A tune, made of three notes in a sequence lasting roughly 6 seconds.
I don't know who played it, where I heard it from or if it was really played at all. But I heard it, crystal clear.
I was walking down the road, against the tide of people pouring in into the train station in the evening rush. People everywhere,shouting, talking, screaming, laughing, and the wind in my ears making it harder to hear. Yet, through all the loudness, I heard it distinctly. With the sweetness of little bells on a little girl's dress. With the sharpness of a mind-numbing glass-shattering opera singer. With the calmness of still water rippling to music. The tune reached my ears and I stiffened.
For a couple of seconds I stood still. I knew that tune but I could not place it. I turned towards the music, but that wasn't the direction it came from. And suddenly it stopped. I turned to walk away and then it began. And I was transfixed. It repeated in a loop on and on. And I knew it would haunt me till I remember where I heard it first and what it means to me. I needed to find the tune.
I walked to the bus stop and the tune kept playing. I got on the bus and the tune was still playing. I would prefer to say it was playing in my head because it makes sense. But I would then be lying because it was playing in my ears and I heard it like it was external. I thought of it. I needed to make sense of it. Why it haunts me. Why would it not stop. What is that memory it is trying to bring back to me.
As I stared ahead into nothingness trying to grasp on to anything, suddenly my mind was filled with a hundred different memories from my college days in IITM.The times when I laughed at another friend when she watched horror movies and then came to crash in my room too afraid to sleep alone. Times when in I got calls in the dead of the night because someone needed help with an assignment due in 3 hours. Or those endless nights I slept only for an hour before the exam. Or those days when I woke up to find out it was 7 o'clock except pm and not am. Times when I wept for things that really didn't matter and my friends would try to keep me occupied. Times when we had meetings at odd hours and feel important that really felt important back then. It was amazing that my entire college story hit me in one go. During the day we attended classes and/or slept in between and the nights we lived, in our little universe.
It seemed to me that the tune was reminding me of the universe I had, a universe I built for myself around things I liked. Everything else was extenal and it didn't affect me. Sigh! If I go down the memory lane, it may end at some point, but if I go up the observer's path that's an uphill hike and there is no end.
Back to my haunting tune. So the tune kept playing and my mind was playing tricks with the rhythm. By now, the bus reached my destination. I walked home, unlocked the door, dropped my handbag and reached for my phone. The tune was still playing and now it was playing in my hand.
A tune. A reminder. To call a friend. From an another world. In another lifetime.