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Together, here….. by Elsa Thomas

February 8, 2016


The doorbell rang at ten and I knew that it was the courier boy with a parcel for me. A book, a few tapes and a letter were its contents. This box has become an integral part of my birthday celebration. Every year on this day, I receive a grand box with my name “Kamalini,” etched on it from somebody so close to my heart and the inception of this ritual dates back to my days at college in the year 2001. The box takes me down memory lane every year though I breathe these memories every second of my life. It always felt nice to relive all that you have been through at some point and every year, with the box in my hand, I try to relive some moments of my past.

Twenty-four year old Shekhar Rai was studying to earn a Master’s degree in Philosophy.  Though he was a student, his discourse on various concepts were amazing to such an extent that the austere looking professor Khan would let Shekhar give lectures to his class fellows, an opportunity he had given to many of his students in the thirty years of his teaching career. To the world, Shekhar was a leader but I perceived of him to be the creator of dreams. He was somebody who gave birth to dreams, filled them in the hearts of the sleeping heart, visualised it for the sleeping eyes and made sure that the memory remained there, buried deep within oneself. He was a mind beyond the comprehension of his admirers and maybe the fragrance of that mysterious air that surrounded him enchanted the young Kamalini Banerjee.

It wasn’t love at first sight. It was the passion for literature, the love for poetry that sparked what the world called ‘love’ in us. Both Shekhar and I detested the term. We considered our passion for poetry a form of devotion; devotion that paved way to what we felt and accepted was love (though we are still in search of a better term.) His poetry sparked something in me and it was a feeling that I had never experienced till that moment.

Shekhar and I were friends first, who then grew to become friends beyond the realm of the conventional boundary of friendship. “In your life, my infinite dreams live,” he borrowed these lines from Pablo Neruda to express what he felt for me at some point of this friendship. We were companions, soul mates but we knew that we could never accustom to the orthodox belief that proximity of this sort between a man and a woman must culminate in holy matrimony. Marriage, family and the so called years of marital bliss were definitely not a part of the list of achievements we pitched for in life. We preferred the companionship. We loved being there for each other and for this wedlock wasn’t an alpha element. We knew that our love was eternal and our promises of love did not really need a vocal display of commitment. Our love transpired in our poetry, our love spoke volumes in between the spells of silence.

It has been almost fifteen years that we are in this together. I never sat to analyse this relationship of ours till date, though I am doing it now partially while writing this one. Shekhar is a writer while I am working with an advertising agency here in Mumbai. We live in two different cities and meet once in a year for a few moments of bliss, for a few moments of togetherness; for our moment in time. The frequency of our meetings are indeed below the quintessential standards set for the meetings of lovers but as we believe, companions for this life do not really need to adhere to the beliefs and standards of the world. Our moments of togetherness were strong and empowered of us to believe and live our individual lives. It was definitely able to ward off the loneliness that one feels surrounded us.

This is definitely one of the few facts that people close to us fail to understand, but there is a certain sense of euphoria in this life of paradox that we led from the point of view of the world. There is a sense of bliss in being rebels with a hidden cause; the feeling of romanticizing what was beyond the understanding of the world to which we certainly did not belong. The box that finds its way to me every year contains a manuscript that Shekhar has written and a message that he will be waiting for my views and suggestion. We seldom talk over the phone. We prefer writing to each other. No, we do not write emails. We write on paper; we consider the paper to be the canvas and use words to play substitute to colours and create what we consider is the real heaven for us; our master piece. The paper has ink stains, lines that cancel the mistakes, colour and scribbling’s that hide what we do not want to share.

Shekhar and Kamalini are two free birds, whose wings are tied together with an invisible chord that does not hinder them from reaching the heights they want. Instead, it keeps them together and lets them soar higher each moment, knowing that they are for each other for this life and that this atypical togetherness is all that matters.

Copyright ©2016 Elsa Thomas

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