It was an intense moment. Like a moment inside a moment.
We sat on a bench by the lake. City lights reflected on the black water. Nearly mesmerizingly. But there was nothing romantic about it. We were both deeply bothered, I guess.
We had a rule. One smoke per night, strictly. One each that is. Sharing a smoke would be too intimate. His black polythene bag was between us on the bench. It had his drink for the night. I would have a swig from it before we walked back to our rooms. Sometimes, two or three.
There was a girl he loved deeply. She had recently been married off to another man and had been shipped abroad. She still loved him back. That so rebellious love of the early twenties. He had heard her voice after weeks, he was almost too benumbed to speak. He had told me about her earlier though. About how they had met and fallen in love at the place they worked. And how vehemently her parents had opposed the match, and so on. Their love had been obsessive-compulsive.
Not the milder poetic version, but serious life endangering love that. I wasn't aware of such love myself back then. I only came to know of it later when I fell into it myself. Some mind-fucking, nerve-wrecking shit that.
But back then, I was in a different kind of a love. With another man, who was as far away as far away could be. Victimized by my repetitive tendency to fall for unavailable men. That was young-vulnerable love. The love of cards and roses. And preferably, low sugar chocolates as well.
One thing we had in common was that we had both been equally sequestered by the ones we had loved. And that pain was enough to make us sit side by side with the lake and with its shimmering lights on back water. Every night, for as long as it took for us, individually and together, to gather our heartbroken selves and walk back to our rooms. A strange camaraderie that.
Somethings needn't be explained. This, needn't even be touched. Years have gone by, now all that remains is a faded memory of two jaded beings by the lake. Almost wiped clean, it is sometimes recovered to remember, so many loves since then, so many heartaches since then. But I can still recall the taste of the ice-cream he treated me with afterward, to snap me out of whatever depression that was. Dark chocolaty chocolate with cream, yes. And no, not sugar free.