Seven years ago.
The mild wind from the West gently pressed the rose flowers in the backyard. The month of November was filled with laughter and sorrow. Soon the sun would descend, or one would need to ascend to find a haven. The rant of young students in the campus made the background break free from silence. Every wall had an ear to hear the hum of musings in this place. The heart of college lay with the students, and the college was built in rock with vivid shape of symbols. Students from different parts of the globe arrived to witness the beauty of this place as it was known for its absolute scenic beauty. The hostel that was situated at the topmost hill attracted many tourists – just to feel the warmth of stirring clouds. Beyond the hostel there was no path – it was the end point. People called it “Dead Cliff”.
Days passed by. November was colorful, like a rose flower with many shades, but the same month contained another, sadder scene just around the corner. The farewell night for senior students. Well, people come and go; no one is destined to stay forever. That is life. That is sad. But also true.
Room 207 was occupied by three musicians. The dark wall of this room was adorned with old posters, bulbs, and bells. Jeremy was a strange character unlike Steve or Richard. He loved fairy tales, and had lived his whole life with music and his favorite musician’s history. Nobody really knew him much on the campus because he was always in a different world. He was a loner. But Richard and Steve knew that he loved a girl because he used to write songs about a mystery girl.
Yet he never spoke a word about her.
The empty lawn had a wooden chair. Students used to rush in to see the beauty of the morning clouds. Room 207 had a backyard, and the chair belonged to Jeremy. He used to write notes and play guitar when nobody was around. He often said, “Music is an unknown feeling. People listen to it, relate to it, and shed tears of joy because of it. And it comes out good only with the blessings of nature”.
The days passed by…the clouds rolled away…until one dawn, a ray of sunshine slipped in and woke Jeremy from his deep sleep. He rose, walked towards the desk where his notes were scattered around, picked up a diary from the lot, opened to page number 56, wrote a note, and got ready to leave for the classes. The breeze from the unknown skies is always set to blow many a heart, and it blew the papers on the desk, making its way through the holes of a broken windowpane, toward the next door occupant who never knew anything about Jeremy or his life. He snatched the paper and read between the lines. It read, “Today, she will be there, like a fresh flower that spreads the scent of tomorrow. But tonight, we will be gone, like a feather in the wind.”
The dark road was far, yet many walked to glimpse the ray of lights. No one really gave up. No one really lost hope. They walked, until the light was thrust upon their dreams.
The empty auditorium of the college had many quotes. Most of them were inspirational quotes because students came to learn. They did not want to fall in love with anybody and fail, but in the long run, no one had control of their heart. Jeremy was one of them. He never believed in love. He never had the urge to be loved. Richard and Steve found him strange, like a person who always wanted to end his life. He was full of hatred; and he walked through the lone corridor and sat in the corner of the auditorium where the sun’s rays heaved through with dusty haze. Tonight, the farewell, and he would walk away like another stranger with no memories to cherish. He came, learned, and would leave.
But nobody really wanted to do it.
The campus had more than thousand students, and his guitar always bled for his songs. Many a time Richard insisted he sing a song since he could break the walls with his incredible voice. None heard it. No one really got to hear the good. They looked for the ones that were available. The ones that were always around.
Time flew by. In seven hours, the farewell night would arrive. Jeremy kept his head down and reeled in the memories that he had in his life. A note from his diary spoke a lot about his childhood. On one page, it read “I don’t really know what hurts me. I don’t know… I lost my mother when I was ten. And my father left me alone in a hostel. I grew up there with all my sorrows. Later I got used to it. I treated myself as a friend in despair. But now, when I see her, my heart aches… I don’t know if it’s pain. But I’ve started to feel again, and I guess I am not numb anymore. Perhaps, I love her… Well, maybe…”
Jeremy grew up seeing his mother beaten by his father. He never had the courage to stop him, because he was an ill-tempered, militant man. He often found his mother crying. He never knew how to console her. His hatred towards life and his father made him a vagrant. He used to leave his house early morning and come back at night. His father used to burn the metal plates and burn his hands. When his classmates used to ask about it, he often smiled and told them, it was a game he played with fire.
Everything changed drastically when his mother was killed by his father when he was ten years old. He didn’t cry. He didn’t speak to anyone. He sat near her grave in the cemetery for days. He didn’t lose his temper. He touched her tomb and slept beside it for days. And one day, someone who came to dig a new grave for an old widow, noticed the half-dead body of Jeremy and took him to the hospital. When he woke up, he found himself in an orphanage, and the priest told him that his father had come to see him, that he was sleeping, and later arranged to shift him to this orphanage as he was going for a war. Jeremy spent his days in that orphanage, playing an old rusty guitar the priest had given him.
