He could see her running. He was gasping for air. His lungs were bursting with the pressure to perform. But he could not give up. He would never give up. He tried to call her name, but all he managed to do was whisper.
He told himself, though he was already running as fast as he could. She was always a little faster. She was heading towards the cliff. He could hear the angry waters wage a war against the rocks embedded in their midst. She would either drown or hit her against the dead stones. Could she not see the futility of it all?
Did she not care that he was chasing her to stop her?
She stopped then. She turned around to face him. Her eyes widened with surprise as she recognized him. She took a tentative step in his direction. A watery smile split across her face. He smiled back. All would be fine now. Even the ceaseless rains did would not stop him now.
She raised her pale shaking hand towards him to hold. Her eyes grew round with terror, as her cold fingers breezed against his outstretched palm. She looked horrified towards her feet. He followed her gaze. The soft mud beneath her feet was crumbling fast.
With a whoosh, she swept downwards towards the waiting waters.
No! He screamed.
As usual he was alone. Sweat tricked down his forehead into his eyes. He blinked. Once. Twice. Then he let out a long breath.
He had been dreaming again.
It was the same dream for the past five years. Five years of a morbid life without her. It had started a month after her funeral. At first it had seemed so real, that every time he opened his eyes, he almost expected to see her in front of him. By now the dream was a comfort. He sought the dream every single time he collapsed exhausted on his bed.
He missed her so much.
He loved her so much.
His friends and family alike had given up on trying to make him come alive once again. It was as if, when she left, she took him with her, leaving his soulless body in the wake of a nightmare. He did what was expected of him. He went to work, he came back home, he ate, he drank, he slept. He coveted his nightmare. He wept.
If he could feel so much of pain, he had to be alive, right? Then why did people think otherwise?
He turned a picked up the framed photograph of her. He ran a loving finger down the cold glass and then hugged it to his chest and closed his eyes. In his nightmare, he would see her again. He would lose her again. But that agony was worth it, if he got to see her smile that one last time.
Her cold fingers brushed past his. He knew any minute now she would tumble towards the waters and there would be nothing he could do about it. But he would have to try. Maybe if he tried a little harder, things would be different. He ran towards her. His feet slipped on the wet mud and he careened towards the very edge she had toppled off from. He tried to stop his slide.
Did he really want to?
He was almost off the cliff, when a gentle tug stopped him. Curious he looked up. She had beautiful brown eyes; like those velvety ones of a newborn mule. Her face was not beautiful, but attractive. She was smiling at him and holding on to his hand with all her strength. She was trying to haul him back.
He wanted to be hauled back.
Her black hair clung to her heart shaped face, drenched from the very rain, which pattered down his body. He scrambled to his feet. She let go off his hand. He turned to thank her.
But she was gone.
The alarm woke him up. He shook his head, annoyed. This was not what he had been expecting. He loved his old nightmare. Did he know the new girl in his dream? He frowned hard in thought. He could remember her every feature with startling clarity, yet he was certain he had never met her.
He shrugged his shoulder and headed to dress up. Anuj’s sister was getting married and as his childhood friend, he could not disappoint the entire family by not showing up.
The sun was nice and bright. He squinted skywards, but there was not even a hint of rain. So no part of the nightmare was going to come true today. He sighed.
In minutes he was embraced in the noise of celebration. It was noise. Nothing pleasant about it. He hated crowds and he hated attention and hated the sympathy which he saw in the eyes around him the most. He was content the way he was, why could people not let him be?
He headed to the verandah’s to grab some fresh air. He saw her then. She was in the garden with some other people, discussing something. She was exactly the way she had looked in his dream.
Was he hallucinating?
He could not take his eyes off her. Once again he tried to place her. Once again he failed. She shook her head in confusion and looked around. Her eyes alighted upon him. She had the same velvet brown eyes. Her eyes widened fractionally, as if she recognized him. She smiled tentatively, then shook her head and looked away. Did she recognize him?
Anuj caught up with him.
“Who is she?” He asked Anuj.
“Gaurav’s wife,” Anuj replied, “beautiful isn’t she?”
Thick drops of rain pelted from a clear sky, casting a brilliant rainbow against the pale blue.