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Love you Mr Poet

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4

“…that’s all for today. I hope everyone had understood today’s lecture; except G.” Every student turned their heads towards G. after the teacher’s remark. “He is busy erasing something important from his book.” Everyone laughed at him as he scratched his head with the eraser in his hand and looked down, ashamed. “Only G. stays back; everyone else leave” the teacher commanded. The students packed their bags and hummed among themselves about everything. G. leaned back on his chair putting aside the book. It had no front cover; moreover, the spine was tattered and the pages were torn. It looked like some ancient book over which battles had been fought; whoever had won, the book had been injured. After a close observation one could conclude that once this book had a cover colored red.

 “Hey, are you alright?”  I asked. 

G., as if suddenly plunged back to reality from his world of thoughts, said,

 “Yes? Oh, yes. I am fine. You don’t have to worry…”

“You’re not, my friend; it’s evident from your face. Look at you; you look destroyed.”

“Just leave me alone” G. pushed him away.

“See, you’re getting irritated.”

 “Where am I getting irritated?” G. yelled.

Some students in the front looked back at them when he yelled. Embarrassed, he put his head down on the table.

“Is it because of her?” I asked and twitched my eyebrows. 

The cheeks of G. reddened, as if a well-hidden secret from everyone had been discovered. 

“No!” G. answered. “Nothing ‘bout her. Who is she? I don’t know her.”

“Indeed, it’s about her. I warned you beforehand, if only you listened to my words.”

The teacher knocked at the door twice before entering the classroom.

 “I’ll wait for you outside. We’ll go home together” I proposed.

“No. You leave. I’ll take the longer route; besides I have some work…”

 “Okay! Take care buddy” he left. G. stood up.

“Sit, sit; this is casual.” The man eased the tension, and took out a student’s chair from the front row while walking towards G. He was wearing a white full-sleeve shirt and a pair of gray trousers. His black hair was smoothly parted towards the left and his face cleanly shaven. He was a very popular teacher among the students- one who could be a strict taskmaster on one hand, and a problem-solver on the other. He sat on the chair in front of G. and folded his elbows near his chest. 

“Sir I’m sorry. I’ll never do this in your class again. Please don’t call my mother for this issue. I beg you” G. pleaded.

“Hold on G.” the teacher gestured him to stop. “I’m not concerned about this book. I’m not concerned about your inattentiveness during the class. I know you’ll make it up. What I’m concerned about, is you.”

G. looked at his teacher. 

“You had been a different dude during the last three days. You used to be full of life. You used to come up to me at the end of every class and tell me what did you read apart from the school curriculum and tell me,” the teacher stood up and entered one of his hands inside his pocket and with the other started explaining, “Sir, I have this idea for a novel. I have that idea for a poem. I didn’t agree with you at that point. You can’t teach well.”

G. chuckled. 

“I miss that student of mine” he said and sat down on his chair again.

“What’s wrong with you?” the teacher asked grabbing his shoulder by his right hand.

“Nothing wrong sir. In fact, I’m working on a new plot. It’s about this girl who…” G. went on talking about his lofty ideas and his teacher listened to him. At times, he asked a question to him; at times he corrected a plot-hole. It was two artists at work; an exchanged which helped one to grow, and one to make up a sense of loss.

G. ended the story and saw the teacher looking at him with a sense of satisfaction.

“I was missing this within you for a few days. We live for this; we live by this; do not lose it G. For anything or for anyone, do not lose it.”

 “Yes sir.”

Satisfied with the conversation, the teacher decided to leave. G. stood up. The teacher walked up to the door, while G. started packing his bag.

“Hey!” the teacher said. “Do you know Ishrat changed her shift?”

“No,” he said. “I didn’t know that. She hadn’t been answering my calls for three days now.”

“Something’s wrong between you two?”

 “Yes, I mean, no” he tried to make it up. “There was nothing between us from the beginning” he said with a little laugh.

“Really?”

“Ye-ye Yes sir!” G. stuttered.

The teacher walked up to him, pulled him by his elbow and whispered to his ear, 

“I had been a writer myself. I know…”  the man patted on his shoulder twice before leaving. “Good luck with your story” he winked.

G. stood alone in the emptiness of the classroom. He made up his mind to call her once again that evening. While dialing her number in his phone, he left the classroom.

