SHORT STORIES – POEMS – GUEST POSTS – TRAVELOGUES – MIDNIGHT MUSING – YOUR STORY – MORNING MOTIVATION
By Akshay Deora
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(Content Writer at The Floating Thoughts©)
Standing in the balcony with his hands tucked in the pockets as if to grab on to the diminishing warmth of his own body, Dhruv let out a muffled sigh indicating his attempt to expose himself to the abnormally cold breeze blowing in the wee hours of the morning. It was yet dark that he could not probably demarcate the outline of the beautiful gorge between the two unnamed ancient mountains withered in the hands of time. His camera was kept on a stool juxtapose to him. A delayed shutter had worked wonders for him in the past. He was expecting the same today. Suddenly, the lights switched on the lower floor.
“FUCCC….. This ruins it.”, Dhruv controlled himself from losing it as he muttered those words under his breath. He was on the verge of taking a masterpiece. The shutter clicked suddenly and there was his picture, ruined as expected but more than the annoyance of the last moment adverse effect, he shuddered at the thought of not being able to take it again. The outline of the gorge could now be seen clearly and the chirping of the distant birds were enough to clarify his dreadful thoughts. It was near about 5:30 in the morning and the return vehicle departs in about 2 hours.
So was this it for the year? He quickly sprung into his bed back and checked his To-Do list from under the pillow, the only time he followed this list was when he was in the mountains. Everything else was complied with except this horrible picture and the letter. The letter had been his means to communicate with the mountains, his only love from the first time he started trekking. This was the only way by which he blurted out everything he had inside without reconsideration.
He took out his diary, the first page marked as ‘My love for you’ the respective pages explaining about it torn, the same was the condition with others. He smiled, folded another page in an arrow form and wrote in block letters ‘MEMORIES‘, muttered, “I miss you An..” – he starts scribbling from the next page.
‘My dear mountains,
Weirdo, they call me. Maybe they will never know that’s what I think about them too. Our conversations are a hidden secret. I hope you will keep it that way. Can I trust you on that? I know I can.’, He paused as he looked at the calendar hanging at the wall.
‘It had been seven months since the last time we talked. So, I decided to give you more time than what I gave to these humans. Probably, that is what they found weird, but I didn’t. I was just too deeply involved in landscapes you had to offer.
How quickly you change! I mean like from lush green vegetation to a sudden white desert. Okay! Okay! You don’t believe my praises anymore and want to hear the truth? Here it is then, I can’t just conceal from you.’
He took a deep breath as he starts spilling his beans onto the papers of his diary.
‘People keep on asking me why always you? Why it has to be the mountains? I sometimes even smirk at their question. They ask me for a change, like I am gonna do it ever. They are always curious but I always have the same answer, MEMORIES. Factually, as you know, I don’t come here to create some memories, I come here to get rid of them. Unquestionably, you have been my support factor to get me through this. I never had a doubt when I talked to you regarding the faith I can bestow upon you. However, lately I had observed that I don’t want to get rid of memories anymore. You know who I am referring to? The remnants left are just strengthening me instead of breaking me down anymore. I hope you haven’t forgot about her. How stupid am I? How can you forget? I passed on the memories to you last year.’
He allowed himself to close his eyes and picture her in his mind; an image of a happy young woman, smiling ear to ear as she stare at the mountains.
‘Such a beautiful name she had, ANANYA.’, He paused as he let himself fall down the memory lane.
“Haven’t you ever seen mountains, seriously?” Ananya asked Dhruv laughing hysterically
“No but I will love to,” even though Dhruv abhorred the idea of heights.
“Come with me to the mountains, you will never forget the scent of mountains ever after.” Ananya persuaded in the typical girlish manner.
“I will love to, anywhere with you.” Dhruv couldn’t say no to her.
A gush of wind blew brushing his ruffled hair from the balcony door; he had left open. He rolled up his eyes only to get the site of snow-capped peaks in the distance as it brought him back from his montage of the past.
“Ah! You are still there.” Dhruv exclaimed into that quite lonesome vision smiling to himself and got back to his diary.
‘Yet I am here to get past some memories. Wonder whom am I talking about?
