I landed at Indira Gandhi International Airport today morning at 8. It was a bit chilly outside the airport. I tightened the scarf around my neck, and extended my left hand out to stop the next cab.
-“Delhi Institute of Engineering”, I told the driver with an inquisitive eye.
Before getting into the car, I felt my left pocket to see if the pepper spray was in place and easily accessible if required.
Priya knows about my yearly visits to Delhi, though I have never talked to Manish or anyone else about these before. I remembered that I had forgotten to mention Priya about my visit this year, though I knew she couldn’t be any less supportive. The last time I saw her was when I stormed out on her four days ago. I made a mental note to patch things up with her once I got back. After all, she was another half of me. We were like peas in a pod, two bodies but one soul.
The cab stopped in front of the institute main gate. I paid the driver the fare, gave him a little tip and said him thank you. I took my bag pack over my shoulder and took a little sip from my water bottle and placed it back in the side compartment of the bag. I looked at the signboard on top of the main gate, took a deep breath , and placed my foot inside.
Ten minutes later, I stood leaning at the gate of the cafeteria, my eyes on the table at the farthest corner. He was sitting there, as usual alone with a cup of tea on the table. As usual he was just staring at it, biting his lips, deep in thought. Few seconds later, he looked up and I realised he had spotted me. He waved his hand.
-“Hey”, I doubt whether my voice had reached till there, I could barely hear myself. My lips were pressed tight.
He got up from his chair and slowly came towards me. After staring a few seconds at me, he hugged me. It was a strong but gentle hug. I felt a chill down my spine. I hugged him tight and closed my eyes. Well, just looking at him brings back a vast array of memories. George is the only person who knows me best, even more than Priya or Manish does. He is the only person, who knows who I really am and I can be completely myself with him.
-“So, you still are in Delhi?” I asked him, my right hand on his left bicep, my voice now barely a whisper. I asked him, though I knew the answer.
-“My brother is here.” He said. I could feel the pain in his voice. He held my left hand tight.
-“You know you don’t have to do this.” I was staring at our hands, tightly held together. I couldn’t make up the courage to look at his eyes.
-“I do. My brother is here. Even though I am only a minute older than Tom is, still that makes me the older sibling. I need to take care of him.” His voice was much louder now.
-“No you don’t. You need to get out of here and get a life.” I could feel my eyes welling up.
-“If you think so, why do you keep coming back here?” I could feel his eyes on me now.
I freed my hand from his. Taking a deep breath in, I said, “This is my place. This city, this college, this place and I have a history. I left my soul here”
I knew the conversation was going nowhere
-“Shall we go?”George asked.
He put his hand gently on my shoulder as we walked till the main gate in silence. His car was parked there. He held open the passenger door for me.
-“Thanks”, I said as I got inside.
In a few minutes we were on the highway. It was chilly outside but I still didn’t feel like closing my side of the window. I wanted to look outside and take in as much of the sight, as much of the air outside.
As the forests on the side started getting denser, I could feel my hand on his left hand which was controlling the gear. My grip was getting tighter. Tears started coming in my eyes as I looked outside.