He slowly rolled his car into the parking on the side of the road & looked at his watch. 8 pm. There was still 45 mins to go before Jene arrived. It was their 1st year anniversary of meeting each other in the very same place outside the same restaurant where he was parked. They had bumped into each other around here the same day one year ago. Still time for a quick drink. The bar was only three blocks away. He got down from his car. He wanted to walk to the bar. They had crossed paths quite a few times over the last 12 months but they were all chance meetings at the same place. It was only after the 5th or the 6th time (he didn’t remember) they had spoken. He had asked her for coffee at the restaurant & to his surprise, she had agreed. That day, after a 3-hour chat they decided to meet more often. Months rolled by & then at one meeting she had suggested meeting at the same restaurant they had met the first time. The day, today. She remembered…that was the day he fell in love with her & today he would confess his love.

Outside, the cold winter air of Delhi welcomed him. The cold wind outside made him smile & it came from the warmth he was feeling inside. He walked slowly towards the bar. Here, walking on the silent dark street…he felt loved. A couple of quick shots of whiskey please…he told the barman as he dialed her number. No answer.

 

8:45pm. He had downed 3 shots in half hour & now was walking up & down across the road in front of the small restaurant at the corner of a quiet road. The place had its own romance, he thought, as he quietly looked around. But why isn’t she answering her phone…10:30 pm…no call back no answer no msg… nothing …he started thinking…
He didn’t realize how far away from the restaurant & into the dark alleys he had gone until he found himself facing 4 men clearly not walking in the opposite direction. Looking back, he could not see any lights from the restaurant nor any cars parked by the guests.

No words were spoken. They just started to beat him up with sticks & rods. He had never been strong built or good in a fight situation & he suddenly knew the outcome of this mugging.
Stop, came a strong female voice which made even the thugs to stop & look. From the misty darkness & into the light of the street lamp walked Jene looking more beautiful than he had ever seen her. She wore a blue dress, his favorite colour. Suddenly he felt pain on the back of his head, metal hitting bone.

It was morning when he woke up. The nurse informed him that he was brought in around 11:30 pm last night. He was unconscious then & no efforts could make him regain consciousness, until now.

 

There was no one around when a passerby found him bleeding. He’ll be okay soon.
What happened to Jene? Also, we have your clothes, phone, wallet, watch & a few other things. You don’t seem to have been robbed. How is that possible, he thought, I’m sure they wanted everything I had & what about Jene, where is she?

He got a discharge from the hospital in a few days. All these days she had not got in touch with him nor was he able to contact her. They did not know one single person in common. Nor had they ever spoken about each other’s families. Then one day he got a post from her telling him how they should not be together because she’s found someone better. He did not at first, but had to ultimately accept the words in the letter. He told himself that it must’ve been the vast difference in personalities that drove her away, after all a girl as pretty as her, full of life & with a strange attractive quality would never end up with a normal guy like him. She must’ve changed her mind that day when she saw him unable to fight back but how did she get away from the thugs that night & in his heart he vowed to find out the real reason someday. He knew he would cross her once in life.

Must’ve been 3-4 years & her memory was still like yesterday’s event. He tapped her shoulder in the metro. Wow you look so similar, sorry my mistake thought you were someone else. Please forgive me & he turned his back on her. He looked back as he felt a tap. Did you say I looked like someone, she asked. Yeah. Was her name Jene?

And that’s what i don’t know what happened to her after that, he said as he sipped in espresso in the coffee shop. Jene’s sister said Jene had an accident on 13th February just outside Connaught Place. She hung up at 8:30 pm that night saying she has to meet you in 15 mins at Vasant Kunj, said she got late getting ready. 5 mins later she had a fatal accident with a bus. She was speeding. The sister’s words came to his ears from very far, a hollow sound. All that he had thought about her over the years seemed like a whimsical thought of a kid who had no confidence in himself. This is her pic in the morgue, she opened a photo of Jene on her phone. He saw Jene’s face calm & serene, she was wearing the same blue dress.

 

That night sitting in his study he cancelled off one more thing from his diary. He had made a list of things he loved the most in life. He had started making this list when he was 18. The list had grown overtime & so had the cancellations (he would cancel the item when he knew it was not worth a try any more in life). His parents, his dream job, his dream girl everything he wanted or planned for the most had to be cancelled out & over the years he was slowly losing confidence. In Jene he thought he had found someone worth living for & he had doubted even her. He may or may not have got a positive response that night of her death but failure doesn’t mean giving up hope. Lost in the myriad of thoughts he lazily flipped through his small book. Here, he would write all the things important in life & in one of the pages he came across a quote from his dead mother… sometimes in life you lose everything to become aware of the real you inside, waiting to come out….so my son, echoed a voice in his head, do not fear the loss, be happy that you have empty space to accommodate the new coming your way & yeah never lose faith because faith is what keeps us alive irrespective of the time we are going through. Her voice sounded as if she was sitting & speaking right next to him.

He threw the diary that day & decided to start afresh. No physical records from now on, just memories in his head.

So, what happened to him after that Sam asked. Mother smiled & said he met the girl of his life later & today they live happily. Don’t give stories a happy ending just to pacify me, how do you know it all went well later? Sam’s mother looked at him & said because this is the story of your father. We met a few years after this incident when he had finally learnt to keep faith in his life & when he met me his faith found him his love. Sam, the day we met…. the past was no longer the present for him…keeping faith is the key to future happiness even if ghosts from the past keep troubling you…

– Sumit Banerjee