nearby. We’d stare out into the darkness, we’d watch the stars dance away into infinity, while we hold our lovers close – the cold, moist wind that tearing into our insides, washing away the memories of our today. One night, we’d finally have it all back again, having traded our present for a fleeting glimpse of our past.
One night, maybe.