Aug 5th, 2005
Rohit shivered as he looked at the vast expanse in front of him. Cold breeze with soft wafts touched his face every now and then from the sleepy ocean. The night was serene. It could have been a heck of a romantic one. Only, if he wasn’t there with an agenda on his mind.
Rohit didn’t give a damn anymore. He was running out of patience. The faster the better. The more he stared at the sea, the more the vacuum inside. The choice has been made. He tried not to think of anybody. It was a difficult thing to do, to concentrate this way. Way different from every other decision made in the world. Rohit decided it was time to end the misery. Waiting any longer would only make him take a step back.
There was nothing to go back to except be betrayed one more time. Rohit closed his eyes, held his breath. Tears rolled down his cheeks. The prospect of being called “you are not a man enough to own it up and fight back”. There was nothing left to prove. He took a step further into the water. And another.
Rohit stopped in his tracks. A man’s voice. There was someone else standing behind him. The distance seemed close enough, going by the proximity of the sound. Rohit turned to look.
A man in his mid-20s was standing behind him, smiling and staring. Rohit did not know what to do next. The man continued to look as Rohit nodded in approval. He tried to play along, despite the sudden intervention spoiling his mission.
“Yes, a beautiful night”
“You look like you don’t belong here, dude?”
Rohit was slightly irked. The guy had a terrific timing and the cheek to intrude into his privacy, much less socialize.
“Yes..I mean NO” he replied
“I’m Srinu” he said, brushing off something on his shirt “I usually come here for some quiet time on the weekends. Let me guess. You must be one of those BPO guys new in town. Sorry, didn’t ask your name”
Rohit took a complete 360 degree turn. This guy wasn’t going to go away, at least for the next hour or two. He decided to manage the situation for the time being. The chap will leave the premises anyway.
“Yeah, I’m Rohit. Nice to meet you”
“Want one?” Srinu asked, pointing to the beer in his hand
Srinu stared at him with an annoying smile that was getting to Rohit. It’s cool to be a friendly dude, but this conversation was going on and on. Whatever happened to the locals saying that Thotlakonda was a private point, Rohit wondered.
“Actually, I was by myself when I saw you standing here” Srinu explained “Sorry if I’m intruding into your private time” It was too late for such realizations.
“That’s okay” Rohit took a deep breath. “So tell me something about yourself”
There was an instant delight on Srinu’s face. He started chatting away in under a second.
“Born and raised in Vizag. One brother in US. I live with my family, own a business. I love chilling with friends and girlfriend over weekends. When nobody is available, I come here, this is my favourite spot in the entire city. And what about you?”
Rohit started answering like a school kid being put to task by his teacher.
“Born and raised in Bangalore. Two sisters, married and settled. Was transferred here on job”. They started walking towards the rocks.
“Cool” Srinu sat down on one of them, directing him to sit on the rock that was opposite.
“This is the best part of the year in the city. The weather gets super pleasant. No wonder everybody is seen wandering near the beach. It’s getting dirty too, what with all the littering” Srinu went on talking about his native city, the people, the mood setting about the growing number of non-locals and so on. Rohit kept nodding his head as he gazed towards the sea in between. His plan to drown looked far from being accomplished with the ongoing distraction. He was scarily getting back to the state of normalcy. Once that happened, life will have to be embraced again, the same old way shitty way that it was.
Srinu lit a cigarette, inhaled deeply, and felt relaxed. Rohit let him have his bliss. Every man had a right to his momentary joyous life. Right now, he was the one with a long shot at it.
“You know dude, we miss the old Vizag charm. Not that we are complaining of the incoming traffic” he winked slightly “It’s just, Vizag is the most beautiful in its base simplicity. What they call in Hindi, that Saadgi. That is slowly fading”
“You don’t like the progress?” Rohit asked
“I like it. But something is going away man. Can’t put my finger on it”
Rohit nodded and looked in the opposite direction. Srinu also gazed along with him.
“So tell me more about you, bro. You seem to be all alone? Where do you live?”
Rohit caught the whole transition from ‘Dude’ to ‘Bro’. It was time to set a cold tone and drive the local lad away. He loathed Srinu’s spirit to come by and interrupt his suicide expedition. He had to admire the undying willingness. Simply continuing the conversation would weaken his own plan. It was time to sound nasty and indifferent.
