Patrick had to tell him; he should have told him; how would he begin; he had rehearsed it all and yet could not utter. It was a sleepless night but unlike the night before, he tossed and turned with trepidation. He woke up the next morning dreaming and snatches of dreams intermingled with his reality. There were no messages. Juxtaposing the happy weekend with a likely remorseful day he grew restless. It may be otherwise, he pacified his agitated self. It will be otherwise, yes it will, he smiled to himself. Am I being silly, naive, he asked himself. He had no answers. Good morning, he typed, and wished him a pleasant day. The reply came much later. Curt! May be he is held up. It is a Monday! Patrick imagined. And imagination ran rambling over greener pastures. There were no blues, everything seemed a riot of colours. Patrick could not help smiling doused in optimism. He had managed to recover his crumbling courage. He knew he would tell him. May be I should call him later in the evening, he thought. But telling him in person would have been better, he debated, but I fall short of words with him around and I cannot bring myself to utter anything sensible. Yes, a phone call he decided. By afternoon the phone call seemed unlikely. What if I go awry upon hearing his voice? What if he hangs up on me? A message! I’m good with words and I can read the words I type out over and over again before I actually send it. He typed, corrected, read the words time and again, deleted, typed, read, corrected, added words, removed them, read them again. Evening set in! The distant buildings shone dimly through the haze of dust that the air was impregnated with and Patrick could see the distant figures looming through the many floors. His workplace was quite empty, the computers had been deserted for the day, the bluish glow stared into him, questioning him. He read again. It ran thus. There are two things I wish to tell you.
First, I have never felt this way before. It is uncanny yet beautiful. I am truly beside myself and I am surprised at my stance, with all my rationality gone for a toss. Although I have known you for a week or more and met you over the weekend, it sounds clichéd when I say that it feels like I have known you forever. I don’t know if I’m hopelessly infatuated or irreversibly charmed by you but this I know that I’m head over heels on you.
He measured the weight of his words. Calculating, pondering, reluctantly, willingly he sent the message. The wait seemed forever. Beep, went his phone.
Look I don’t know what you intend. And I don’t know if I have the time for all of it.
That was all. The optimism was fading. He hit the send button, the second message, dreading his decision but it had to be told.
Second, I should have told you earlier but I could not bring myself to tell you. I wanted at each point of time but something held me back. Fear, chagrin, I don’t know. And here goes, I am HIV positive. I am sorry that I kept it away from you.
The phone rang sharply. What, he screamed. Are you crazy! Why did you not tell me? What do you mean by this? Don’t you dare call me lest I call the cops. What the hell is wrong with you, he hung up ringing with rage and hatred.
Tears welled up and ran down his cheeks. Patrick could not breathe and gasped for air. Shivering he typed.
Don’t worry, I have not infected you.
Patrick was quite certain but a cloud of uncertainty eclipsed him. Crying, praying, begging, he knew that it was indeed over.
The days that followed were never the same. He kept looking at the heavens for a sign, a miracle. He didn’t wish to begin anew. All he wished was for him to be safe. He is safe, he assured himself. I should kill myself, he devised, were something to happen to him. An invisible noose of guilt wrung his neck and with each passing moment tightened its force, ripping apart his veins, smothering him. I should die sooner lest I die each day. He waited futilely for a message knowing well that he was building castles in the air. He was certain that he was safe. Yet he implored the stars, the wind for a message, an assurance, a closure. He deleted his number, all conversations, for they were a crude reminder of all that had been. He knew that he would never inform him if things were alright. The days became weeks, the weeks added up to months and a year now. Patrick was never the same. Standing at the corner of the terrace each night, he drowns himself in the quicksand of melancholy. The clouds sail by ignorant of him or do they ignore him, the wind howls or do they curse his existence, an occasional bat screeches or does it cuss him! He knows not. Twinkling blue lights, he remembers.