" Midlife zephyr "--- A short story.
“Okay yaa....enough already....stop chanting her name” I almost yelled at him over the phone. His strange affinity towards this girl will definitely ruin his married life I thought. I got alarmed as a friend because I have never seen him falling for any girl like this before.
We are childhood friends and gender couldn’t overpower our friendship. I call him up with my share of trauma in life and twisty secrets and vice versa. It’s nothing but mid-life crisis probably, I consoled myself. This disease, the so called mid-life crisis, is spreading like wildfire. Zed calls me up almost every day these days. He thinks he has fallen in love yet again. He got infected in spite of being married but of course with his off and on disturbed marriage. As far as I know him over the years, he has grown up to be a man of respect, honesty and dignity. He has been the kind of guy whom you can trust to drop you home safe at night.
My scornful language doesn’t always work on him and he continues, “Sara seems to be interested in me....you know.... but is very intelligently putting me on hold. Why is she torturing me? ”His voice thinned down in desperation. “ How am I supposed to know?” I almost snubbed him in return. “I am deeply in love with her....buji paiso ! There’s no safe exit for me. I am ready to forsake everything for her. What’s happening to me? Am I insanely in love? Is this how love supposes to be?” His endless questions twirled my mind and for a few seconds I didn’t know what to say. “ Just relax and try to rationalize dude.... we are in our forties with families....you are acting like a teenager.. Man! Grow up”, I had to stop him and give him some feeders to curb his insanity. This weird love-bee has definitely stung the wrong person.
Being an avid travel blogger, he met Sara in a guest house in Cherrapunjee during one such travelogue quest. He got introduced to her over a cup of coffee overseeing the heavy rainfall which prevented both of them to go out of the guest house. The afternoon rains as though conspired to put them together for an interesting conversation which extended till late in the evening. She was working as a Professor of English literature in Loreto College, Shillong.They talked about many things. They laughed aloud, cracked jokes as though they knew each other for long. Their conversation was interrupted by the waiter, Nungshi , requesting their orders for dinner. Zed then realized that the rain has stopped completely and the saffron hue of the setting sun has engulfed the entire campus. Sara excused herself to freshen up and headed towards her room. Zed stepped out of the portico into the beautiful green lawn to absorb the magnificent colour of the setting sun. He felt very different but somehow weirdly happy. He walked to one of the corner of the lawn to enjoy the blooming pink flowers uniformly dancing with the cool gentle breeze. He wished to see Sara too at that mesmerizing moment. “What the hell!” He thought to himself.... “Why am I thinking about the girl I met just a few hours ago?”Her smile deepens two prominent dimples in both her cheeks. She was so naively simple with even no nail polish in her nails, yet so elegantly classy in her own rights. Her untied straight, black hairs barely touching her waist were trimmed perfectly to blend with her looks. The black dress with white polka dots that she wore with black flat boots drew a picture in Zed’s heart with permanent ink.
He felt and realized this strange connection instantly and somehow tried to compose himself and became defensive. He decided to retire to his room and relax his body, mind and soul. He knew that his mind won’t rest at all. As he lay gently on his bed looking at the bare ceiling, Sara came to his mind again. She had an incredible taste of literature that surprisingly coincided with Zed’s list which perhaps made him look at her from a different perspective. She was a regular visitor of that guest house during this season in her quest of peace in this part of the valley, she confided.
