Jason was like multiple paintballs splattering on someone’s clothes. He would rush into your life and make an impact before you could even twitch a muscle. He was more like an oil film on a road. When it gets wet, it’s almost like a mini-rainbow hiding in plain sight.
Jason was that mini-rainbow. It took a while to notice him because he had this unique way of completely belonging to his surroundings. Becoming one with the space he inhabited.
He was like that ancient couch in an inconspicuous corner of the room. It sits there, forgotten in the crevices of undocumented wars. But the couch observes everything. With moth balls curling in its arms, the couch probably knows more about us than we do. Jason was that couch. He was like a science student observing a crustacean shell in the lab. Only difference being, he wouldn’t need to cut you apart to know you.
And that’s precisely why people were afraid of him. Maybe they didn’t want to be exposed like a quivering butterfly under his watchful eyes. He didn’t scrutinize. He just knew how things were and that was it. He wouldn’t call out your bluff. He would rub his chin and be on his way.
I could probably use a dozen metaphors to describe Jason but the plain, hard truth is that it still won’t be enough. It won’t matter because all that is left now is a carton of hand-picked vinyl records. He is gone and he is not coming back. Here I am, trying to find him in coffee beans and distant winds. The pathetic part is that I don’t get the luxury of speckled skies that rain for me. I don’t get the luxury of moving on because frankly, no one ever does. You just learn to go on with a cloak of thorns pricking your throat. And eventually, the blood congeals to keep you alive.
It’s time to prise open old wounds.
It was a hot day with the professor talking about anti-matter in her characteristic monotone. With half the class twiddling its thumbs, and the other half drooling over smelly desks, I was busy sketching on my classmate’s backpack. And then the teacher changed her pitch, breaking the reverie.
“So when matter and anti-matter collide, a huge explosion occurs depending on the number of particles involved in the reaction. It’s known as Annihilation.”
And it was then that he spoke
“But Ma’am, you say it as if entropy is frightening.” he raised his left eyebrow.
“That’s a dead man over there.” hissed a voice at the back.
“Well what is your point, Mr. Black?”
“I think chaos is beautiful. It breaks the facade of normalcy and you realise that all it took was a chain reaction to wreck the world as you know it.” he replied, looking out of the window.
The chain reaction had begun.
Jason and I were walking to the library. We walked a little apart which to me, felt like a million light years for an astronaut running out of oxygen. But then he would playfully shove me aside and I would get my precious moments of banter. We came across a gorgeous Golden Retriever, tightly bound with a noose.
“Oh boy. Do they ever walk him?” Jason said while running his hands across the dog’s coat.
“Not really. I haven’t seem him out ever since they bought him.” The dog was sprawled on the grass, visibly dejected.
Jason took the noose off, gesticulating to keep quiet. Holding the leash, he made a run for the nearest park.
The owner was a war veteran who, grapevine suggested had gone a little “barmy” owing to a shrapnel wound in his head. I saw him peering out the window.
Oh Jason. You’re a dead man.
But I ran after him. His hair fluttering wildly against the wind, his sweat trickling down his brow and his hands flapping wildly like an upturned penguin, he raced the dog around in unorganized circles.
“Is this a death wish?” I screamed breathlessly.
Looking at the dog with his tongue out, Jason screamed back “TOTALLY WORTH IT!”
The Universe purred with satisfaction.
College was about to end. And the end of the beginning had made us foolishly brave. Jason had this ability to make you his accomplice. His gullible partner that had no clue what the plan entailed.
And so, he sneaked us in the campus after hours. Crouching in the shadows like nocturnal reptiles, we made our way to the rooftop. Adrenaline and infatuation with handsome boys makes one do stupid things. He athletically climbed the stairs, as if his body had no lactic acid to cramp his limbs. I, on the other hand, was a bit out of shape. Let’s just say someone had been skulking around the gym’s doors.
We finally made it all the way, with my cheeks splotchy and stained with sweat. Obviously, I was unhappy with the situation.
“Patience, grasshopper. This is one adventure you’ll never forget.” I could faintly make out his lips curling in a smile. I followed him up to the water tank, the moonlight illuminating it’s huge frame. After what felt like a million steps and ladders, we found ourselves propped over the edge. Our shadows dancing across the floor – completely oblivious to our inhibitions.
“Now what?” I asked.
“This is it. The highest point where no mortal dares to venture come midnight.” he grinned.
“Apart from the tension between us, I say this is going to be a fun night.”
“What if we get caught? I don’t wish to be associated with shady characters like you” I sputtered ingraciously.
“I’ve got it covered. Relax and just look above.”
And there it was. The black expanse of the sky embellished with hundreds of stars. I didn’t remember the last time I had seen that many stars. My breath hitched in my throat.
“This is the first time I’ve brought anyone up with me. I reckoned with you being this covert skywatcher, we could philosophise about anything and everything till one of us is forced to jump over.”
Our happy place.
“Oh Jason. You would be the death of me someday.” I said, holding back tears.
“I should hope not.” he replied, gazing at the moon.
Matter and anti-matter had now decided to collide.
It was 2.45 am. I remember the exact time because it was then that The Universe decided to actively intervene in our lives. It can’t stay out of action for too long, you know. We were walking on the highway, slightly tipsy with the starlight. This was it. We were about to graduate and it was uncertain when we would see each other again. The Placement Week would decide if we would ever be more. But that was the last thing on my mind. A solitary owl hooted in the distance, persistent. It was then that Jason said, “Annihilation. What do you think about it?” “Catastrophes are a little unpleasant, to be honest.”
“I will miss your brand of sarcasm. But that’s not what I’m getting at.” he chuckled.
“Care to explain?” I kicked a pebble to the side. Ouch. Bad decision. My toe felt impaled by a pitchfork.
“Ostensibly it is scary. The very idea that the world may explode just because some antagonistic particles met. But, there’s more. I like to think of Annihilation as a metaphor for humans. And by extrapolation, the chaos ensued when polar opposites meet. Both the entities are aware of their fate, and then like irreverent anarchists in a politically skewed world- they go on and destroy each other anyway.” he said. Every word ringing with sincerity and thought. I could see he had spent time on this philosophy.
“And you find destruction intriguing? Just a puzzle that caught your eye?” I asked.
“I find the whole exercise in self destruction endearing. And don’t mistake me for advocating martyrdom. I’m not. I’m just saying that in a way, you decide your fate. There’s no uncertainty in the back of your head. You know the tunnel is coming, and you drive through regardless of whether you’ll see the light at the end.” he said, his hands shoved in his pockets.
I was quiet for a few moments.
“It’s a beautiful death.” he murmured.
It was then that a jeep appeared out of nowhere. Clearly out of control, the driver was rapidly changing gears. I stood rooted to the spot, paralysed by fear. Jason pushed me aside and before I could know it, the jeep rammed him into a wall. Everything went black and I was sure I would pass out. Crawling on my knees, I reached his mangled body and took his face in my hands. He wasn’t breathing.
“Jason! Look at me. JASON!”
And then his eyes opened.
“Why?” I whispered, tears bubbling up in my eyes.
“Totally worth it.”
Matter and Anti-matter can never coexist. But when did that ever stop us.
Annihilation. You wicked bitch.