II

G. entered the empty classroom with a diary and a pen in his hand, while on his back he carried a black bag. He hurriedly threw his bag on the second desk and sat upon the first chair. His dishevelled hair and sharp eyes radiated a fit of inspiration going inside him. He opened a page smothered by a poet’s pen: blue scratches here and disconnected lines there. He was working on a poem for the school magazine. After staring at the page for a few minutes, he leaned back on his chair. He looked outside through the window and found several tall apartments and very few trees. He looked down at his page yet again and looked up once, until a thing at the door caught his eye. A face was looking at him from the door; her body was hidden by the wall. Her hair was tied back neatly, but a lock fell on her forehead softening her jaw. Her fair little hand now appeared at the edge and words to her little lips…

“He’s here?” 

“No. I was nearby so I came earlier.”

“So, the class didn’t start?”

“No. We still have half an hour. Besides, you see, nobody had come. They don’t take the classes too seriously” he laughed.

“Yeah I know” she shrugged. “I am a new admission by the way.” She entered the classroom confidently and sat beside him. He saw her breathing while a drop of sweat trickled down behind her neck where there was a tiny black mole contrasting her fair skin. He looked once again at the page and tried to meditate upon it.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

He closed his diary and said:

“Nothing.”

“Show me what you’re hiding!” she exclaimed, and reached out to his other hand which held the diary.

“No. This is something private.”

“Nothing is private between friends” she fought for the diary.

“Friends? When did we become friends?” he was surprised.

“Now, when we met.”

“Is friendship so easy? You just meet once and become friends?” he asked with suspicion.

“It is that easy my friend; it’s us who complicate the things” she said.

His mind was already startled by this brief encounter, but he didn’t show his confusion; instead he fought to keep the diary out of her reach. 

 “You won’t show it to me, right?” she stopped and sat back on her chair. “You had hurt me” she hid her face inside her arms.

He didn’t intend to hurt her; he didn’t intend to hurt anyone, but then he had done, he thought. He took the diary and held it to his chest feeling guilty for hurting her. Suddenly, she snatched the diary from his arms.

“Ha-ha” she laughed and ran at the end of the room. 

Such an actress she is, G. thought. He got out of his chair and walked at the end of the room while she was reading his diary. She wore glasses while reading. He was annoyed at this incident. 

With a thud, she closed the diary and gave it to him. He took it back with an unnecessary amount of force. She twitched her eyebrows at him tilting her head. He walked back feeling a myriad of emotions: annoyance and embarrassment were chief of them.

“My name’s Ishrat” she said. “Hello Mr. Poet!”

“Mr. Poet?” he was puzzled. “Me?”

“Yeah you. Who else?”

“Do you know who’s a Poet?”

“Umm… one who writes Poetry?”

“What do you mean by Poetry?”

“Some lines in the middle of a page?”

“That’s all?”

“Some lines in the middle of a page having deep meanings?”

He didn’t know whether to pity her innocence or to laugh at her ignorance. He decided to abandon her and sat down on his chair. She intruded him yet again.

“What is it then?” she asked like a child. “Tell me!”

He heaved a sigh and said:

“If only I knew what it is…”

 “You don’t know yourself, yet you’re telling me that I’m wrong?”

“Yeah. You see the po-”

She showed him her palm and stopped him, while she continued:

“Poetry is some lines in the middle of a page having deep meanings; and you are a Poet. End of the story. Why do you overthink and overcomplicate things?”

He had no answers for her.

“And don’t be shy to show people what you are mister.”

He nodded his head.

“And you’re a good Poet. I like this line and will remember it forever”, she recited, “Some stories ne’er end as they didn’t start…”

She clapped her hands in joy. 

“How beautiful! Something that had begun shall end one day, but if it hadn’t begun at the first place, how can it end? Genius!” she exclaimed.

G. approved all her words helplessly. 

“Don’t worry,” she rested her hand on his shoulder, “I have come now. I will set things straight for you.”

“Well thank you for your kindness Ishrat; but I don’t need your help.”

“I’m not giving you an option. I’m helping you.”

“Did I even ask once for your help?”

“You don’t have to ask me. You’re my friend. It’s my duty.”

G.’s palm was on his forehead and he looked up at the white ceiling.

“Write a Poem for me” she demanded. 

“For you?” he asked. “How? I only write what I feel” he said.

“Think of me while writing whatever you are writing” she said. “I’ll think that you wrote it for me.”

“You’re really a strange person” he said. “I’ll try.”

“Yay!” she cried happily. 

G. smiled at her.

“Add some rhymes to it. I don’t like unrhymed ones” she ordered.

“Why?” he asked. “Nowadays you’ll seldom find rhymes. People seem to prefer unrhymed verses.”

