No distance as far away as yesterday – Part 3

Written By

Payal Mukherjee

No distance as far away as yesterday-Part3 Loading

What could I do though? I had never been to her house. I didn’t know her address. It never came up, the need to know each other’s houses. We already had our meeting places, our clandestine rendezvous point. I went there after school, waited there many a day. Desperate for some news, I finally ended up at our phuchka stall, asked the man if he knew where my friend lived. He pointed toward a cluster of homes; he had seen her walk that way. With that information I went snooping. Finally, someone pointed out her house to me.

The one storied yellow building was nudged between two similar houses. Its tiny front door opened right on to the road, no gardens for the poorer sort. It was green once upon a time, now it was just blistered and brownish with green paint flaking at the edges. There was no doorbell. Instead, a large round iron ring hung on the double doors. I held on to it and tried to shake it so it would make a sound, but it just ended up creating a dull thud that didn’t even match up to the way my heart was beating. But someone was moving inside scuffling towards the door. The door opened and standing there was Mahjabeen.

What can I say about how she looked? She was wearing a salwar kameez, her long hair open but straggly as if she hadn’t found the time to wash it for weeks. She looked grown, her face drawn, like a woman who had had her share of fights with life and it had defeated her. Her eyes had dark circles. Her skin which used to be so flawless and the envy of all her friends was blotchy, and looked so akin to sand paper that I reached my fingers up to touch her cheek. She flinched.

“Why are you here,” she asked me.

“You’re not coming to school,” I said.

“How did you find the house?”

“You know how much I like Tintin, I did some detective work” – I tried to make a joke. My laughter died on my lips even before it had started. Her dry chapped lips did not move a bit into the smile I had anticipated.

“What happened Mahjabeen, are you not well?” I asked.

She came out and closed the door behind her. “Let’s walk to the park,” she said. We sat on the bench, our bench. Or she sat, and asked me to sit. The shy girl, who would be led into everything, was now doing the leading. I could not believe it.

“My brother is dead,” she said flatly.

*

The phuchkas stopped. I would make it to her house when I could. The silences between us were unbearable. I would go. She would come out. We would walk to the park and sit. I would try to tell her about school. She did not even feign interest.

I would come home and cry. She was my best friend. She had shut me out completely from her life. It was like I didn’t exist for her anymore. Yes, I was selfish in feeling left out of her mind, but I was a child then and what did I know. Now I wish I could have done things differently.

I wish I had listened to her more, spoke a little less. I probably would not have lost a friend then. Or maybe I would have, no matter what I did. Perhaps, by then, she had already removed herself from me.

If ever I could go back and stop to turn a moment into eternity, it would be the day I defied my parents to spend some extra time with her. The day she made me laugh so much that my stomach hurt. I wish I could freeze time right there; me doubling over with laughter, looking up at her and she looking down on me, with that satisfied, angelic smile on her face, knowing she had just given her best friend a memory to cherish her whole life long.

There is no distance on this earth as far away as yesterday.

The last time I met her, I asked her when she would come back to school, she finally told me she would not. And she said she could not meet me anymore.

“Why?” I asked.

“I cant do this anymore,” she said.

“Why, why, why?” I shouted at her. “I did not kill your brother. Why are you punishing me,” I cried.

“This whole world killed my brother, Gauri,” she said. “And you are a part of this world.”

Then she got up and walked away.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My life is currently run by two little monsters, one 9 and one almost 2 years old. My passions are reading and writing. While I read almost every waking free hour, my writing has taken a hit after my second daughter was born, and I am trying to slowly but surely get back to it. My big dream is to, someday, get around to writing my book. My job is to be a home CEO, a teacher, a doctor as well as nurse-on-call, a driver, a sometimes-chef, a hairstylist, and a mender of clothes and cuts and hearts. My 'profession', on the other hand, is executive search/ head-hunting and I am defined in the ongoing parlance of the age, as a work-from-home mom.

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