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It’s sunset time. Birds are flying home. The city is lighting up, will it rain or no?
“Is it going to rain?” Emily wants to know. Nat and Ram shrug, who cares? It’s around 8.p.m., Emily, Ram and Natasha are up in their usual place: Lying flat on the terrace, eyes glued to the sky. Anything seems possible here and now. You just lie down watching the sky with stars, clouds and random objects. You can lose yourself in smoky dreams or get into a heated conversation in the dark emptiness.
Today, Emily feels talkative. Something is disturbing her.
“What’s the plan tonight?” Emily wonders.
“What about booze and fun?” Natasha suggests. The day is dead, time for some booze to kill the night. The beers are in a puddle of fresh dew trickling from the surface of the cans. Ram throws a can each to Nat and Emily. Cheers!
This is their last semester together, and looking back it has been a bland experience.
“Do you think sometime in future, maybe we three will meet?” Emily wonders.
“Why wouldn’t we?” Ram rewonders.
“We should stay in touch forever” Nat asserts feeling nostalgic and drunk.
Emily is cupping her beer can, lost and uninterested. So Ram wants to know if she gave up booze. “No, just don’t feel like tonight” Emily replies sounding sad. It is disturbing to see Emily being so sad these few days. Ram downs his can at one go to drown the uneasiness rising in his stomach. “Well girls, how about a picnic before exams?” Ram suggests.
Nat and Emily look on curious.
“We can go off-roads, to the lake, waterfalls, forests, do some trekking.” Ram explains.
“That would be great: miles and miles of greenery, blue skies and sparkling water” Nat replies. It sounds sarcastic though her mouth is bent into a smile.
“So when do we slot this trip?” Ram asks eagerly.
Emily is disturbed and her senses are pleasantly numb to her environment. Nat senses Emily’s aloofness and it intrigues her. Emily always kept stuff to herself: bottle up and burst out, that’s her.
“Emi, how is Brian?” Nat inquires. His name shoots into Emily’s heart and she can see Emily fold tighter into a bud.
“He is good” Emily replies non-committal. Nat doesn’t want to dig deeper right now or Emily might just close up.
None of them feels like talking. Emily’s brain is flooded with a whirlpool of thoughts. Ram’s mind feels empty so he looks for something to think. And his mind just stays empty. So he lets it be. He instead distracts his mind contemplating Em and Nat, trying to guess at their thought processes. Seeing a lot of each other these past three years, Em and Nat seem to have developed a remarkably similar body language. Em is leaning her head to the wall, eyes closed just like Nat, hands hugging the body. He feels bored after a while so walks up and down the terrace.
If he looks down, he can see a bunch of people hanging around and he could barely recognise them. He stares skyward, it is an empty box after all the jewels are removed. He wonders when was the last time he seen some stars. It seems ages ago. He plonks himself on the wall of the terrace far and away from anyone’s view.