And he used to sing,
“Thought I oughta bare my naked feelings,
Thought I oughta tear the curtain down.
I held the blade in trembling hands
Prepared to make it but just then the phone rang
I never had the nerve to make the final cut.”
His days were filled with sorrows, until the day he met her, while he was flipping his fingers through the guitar. She wanted to congratulate him for the song that he played for the Christmas Eve, and she couldn’t see his face as his black hair was almost covering it. She walked onto the stage and stretched out her hand, thanking him for the beautiful night and said that he should hit his guitars quite often to please the broken hearts. He loved her smile and the statement which she made lifted his forlorn spirits. He looked for her whenever he played shows with his band for the events that took place in the college.
The days passed by, and one day he realized he’d fallen in love with her. There were thousands of students in the campus, but just one girl named Sara had touched his heart. He used to wait for her to arrive on campus every day, and as she arrived, he smiled and said a few word before leaving for his practice. One day, he wrote a note in his diary, “If I was given a chance to love you, I would live to love you for the rest of my life”.
The empty streets of the barren land had no lights to guide travelers through to the next street of bliss. But people used to walk to find a way to the next lane, and in every dark room, there whould be a light to brighten up lives. Jeremy found Sara as his light. He fell in love with her, but he never wanted to tell her because he didn’t want to lose the only light in his life. They start talking to each other on the phone. They started getting close to one another. But somehow he couldn’t find the courage to tell her about the feelings that he had towards her.
She was a soft-spoken person. She spoke like a sweet, innocent infant. She was always a curious child. Her dreams were filled with green pastures and rainy seasons. She loved nature, and she used to tell her mother quite often about the kind of man she wanted to fall in love with. And she found that in Jeremy, but she never told him since her friend Mary told her about the craziness she heard about Jeremy from her fellow friends. That built a distance between Sara and Jeremy, and the hurt soul in Jeremy never urged to reason with her. He kept silent and wrote more painful songs. And the days passed by…The nights faded away…Until the day they were destined to meet for the final time.
The bells rang for the final classes…Jeremy woke up from his short nap and walked away from the hall to see the empty classes. All the students were busy practicing their final show for the senior students. Some of them were sitting in a corner and crying. Some of them were kissing each other in the empty classrooms. Some of them were running with their autograph journals. Jeremy walked to witness the places that he admired over the three years. In one classroom he found Steve and a girl. He stood there for a while. A teardrop made his cheek wet. He didn’t speak a word. He didn’t let Steve know that he was in there, watching his girl being kissed by another man.
A month earlier Steve had asked Sara to marry him, but she loved Jeremy. After what Mary said to her, she said yes to Steve. Loneliness is the worst feeling of all, and she was a softhearted person. She was forced by Mary who never wanted to see Sara upset.
Everything was normal until the moment he saw his roommate kissing her. There was absolute silence. The skies poured vigorously. The boughs beat each other in vain. Each flower on all the plants withered away. Jeremy walked away in pain, in the rain. And he felt the pain – again. He cried. He cried like an infant. The way he used to cry when he was young. The way he cried when he heard the news that his father died in the war.
Everything looked odd. The dark clouds pierced through his broken heart. He was hurt. He walked uphill; by chance the roommate next door noticed him, and rushed to ask what he saw. The students next to the fish pond, just a couple of steps before his room, were stunned to see him in tears. There was pain, and for the first time they saw him that way.
The night would to end in a few hours with the final show – the farewell event. And the curtains would fall down forever.
Jeremy walked inside his room and stood there for a while. He packed his bags, changed his dress, and stood in the shower for an hour. He was still crying. He looked at himself in the mirror and ran his fingers through his long shabby beard. He took the blade, shaved it, and combed his hair. He dressed up in a black suit and plucked a rose flower from the backyard and walked downward. The rain stopped pouring, but the fog covered Jeremy. The students who walked to bid their seniors farewell couldn’t recognize the person walking downhill. The girls near the canteen, just above the college garden, didn’t recognize the man who walked in black suit with the guitar. All the faces turned back to see the new face, but he was not a new face to any. He was Jeremy.
He entered the hall, and every student had to say a word or two before they left college to enter a new phase in life. Richard noticed the change in Jeremy. He found the pain hidden behind his eyes, but he couldn’t speak to him then. He was already on the stage performing a solo song.