Rohit adjusted his tone and spoke. “Listen, Srinu. I like you getting all friendly. I came here with some other plan. I had to meet someone and that someone didn’t frigging show up. Now, I would like to spend some time alone before I head back. Hope that’s cool with you.”
Srinu shrugged and nodded. He smiled at Rohit and left him alone. There was no reasoning. Rohit felt stupid, but he was relieved. Now he could finish what he had come for. After seeing that Srinu was out of sight, he proceeded towards the sea, one more time.
As Rohit walked towards his last destination, thoughts began to crowd his aching head again. There would be so much left behind unfinished after he drowned. The state of his parents, for one. He did calculate all that mentally, prior to setting out. But the heartache of a six year long relationship coming to a shocking end had simply overshadowed every other aspect of his life. He thought of his last fight with Reema, how badly it had ended. That was it. He was back with momentum to do the deed.
Rohit started getting into the placid waters. He knew that if he went further the undercurrent would get him at some point. He was almost there. Rohit could feel his legs getting dragged inside. He closed his eyes and let the water take him away for good. Then suddenly, voice started ringing inside his head. The voice of his mother.
Rohit started back towards the shore but he was stuck. It was too late. Water was taking him away. There was nothing that could change anything that was happening. He tried every inch to get back, but could not. Rohit was losing it.
Aug 6th, 2005
11 AM, Thotlakonda
Rohit slowly opened his eyes. He felt his head swimming. Bad headache. He looked around to find himself in a four walled room painted in white. The equipment next to him explained where he was.
It was all coming back. The last night’s experience; Rohit talking to Srinu, asking him to leave, the suicide attempt – only, the last part did not happen, clearly.
Rohit looked for his phone and the wallet. A nurse came to take his temperature.
“Where am I? Who brought me here” Rohit asked in confusion.
“You are at the Seven Hills hospital” the nurse replied, with an air of indifference “We have informed your wife. She is on her way”
Rohit scratched his head. He remembered drowning. What had changed after that? And just then, like a flash, he started recollecting. A hand reached out to drag him out of the water. “Hold on dude, I’m getting help” the voice of the last night’s stranger echoed inside his head. Rohit started looking around for his annoying stranger friend.
“Who brought me here?”
“A man found you near the beach. He rushed you to the hospital” she said.
“Can I meet him?”
“He came last night. There was a different nurse in the last shift. I will check if he had left his contact number for you” she headed out.
Oct 4th 2005
7 AM, Beach Road
Rohit was reading the early morning newspaper. The habit that he had picked up since childhood. Weather was humid, bathing the house warm. Reema sat next to him smiling, with her Cuppa. Rohit smiled back. So much had changed after that incident. The couple got closer to each other, like never before. Life began to look wonderful, one more time. Rohit wondered what would have happened if he died. Srinu saved him from that sinking point. Despite all the efforts, Rohit could not trace the man. He had been constantly visiting Thotlakonda after the incident with a hope to get hold of Srinu somewhere. No luck. He sighed with sadness. He just so badly wanted to meet the guy.
Rohit turned the page. He froze in shock. There was no emotion as he looked at what was in front of him. Reema caught his facial expression and peered into the newspaper with concern.
It was Srinu’s photograph in the Obituary section. Rohit picked up the phone to call the number listed there. Reema tried to calm him down, despite feeling bad.
Oct 4th, 2005
Rohit stared at the weeping waters. The universe seemed to be paying a tribute. He took the roses in his hand and laid them on the rock where they sat the other day. Srinu was fighting an advanced level tumour in his forebrain. He was trying to embrace life till the end. Rohit shuddered at the thought of how healthy he himself was, while planning to drown. And there was this other man who sat right opposite to him, loving life and breathing till the last moment with gratitude and acceptance. Srinu died on the operating table. Rohit was told by his cousin over the phone that he fought back till the last.
Rohit offered a silent prayer to the warrior who saved his life despite his worst personal agony. He left the spot without turning back. There was no returning there, ever.
Vizag teaches life to those who have forgotten to live, at first place