A knock at his door startled him and he found Nungshi at the door smiling.The cute smile of Nungshi almost closes his eyes so much that it becomes difficult to say whether he can still see. “Sir, Ma’am has come to the dining hall for dinner. You’ll have your dinner in the hall or in the room?” “I will be in the hall in ten minutes” Zed replied. His heartbeat suddenly raced in an audible speed as soon as he sensed that he would be seeing Sara again. INSANE..... He wanted to know Sara more as he has never felt like this for any girl before. Such attraction for a girl he met just a few hours seemed very absurd but the thrill of happiness made him cross all boundaries of logical evaluation. He decided to shut down the logical aspect of his mind temporarily. He quickly changed his T shirt and after combing his hair he rushed to the dining room by putting on his jacket while going down the stairs. His eyes impatiently roved the entire dining hall as soon as he stepped inside. “Good evening” a gentle voice greeted him from his rear and it was none other than Sara. Her smile with those dimples made him believe that cupid has conspired to strike him again and again that evening until he falls insanely in love. “Hello Mr.Cupid,I give in.”He thought to himself. “A very good evening to you” he greeted her back as they walked together towards the table for two in the corner of the dining hall. He nervously tried to steal a few glances of her. He couldn’t resist looking at her again and again as she looked ravishingly beautiful in the flowing red skirt and white top almost covered by the white rabbit wool cardigan. A gentle breeze blew her hair which almost touched his face and he didn’t leave any chance of extracting the fragrance she was wearing. They both sat facing each other and Nungshi attended them starting with chicken sweet corn soup. The dinner became elaborate to buy as much time together and she seemed to enjoy every bit of it too. The witty conversation during the dinner brought them closer and closer to each other. They exchanged their phone numbers, their addresses and necessary information for a connection that seemed to last for a long time to come. She agreed to be his guide of Cherrapunjee for him to write for his travelogue. They talked for hours together and decided to meet before leaving the next morning. And at half past midnight they both bid goodnight and retired to their respective rooms. Zed couldn’t sleep a wink that night. As soon as he heard the chirping of the birds, he got up from his bed and decided to take a brisk walk. He made up his mind not to study Cherrapunjee this time for his blog. He planned to invite Sara after two months to Cherrapunjee again to be his guide. They both headed back to where they belong after their breakfast together. They kept on connecting through phone calls and messages. The frequency of calls and messages gradually increased and so was the illusion of love in Zed’s heart.
I decided to let him enjoy the happiness that swayed him. Although I felt that I should show him the picture of reality soon as a good friend. The reality will strike him one day I know.....I will be there to protect him from getting injured like a true friend. As for now, the time of realization hasn’t come and he still annoys me with his never ending questions. No matter what may the definition of true love be, I believe it won’t conquer over the love of family! Or will it get into his head seriously??
“I didn’t sleep last night, buddy!” Zed called and instead of the usual hello, he greeted me with that message. “We talked the entire night till four in the morning.” His excitement came across quite vividly. His smile and laughter in between our conversation presented enough evidence of my dear friend falling head over heels for Sara. I was witnessing the magnanimity of love and its hypnotic characteristics.”Go slow bud! Don’t end up hurting the people who loves you. Take care of Yoolan!” I placed my sentences with a heavy intonation. Perhaps he least expected such advice from my end. After a long pause he heavily started to talk again,” After so much of turmoil in my married life of seven years, happiness finally found me. What do you suggest I retreat and go back to my shell of despair and disappointment? Can’t you be happy that your friend has finally found true happiness? I am not gonna hurt Yoolan. I know she is my responsibility. But I am not being able to connect with her in the last couple of years. Sara has unknowingly provided the solace I was in search of. We just talk and that gives me peace and happiness. I am not harming anyone. Oh! Come on….you people!” I sensed his pain and decided to cool the situation we were sinking in. “Okay ko….what’s your plan for the new year?” “I am planning to go to Shillong next week for some official work.” He sounded angry and I could make out that he was going to end our conversation.” Ron was asking about you and told me to invite you to our new bungalow for a couple of days. Do plan a trip and come over.”I played my ace to normalize the situation.”I might plan a trip by the last week of December. Convey my regards to Ron and love to your two angels. Chaal...call you later. Take care.” He ended the call as presumed.
