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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Clarence Street Part -2

I couldn't believe someone so beautiful could exist.
'Now I know that sounds cheesy, perhaps a little over-the-top, but that's the way it was.
'I didn't speak to her at first - in fact, it was a long time before I even plucked up the courage to meet her eyes and return her smile. But eventually I did, more through necessity than any degree of courage. Because, you see, I simply had to speak to her. The thought that another day would go by without her being part of my life was unbearable. You understand that?'
I nod. I'm thinking about Claire. She sits at home now while I drown torturing thoughts. I understand love very much.
I look at my drinking partner and see him properly for the first time. He is not as old as I initially supposed him to be, his dilapidated frame belying his sparkling, youthful eyes. It might be the dim light or the bright whiskey that installs in them their glow.
Or maybe they reflect the beauty he looks in upon.
'I started going to the library more and more. Now I had an extra incentive to put the time in on my studying. Only I was spending less time reading and more time talking to my delightful new friend. Her name was Eileen, by the way.
'Now I won't bore you with all the details of our courtship. But we started seeing each other outside the library and very soon realised we were both in love. She was the one person I could really talk to, and I mean that literally. You see, I had this stammer back then. It was quite disabling, more through the way I perceived myself than any real inability to speak. But with Eileen, I didn’t stammer, even with my initial nervousness. For the first time I could be myself with someone. Very soon, I didn’t have a stammer anymore.’

A sip of whiskey. A puff on the cigar.
'Anyway, we eventually got our own little place together and lived happily ever after.'
I'm surprised at the abrupt end to the story. I had been warming to the old man and his tale. I turn to my companion expectantly but he is engrossed in his drink and it is apparent he has finished his story. I wonder if painful memories have been stirred.
I don’t know what to say, so instead I turn to my own drink. I tip the bottle and allow the numbing liquid to fill me. When it is empty, I buy another. After a while the old man says:
‘So tell me about your woman. Why are you drinking like it’s going out of fashion?’
Earlier I would have felt reluctant to talk about my problems, but the old man has shared much with me and I feel I should return his confidence.
And perhaps the alcohol has helped to loosen my inhibition.
My beer bottle is revolved between my hands, I pick at the label, starting to peel it from the condensation-wet glass. I begin my own story.
‘Her name’s Claire. We met a couple of years ago at a mutual friend’s party. I fancied her straight away - she’s a gorgeous woman - and we starting going out. It was quite a while before I fell in love with her though. I’m normally cautious about such things, I don’t like to invest everything in one person.

By- Rahul Banerjee,Olga,Alex. to be continued..................