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Highway

-Mukul Gupta 

To get things going a perfect start is exigent, but the start wasn’t immaculate for me. ‘Inauspicious’ to say the least. First, I woke up late, almost forgetting that I ought to take Neha for a drive. And as I left home, something ominous happened. I got myself into hot water as my car broke down on the way near the ring road. Perhaps, all those things were prognosticating some sign of presentiments for me. However, it wasn’t that worse as I’d anticipated. I came across one of my colleague, borrowed his car and went on.

“She must have been keeping her fingers crossed”, I guessed because of my delay. But the implausible thing was that I arrived there just in the nick of the time. She was standing next to a pole, on the side of the highway. I should say she looked exquisite; as usual her eyes looked outlandish, out of this world, made only for me. But something that was in missing was her exuberance which I often used to see. She looked a bit murky; sarcastic, in my perspective. “Thanks heaven! She’s not looking angry at all.”

I held her hands and we sat in the front of the car. All of a sudden, I saw that woman. But it wasn’t for the first time. Every time I’d come across Neha, I’d seen her. She looked quite hideous. Didn’t  know why, but her reddish eyes and mystic look, have always tried to express something unexpressed, I could feel though people said that she’d taken leave out of her senses.

I turned my blind eyes on her and began to drive. We chattered a lot, had lots of fun, until something portentous happened. Yes again! The fuel tank which was full had become empty in a short drive. This was getting something hard to comprehend.

 I got off parking the car on the side of the highway. Neha, again, was sitting sullen in the car. I began to search fuel station. No sooner had I crossed few distance, a truck came and collided with the car. Everything turned into ashes on impulse.

My every endeavour to rescue her went in vain. Everything happened so prompt that I didn’t get time. I was screaming; bewailing over her death, accusing myself for all that had happened. I should’ve been there, I could’ve helped her. People die once, but I died every single time for my sole mistake.

For few months I was shattered into pieces, unable to overcome the grief. I hadn’t been taken into pieces before as I was then, because she was there to back me up.

I’d heard my Mom saying, “Don’t get disappointed from life. Somewhere your angel must’ve been listening your voice. And I’ve faith that one day she’ll definitely come to help you out.” And she wasn’t wrong.

Life, before the arrival of Neha, wasn’t that eventful and prosperous. Me and my parents were living from hand to mouth. I was weighing on my parents and falling back on them for everything. Though they didn’t give me any clue, but they weren’t economically capable to bear my expenses. Besides, loan from different people was merely adding fuel to the fire. I was living on the edge of everything and was desperate in search of a job.

Life’s full of choices and compromises. But, neither had I had any choice nor anything to compromise with. The only remedy I saw was to commit suicide jumping from the top of the building. 

But this wasn’t to be happened. When I was about to jump, something majestic pulled me out.

It was she speaking in an amiable tone though initially was pinching me, but ultimately prevailed on me as an inspiration to live.

The way she said me, “I’ve often seen you praying to God but what’s the use of that if you don’t respect the most beautiful thing given by him. That’s ‘life’ itself. Why do you think that the world’s responsibility is on your shoulder? What you’ve got may seem less to you, but look at some others’ perspective, you’ll find world in it.” sowed the feeling of optimism that persisted me to live, to struggle.

But there was always going to be a thing to regret that she wasn’t in this world. Nevertheless, love is immortal, and should be in person’s heart. It’s an optimistic feeling of life. And that feeling had given me a reason to live.

Though few months had passed, the investigation was still kept going. The skeptical thing was that, the policemen weren’t able finding the dead body of Neha, nor the truck that hit the car either. According to them, I was driving alone and there wasn’t any clue of other person’s sitting.

They tried hard to take every possible details of her, but unfortunately I also didn’t know much either. We’d acquainted many times, but never in the crowds, I realized. And I hadn’t asked anything about her life because I didn’t want to know.

Now this was getting out of my head, something vague and incomprehensive. I was trying to make my point, but at the same, I had no evidences, hence my arguments cut no ice.

On the spur of the moment, I recalled that old woman, who had seen me with her and definitely had something to do with it. I desperately began to search her to clarify some of the things I wanted to, and I knew she had the answers.

In due course, I discovered her near that highway, entering a small cottage. I scuttled towards her.

“Who’re you?” I asked impatiently “I mean you’ve seen me and Neha together right? You need to come with me. No one’s actually believing me. You’re the only one who has seen Neha and can help me out. Please! Say something. Why are you quiet?”

 “Don’t flog a dead horse, son” I heard a pedestrian saying entering the cottage.

 “What?” I commented.

 He replied, “She’s dumb. She could not speak since her daughter-Neha died some five years ago in an accident, near this highway.

  • After that acquaintance with her, I started feeling nostalgic; all those old but gold memories started flooding in my mind. But I could not recall any one special moment because every moment I shared with her was one of a kind. Especially, those school days were started playing in my mind. Reluctant, conservative and serene were the attributes that every unpopular student might have, were copiously inherent in me.

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