“You’re not writing for public. You’ll write it for me. My life’s unrhymed enough; it’ll be nice to have something rhyming about it…”

The brief exchange was cut short by a phone call for her. 

“He’s calling me again” she murmured. “I’ll catch up with you soon” she went out.

She came, she left; but in between she had conquered G. Like a gusty wind, which leaves a lonely traveller muddle-headed and moonstruck; she had left him. He looked around himself and found the class filled up with students. Some were chatting, some comparing notes and some meditating onto their phones. 

When did they come? He thought. This room was empty; only me and her. I never saw anyone coming inside. 

“Too much engrossed with her that you didn’t see anyone of us” I said from behind.

“When did you come?” G. asked.

“Don’t have to know” I saiid. “Beware of her. Keep thy feelings to thyself…”

G. laughed and looked at his wrist-watch. “It’s time. I’ll go and call her.” He kept his diary inside his bag and walked out of the classroom in search of her.

III

G. opened the black gate to come out of the building and joined himself to the stream of pedestrians. He was trying to reach her, but her line appeared busy every time. After failing repeatedly; this time, they were connected.

“Hello?” he questioned, panting.

“Yes…”  the girl on the other side replied.

As if two strangers were talking to each other. He didn’t know what to ask, she didn’t know what to answer. They didn’t say a word for a minute; there was a silence, a silence filled with the hubbub of the crowd. The lights were starting to come out of the apartments, shops, street lights and finally, stars.

“You didn’t tell me that you were changing shifts…?” he asked.

“I thought it was a petty matter…”

“How’s your health?”

“I’m not well; suffering from a headache since this morning…”

 “But I heard that you went out with him today…”

She was silent; as if a well-kept secret had been found out by the one, from whom it was intended to be hidden.

“No, I mean yes… Who told you?” she asked.

He turned left towards a lonely lane to take the longer route.

“Can you tell me one thing honestly?” he asked seriously.

Ishrat remained silent. She didn’t say a yes or a no.

“I feel I know what are you going to ask, but I don’t want you to ask this.”

“Do you still love me?”

She knew one day he would ask this question to her, and she has to speak the truth. But she didn’t know that this day was that day.

“G., I wish you never asked this question to me…”

“It’s okay. I am ready to get my heartbroken. Do it. Give me the truth. I need to hear this. I had spent many sleepless nights thinking about this. You’ll never know how many imaginary conversations I had held with you. I cannot get you out of my head. Please give me an answer! Please!”

“I have no answer. In fact, I myself don’t know the answer. Believe me…”

“Okay, so it’s a ‘no’ right?”

“I’m not telling you a no. Stop answering your questions yourself.”

“It’s okay. It doesn’t ruin our friendship; I assure you. I know he’s far better than me.”

“Did I tell you once that he’s better than you? Stop demeaning yourself!”

“Then, what’s the problem? What’s the ground upon which I get rejected and not him?”

“Who told you that I’ve accepted him and rejected you? In the first place, who told you I’ve accepted him? Why are we talking about acceptance and rejection?”

“Then what’s the problem with me? Why I can’t be with you?”

“We aren’t meant to be together…”

“We are!”

“Some stories don’t end the way we want” she mused. “Besides our families won’t allow…”

G. had already anticipated this situation and had his answers ready for it.

“I know about this. I have thought about it.”

“What have you thought?” she was surprised.

“I have to convert my religion for nikah.”

Upon hearing this she was terrified, baffled and angry. Still, G. went on:

“I knew this would happen, that’s why I am preparing myself to change my religion and make my parents agree upon it. I have also prepared a list of names for inter-religious babies…”

“Can you please stop for a moment?” she shouted at him. “Stop!”

G. had walked a long way, but as he was talking with her, the journey seemed to be of a few seconds. There was not a single human being around him. A shadow of a tree fell over a dog sleeping at the roadside. He had enough time to reflect upon himself within those few seconds. What was I doing, he thought, for a couple of months? Weaving a fictional story that can never be true? A life that can be never lived? Is this how the little world we build falls apart?

 “Listen,” Ishrat broke the silence between them, “I’m sorry that I made you dream unreal dreams. This is entirely my fault. You can put all your blame on me. I had hurt you…”

G.’s head sunk onto his chest. He stood like a man defeated under the streetlight. The dog nearby lifted his head up and looked at him with sympathy and twinkling eyes. 

“Are you there?” she enquired after a brief pause.

“Yes, yes” he replied. “I’m here, and I’m okay. It happens. Sorry for all the trouble. Actually, you see, I take everything too seriously. Your smiles, your gestures and moments spent together over the year made me think of… never mind. I won’t disturb you anymore. Have a good night.”

