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Participate in the 3rd Season of STORYMIRROR SCHOOLS WRITING COMPETITION - the BIGGEST Writing Competition in India for School Students & Teachers and win a 2N/3D holiday trip from Club Mahindra

The Orange Moon 2.0

The Orange Moon 2.0

5 mins 16.8K 5 mins 16.8K

Will I see you tonight on a downtown train

Every night, every night its just the same

On a downtown train

Rod Stewart, Downtown Train.

The mall was as crowded as it was expected to be on a Friday night. He was sitting by himself on one of the tables at the food court with a laptop. He needed to finish his story and contrary to most writers, he thrived in such crowded places to concentrate and write. He had his headphones on and was typing away effortlessly as the words kept flowing out. He only took a break from typing as one song ended and looked up to survey the manic mall madness that happened all around him. As Van Morrison sang Tupelo Honey, his eyes went back to the laptop to continue.

His writing was interrupted again by a familiar whiff. He turned around to see where it came from. And then he saw. Walking past him and sitting on the table across.

It was her. It was Maryam.

He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He was seeing her again after nearly 12 years. That beautiful face. Those almond eyes twinkling away, her auburn wavy hair bouncing as she walked past him and sat. And that smile. Which still could light up the entire food court. He had to pinch himself to know it was real.

His mind raced back to those days in his old town. Of the days when he’d go running to the music shop in the neighbourhood to buy cassettes. Just an excuse to see her. He never listened to music those days but kept on buying cassettes to be able to meet her at the store. He remembered his heartbreak the day he found out she’d left town. And the bigger heartbreak at his discovery of those messages she’d written to him on the cassettes. His thoughts came rushing back to him at that instance.

He kept looking at her almost as if a trance. She had aged but so beautifully. And her smile made her look younger maybe. She was wearing a white chikan salwar-kurta with chunky oxidised jewellery around her neck and matching bangles. He couldn’t see a ring on her finger. He was about to get up and walk across to her when something stopped him.

Two children aged similarly around 7-8 came rushing towards her table. They each had ice cream in their hands which they were offering her. “Take mine”, “No, mine”, they both hollered, as if in a competition. She smiled at them ruffling their hair, and took a bite from the younger one’s cone. Both the children sat next to her, hugging her from each side. A moment later, a tall bespectacled man, around his own age, came and sat opposite her, carrying a tray full of food. They all started eating together.

He sat down on his chair, unable to turn his eye away from that table. The heartbreak he had forgotten for all these years, came back to him in a new form. At the back of his mind, he’d even practised how he’d behave if he ever bumped into her. He knew the chances were minimal of that happening. But even then, who knew, maybe...

He had stopped typing now. He felt as if there was a corkscrew up his heart, just like Dylan had once sung. He felt a strange mix of exhilaration and disappointment. How could I expect her to be single after so many years, he tried to reason to himself. This had to happen.

He could hardly type a line from then on. From time to time he’d look sideways at the table across and see them. The happy family enjoying an evening out. He didn’t know if he felt happy or sad seeing her this way. Part of him wished he hadnt seen her at all.

As Van Morrison crooned Crazy Love on his headphones, he saw them get up. The younger of the two children had dozed off and she was carrying him on her lap. The elder one held the fingers of the man as they walked away from the table. There she was, walking away from his life yet again. Again no word was spoken. After all these years. He just didn’t know how to react. An old twinge from the past came and knocked at his heart all over again. Why? Why? He asked himself. He knew there’d be no answers.

His eyes went back on the table as they left. He noticed a small packet had been left behind. He jumped from his table to reach there before someone else occupied the table. He had to return the packet to them. Maybe she would see him and maybe even recognise him, he thought. He picked up the packet on reaching the table and in his excitement it fell from his hand. He bent down to pick it up and froze.

Peeping out of the packet was a Rod Stewart CD.

His heart was beating like a freight train. His mind confused with a million thoughts, as he slowly took the CD out of the packet. There was a small note with a familiar handwriting.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw you at the mall today. Typing away earnestly. I thanked someone up there for making me see you after all these years. Am in town to be with my brother and his children for a few days. I hope you get this note and call me. My number is...”

As he stepped out of the mall with his laptop bag slung across his shoulders he noticed there was a skip in his steps. He felt a happiness inside which he could not describe. He had read and heard about miracles occurring. It’s just that when it happened with him, he was numb with happiness to feel it.

He looked up at the sky and smiled at the orange moon. He was humming Downtown Train as he took out his mobile to make that call...

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