Writer: Prashant Mainali
Every evening we got beating for being late and every next day we would go for swimming and eventually get late again. How could our day pass without enjoying the divine buoyancy of the water? We both were thirteen and shared same neighborhood. I couldn’t remember when I first met her. Memory is indeed a strange thing. As far as my memory worked we had been together. We laughed at same jokes and cried for each other. We even shared the same interest. We swam in the river which crossed our village and often got the scolding for that.
“When I am big, I will move to hills.” said Rupa.
She had a dream of living in hills while I loved never-ending plains of Terai.
“Rivers are very fast there. How come we swim there?” I asked her intentionally to make her renounce her dream of living in hills.
“No rivers on earth can drown me.” She shot back proudly.
“What about me then?” I asked helplessly. She snickered to annoy me. Rather, I felt happy. A long silence was what followed then and it helped to preserve the moment in my memory.
“Let us make a compromise.” Only when I felt that every detail of the moment was recorded in my memory, I broke the silence. Waiting for my words, she watched me with vigor such that I could see my reflection in her blue eyes. That made me realize how much she meant to me.
“We will be living six months in hills and six months in Terai.” I proposed a compromise. She gave me an approving nod showing slight sparkle on her lips. I had always loved her smile. Then, we backstroked for what felt like an eternity and watched sun moving to its abode. The last light of the sun cast the shadow of her eyebrows and then I realized it was late again. For she was unwilling to run back home, I had to yank her out from the river. The horizon by then was tinged in a gradient of blue and only then we were running to get home hoping to avoid inevitable thrashing.
I speeded and left her far behind.
“Aakash.” shouted Rupa.
I loved her callings, so I usually ran fast. When I heard her voice I always stopped. Turning back, I saw her silhouette galloping gracefully and her hand gesturing me to wait. That moment seeing her run would be the best part of my day. Her hands carried slippers and her march seemed magic, for her legs landed so smooth that they sculpted beautiful traces of her sole in the sand. Her wet hairs swayed left and right and her breathing was fast, her chest moved to and fro.
“You run so fast. Are you a horse?” Her voice echoed in the evening breeze.
“You swim so fast. Are you a mermaid?” I quipped.
Her slender body and effortless swimming techniques sometimes made me question if she really were a mermaid.
She smiled and said, “You are such a loon.”
“wanna dance, wanna croon
wanna be your darling loon.”
I fought a frog inside my throat to sing for her but I lost. Those rhymes waned inside me. As she approached near, I felt intensity and warmness of her eyes that even the blue-tinged horizon lacked.
Even at that tender age, I had dreamt spending my life with her. I was sure that she would be mine until one day my dream shattered to rubble. Time conspired to separate us. It occurred for me to visit my cousin’s home in the hills. I was quite happy to walk the hills which Rupa had so dreamt of. I wanted to take her only for her parents to refuse. After returning, I rushed towards her home shouting Rupa, Rupa!! I had wanted to describe amazing hills and silvery rivers flowing through them. I would have told her that I have found a perfect place to build our home but finding her house locked and getting to know that her family had migrated to Kathmandu made be barmy. My heart writhed in agony, my eyes brimmed with tears. It happened to be the saddest day of my life. Hell, nobody thought about us. We couldn’t even bid goodbyes. It was hard to forget her. To be honest, I haven’t done forgetting yet. Still, she conjures in my memory. I only got lost in the labyrinth of life and faked others as if I had forgotten everything about our childhood.
Life is so unpredictable. Only had I known I would meet Rupa again, I would have shaved my stubble. It had been exactly 12 years since I last saw her. All the cells that used to be inside me 12 years ago are long dead and are replaced by new set of cells. That must make me a new person but memory of her still makes me a same little boy who was intensely in love with his swimming friend. I was waiting in the foyer of the resort in Dhulikhel. Her blue eyes met mine. She had same graceful galloping, same long hair, and same alluring smile. It wasn’t hard for me to recognize her. Donned in pencil skirt she was revealing curves of her slender body. Only to see her coming towards me I got conscious and retained my composure.
I smiled and she reciprocated.
“May I help you?” She asked with poised posture assuming me one of the visitors. Her voice has changed drastically, I thought.
We exchanged pleasantries and I invited her for coffee. We soon clicked. She wasn’t funny as she used to be. It was me who talked and she who listened. It was me who cracked jokes and she who laughed.
“I am the manager there.” Rupa had stated once. Realizing she was pursuing her dream of living in hills I felt elated. When I saw myself in those blue eyes I fell in love with her again. Some strands of hair peeked to her face. Seeing her brushing those hair and tucking them aside in ears, made me reel back to the past. I felt as if I rediscovered myself in those eyes. Sometimes, I feel it isn’t our flesh, nor our cells and not even our DNA that gives us our identity but the memory.
We started seeing each other often. We went to movies, theaters and dinner. But never in those meeting had we gone to swimming. The nearest to the river was when I proposed her in the bank of Sunkoshi. It was a perfect evening, the sunset was painting color in the sky and setting the mood in our hearts. At that time, I proposed her with a pendant having our name engraved (Aakash & Shushma).
Yes!!!The girl I proposed was Shushma, not Rupa. It’s not her but she reminds me so much of her. Back in the past, Rupa died. She got anguished when I left for hills. Heated, she ventured to the deepest part of the river and failed. After all, it was the first time she was swimming alone. We were destined to swim together not alone.
This is the secret of my life. It is not I do not love Shushma. I love her too. Only, I have found a way to love both women at once.
Question and Answer with Prashant
1. Tell us more about you.
I have recently completed my undergraduate on Biotechnology from Kathmandu University. Though planning for further study in the USA, now, I am involved in a start-up. We are going to launch the first probiotic drink in Nepal next summer. I am not a writer but sometime the surge of being a writer gets so strong within me I end up creating some stories.
2. What was your thought when you apply to Wordism competition?
Literally, I was in a dilemma on if I should submit the article to Wordism. I was scared but once I sent the article, I got excited to know the response.
3. What are your dreams and aspiration?
I want to read a lot and develop my intellect. Then, I yearn to do something worthy for my people. At the end, I dream myself in some serene place, a small beautiful house and a lot of books.
4. Anything you want to say who is reading this!
A sense of fear never let people progress. I am trying to win that fear. This competition was my first attempt and has already boosted my confidence.
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