Sara was sitting with Steve in a red gown, with a pretty rose flower on her hair. Her eyes wandered, searching for Jeremy. She knew that she was still in love with him. Silence speaks more than words, but at times, silence pierces more than any.
The time came when each student had to say their final words before they left. A younger student called out each students’ name. All of them walked up to the stage and shared what they felt about the place and their life for the past three years. An hour later it was Richard’s turn. He walked forward and said how happy he felt to showcase his talent and the way he progressed his interest in music. Four students later, Sara walked up to the stage. She was silent, but finally she spoke.
She said, “I will miss this place. I will miss this place for one reason. And the reason is you”.
Jeremy kept his head low. He didn’t look at her. His eyes were wet, and his heart beat faster than ever. The last person to walk on the stage was Jeremy. He stood up and walked the long way to the stage while the faces turned back to see the smart, handsome man in black suit. He had his guitar with him, perhaps the only friend that he had in this life.
He walked up on the stage and said, “Thank you for the good times. You may not know me, but I know each one of you. Tonight, I thought I would speak. Tonight I ought to sing a song with my band”.
He called up Richard and the rest of the crew to play the song with him. The auditorium was silent. Sara was almost in tears. And then Jeremy asked Richard to play the guitar for him, for he wanted to sing. Richard was surprised, but he smiled and asked which song.
Jeremy turned back and said, “Final Cut.”
Richard nodded and started playing the guitar. The moment Jeremy started the song, the whole auditorium was amazed. His heavenly voice touched each heart. Sara, started crying which made Steve wonder what was going on.
And Jeremy sang.
“And if I show you my dark side
Will you still hold me tonight?
And if I open my heart to you
And show you my weak side
What would you do?
Would you sell your story to Rolling Stone?
Would you take the children away
And leave me alone?
And smile in reassurance
As you whisper down the phone?
Would you send me packing?
Or would you take me home?”
As the song ended in a gloomy tenor, the whole student body applauded and screamed in bliss. They hadn’t heard anything of that sort in a long while.
When the song was finished, Jeremy said, “This song was for someone special. And I guess, that is it. Good luck, goodbye.”
There was absolute silence in the hall. Nobody moved. Nobody spoke a word. Jeremy smiled at Richard and walked away from the hall. Richard was stunned. He looked at Steve and then Sara. He didn’t know what to say. But their silence answered the puzzle. Richard and Steve ran uphill to find Jeremy. The drizzle painted the wet streets in yellow with the lights that flickered from every street lamps. They found the doors locked, but they couldn’t wait any longer. They broke into the room, and stood there in terror.
Jeremy slept there on the floor like an infant with all the papers that he’d scribbled with his own blood. He cut his vein and was bleeding. Richard and Steve stood stunned. They didn’t know what next to do so they called up the ambulance. When the bleeding body was taken into the hospital, the students in the college stared at it, hoping to see him live again. They didn’t know it was Jeremy. Nobody knew the reason behind it. Sara knew it. Jeremy knew it. Richard and Steve knew it.
“Silence speaks louder than words. But it is a dangerous game. Sometimes, we need to speak. And I spoke today. I spoke today…” The words of the final verses he wrote before he was taken into the hospital haunted them.
Three miles away from the place where it all happened, Richard was in tears. His mind was blank, but his heart was energized to perform tomorrow. Sunday was just a day away. The time was 7 p.m., and as he reached the campus, the fresh green leaves, the dewdrops on them, and the fog that wrapped all the boughs took him seven years back to where it all happened. He drove uphill, towards the same room where they three lived together. Room number 207 was now 307. The fresh rose flowers in the backyard were soaked in drizzle. His blue car was drenched in fresh downpour. November was the month. The month full of love and happiness.
Richard walked around the places recalling the memories he cherished seven years go. Everything looked the same. He thought dreams were like the castles made of sand, but he’d seen them happening. People craved it so beautifully, but some dreams do come true. Another time, another day every bleeding heart would have something to remember. The echoes of the distant hill still lured him. Tomorrow would be Sunday. And tomorrow they would come to see him play the songs for those young students. Tomorrow, those three names would shine again. Richard smiled at himself in the mirror and remembered the good time he was going to have with the newly wedded Jeremy and Sara, and their friend Steve.
The night was still young, and the dawn would bring back the light… again…
Edited by : L.a. Kuehlke | Website : www.lakuehlke.com