He wished he could lock those tears of his sister back there. He wished he could protect her the way she did him. He promised to himself, ‘No matter what Di, I will never leave you alone.’
They started walking towards the auditorium and were talking about how they had fun in the part of the campus. How they used bunk a few class and have fun here. Though the fun part was of Kabir and Sneha’s part was her badminton game. She never missed a chance to play badminton at college. And she was the Badminton captain of the college. And to keep up with the pace, she always practised the game when ever got a free lecture or mass bunked a lecture. She never missed her college days, but always missed the time she spent on the badminton court of the college. Again she got lost in the games she played there.
“Di. Di, I am talking to you Di. Are you listening?” Kabir was wondering what she was thinking about. He saw the name on the file. It was some hospital’s file. And it read as Patient : Sneha. He was wondering what is that Sneha not telling him. What is she hiding from him. He thought if possible he will talk to her about it while returning or will sneak into her room and search the file and find out what is the matter. Till then he decided to not to think about it.
“Di, come and meet my teachers first. Listen all good about me and ignore all the bad. :D”
“I will love to listen complaints about you. Tired of listening that same thing. Your brother is a very nice boy. etc etc. Didn’t do any mischief during last two years ?”
“Di… “ Kabir knew his sister’s sarcasm. And loved it.
After getting into the auditorium, Kabir and Sneha were busy meeting the teachers and listening all good they could speak about Kabir. And every teacher had one complaint too. They said Kabir is very mischievous. And we let him do the mischief because his mischief makes the class lively and less boring. And Sneha was wondering what cool teachers. In her time, on doing some mischief she was punished to stay out of the class many times. It was like school at the college. Then she met her teachers and took a seat in the centre, right first seat from the aisle. And she was looking at the pre-programme mess the students and teachers were going through. Just then a young girl looked like a student there and a man were climbing down the stair of the auditorium. He too with the girl spoke to the teachers like she did a few minutes ago. He seemed like that girl’s brother, didn’t look like a father or friend. She for time being just got curious who was he, handsome, good sense of dressing, good perfume and best thing, beautiful voice. She knew not many guardians of classmates of Kabir, but she wanted to know him. She couldn’t figure out why, but she wanted to. He finished his talk with the teachers and started climbing the stairs. He saw Sneha and asked her,
“Hey young lady, can I sit with you this evening?”
“Yeah sure. I am already bored sitting alone!”
“Oh… So don’t like your company ? is it ?”
“Not exactly. Right now I don’t want to be alone.” Sneha didn’t know why she is saying this to him. Whose name also she do not know. He sat next to her. No one spoke. There was an awkward silence. She couldn’t bear this silence and so she asked
“Want to see our campus ?”
“Sure” And He stood up first, Sneha waited for him to get into the stairs, and then she got up. She had to hold his arm to avoid to lose her balance. His firm arm didn’t allow her to lose her balance. They walked out of the auditorium and she first took him to the chapel. he removes his shoes outside the chapel. She says –
“We can wear our shoes inside the chapel.”
“If I would enter a temple which I daily do, I would remove my shoes outside. This too is a temple for me.”
“Yes. That’s true.” Sneha walks in with her sandals on and he without his shoes.
Sneha kneels in front of Jesus the way she always did. She always used to come here, even before joining the college when at school. She just felt in peace when she spoke to Jesus kneeling there. And that peace she never got at any other church in town. May be the peace is in the place. Whatever it was she always felt relieved there.
“I come here very often. Even before I joined the college. I first had come here with my classmate. Then very often I come here. Especially after my mom dad’s death, I came here to cry. No one except him saw me crying since then. I usually try locking up my tears in my eyes and they would flow out once I reach here.”
“I see how special this place is for you. I wonder if I have such place, where I can cry!”
“You will have one. If not somewhere else, this chapel is the best. No one will see you crying here. It’s my experience. ;)”
“Haha. Yes. I can see that.”
“Come, I show you the badminton court where hot girls usually play badminton and cool boys watch them playing.”
“There would be no players now though. Did you have someone who would never miss to watch you play badminton?”
“Watch me ? All boys of my class would wait for my turn to come up. “
“I had no friends at school or college. Just classmates. Maybe because I couldn’t trust anyone.”
“We have to risk our trust to have a great friend. If we have chosen a wrong person, we will learn a lesson or else will have great people in our life.”
“And I took damn long time to understand it.”
“Well. Better late than never.”
“And this time, I am very late.”
“Ignore that. Come, I will show you our library. I have read many books here.”
“It is hard for me to ignore. Any ways, I would love to see a library. I have never seen one.”
“What? you haven’t seen a library ? I am surprised ? Is it because you don’t like to read books?”
“Yes. What is so shocking about it? No. In fact I love reading books. But library and me don’t go together.”
“It is strange.” They walk to the library in the building just opposite the badminton court and near the chapel. Sneha was not sure why she was opening her heart to this stranger whose name also she do not know. She doesn’t even know who he is, what he does. All she knows about him is he is trustworthy, he is a well mannered man, he is adorable. She wanted to know more about him. She thought she would know more as fast as she could.
“I don’t even know you and I am opening my heart to you. I find this strange.”
“This is not strange mam. We are strangers. And strangers are the only people who you don’t want to impress. You are yourself with them. And yes. This do not happen with all the strangers you meet. The tuning you share with them makes you feel like someone whom you can share you heart with.”
“Is this all experience talks or just knowledge and philosophy?”
“Till now it was all philosophy. Just experienced it all.”
“So, Mr…” Sneha didn’t know how to ask him his name and what he does. And he understood what Sneha wanted to ask.
“I am Varun. I am a Chartered accountant. I work with a MNC here.” He puts forward his hand to shake hands with her. Sneha puts forward her hand too.
“Hi Varun. I am Sneha. I work as a interior designer with a architecture firm.”
“Pleasure to meet you.”
“Pleasure to meet you too.”
“Btw, we will miss our sibling’s programme inside. We must go.”
“Varun, I don’t want to go inside.”
“All cool Sneha?” With in a few hours they met it was like they knew each other for years. And Varun was worried for her. He wanted to borrow her pain and never return them to her.
“Varun. I just want to sit here. In open. Not alone.”
“Okay. Come. We’ll sit on the stairs there.” She agreed. They sit on the stairs on the playground there. They sat for almost an hour and they spoke nothing. Varun started worrying more. Because the way she asked him to stay with her. He badly wanted to know what was bothering her.
“I am dying.”
“What ?” Varun was shocked when Sneha said this. It was like He had found someone who could be his life partner and she is talking about her death. May be in near future. He was more devastated than shocked. He didn’t know why he felt more broken than shocked. Why Sneha became so important. Why her death news is hurting him. So many whys. He kept them all aside. And just hugged her. She buried her face in his firm chest. He let her cry. And patted her back. Held her head. Held her firm. Sneha kept her hands on his shoulders. She didn’t know what to do. She looked up, at him. He kissed on her fore head. And asked her to explain what she said.
“I am suffering from Ovarian Cancer, which is very rare for my age.”
“Final stage ?”
“Yes. I have only a few months. And I am worried for Kabir. What will happen to Kabir after me.” Before could Varun say anything, they heard a voice calling for her. It was Kabir.
“Kabir…” Sneha wished he didn’t hear their conversation.