With the parties piling up on the eve of the New Year I almost forgot that Zed didn’t call up in the last two weeks. When I was in town last time I saw him drinking uncontrollably in a friend’s dinner party. Has he become alcoholic? Hope he is handling everything maturely. He is a good human being. He would stand up first to help whoever was in need. He would die for his friends and I bet everyone would agree when I say that. His wife, Yoolan is a smart and beautiful lady. She has been with him through thick and thin. Like every married couple, they had their differences, many a times due to his selfless helping attitude for which he sometimes neglected his family. I decided to call him up this time casually to enquire about his new blog publication taking care not to bring up the topic of Sara, in case he has closed it.
“Hey buddy! What happened to your plan of visiting us?” I started the conversation with the hope that the bitterness of the last call has subsided by now. And lo! He unstoppably began to pour every bit of information I missed between him and Sara with equal enthusiasm in the last two weeks.”We met again after two months. She came to know that I was married and had me blocked for three days. She has gone through heartbreak before about which she didn’t elaborate. But told me that she didn’t want to ruin my marriage as well as go through another heartbreak all over again.” He paused and took enough air into his lungs and continued,” All these three days I have gone into dreadful depression and decided to seclude myself from everyone including you. I didn’t see daylight for 72 hours for the first time in my life. Although I wanted to talk to you but our last call and your Guru-maa advice taken me aback. I kept on checking her “last seen” time in whatsapp a thousand times every day. I kept on writing to her but my messages didn’t show double ticks. I cried and shouted.Yoolan was on tour as usual and I felt lonely and deserted like never before. On the fourth day at around nine in the morning I checked my whatsapp and show double ticks in my messages and saw Sara being ’online’.” He kept on talking with a hello in between reassuring that I was listening to him on the other end.”She is the love of my life and the very thought that she can never be mine makes me crazy. I just want to talk to her or sit beside her and nothing more makes me happy. Why is this happening to me? Is Yoolan not the one I was looking for? Why did I marry her then? She is my responsibility and I can’t leave her alone. Sara is the one I love and I can’t be with her or promise her anything. I am in a total messed up situation, my friend. Help me! “His voice shook when he said that. I felt a lump in my throat too. Why is God taking such a test on an honest person as Zed? I felt a tinge of anger rising in my mind for the power we refer to as Almighty. I decided to talk to Him instead. However weird it sounds but I do talk to God and get my answer appearing effortlessly in my mind. I waited patiently for Zed to talk again as he composed himself.” Am I doing anything that is not right?” I knew I had to speak to him very honestly this time but cautiously choosing every word which would not hurt him but would help him to immune himself from getting hurt. “Look bud...Ron and me are married for fifteen years now. If I imagine myself in Yoolan’s place, I can tell you one thing that I would be shattered. It would either kill me or compel me to take dire action. Can you imagine Yoolan falling in love with somebody else? What would you do if you find that out one day? After so many years of togetherness and all those miseries of life which you both have fought together, do you think you will find peace in Sara’s arms by hurting Yoolan? What if Sara turns out to be a different person than you have imagined her to be? A faux paus in this regard would lead you to a swamp from which you would never be able to drag yourself out. The feeling of love is ecstatic. It allures every mortal and we all need love in our life to survive. But we need wisdom to give love unconditionally. It is not a crime to love someone but it is definitely not right to hurt someone while loving someone selfishly. I think, Sara is wise enough to realize that is why is is distancing herself from you and giving you enough time to be wise enough. As far as my understanding goes, Sara is not a woman who would build her dream house by demolishing somebody else’s happy world. Think about it dude ! I know you will find the wisdom very soon.” I kept the receiver without waiting for his reply. I silently prayed to God to assist Zed in his quest of wisdom and peace and waited patiently.
I smiled when I saw Zed’s name flashing in my cell, “ Ko....how are you? “ I started from my end. “Yoolan is packing her bags for a vacation in your place. How many days are you going to accommodate us in your guest room, bud? “ Zed was smiling when he was talking....I could tell. “That’s like my dude, my friend. When are you reaching?” I became emotional when I spoke to him. “Day after tomorrow...ha ha ha”.....Zed laughed aloud. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I put the call off.
Thank the Almighty !!