When they met, it was always fireworks. People failed to get it, they thought it was love in disguise with a fake tag of friendship. Sitting with her favorite book, she sat at water’s edge in the city park. He still had a minute to maintain his streak of punctuality. So, she got back to reading. She flashed her perfect smile when she saw him. But, his greetings changed every single time. This time, he came in a buggy, which he had hired. It was about launching history in present times he said. When royalty etched style in the past why shouldn’t the commoners? He was chivalrous but never a sissy. He was romantic but also fierce. He was sensitive but also stood up when the moment called. He worked for the defense, a marine by choice, a smart-looker by genes and a competitive athlete by practice and a bibliophile, who was inspired by his mother. He held out his hand for her to step-up and said, “How are the Tuesdays with Morrie?”. She was re-reading the book ‘Tuesdays With Morrie’ and he knew how much she loved it. Morrie’s a star, Aaron, she said. They galloped away on that note.
Even though Ruth had spent half her lifetime in this city and she had visited this park more than she could remember, this ride on the buggy made it absolutely special. Something was new, fresh. Trees looked greener, the sky bluer, vibrant people surrounded and it felt like the wind was singing. But then, when she looked at him, he looked paler, his eyes looked lifeless and his stubble now had a hint of grey in it. She asked him if he was tired, he just shrugged and kept riding. When he stopped, she couldn’t believe her eyes. She jumped out like a kid, running towards the grand entrance. They were in front of the launch of ‘Litbee’, world’s biggest literary event. Walking inside was the most pleasurable thing she had done for sometime now. The fact that he had remembered, kept his promise which they had made years ago made it even more exciting for her. It was every reader’s dream. It was a marathon of literary events. It was a place where authors came out of their cocoon and addressed their audience. It was the time when books found voices. It was a place to see people with copies of their favorite books in hand. It was where a person who loved a book could find his/her counterpart. It was as if you took a kid to ‘Sweet World’ and said, ‘pick your candy’. It was paradise.
Ruth was unable to decide where she should concentrate. Every event was better than the other. But, she was sure of one thing. That she had to meet Mitch Albom, who was the author of her favourite book, ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’. To confirm his presence, they clicked the app machine and it said that he was in hall 17 which was located in the north-east corner of this mammoth venue. Even before she could ask where he wanted to head, he started pulling her towards her dream, currently in room 17. It was quite a task to get through the bustling crowd. When they finally got there, to her dismay, the room was empty. This was the only room which spat silence. She felt like this was the dirtiest joke anybody had played on her. When they re-checked the app, there were no changes in the location. All that excitement suddenly was insurmountable blankness. This was the first time when she saw a speechless Aaron, for which she couldn’t shout a score.
They made it back to the quadrangle and saw that a newly published author was giving a talk on ‘making your dreams come true’. The irony of the moment hit them with full force and they started laughing. They couldn’t sit through this the self-help book launch. Walking out of this wonderful place seemed like a crime. So, they decided to get some lunch and just talk about their own stories. At least, the food was scrumptious, so they didn’t nibble on it. ‘So, how was Greece?’ she asked. ‘Too Greek’, he replied. It was beautiful, there was endless history and so many belief systems which people still followed. He told her many stories about his adventures where he took off solo on a boat to visit an island. He asked her, ‘Did you know that it is forbidden to spend a night on the island of Delos, for if you do, it is an insult to the Greek God, Apollo?’ She listened to him and rejoiced it. This was exactly why she admired him, because he made his work worth it. He made sure to learn where ever he went. When he spoke, no sentence was twice repeated, nothing was boring. He bubbled with confidence, he spoke to her in a voice which was happy, he looked into her eyes and made her forget the world. It was pure magic.
Hours rolled and it was already dusk. They still sat there, smiling, talking. Ruth’s phone came alive with Yanni’s ‘Love is all’ caller tune. It was a tele-caller asking if she wanted a new credit card. In spite of the call being disturbing, she laughed it off. All they saw around them was passion. People who loved to read, thought and made interesting conversations. The effect of wine was as deep as the colour of a deep, cloudy, indigo sky. She knew she wanted to only be tipsy and not drunk, so that she could remember every moment of this day. By midnight, they were ready to go. This time, she said she wanted to walk back. When they were walking out, someone dashed into Aaron and turned around to say sorry. ‘Is that really you?’ asked the dasher. ‘Yohan!, how are you?, asked Aaron. When they spoke for a while, Yohan told them that he knew that Mr. Mitch Albom, the author whom Ruth wanted to meet, had an emergency and so he wouldn’t be coming to the Litbee. Too bad, they thought. Nevertheless, they had a great day.
They reached her hostel and when they bid goodbye and promised to meet the next time he would visit the city, he said he had some news for her. He stared into her eyes and said, ‘I’m down with Cancer’. ‘And, I have a date with Mitch Albom’, she joked. When he did not laugh, she went numb.
Her favorite book, ‘Tuesdays..’, which glorified life when death was hovering and inching. The life which the protagonist, Mr. Morrie Schwartz lives was one to look up to. A patient of an incurable neurological disorder, but he makes his rapidly decreasing life-span a worthwhile one. He becomes a hero out of ordinary, shares love, but, most importantly, becomes a teacher for life and inspires many by practicing living and not just preaching. Ruth failed to comprehend. She may have loved the book, but she couldn’t believe her friend for life, was battling a similar situation. Aaron was her hero, she was his biggest fan, friend, love and everything more. She wanted him to live like how Mitch Albom wanted Mr. Morrie to. She could finally fathom the pale look on his face.
‘I’m sure it can be cured.’, she said confidently. ‘Nothing can be said’, Aaron replied. ‘So, lets not, because I know, you will fight it out and you’ll tell me how awesome it is to be back like how you always tell me after returning from your trips.’ she said and hugged him with all her might. ‘You still cannot crush me, petite one’, he smirked. ‘I’m glad, but, I will help you crush that cancer.’ she said. ‘We’ll see.’ he said and kissed the top of her head. She saw that smile return to his face. Her phone lit up, she checked to see a tweet alert by Mitch Albom, which said, ”There is no such thing as ‘too late’ in life.” She smiled and showed it to him. He promised to her that she shall have her date with him sooner or later. ‘Before that, I’m waiting for our date,’ she smiled.