G. intended to cut the call immediately but the voice on the other side stopped him.

“No, no. Wait. What did I make you think of?” she asked.

“Nothing. It’s absurd…”

“Won’t you share your secrets with me anymore? Like you used to do before?”

“I don’t know.”

“Can I tell you something?”

“What?” he breathed. 

“I like you.”

A few men were walking back towards the night after a weary day. A motorcycle swooshed past him. An old man came out of his new house with a lighted cigarette in his hand. Several dogs were barking at the lane behind. The dog woke up and ran towards the noise. He, too, was barking at the top of his voice. Suddenly there was life in that lifeless lane.

“And,” Ishrat continued, “I don’t know what our futures hold for us.”

“Someone said to me that we make our futures ourselves” he said.

 “Yeah, I know who said it” she chuckled.

 “Uh Ishrat, I wanted to ask, I mean to clarify…” he was interrupted.

“My mother is calling me. Bye.” she hung up the call.

He stared at the empty screen of his phone for a few seconds before putting it back to his pocket. He looked behind him and saw a young couple walking back home. They were holding hands and walking together. The girl pulled his cheek once and punched on his belly. The boy pressed her wrist until she shouted in pain.

 He entered both of his hands inside his pockets, hung his head down and slowed his walk.

IV

The evening had already died and the night was growing young. A bus filled with tired workers honked at a white car in front. The hawkers arranged their unsold items on the footpath. There were lights everywhere- from the apartments, shops, street lights and stars. G. was walking in a speed slower than his usual. His hands were inside the pockets of his trousers and his lips were talking to himself. He pretended as if he didn’t hear the hasty steps behind to let his eyes be covered by the walker’s fair little hands.

“I am a ghost!” the walker proclaimed with a horrific laugh.

G. removed her hands and turned back to confront the ghost.

“Why are you ghosting me Ishrat?”

“Am I, Mr. Poet?”

“Never mind…” he said. “I thought you were going home with him, rather than me.”

“Why do you think so much?”

“So, you’re going with me today?”

“Do you have any problem?”

“Nope. I knew that you were coming with me today because last week you had gone with him. Today’s my turn, therefore.”

“Excuse me! What do you mean by this? Do you think I’m that kind of girl?”

“Everyone knows the truth about you.”

The lonely dog sleeping nearby was awakened by their voices. 

“I thought you weren’t like everyone. I thought you would, at least you would understand me. But you also turned out to be like everyone. I was wrong to see you as someone, my someone…” she wiped her tears and laughed a bit. “I won’t disturb you anymore. Goodbye.”

G. caught her hand when she turned and the lonely dog was still observing them. He didn’t feel sleepy anymore. 

“Ishrat…” he blushed when he took her name. “I’ll be that ‘someone’ of yours.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.”

“Thank you!” she cried and hugged him dearly. He didn’t know whether to keep his arms on her back or on her waist. Should I pat on her back? It’s dark here; but what if someone catches us hugging at public? I never felt this sensation for any girl before. Why do I wish this hug to never end? Why am I afraid of losing her? Maybe I should kiss her right now, my first kiss… he thought while his hands were hovering over her shoulders.

Suddenly, the dog barked. The moment ended abruptly leaving both of them perplexed. They noticed a shadow nearby. A man, probably a middle-aged office goer, was gaping at them. The dog started barking at him and approached him with his shiny eyes and sharp teeth. The man fled. 

“Who was that?” Ishrat asked.

“Some uncle” G. said. “God, I hate these people; these old nosey creatures. What’s their concern whatever we lovers do or not do?”

“Exactly. These people never change… Wait! Lovers?” she gasped. “When did we become lovers?”

“I mean friends. I told friends. You might have misheard. The dog has been barking and the cars have been honking. My words might have been distorted. Ha!” he said.

“Oh, really?”

“Yes. Let’s go home.”

The dog came back to his place after chasing away the bystander and found them nowhere. He coiled himself back to sleep.

“Why do you always keep your hands inside your pockets when you walk?” she asked.

“I don’t know” he said. “Is that bad?”

“It shows you are hiding something in your hand. It might be a gun.” With both of her index fingers she imitated a gun and pointed at G. as if she was shooting him. “Take your hands out. Walk like me, with confidence.” She took both of his hands out and placed them by his side. “Now walk!”

“I cannot do this. Please leave me!” he pleaded.

“Why is that so?”