I came down to you to give back what you have given me. You have given me more humans. Humans that do not understand my love for you. You know that I am invulnerable to any emotion and cannot depict what is behind those fake formalities. It’s high time when I just give up on these people. There is no point in being a ‘people-pleaser’ anymore. They leave when they meet you through my eyes, the memories however, stays. I did the same to someone with you as the witness. I left the one who loved me, do you remember? I left Ananya with you last year only to get back the haunting memories, the memories which you have witnessed, mountains. I forbid you to pass them on to me. You cannot just stay sober while passing on those atrocities that I had in the hands of time.’
A sudden movement in the corridor startled Dhruv and in a flash, he threw his diary below his pillow and gradually got up to see who it was only to find the corridor empty. . Probably an attendant woke up early to do his chores.
“You know our conversations are secret. It’s just between us, no one must know this.” Dhruv muttered and started scribbling back.
‘Remember, it was all so good on day one. There were random people, random laughter and random changing landscapes to soothe each eye that fell upon it. That is what people come to you for, happiness. Not me though. Memories are the only concern I have with you. You call me and I know that. Remember how Ananya used to say, ‘Shhh… We don’t require anyone’s love, no one. The mountains are all we need.’ She was right indeed, why should I even care about anyone when I have YOU.’
“Hello, you are lost somewhere, Ananya,” Dhruv gently tapped her shoulders while she seemed lost as the car drove past the flat terrain to the inclination.
“Shhh.. just listen to these mountains, try to feel them,” Ananya seemed pre-occupied with the idea of these mountains.
Another passage brought back another set of memories in his mind as a loud thud snatch him to the reality as he got back to completing his letter to the mountains.
‘It was from day two that they started noticing the quiet me. You didn’t explain that I wasn’t quiet. We were having a conversation when your winds blew against my ears, when the sun from behind your gorges paved a path for reducing chills that we all felt, when the rivers caressing your lap made a gurgling sound calmer than the deepest lonely caves. Ananya taught me how to talk to you and I am glad I learned it quickly. These humans! They were all busy chattering and gossiping amongst themselves. You never existed for them truly. So I did what they were doing. I ignored them and I expected to get the same in return. I wasn’t disappointed though. In fact, that was the glorious part of this trip na? More time with you.’
A faint smile appeared on his face as he continued writing.
‘Ananya used to talk to you all day, even night. Remember when I played games with random people last year wrapped in a warm liner sitting in a warm tent, I clearly noticed her muttering to herself with her eyes closed. She told me you talked to her. I thought she was weird, the misconception that floated around amongst the actual weird crowd. However, the moment I understood how true she was, I decided to talk to you too. How deep our love was, silent and calm like the ocean in perfect weather. We both loved you and that is what brought us closer. People automatically drifted away from us thereafter, isn’t that awkward? But it doesn’t matter.’
“Ananya, where are you?” Dhruv woke up suddenly and felt tensed when he couldn’t locate Ananya anywhere. He moved out of the tent to locate her in a reflex.
“Ananya!!!” Dhruv was startled to find her near the cliff dancing to some inaudible tune.
“I couldn’t stop myself when the winds called me out.” Ananya explained and seemed to be having the time of her life.
Dhruv couldn’t help but look at her childishly and smile.
He was marinating in his memories while still trying to finish the letter before he leaves the mountains until next time.
‘The next five days, I explored whatever you had to offer. After all, I was here with you for a limited time and I decided to spend some time in solitude even further. But did you just see those vibes, those laughter? It horrifically turned back on me and you let that happen. These memories are giving me nightmares. Those random laughter are making me sick now. I can’t sleep. I am afraid to sleep. I can’t stand laughter that breaks the soothing silence. Ananya told me it disturbs you, she told me to stay away from these people. I did and I even came down to you to let these humans understand the value of silence. I failed unfortunately and I am drifting away from you now without giving you back what you bestowed upon me.’
He began to scribble much greater intensity as his face turned red and the grip on the pen, tighter.
‘While summiting , I actually felt that maybe, I can get along with humans after all. They smiled at me, can you believe it? They were yet concerned about me instead of you. However, there is no way that this feeling can be mutual and I am not at all bending from the position I am in now. What I feel holds a dignity for me as well for you and I can live with that. I have decided, not to make any further efforts in making others happy. However, I am unable to get rid of these nightmares.
