It was a lazy Tuesday afternoon. I sat on the wooden arm chair that I had inherited from my grandfather and looked around nonchalantly. The violin stood still in the corner of the room and as the rays of the sun strategically fell on it, I could spot a ball of dust hovering around. The indoor plants looked relatively dry and I failed to recollect the last time I had watered them. The shadows created symmetrical patterns on the ceiling and pages of the book fluttered lightly due to the east wind. Everything seemed quite static and lifeless apart from my dog chasing pigeons in the balcony. There was nothing really to look forward to, no mood to set in, no ideas to initiate and the silence was engulfing my mind, creeping into my veins.
Just then, the telephone rang loudly, catching me off guard. I walked towards to it wondering who it could be at 4 pm on a weekday.
“Hello, Am I speaking to Ohona?”
The voice was deep, strong and controlled. It had a persuasive tone and a low resonant pitch, so enticing that it made me instantly regret not being Ohona.
“Wrong number”, I said.
“Oh, I’m sorry but I’m quite certain about dialing the correct number. Are you sure, there’s no Ohona living in the house?”
I was a little taken aback by that question. I don’t think I’ve ever had any wrong numbers making such statements succeeding an apology. I actually got my mind to think whether this house ever had any Ohona making an existence. Do I even know someone with that name? It was beautiful, the name and the way he pronounced it. Ohona, I thought, who could that be? How would she be?
He was perturbed by my silence and immediately came up with a plausible explanation for his atypical question.
“I’ve been looking for Ohona since a while. I fail to believe she could me a wrong number and an incorrect address. I met her on a train journey, you know. I’d bought a ticket from the station that day without knowing where the tracks would take me. I didn’t have a destination in mind. All I wanted to do was escape.”
He took a pause.
I couldn’t hold myself back from asking, “Escape from?”
He took a deep breath. It contained a blow of regret and melancholy, as if he went back in time, to the day when he was trying to make his predominant escape.
“Escape from the atrocities of life.” He finally answered.
“I devoured it all but I was famished. I was jaded from running the race which comes with no medals in the end even if I secure the second position. I was done living in a farce.” His voice had a profound sense of remorse that instantly made me feel empathetic towards him.
“I wanted to run away, leaving all the people and memories behind, probably to another land or another country or to another planet all together.”
He took a pause again.
“Then?” I said, wondering as to why am I so intrigued by a conversation with a complete stranger.
“It was Ohona who saved me.”
My mind pushed me into an array of imagination. “How was Ohona like? Did she have long curls or cropped hair? Does she like to read as much as I do? Are her eyes as big as mine?”
I was flustered when I realized I’m subconsciously comparing myself to her but I could barely govern my restless thoughts taking me to flagrant directions where even I didn’t intend to go.
How did she save him? Was it her words or her actions? Or just her face full of expressions? Did she actually pull him inside the compartment when half his body was leaning outside the door? Or did she heal him with conversations that didn’t hold any preconceived notions or judgment?
“An honest, heartfelt conversation is a powerful weapon”, I thought to myself. How many nights have we spent solely relying on the exchange of words between two people? How beautifully we fall in love with a person merely through pure meaningful conversations. Why does the heart always feel better when someone looks into the eye and believingly say, ‘it’s going to be okay’?
Did she tell him, it’s going to be okay? What would have I done if I was with him in the same train that night? Would I be able to save him too? Would he desperately come down looking for me too? Would he grow feelings for me too? I wish I could cure him as well. I wish I could tell him that the world is not as atrocious as he thinks it is and that we’re all in this together. We can always start all over again. I wish I could make him believe in all the goodness lying in the corners of the world and how miracles happen only if we believe in them. I wish I could let him know about the love and magic that he contains within himself.
But all I could tell him was, “I’m sorry, I’m not your Ohona.”
- SHRAMONA PODDAR