“I am getting used to it. Thank you so very much for asking.” I thanked Rakh when he inquired about my headache.
“You need any Panadol?” he asked as he opened his leather “Inquelab” bag. It used to be a staple for students and journalist in the Old and New Republic.
“I am the Doc here and I request for preventive medicine.” I said and got into the Jeep.
“What is the prevention for your head-ache then?” He asked.
“Some peace and quiet is just what the doctor ordered.” I tried not to sound too sarcastic.
“Don’t pull that one on me kid, I had nothing to do with this.” Rakh continued, “Do you think its anything easier for me? You think you should know everything? I like these guys, they are a lot better than the boys I used to hang out with. What about you, have you tried comparing them with the previous lot?”
“Well I didn’t have many friends back then.” I scratched my head.
“Then you wouldn’t know how to blend or how to put up a compromise. I am enjoying myself, even if I don’t know Trauer very well.That’s all, I am usually at the receiving end of the advice.” he started munching on the sandwich he bought.
“You know, if you throw away that corny sense of humor, people may take you seriously.”
“Now why would I want do something like that?” he laughed.
The team got together again and the car started.
“We are going to take a detour.” Trauer said as we got on the road.
“Why?” Amir was assuming the role of the ‘opposition’ now that I had decided to pipe down.
“The road ahead reminds me of th Autobahn that led out of Berlin.” he answered.
“Is that where you lost your wife?” Ami asked. Rakh listened to the exchange with a childish curiosity as he munched on his potato chips.
“Stop it Trauer, stop it right there.” interfered Sabir.
“Now its your turn is it?” Trauer said as he bit his lip.
“Maybe it is,” Sabir continued,” the doctor gave me the idea. We stand by you man, for everything you do, but sometimes you do get carried away. I mean she’s dead. She has been dead all this time. You’ve run all your life and ended up in a place which you claim to hate. I mean all of this guilt and self loathing. Please don’t do it Trauer. For a minute snap out of it.”
I was amazed at Sabir’s intervention. The Russian began to fidget nervously as Amir’s mouth fell open with surprise.
“You don’t know how I feel.” I would have added an exclamation mark but that is how the sentence came out of Trauer’s mouth; devoid of emotion.
“I know because I haven’t seen my parents for the last 15 years. I live everyday of my life knowing that there is no way for my parents to know where I am right now. They don’t even know if I am alive. I know suffering all right. Not the way you do of course but I do!” Sabir pointed angrily at Trauer as he made his point. He wasn’t quite done. “And you ever undermine my feelings!”
Sabir had a point. With all the mud we have flung at us in our lifetimes, we think we have suffered the worst. Someone with a lot of guts and tolerance may walk out of Dresden on the day of the Dresden Bombing and may even stumble into Nagasaki on the day of the atomic explosion and still act out to be the happiest person on earth. The only reason being that he has either learnt the art of staying happy by choice or he is forced to block out all the gruesome memories around him. In stark contrast, though I think you don’t need me to elaborate it any further, a person who meets a waiter who doesn’t get his order right may burst into tears because it reminds how he is always on the back seat while life drives him through the lumps and bumps of existence. No man deserves his fears and sorrows to be undermined. There is always a hierarchy of sorrow in these circumstances. there is always the guy who wants acknowledgment that he is the saddest man alive. It may not give him happiness but it does provide a continuous state of condolence. Apparently some people never make out of the funeral in one piece. A part of them, the happiness, dies and is buried with the buried. They make do with the condolences and they turn out to be his oxygen. These condolences may be voiced concerns or silent stares of awkwardness.
Trauer didn’t say anything. He wasn’t going to make an apology only an hour into the previous one. Sabir understood and didn’t press it any further. Trauer symbolically changed the gears; applying more force than what was usually required and the wheels revved as the Jeep moved on the reminiscent of the Autobahn.
“For a group of people who are supposed to help a friend who is running from a tragedy, we aren’t exactly helpful are we?” Rakh asked as he rolled his eyes.
“Maybe, but there are limits you know.” Sabir whispered back.
Tarnuba was still a few hours ahead and we had nothing to talk about, so the next best thing had be done; falling asleep.