My dear mountains, I have always looked down upon you whenever I felt that I needed to gain something but this time, I lost. I counted upon you to provide me the solitude I desired but you failed me unfortunately and I am not looking forward to meeting you again for some time now. I wish to stay with the remains of the broken memories for some time now. Hope you understand that. Till the next time, ciao.’
He quickly glanced at the time, it was 6:30 and now distant river, Bhagirathi was visible in its full glory still caressing the laps of those unnamed mountains. Gangotri is really the abode of gods. Whatever he wrote covered nothing more than 4 pages which he tore as if hiding a private global document. Folded and tucked the same inside his wallet, put on his double-layered jacket and set off at a rapid pace down the hill. He could hear the crowd gathering and chatting in the distance as he started climbing the stairs. Memories flashed past his eyes as he tried to head away from them.
“It’s dangerous, Ananya, we are at the edge.” Dhruv looked down in horror with his legs trembling.
“It is all just in mind Dhruv, it’s just mountains and.. us.” She stood beside him clenching his hands in isolation.
He briskly paced towards the bridge and walked past the people who were gathered for the morning Aarti until he found a vacant place with big boulders. He took the piece of folded letter out of his wallet and with a force shifted one big, visibly immovable boulder, bent down and kept the letter on the wet ground presumably from the morning dew.
“I haven’t released you from the services yet. You are responsible for these memories and you get to keep them. I will meet you soon but hopefully, not with these memories.” Having said these words out loud to the silence of the mountain mornings, he slid back the boulder on the letter, turned back and ran away onto the bridge.
The run was sub-consciously carried out in the distant ringing of temple bells while his eyes were moist. He could feel Ananya beside him. He reached the bridge in a jiffy.
While standing on the centre, he scanned the point where he was probably standing a few minutes ago. The boulders were indistinguishable and no one would ever know the secret he hid beneath them. Satisfied he walked back. At the stairs of the lodge, two of his trek companions were standing glaring at him suspiciously. “With whom did you went down, Dhruv, to the temple?” one of them interrogated thinking he went down to the temple. Dhruv looked at him first and then back to the distant nothingness, giving out an unsatisfactory smile.
A memory was the only answer he could think of. A memory which was somewhat engraved on the back of his mind…
“I love you Ananya,” Dhruv finally let his hearts out standing on the edge of an isolated cliff with Ananya.
“Are you mad, Dhruv? What are you even thinking?” Ananya seemed furious now.
“But… I thought it’s these mountains and just… us.” Dhruv let out a chaotic tone.
“What the fuck are you talking? Are you high? When did I even said anything like that to you?” Ananya laughed hysterically mocking the devastated emotions of Dhruv.
“But Ananya, you told me that you love being with mountains and now I learned that too.”
“With mountains Dhruv, not you. You have been acting like a psycho all along, muttering to yourself when we were there together, dancing in the middle of the night and what not? I tried to calm you down but in vain. You need to see a doc. I came down to the mountains with you because you urged me to. I tried to be friends but you don’t deserve that?” Ananya was infuriated as she turned her back at Dhruv.
Dhruv looked down as if he was facing a defeat. Then whispered, “Ananya.”
“What?” Ananya faced Dhruv again confused.
“I just had a word with mountains. They said that you need to stay here to understand my love.” Dhruv seemed happy as if receiving a present from his guardian.
“What the Fu..!!!” Ananya couldn’t complete her words before being pushed off the cliff by Dhruv.
The look in her eyes before she fell was an entanglement of shock, fear and disgust. The hate in her eyes freaked Dhruv out. He shivered frantically.
“I hope you will start loving me when we meet again.” Dhruv shouted to the already invisible Ananya.
She was nowhere to be seen after that.
Dhruv stood there for some time before walking back with a consent into the nothingness that was a world he built on his own.
The same void he gazed upon with satisfaction as he stood there smiling, looking down upon the abysmally true world with innumerable members living in it. The only members he had to suffice for his loneliness. The only answer he had to his empty life:
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Featured Image Credit – Akshay Deora