a man sees his old lover after long in Nepal
Some callow feelings were pushing Bikal from behind as he was walking on the streets of Kathmandu. That was not just because he was at his hometown- his country after very long, but also because of the craved memories those streets had with them.
The old Kathmandu, all crumpled with tapered cobwebbed roads, running everywhere possible, was not a stranger for Bikal, whose age is also evidently shown by his wrinkled skin and white hair. They were old friends, alienated by time, who had shared a lot of moments together in the past. And after a very long time, either both of them were helping each other evoke their past, or at least Kathmandu was helping Bikal to sail again from a port from where he had once sailed.
The footpath, just in front of Tri Chandra College where he once used to study, was taking Bikal once again to his youth- the days filled with get-up-and-go, jokes, mirth, politics, friends and etc, apart from studies. It took him to the college classrooms, volleyball court, the Student’s Council Hall where they used to make demonstrations and other kinds of programs against the then Panchayat System. It took him to the tea shop where they used to drink ‘special tea’ for just 50 paisa. The same footpath, at a snail's pace, surreptitiously took him to Jyoti as well.
Jyoti was the girl Bikal loved and she used to be the girl whom he used to want to marry. He used to want to marry Jyoti because he didn’t want to marry her anymore. He didn’t want to marry Jyoti anymore because he knew well that he couldn’t.
While Bikal was at Russia, for his studies, knitting dreams for him and Jyoti, he was not the least sentient that time and circumstances were constructing a huge wall between them. The wall, at the end, became so sky-scraping that Bikal never dared to scramble it over to get to Jyoti, because he knew well that he couldn’t. Never. Jyoti was married to another man, whom Bikal never wanted to know, shortly after he went to Russia.
The poignant wheel of time brought many political changes in Nepal, Russia and Bikal as well. The ‘Jyoti episode’ neither badly affected Bikal’s life nor faded away. Bikal started leading a customary life, as everyone else did. But he was never able to obviate the shadows of his past following him. The ‘Jyoti episode’ always affected his life every second time he tried to be in a relation with a girl. He always repeated the same mistake- compared every girl with Jyoti, to rediscover another Jyoti probably. But that ruined every of his relationships and he was never in a consistent relationship with any girl. He never got married. The only consistency he had achieved was in his career, his profession. He was able to establish his business at Moscow, and located himself there. After she got married, never had Bikal expected or even wished to see Jyoti again.
Bikal was still walking on the footpath, alert that he was walking, but not quite aware that others were also walking there. He was not aware of others walking around him either because he didn’t want to be, or because he thought there were nothing in the faces around him to be aware of. But, out of the blue, a face among the faces, which he happened to see by a great chance or two, tried to coincide with the face he was thinking about at that moment. The only difference was that, the face in his thoughts was a young face while the face in front of him was old. He remembered that he was also no more a young man, which helped him to be in no doubt that the women, who was walking towards him with a man, was Jyoti. Bikal guessed the man to be her husband. Moreover, he thought he was the man with whom Jyoti was married. Both of them gave him the same logic though.
He looked at Jyoti’s face as if he was seeing an inclusive sensation, totally awestruck. She was looking as beautiful as ever. May be she was looking even more beautiful than she used to look at her youth, Bikal thought. He looked at the couple, assuming the man to be her husband, tried to rate them. Although he thought that they did not make the most perfect couple in the world, he could see clearly that they were unquestionably among the happiest. Jyoti’s face was telling him everything about her life. In her face, he could see everything, a married woman- a happily married woman in fact, a wife- a satisfied wife, a mother- a proud mother of a kid or two, Bikal guessed. Her face had anything but regret and sorrow. The regret and sorrow that Bikal had thought their separation and her marriage with another man must have given to her. He tried again to figure that out but without any success. He could nowhere see the affect of their common past felt in Jyoti’s face.
Just in no time, the couple walked passed Bikal. And Jyoti didn’t even notice his presence there, let far seeing him. He had some intractable feelings after that. But he could do nothing else than seeing her walk pass by him. He hadn’t wanted to turn around to see them moving ahead on their own way, but he didn’t know how he turned around. He kept looking them till they vanished among the crowd. He wished Jyoti had seen him, but again thought that was of no use- what would have they talked about, or at least what would have he talked with her? Whatever he saw and whatever happened with him in that short time tortured Bikal, and the pain was evident at his pale face. He was never green eyed about anything, but Jyoti’s happiness, which her face showed him, made him develop that. He didn’t have anything that Jyoti had in his view. He gnashed his teeth thinking all that.
As Bikal turned around to take his way further on, he collided with a passer by.
‘I am sorry’, the passerby said.
But, either Bikal didn’t listen to what the passerby said, or he didn’t want to reply, he simply walked ahead. He was gone astray.
The passerby turned around and stood still for a moment to see Bikal walking pointlessly, smiled a startling smile and moved forward.