January 2010


I had to change my direction, turn around and head for home…

At some point…sooner than later and sooner the better…but not now….

Home..The very mention of Home, would have under other situations, lured comfort.. but now, it was discomfort caused by the possibility of being haunted by the memories of his presence in the house from couple of days ago.. Wish I had never taken him home, but then once I have taken him into the heart (or brain), was there any point of shielding him from entering the home..

Car.. like home was another serene abode, until now that is… An vivid image of him sitting there and his last verbiage echoing loudly within, it was becoming a turmoil…

The urge to stop the car was mounting… The thought of having to change the course, either to stop or head in the right direction, seemed like an impossible feat in current state of mind..

“Mind. Yes, It is all in my mind. Take control”, it was just a feeble thought, that was trying to voice, the thought that is expressed by all those self management books.. but the attempts of that positive thinking thoughts couldn’t raise through the Grief and Pain caused by an unseen unknown wound…

“I am driving in the wrong direction”, another thought tried to break through.. but I kept driving..  There was no strength left within me to change anything…

But something changed…

It was the senses that were attached to the eyes, that noticed the change.. The periphery senses alone can’t determine anything, they need help from the other parts of the brain, but every cell in the brain was busy.. There was reluctant to entertain external information..

The mind is a strange organ that seems to defy every other organ and their will.. Or is it the heart.. doesn’t matter which, there is definetly an organ that defys basic and natural senses… whose actions are at times beyond any established rationale..

But the other organs don’t give up so easily either, they have survived millions of years of evolution and they know that they have to perform their well conditioned duties.. The eyes persisted in capturing the change and kept conveying the stimuli until they were acknowledged… The mind waved the change by loosely linking that stimuli as “blinking lights”…

Once a object of interest or distraction makes its way into the mind, it is hard to take the focus.. Soon, the source of the “blinking lights” was identified as the “rear view mirror or the car” and then the initial analysis of the change was refined from “blinking lights” to “flashing red and blue lights”…

Traffic Cop!

Damn!

Reflexively, my eyes glanced at the speed dial.. the needle was fluctuating between “20 and 40”, “well within the range for snowy days”.

There was no other car in sight at the moment and so the lights were intended for me.. Only one thing can be done at the point, however inconvinent…

I flashed my rear right lights and tried to pull over.. the tires seemed to defy my maneuvering. of course they would, with the snow piled up, the only way is to go straight. going any other way other than straight, would send me sliding into the woods.

I kept moving and the flashing lights kept following me. I took the right at the next exit and followed the thin roads off the highway, pulling into an parking lot of some store (or may be it was a garage, given its proximity to the highway and the vast parking space, given that there were no lights whatsoever).

The cops car was parked behind mine, the lights stopped flashing. I turned my engine off, waited for the cop to approach. A flash light turned on from his car, the door opened and he stepped out into the snow.

His form disappeared from the rear view mirror in to the blind spot, but the reflection of the light was moving closer. He was tapping my window, focusing the flash light on me. I slid the window down.

“Good evening officer!”, the thing about talking to strangers is they wouldn’t be able to make out the change in the voice based on the emotions, unless ofcourse the emotions become hysterical. But, hysteria isn’t what happens with unknown invisible pain..

“May I see your driving license please?”, he said. It was pure business for him. Wonder if he had nothing else on his mind, but who cares….

I reached out for the valet in the coffee holder, and pulled out the car manual from the front case, took the registration card and handed it along with the license from the valet.

He looked at those for few moments.

“Where are you going sir?”, he asked.

I knew i was going in the wrong direction but didn’t know where I was headed. “Going home” and added “to wayland. I missed a turn, I was planning on heading back.”

He looked at the driving license again as if confirming the home address, and  and asked. “Do you know why I stopped you sir?”

“No”.

“Your headlights were not turned on”.

“What?”

“Your headlights where not turned on”. He repeated. Maybe he thought I didn’t catch his accent. He didn’t catch the puzzlement in my voice.

“I am sorry, I didn’t realize that. I dropped a friend at the bus stop at white river junction. And got on to the road”. I offered as an explanation.

“I thought there might some problem with the lights”, he gave me that puzzled curious tell-me-you-are-kidding stare…

“They are fine”. I started the car and turned on the lights.. to prove I meant it.

“All right sir, I will give you a warning for driving without lights. I will not fine or add points to your license”.

“Sorry officer” I said and soon followed it by “Thanks officer.”  I didn’t know what else to say.

“I will be right back”. He took the license with him, giving back the registration paper.

What just happened? How could I not realize that I hadn’t turned my head lights on? I was seeing the road and I looked out.. it was night, but not dark. The snow has that effect, everything is covered in white, even a small street light can reflect and make it look bright. I was mulling over my stupidity, and thoughts were about the ponder into the cause of my absent mindedness, when the officer arrived back at the window.

