The chilly wind from the mountains blows across Sujata’s face.She turns towards the narrow lane bordering the hills. She sees old men on bicycles at day’s end, cosy lovers walking towards the promise of another day, a little kid comfortably wrapped in her mother’s arms, heading home. Sujata smiles a faint smile.She closes her eyelids, immersed in deep thoughts.It has a detoxifying effect on her soul- love.It cleanses and nourishes,gifts immense peace. Her mind travels to him a thousand times a day.She whispers “true love is infinite, imperishable,eternal”
Sujata leans further against the wooden bench ,facing the dusky mountains and the reverie continues.She thinks of Siddhartha- the self-absorbed “arrogant” boy in her class.The snobbish indifference that his classmates detested was the subject of Sujata’s admiration.Perhaps,it was Siddhartha’s lofty intellect that intrigued her.The solo copy of Mario Salvadori’s “Structures in Architecture” in the college library had built the bridge of friendship between the two.Over the very many conversations in the library, canteen,classroom, Sujata had discovered her true inspiration in Siddhartha.With his inspiration, Sujata had applied and prepared for the gruelling GRE test and found place in the prestigious University of Pennsylvania design ,while Siddhartha had achieved the coveted seat in the Berkeley college of Environmental design,California.Sujata thinks back on her surprise visit to California on Thanksgiving weekend, Siddhartha’s warm embrace , the gush of happy emotions,the giddy feeling called love. She thinks of her motherly concern towards Siddhartha- a deep, seemingly unfathomable affinity.
For Siddhartha, Sujata had been the perfect friend and confidante. Sujata was the first to be intimated when he had received his recruitment letter from the renowned architecture firm Perkins Eastman as an Architectural Designer.Siddhartha now had a clear sense of the course of his life.He wanted Sujata to be his life partner and not merely a partner in his dream architecture firm.”You know Sujata “, and Siddhatha had quoted Nietzsche “ It is not a lack of love but lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” He continued, “Do you want to be forever happy … with me?” Sujata had responded with the most radiant smile, her face sparkling like a precious jewel in the beautiful,breezy, moonlit night. “You will be the best intern, they have ever had”, was Siddhartha’s exact response on receiving the news of Sujata’s internship opportunity with “Page”, an Architecture firm in Washington D.C.Inspiration is both the seed and a powerful expression of love.
Sujata had bought a promise ring for Siddhartha after his unusually romantic proposal on that breezy, moonlit night. During an evening stroll,they had exchanged their promise rings.The dense, dark ,chilly fog had enveloped Sujata like a sheet .She had lost sense of time, still engrossed in her reflection.She thinks of the summer afternoon ,her fluttering heart on noticing Siddhartha’s precious name blinking on her phone, the feeble “hello” from the other end, her impromptu hasty drive from Washington D.C. to New York.
Sujata was welcomed in Siddhartha’s dimly lit studio apartment with a tired, laboured smile. “I am so happy you are here, Sujata”, he had said. Sujata couldn’t control her stream of tears as she hugged him tight.Siddhartha had been suffering from tremendous pain in his hip bones, limbs and shoulders. He had consulted his physician, the physiotherapist, the chiropractor, exhausted the largest doses of painkillers, but to no satisfactory relief. The severe pain would interrupt his sleep. It had taken a toll on his health and job. “Don’t worry, a good Orthopaedic surgeon will heal all your pain.” was Sujata’s reassurance. “Do you have a family history of Arthritis? “ Sujata had asked.
Sujata thinks of the first hopeful visit to the Orthopaedic surgeon’s chamber . And then,the interminable nightmare – The MRI and bone scan , the biopsy and the doctor’s devastating conclusive pronouncement “ Metastatic Osteosarcoma- a bone cancer that has spread to distant organs”,the 4 cycles of Chemotherapy at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer centre and the inevitable , inescapable end. The end of many unfulfilled dreams , the end of an incomplete story with two promise rings.
Sujata looks up at the lone shining star in the night sky and murmurs into the eternal silence, lines from her poem “Permanence”that she had written for Siddhartha a month before his final good-bye.
“When you are gone, i will think of you,
..paint my mind with your words, words lost for eternity,
only safely stored in my heart.
…And when at night, all is still and the stars are shining bright,
I will search you in the stars and sky , before i say good night..”
Precious teardrops moistened the mutely eloquent promise rings on adjacent fingers of Sujata’s left hand.