He was clean shaven. The smell of the old spice cologne was in the air even though an hour had passed since the barber shaved his 5 year old beard. 5 years. 5 precious years in life.
He walked out with the new dress and few hundreds in his pocket given to him by the captain of the ship who found him unconscious in water. God knows how he was going to repay him. But for now they didn’t seem to be the cause of his worries. He had to go to his town and see her. It had been 5 years since he had seen her.
5 Years before
“You look beautiful in this black turtleneck” he said.
“Don’t try to flatter me and change the subject” she sounded angry. She was.
“I am not lying. You indeed look beautiful” he tried to put his hands around her neck and drag and kiss her which she fended off.
She was indeed angry. Her cheeks had become pink with anger and her normally cute cherubic cheerful face today appeared very serious and gloomy.
“So you are going away for real?” she was close to tears.
“Don’t say like that darling. I promise I will be back as soon as the assignment gets over.”
“Do you remember that in a month we are going to get married?”
“How can I forget that darling? It is just that my boss wants me to complete this assignment. And it is only for 15-20 days. I will be back before you realize I was gone.”
He took her hands in his hands and kissed them. She hugged him and wet his shirt with her sweet tears.
“Come soon. I will be waiting for you.”
He smiled and ran into the private charter plane as it was raining heavily. He waved her good bye before he boarded into the plane. He looked at the pocket watch that she gave him as Birthday present with her photo in it. She was beautiful.
The town had changed a lot. 5 years is a lot of time in life. Empires tumble, technology advances, shops renovate, new malls come up, old ones crumble, people get married or get divorced, have kids, die…but unacceptably they change. He was not sure how much he had to catch up to know the new stuff around.
Every one seemed to be talking on a cell phone or were wearing some white colored ear phone connected from their pant pockets to the ears. Must be radio he thought. He was not sure if he recognized most shops or its owners. Neither did he want to meet any of them. He bought a rose from a roadside shop. It was her favorite white rose.
2 years before
Day 1000. He had kept count of the days by scribbling on the wall like as in the Count of Monte Christo. He remembered day one as much as yesterday. It was the most horrific day of his life. The charter plane got caught in turbulence and it crashed into an unknown island about an hour after take off. He woke up the next day to find all his colleagues dead….and as the lone survivor in the plane crash on a lonely island.
He waited for help to arrive. Days turned into months, months into years and still there was no sign of any help. He tried many times to swim but the oceanic currents would sap his energy in a few 100 feet. He had learnt to make fire by rubbing igneous rocks, he had become an expert fish catcher, and he learnt to climb trees. In short, he had become a caveman in modern times.
All he had with him to survive was her thoughts and her love. Each and every minute he would think of all the happy moments he spent in her company. Her poodle like curly hair, her beautiful grey eyes, her sensuous lips, her childlike small but artistic fingers, the curves of her body, her gentle warmth, her toenails….very importantly….her sweet voice. All he had now with him was dead silence and her memories. Precious memories.
He looked at the worn-out-and-stopped-but-still-precious pocket watch. She was beautiful.
Nobody was going to recognize him. Neither did it matter if anyone did. He had become skinny in these 5 years. His soft facial features became rugged and he looked 10 years older than his original age. What should he say to her when he sees her after so long? Should he hug and kiss her?
But his stomach churned when he thought…What if she didn’t recognize him?
3 days before
Her only memory was her photo in the pocket watch that she gave. Every day he saw it and told himself that one day someone would come and help him. He would talk to himself aloud to keep reminding himself that he could talk, tell her how much he still loved her after he meets her and how her love had kept him alive for so long.
He looked at the watch again. It looked as if the sun shined to illuminate her beautiful eyes. He remembered how much she loved and cared for him. He loved everything about her and to him she was perfect no matter what others thought or said. He saw her eyes in the blue sky. He heard her voice in the sea shells. He tasted her kiss in the salty ocean water. She was everywhere….and she was nowhere.
Suddenly he felt empty. He felt dead. The whole exercise of living to be alive felt stupid. Harnessing all his energy he cut few trees, tied them with whatever he could find and built a small raft. He looked at the ocean.
He looked at the pocket watch and her photo. Come what may, he was going to swim or die.
He stood at least 100 meters outside her house. Something told him that she would be living in the same house even after 5 years. He confirmed it when he saw her black Honda Car parked outside. She appeared opening the door. She looked as beautiful as she did 5 years before.
He was afraid his heart might forget beating after seeing her after so long.
Just as he marched towards her, out came a man with a child sleeping in his arms.
“You forgot the kid honey” he said and kissed her.
“Oh cmon. Being mother doesn’t mean that I only need to care about him. You can surely do it as a father.”
She said with a fake anger. The same fake anger she always displayed whenever he would play a prank on her.
“Ok Ok. Now don’t shout at me. Drive safe and be home soon.” Her husband kissed her farewell again.
The whole world seemed to be spinning around him. He should have expected it. She didn’t do anything wrong and he would have done the same if he were in her shoes. Just that his poor little heart doesn’t understand it.
He walked back in the way he had arrived. It would be better for everyone if he remained dead to her. He boarded a bus in the bus stop. He looked at the white rose, smiled and kept it in the flower vase in the front row of the bus.
He looked at the pocket watch once again. He had replaced the battery and it had started to work again. He could turn the time on the watch, but unfortunately not in his life.
She was beautiful.
P.S: Inspired from Tom Hanks’s soulful performance in Cast Away