"Hello, Nirvaan! I have not seen you for a long while, hope life is treating you well, my old friend." her voice sounded benevolently frozen.
I couldn't help it, the song "Hotel California" played in my mind "Welcome to the Hotel California...". For some unknown reasons I was dead scared. Nandini, the nerd Nandini was sitting in front of me in the tram. I had seen her last some twelve years back. She was a timid and unassuming girl. she was almost invisible.
I remembered the day when I last saw her. She was sitting in the library trying to solve an equation in calculus. Poor thing she wasn't good looking neither was she good in studies, she was just an average. She used to steal glances towards me. Friends said she had this huge crush over me. So, that was the day we were playing truth and dare and my dare was to go and propose her and make her believe that I was madly in love with her.
"I love you." I said as I approached her. She looked at me quizzically
"All Right" she said and went back to her books.
"You have to believe me I really love you." I said sitting there opposite to her and holding her hand.
"Leave my hand." She said snatching her hands back and quietly stood up to leave.
I stood up, walked up to her held her hand and went down on my knees, "I REALLY REALLY LOVE YOU!" I said aloud and my voice echoed in the big hall. Thankfully the Librarian was not there. I was happy to win another bet. She will surely fall for this. What does she want more? She was plainer than the plain Jane and I was the School Head Boy, the most popular and all in the school. She will say yes and I will win the bet.
"Have a nice day." she smiled and went away.
She never was to be seen ever. Some people said that she went mad thinking that I proposed her. Some rumours said that she had declared that day that she has a boyfriend (me) and her parents took her out of the school and sent her to another city and she got married after three years. The day she turned eighteen. Rumours about her followed from her being a drug addict to an ugly fat woman to her having five kids. Some also said she went crazy and committed suicide.
"How are you Nirvaan, What brings you to the city?" she said. Her voice brought me out of the flashback.
"I....I a...m g..ood." I stammered out. I saw cold sweat gripping me in the month of December.
"You are sweating. I know Kolkata winters are nothing compared to the winters you are used to but still you shouldn't ideally sweat. Any ways Cold or Heat I feel nothing....It has been so for the last ten years." she said her stony eyes moving from me to the window.
"What do you mean you do not feel!?" My mind was making all kind of assumptions. She looked so beautiful and so distant and something was so very wrong with her. She was different. I had thought of her often and felt a guilty pleasure that I can affect someone so gravely. She was a part of my numerous infamous legends. The girl I screwed without even screwing.
"After that day the life was not like that...my parents knew about my love towards you. I was supposed to say yes to you the day after but my Dad took me away to another town and locked me up for an entire year. everyday I used to write your name on the wall and my dad had it white washed every day. This went on for an year. After that I was not the same I was put into a Mental Asylum and I lived there for a year and killed myself." She said as a matter of fact and looked at me smiling.
I could not believe her last words ......"Killed Myself." I was looking at her as the tram dragged slowly through the lazy winter evenings of Kolkata. I was nearly in tears. I felt a deep remorse, a deep guilt in me. Had I not said that nothing would have happened. She would have been alive....
"I always wanted to grow up and live in Kolkata and always wanted to meet you once....now both are done and I can leave now..." She said with a deep sense of calm. She looked divine and gorgeous and what a waste of life!
"You look beautiful..." I managed to say as she got up from the seat.
"Calm makes you beautiful." she said
Yes, the calm after death makes you beautiful.