Your birthday must be around the corner. The repetitive dreams are my sub-conscience’s way of reminding me, it is that time of the year. I could almost smell you, hear your voice, too. I don’t think I ever registered your voice. I was young when you left this world. It was around Diwali and I couldn’t contain my sorrow. This Diwali I didn’t think of you though. But each night since that loud, insipid night this year, you have visited me in my dreams. I was surprised the first night, happy on the second and comforted on the third. It made sense and I got used to it. Now, I fear you won’t return to engage in light conversation. We were close; I wouldn’t deny that. Ever. But it is nearly ten years now. Your voice could become unfamiliar after a point. Or I won’t recognise your playful laughter anymore. All I have is a single photo of you.
So it is possible.
And I am afraid of forgetting.
Some memories are too precious or horrible to be captured on camera. But those ones stuck around as well. I realised I got visions of these memories from time to time. I remembered how his jacket tore at that junction. I remembered when they fought like fools outside Sangeet. I remembered the many movies at Sangeet Theatre. Sometimes when I passed the location which reminded me of a memory, the entire sequence would replay in my head. Almost like I was living the moment in retrospect. It left me feeling the same way I did when the memory first happened. This is not just the good memories of course. So then why do I take photos? Am I afraid that someday I won’t remember it spontaneously and it must be induced? Forced by the face I am making in the photo? I wonder.
Mistakes or rather a drastic step lingered in his mind space. The tragedies they caused and the memories they created couldn’t be erased. But they could be forgotten. Either that or one could ‘move on’. He was miserable at forgetting. In today’s world, he was cautioned that his way of thinking was rare. All around him, everyone had forgotten that tragedy, that betrayal of all things pure. But he held on to it tighter than before.
For in that moment of struggle, his action and reaction defined him and his every step for years. It was an aberration from his otherwise sombre and demure personality.
It was that time when there was a shootout in the local park. A group of Russians were shot. The anti-Russian blood in the small town was still strong. No body stopped the shooting. The next day no one even condemned it. None of the tourists died but they were all severely injured. Still, not a word was said, written or whispered against the shooters.
He was distressed by it all. Being an editor in the local paper, he was outraged. So, he wrote an editorial on the shooting and the intolerance underlying the shoot out. His chief thrashed it. After the chief left, he slipped it in.
The following day letters to the editor, angry calls, attacks on the office all forced the chief to fire him. In that moment he didn’t realise the risk he took. He couldn’t find a job after that. He survived on doing odd jobs in places where no one would know who he is.
Now, ten years later, everyone seems to have forgotten. He has a job again in a newspaper. He didn’t know if he should be happy or sad. He was able to write again after all; but he was agonised by the fact that his defining moment of defiance and the shootout preceding it was forgotten.
There was just the comfortable calm of everyone, overshadowed by his uncomfortable silence.