Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Swaying Conch

The Swaying Conch

Splash! Splash, came rhythmic beating of waves on the rocks. It was a beautiful evening on the sea shore, the sun in his prime among the picturesque mountains, the moon patiently waiting with a smile on, the waves enthusiastic to meet the shore, the moss covered rocks gently rocked by the lyrical waves, the dazzling lights playing frivolously on the sea, the gentle wind singing for the thee, the horizon dotted with vessels and among this setup of heavenly abode, me on the rocks with the sun charming the sea over my shoulders, trying to cope with the cruelties of life.

“Hello Surya, What is this that I heard about Nishant?”
“Hi! Ansh, yeah it happened last Monday, he was in a soup of a situation and then this”
“Hey but what is the situation which made him take the extreme step?”
“You know right! His ambitions were different from the rest, a few setbacks and he was depressed.”
“Surya! I don’t believe this, I know Nishant better than many and he is not one to bow down to these hurdles, there must be something else.”
“Yeah! It seems like he had many affairs. One of the girl with whom he carried on for a long time got married last year. She gave birth to a baby which was not fathered by her husband. It was proved that Nishant was the biological father. All this became too much for him to bear, which may have caused him to take this decision”
“Hey! You tell me as if, you never knew of his affairs.”
“No Ansh! You mean, you knew of this earlier”

Meanwhile there was this strong wave, and a sudden gleam among the rocks. I ventured forward to find a beautiful conch wedged between two rocks and swaying to the intermittent wave that succeeds in reaching it. For some one seeing it from far it was a beautiful conch on the rock bed. Only those who go near it may feel that it was in a delicate balance that could go against it. The conch seemed to assure that it was very comfortable and in control of its stature and only a few drops of water and the presence at least one ruler of the sky will ensure a spark among the otherwise dull morbid looking monstrous stones on the sea bed.

“I will call you later, we can chat on this when me meet”, saying this I put down the call. It was not that I was busy or I did not have anything to speak with him, it’s the revelation that even he did not know of Nishi’s (as we used to call Nishant) affairs that surprised me.
There was a monster wave that came, the conch rocked and rocked; I did not realize that another such wave will ensure it will not see another day.

My thoughts went back to the ping on YM!, from Nishi, the day before this incident that he wanted to talk to me on something important, but I asked him to wait as I was busy and later did not get back to him as I thought the issue could wait for two days when I plan to see him.

I slipped back into my memories of Nishi. He was my classmate in school. If there was one person with charisma in my class, it was Nishi. He was the center of all the activities, be it sports, studies, cultural programs, mischief and what not. He was sure he would be a famous playwright in the future. After 10th he moved to arts stream and me to sciences. Though I had some idea of where he was, and what he was doing, I did not meet him after that.

One fine day, seven years after I last met him, I was on my way from Hyderabad to Mumbai. The train was at 5pm, I was there by 4pm which was quite unusual for me, as I had this habit of reaching the station in the nick of the moment and getting into a moving train. I wondered what people do when they have to wait all alone for an hour at a station, and now I was there with the same prospect. I wished some one whom I knew would turn up to see me off. As it happens many of the times when one thinks of the devil the devil presents itself. No sooner did I wish for the presence of a sympathetic soul a hand reaches for my shoulder. I turn around and gasp in a shrill voice “Nishi!”, in the process managing to get a stare from the people on the platform.

Nishi or Nishant has changed in his physical appearance only to look more handsome. The oval face with bright black eyes adored with curvy eyebrows, straight nose ending sharply over a trimmed mustache, long hair just short of toughing the shoulders, he was a 5’7’’ in his early twenties.

He was on his way to Vizag from where we hail. Godavari the train he is to take was already on the platform and we go to his coach. In a span of half an hour we live thorough the childhood we spent together the good olden days when we were still innocent, unaware of the vagaries of life. In the short span we struck a chord which I found surprising as in such chance encounters with many of my other school mates, words were at loss to come from me. His train started and we parted our ways not before the exchange of the mail ids.

That was the rekindling of a long forgotten spirit in our friendship. The times we spent in on the Vizag beach, the long drives along the coast, and the competition on who will drive the slowest and what not. He was doing his masters in commerce and was aiming for a course in film making abroad. The determination with which he worked to achieve this was tremendous. We were in regular touch over mail and phone.

The Conch was swaying beautifully in the wedge. How it managed to get there was beyond my imagination.
Nishi had a way with girls, I am sure there was no girl who knew him and was not charmed by him, a born Casanova he was never careful with them. I doubt if he himself had any count of his innumerable affairs many of which were quite intimate. I never approved this and often warned him to take care.

Not surprisingly, he had a few problems with the girls and their families, but was always handled them with an aplomb which defies my imagination. The issue which Surya mentioned to was one which surfaced some time back, at that time I had a long chat with Nishi on this. For the first time since I knew I saw him concerned, after a long chat it was apparent to me that he was sick of his ways and was moving in with a singular focus on his career.

Since then I got busy with my own work, working day in and day out without much thought for my family or close friends. Work was the only thing that would strike a chord in my mind. Nishi also was busy with his admission procedures and stuff. Some time passed by before I called him, when I knew that he could not manage an admission this session. He did not seem to mind the failure, was his cheerful self and confident that he would make it in the next session. “Don't worry ra, I will make it for the next session” was what he said last.

The sun was crimson red; the light through the water drops on the Conch was playing on me, I blissfully unaware of the rising tide. A large wave rocks the Conch, and I keet staring at it.
For over a month I was again in my cave. It was time for me to go to Vizag, when on the day of my journey; he leaves me a message asking me to call. “It can wait for 24hrs, the first thing I will do is call him once I go home”, I say to myself.

“Hello! Can I speak to Nishant”
“May I know who is speaking?”
“I am his friend Ankush, is he not at home?”
“He has committed suicide in the morning”
“What………!” click. I hang up.

A strong wave which has come up when I was deep in my thoughts topples me from the rock I was sitting on. Gathering myself from my fall, I look out for the Conch, so beautifully set a moment ago, and now waned into the depths of the ocean. I walk back in the direction of the resting sun. A tear trickles down my cheek, and thought trickles down my mind “May Be”.

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