No pickles, no olives, no jalepenos

‘All veggies sir?’, asked the well-dressed server on the other side of the glass counter.

A bemused me could only helplessly look to my right at her. I didn’t know what to answer. My discomfort changed to ease when she smiled back at me, understanding I wasn’t used to this question and hence the clueless look on my face. It was the same shine of innocence those eyes had when she would smile that had me in love with this girl. It was my silent, secret comforter.

No pickles, no olives, and no jalapeños’ were the exact words that came out from her on that lovely February afternoon. While I understood little, I had trusted her with far bigger things in life to worry about those 3 ingredients. Instead, I took a mental note of these three things, well knowing that this wasn’t the last time I was eating at Subway, with her.

‘And sauces?’, asked the person again.

‘Mayo, sweet onion, mint, and southwest’. I made another mental note as these words crossed those beautiful lips of hers.

Months and years on, that remained our signature line at any Subway restaurant we stepped inside. Geographies, climates changed, the ingredients didn’t. For me, maybe it became symbolic with the kind of feelings I had for her. I loved my subway sandwiches just like that, and I loved her, just like that.

Many winters, many Februaries have since passed. Countless subway sandwiches have been eaten up. Life has changed dramatically. We are not together. But the answer to the question has remained the same. I haven’t even changed the sauces. If anyone of the 4 is not available, I prefer my subway without that particular sauce. I do have added Olives to my list. Well, we all change a little. But every time I ask for Olives, I can’t help but remember that first subway sandwich, a memory which still warms me up at times. I don’t remember how many of my friends have heard this story from me, for my answer is always prompt to the question.

Personally, it is something that resonates deeply. As a person, I have always found it tough to move on. Memories, sometimes a flood, keep coming back to light my face up and burn me up a little more from inside. Moving on, as I have learned, is one sucky business. Heck, it has been over 13 months and I still haven’t moved on from the rejections by 3 companies on an October afternoon. Thankfully, I am not alone and that comforts me. To feel normal is a good feeling sometimes. It tells you that you are not alone. And memories, even if hurtful, are a wonderful thing to have.

But there is a downside to this. You become afraid of the feelings. You fear, and then you act stupid. Fear always gets the better of all of us. On a personal front, now I try to remember fewer memories, for I know they return to haunt you. A moment you feel the warmth, the other you put yourself up for a quick retreat to the shell to avoid being made to feel rejected again. ‘Before you reject me, I reject myself‘ has become the way of life.

Somewhere, in this 25-year long journey, that has been one of the most important lessons. That we never really move on, so we need to accept that a part of our existence will continue to sing songs for and of those who once came, lit up a lamp and then went ahead with life. Learning to live with the lingering melodies of this song somehow defines life for most of us. There was a time I fought this feeling, now I am more accepting of it. I suddenly recall how much I have grown thanks to these memories. Putting them to good use has left me coming through better through some really tricky situations in life. These are valuable moments, forever locked in time memorial.

Eventually, even my memories will become a little hazy. Somewhere, I want some of them to become hazy. But then, there are some which are bound to be a part of my existence till the day eventually I move on.

And so, every time the well-dressed server on the other side of the glass window asks,”All veggies, sir?”, I will smile, a little on the outside, a little on the inside and answer:

“No pickles, no olives, no jalapeños”

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Times change, so do people. I now order extra olives, but I do that always with a tinge of nostalgia.

This has been another of the blogs I wanted to write years back, but never seemed to have the feels for putting the words together.. It may feel a little tasteless, but I hope that somewhere it helps you replay some old, forgotten melodies in your heart. Have a good day.


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