“I don’t feel me being myself in this way of walking. I feel I’m someone else…”

The shadow of the tree fell on the road due to the lonely street light. Two men were smoking under it. 

“I know a magic. It will make you walk without hiding your hands. And also, you’d be yourself when you walk” she said.

“How?” he was surprised.

She took his hands out of his pockets, joined her palms with his and entwined her fingers upon his. She pressed his hand tightly as if she wouldn’t let them go ever.

“Feel better?” she asked.

He said yes with a nod of his head. 

“I feel myself when I’m with you” she said, holding his hand. He saw those men watching at her while she continued to talk with him. “Someone who would let me be myself and bring out the best of me; it’s you.”

“Me?” he asked.

“Of course!” she jumped forward and started pulling him like a child does to an adult when the latter walked slow. The men turned away their gaze from her.

“Did you write something new?”

“I did one; it’s for you…”

“Me?” she was surprised. “I never thought you’d take my childish words seriously.”

“I did” he said. “That’s me. Always taking petty things seriously.”

“So, you think I am petty?” she stopped, offended. 

“I’m not telling that!”

“You told! Don’t lie!”

“Forgive me” he resigned. “I’ll never say that.”

“I’m not forgiving you” she crossed her hands. “Only if I like the poem…”

His eyes brightened, and he searched his bag for the paper ripped from his diary. They resumed their walk. A sweet wind was blowing. There were chances of rain according to the weather forecast, but there were no clouds. The night sky was clear. The stars were prominent and the moon was shining like a queen.

“Here” he handed the piece of paper to her. “Read it when you are home.”

She took it instantaneously from his hands. She didn’t trust him in these matters; what if he kept the paper to himself.

“I’m reading it here, now.”

“No!”

“Yes. Let’s get to that construction site ahead. There’s a street light opposite to it” she ran away from him and in no time, she was there. G., with his head hung down for his upcoming embarrassment, walked up to her. She was already wearing her black framed glasses. 

“Now let’s read-

Some stories of love don’t end as we want.

Her happy hands weren’t meant for his cold ones-

Ah! Still he dreamt, he fell, and he got hurt,

Here in these moon-lit streets, by those 

Endless walks with her on nights cold-

Ever did they meet at the very end?

No; together they weren’t meant.

She took off her glasses and folded the paper as it was before. He saw the wind lifting her hair. She came near him and kept her hands on his breast-pocket. She popped in the paper in his pocket and said, “I don’t know if you’re a prophet. I am not one for sure. But I want them to be together.”

“What if they aren’t meant?”

“They are.” 

“I don’t know what future holds for us.”

“We make our future ourselves” she said and brushed her left hand softly by his buttoned placket before taking it back. They resumed their walk- Ishrat with her usual carelessness in front and G. with his head down and hands inside his pockets.

“Do you think it will rain tonight?” she asked. 

“I don’t think so.”

“Me neither. But I want it to happen…”

 She was gifted in whistling, and the moments of silence in between their conversations were filled with music. It made their long journey, short, or perhaps, shorter.

“Your apartment comes…” he said.

“Oh!” she suddenly remembered something. “I forgot it!”

“What?”

“Your book; which I borrowed from you! I had to return it.” She opened her bag and brought out a big fat book with a shiny cover called red. She returned it to him.

“Did you even read it?” he asked.

“If you’re going to ask me questions from it; then, no. If you aren’t; yes!”

“That means you haven’t read…”

“Ha-ha”

She unlocked the gates of her apartment while he stood with the book in his hand.

“By the way,” she said while locking the gates, “don’t open the last page of the book. Alright? Goodnight.” She waved her hand before ascending the stairs. He waved her back.

The last page, he thought. What’s in there? 

He opened the last page of the book and was dumbfounded. At the bottom he saw a short note written by a pencil- ‘Love you Mr. Poet!

At that moment, he wanted to tell her a lot of things which he hadn’t said to anyone ever. He wanted to shout and stop her. He felt a burning sensation in his heart; as if it had melted and recast into a new heart- where there was only one feeling, love; only one girl, her. Why haven’t I understood this till now? He thought. All our walks, all our talks, the way she held my hand, that touch on my shirt, that little breathless moment under the streetlight; and, this little note she shared tonight; this is it! I love you too Ishrat! I love you too! 

THE END

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4 thoughts on “Love you Mr Poet

  1. Very nice and heart touching ❣️

  2. The ending is awesome…keep going, my brother…♥️♥️♥️

  3. · March 24, 2021 at 9:23 pm

    Beautiful ! Keep going 😊

  4. Your writing is really beautiful. ❤️