Into my eyes
- a short story
She looked into the mirror. Her reflection looked a little better than yesterday. She took out her favourite tangy orange lipstick from her makeup bag and did a single swipe over her lips. Her face looked bright after that.
She gave her hair one last brush and wound the scarf over her hair. The dark coloured scarf gave a contrasting look to her fair skin.
She took her handbag and her mobile and wallet along with her. She switched off all the lights and double checked the gas lock. Everything was perfect.
She knocked at a door adjacent to hers. She waited for a few seconds for him to open it. But it remained close.
And she left out a huge sigh.
In the past one year, he has never opened the door to her knocking, and she has never asked him why. Because he wouldn't have heard it for he would be busy in his work.
And the husband never knew how much his wife felt lonely.
Inside the closed room, Aaditya was sitting in a chair, hunched over some papers. He had a pen in one hand and the other hand was clutching his head. His head felt like as if someone was standing over it.
He had all the formulae correct and theoretically his plan was perfect. But, when he formulated his plan physically, it was not working. He couldn't understand what he was missing.
He kept his papers down, and stretched his hands above his head.
He stood up, and opened the windows. The sunlight flooded his room.
He went out to the hall and looked around. She was nowhere to be seen.
She had left already.
He went to the kitchen and looked at the dining table. His breakfast was waiting there. He placed the still warm dosa on his plate and placed a lump of tomato chutney and coconut chutney. As usual they were delicious.
After that, he warmed the black coffee which was also left by his wife. It was strong with little sugar and like the way he preferred.
His wife knew everything about him. His likes and dislikes, and does everything for him, even without asking.
But, on the other hand he doesn't know anything about her.
They had an arranged marriage and within a few months of marriage, he left his job to carry on his dream project. Initially, it was supposed to be just 3 months off from his work. But, it had been an year now, and he is yet to finish his work.
When he presented the plan of a time machine, everyone laughed. Even though he was in a research facility, his concept was deemed childish.
He wanted to prove that his concept will be successful. It all looked like a dream when he thought about it.
When he said his plan to his wife, she was supportive and told him that she will help in all possible ways. Though he had earned enough to last him for the next ten years, he felt uncomfortable to be at home for the past one year.
But, his dream was important and all he wanted at that moment was to make his dream true.
He looked at the clock. It had been an hour since he came out. He dragged himself back to his room and once again went into the self made exile.
It went on for another month. And one sudden day, when he was having his coffee, something clicked in his head. He rushed to his room and after an hour, he was standing in front of the time machine he has perfected.
Excitement ran through him and with a silent prayer, he switched it on.
It was suit like model and he got inside the suit and entered a date 100 years back. He was in the pre-independence era. People were rushing here and there.
A protest was going on nearby. He looked at the speaker. Everyone there were eagerly listening to his words. He tried to guess the identity of the man, but failed to. In our country, many freedom fighters remain unknown. All we are aware or made aware of are the ones like Gandhi and Nehru. Some fighters who fought more than them, who brought in many changes were not known.
And Aaditya felt that the speaker must be one among them. He listened to his complete speech and he left the place with goosebumps. He made his suit visible again and made his way back to his home.
When he went back, it was past ten. He wanted to share the news with his wife, but she was fast asleep. He decided to try it one more time before saying it to his wife.
The next day, he waited with bated breath in the hall. His wife gave him multiple glances from the kitchen. It was an awkward breakfast for them that day. Both wanted to say something to the other, but remained silent.
After his wife left, he went into his room and got into the time travelling suit.
When he typed a year, the display got stuck and when he tried to unlock the suit, it was jammed.
He went into a year he didn't know and to a place he he had never been.
It was a hospital room. There was someone lying on a bed in far corner. There were wires attached everywhere and something in him made him go near. The person on the bed looked familiar.
It was him.
But a little older. He went very near and his older self opened his eyes.
'I never thought i will live to see this day. But, here i am, all old and wrinkled, looking at myself'
The younger one was not able to respond, and the older one continued.
'Do not be surprised. But, i am you, and you are me. When you are young, all your passions will be burning hot, and believe me when i say it, you will never have enough. When you look back after having completed half of your goals, you will be old. Old like me. And your wife will be old too. And she may not be with you. So, when you sit back and relax, all that comes in front of you are not the achievements, but your happiness. And when i sat back, i was able to find nothing. It was void.
It may all seem like an old man's ramblings, but remember this. You are this old man, and Love, once lost is lost forever, and don't lose it like me'
Someone knocked on the door and the older man asked him to go away. He realised that he was still in his suit, and moved away to a hiding. His machine was working again and he pressed the 'back' button.
His room gave him nostalgia.
He sat there by himself. Seeing himself had stirred something deeper in him. He couldn't shake away the image of his older self. The old man's eyes had told him a million things.
When he woke up from his reverie, it was morning the next day. His older self's speech had impacted him beyond his dreams.
He went out of his room in a haste, and searched for his wife. She was getting ready. She noticed him standing there when she was adjusting her smudged kajal.
He spoke first. 'Can you take leave today? I want to go out with you today.'
She stared back. They had nearly nil conversation for the past year and now he wanted to go out.
She replied 'Yes. I can'
He smiled broadly and she has never seen him smile like that.
They had a fantastic outing that day and when they were returning, Aaditya told her about his successful project, and also about seeing himself in the future.
He said that he didn't want to end up like 'that old man'.
He was a little afraid that she might think that he had lost his mind.
But, she smiled and she said that she was proud of him.
No one could have been happier than Aaditya that day.
The skies turned grey and it started raining. She kept her hands outside and waved her hands against the rain. At last, her husband was back to her and she was happier than her husband.