So what could be the reason for her melancholy disappearance? Was she psychologically disturbed and thus did not want to meet anyone? Yes, that was one of the thoughts that came to his mind. But he brushed away the idea, also knowing somewhere at the back of his mind, that this could very well be true.
Finally after hours of speculation, he decided to go out looking for her. He went out on the street. For a moment he did not know where to begin looking. He believed that if only he had gone out looking for her a few months back, he would have found her then. But there was no point harping about what he had not done. He was out there on the streets now because he cared for her and the first place that he could think of was the theatre.
The theatre was almost barren. The last show of the night was halfway through. He went inside and took a seat from where he could glance at all the scant occupiers of the hall. He was hardly aware of the performance on stage, when he saw her. She was right in front and grossly engaged in the performance. Once he had spotted her, he came back outside the hall.
So she had not disappeared after all. She was just ‘away’ on her own. He felt both glad and disappointed. Glad because he had found her. But disappointed because she did not feel the need to take him with her, or let him know about her unavailability. Well of course what was the point of it all, if she had taken him with her, or told him about the whole ordeal? He understood it perfectly well, but was nevertheless disappointed too for some strange reason.
When he was back in his room, he decided he was going to leave the town next morning. He would take the 6am train and get off at the last station. He would then look for the farthest motel from the station and lodge there for a few days. But was there a point to all this? Was he not just trying to emulate Her? Simulate her when he could not reach her otherwise. But nevertheless he decided to go on with his 6am train plan.
Next morning, he did everything as he had planned and finally lodged at the farthest motel from the station at around 8pm. When he reached the bed, there was a telegram lying on it. It was a telegram from her. He was shocked and also happy. He could not believe his luck, because he was not looking forward to her responding for some days at least and that too calling him back like this through an urgent telegram. He opened the envelope and saw these words inside – You’re running away from me and I’m from you. We should stop.
The next morning he read in the newspaper, that there had been a shootout back home. Two people were injured and one woman had died on the spot, just outside the theatre. She had been identified and reading her name as the dead left him aghast.
After gulping four glasses of water, he began to calm down. Did he feel remorseful? Did he feel guilty about something? He decided in the negative. All he had to do was to forget about the telegram and lead on a monotonous life. He rushed back home taking the first available train at the station.
Soheb Niazi is studying Political Science at Jawahar Lal University, Delhi.