“Here is your license”, he gave the card and handed me an slip saying “and this is the warning.” He added. “There is a tourist stop couple of miles from here, you could stop there and get your directions, if you like” he said.

“Thank you officer”.

“Have a safe drive sir”.

He went back to his car, and he waited for me to start my engine and get onto the road. He seemed to make sure I was safely on the road, before he turned on his engine and headed back to the highway.

I slowed down, so that he could pass.. I decided not to head towards the tourist station, and instead decided to take an u-turn back to the bridge where I missed the right turn..

Everything is going to be ok…

Right Direction. Thanks to the officer.. I was heading home..

It was also the direction towards the white river junction.. towards him…. Was it still going to be the right direction.. there was a doubt that accompanied ‘what if i miss the turn again?’ there was no room for what-ifs…

The Grief was trying to gush out in the form of a cry, but it found no way out…

And just like that, I was snapped out of everything-is-gloomy-in-the-world to it-is-going-to-be-fine moods…

“Clubs” he said, “are depressing” and after a small pause he added “to me”.

Those words came out without providing any context, except that he had seemed lost in thoughts for a while now. It has already been four hours since we left Boston, having slowed down by the snow, we drifted into different thoughts and possible different worlds, though confined in the car.

We almost reached end of route 89, heading towards the Bus stop in White River Junction.. In a few minutes, I would be dropping him and will have to head back.. In a few minutes, I may be seeing him for the last time.. In a few minutes, I was hoping he would ask me to stay back.. As we got near that junction, I was fighting with hope and hopeless thoughts..

His words, were not particularly aimed at me, but I was the only other person in the vicinity, stranded in the car with him in a slow moving bumper to bumper traffic.

He reformed the statement..”There is something depressing and disgusting about clubs and meeting people there!”

“Why?” The question definitely formed as a reflex in me, but I couldn’t muster to say it loud. The implication of the statement was engulfing my senses. The senses were combating the shock of the statement and the fact that we met in a club. The fact that we visited more clubs, danced in the clubs.

He didn’t need my prompting to continue voicing his thoughts..

“I am not sure why I even go to gay clubs, they always make me sad.. and the thought of finding love in the club is ridiculous. Of course, People there find love every other night, even if that does not last long. Everyone has slept with a few and is always looking for something new.”

Even if he wanted me to say something, I wouldn’t have been able to. Luckily, or unluckily, he continued..

“I am not saying I am any different from them. But I used to be different. The idea of love was meeting that one person with whom I could spend the rest of my life with. And I thought I had…. ” his voice trailed into silence, and I knew his thoughts wandered again, may be around his forbidden first love..

“Isn’t it disgusting to imagine yourself kissing a person who has kissed half the people in the room?”  I wasn’t sure if that question was pointed at me,  I held my silence..

I am pretty sure, he was thinking “Yuck”.. his whole body twisted and turned which is usually associated with an disgusting or repulsive situation or thought or smell or taste…

He was silent again, but the words he let out started echoing in my mind very loudly. It was hard not to feel that he intended those words towards me, was that whole “yuck” thing about me kissing the black jacket stranger on the night we first met? but then why did he kiss me eventually? why did he accept my proposal to date? Is his venting really about propriety or is there something much deeper than that?

The most mundane task are a blessing in disguise to pull us out of the concussioning thoughts. Driving through unknown roads was a blessing. I crossed the bridge at the end of 89 and asked him for the directions. If not for want of driving directions, I would not have been able to speak another word for a while..

Turning to last page of my notebook he held in his lap, where he had earlier scribbled the route, he said “take the exit onto I-91-N”. I obliged.

He looked out the window, there were big bill boards advertising the malls and the food places near by, he looked at them and said “I think i know how to take you from here” and put my notebook onto the back seat..

It was not long before, we parked in front of a Chinese restaurant adjacent to the bus stop. There was a sign saying, parking only for customers, but we parked it anyway. Who would come out on a stormy night?

The bus was an hour late, people were scattered around the waiting hall in small groups with their luggage.. May be, it was the warmth of the crowd, it was feeling suffocated with the many layers wrapped around me. A stark contrast with the fierce cold just outside that revolving door through which we walked in, where i needed more layers to keep me warm.

I wish I could have waited for the whole hour, but my car that has been so resourceful these past couple of days was outside, parked illegaly, unattended in the snow.

It would soon be covered with snow and the tyres would slip, if i tried to take it out and besides i was longing for the solace of aloneness to get away and fully reflect on the recent revalations from him..

I was with his luggage, as he got back from the enquiry booth…

“They are all waiting for the same bus”, he said “you should get going”.

I handed him the bag, I was carrying.

“Call me once you get home. “, he said.

Waved my hand and walked out towards the door into the freezing cold. Even though I had my gloves and the jacket removed, it didn’t feel that cold. The parting had taken away all the warmth that I had started to feel inside…. The cold bye, was severe compared to the cold of the storm….