An old story, but a much-loved one by my friends – and love of friends is what has got me here. So it’s a tribute to my girl gang!
She stood by the sea-shore, the salty water traces kissing her tear-stained face. She didn’t know which stung her eyes bad, the salt content which her body produced or the salty traces of the vast water body that lay before her.
She contemplated a walk in – yet again, but the feet remained frozen to the ground. The clouds hovered in more and darkness promised to engulf the remaining traces of the sunlight soon. Very soon. She stood there bare footed shivering without any attempt to search for a shelter. She heard a voice from far away, a few murmurs, but only a shoulder pat brought her back to reality from the state of trance she was in.
She didn’t know him and was startled by his touch. She detested physical contacts right since childhood. Hugs make her claustrophobic, and just as her friends never understood her affinity to sarcasm and hatred towards sweet talk, they found this attribute also weird. But just as always she never cared for their thoughts.
But then there was no sweetness in the face before her. He was stoic, his jaw line prominent as he stared right ahead at the sea, with a sudden complete disregard to her presence. She looked at him with bafflement till she was too tired to make his eyes meet hers. She sighed and opened her mouth to talk – to ask as to what exactly gave him the right to jolt her away from her thoughts, when he spoke. But then again, he spoke more than words, a mere indication by his lowered eyes and the arch of his mono-brow made her look towards her feet. And there lay her bag with half of its contents dripping wet and the other half long washed away.
“Holy Jesus!”, was all she managed.
“Aah! Well He isn’t exactly there to save an unmindful you from lashing waves”, came the reply in a deep voice.
She shot him a dirty look through her blood-shot eyes. But then again the fury in them missed him as he continued to stare ahead. She didn’t know what to do. Lost as a child whose precious castle had been swept away by deluding waves, she hunted for the remains of the bag which held her treasure.
“It’s all gone, there I can see your umbrella and a few colored pieces of cloth swimming”, he replied with a dramatic placement of his hands over the eyes.
She could have killed him, had she not contemplated killing her own self for such callousness. “Those are my socks – I need them in this weather to save my skin. I don’t know what I’ll do now”, she whispered more to herself than to him.
“You need socks more than umbrella in this weather?”, the arched mono-brow was now directed towards her.
“Yes, because I am the rain which no umbrella can withstand”, she replied.
“So you are the rain? Interesting! But don’t you feel you over-estimate your power?” A stoic question – nonchalant and dry.
“You wouldn’t have asked me this if you would have been caught in the Bombay rains ever. An outsider you seem.”
“Nah! Am no outsider. I know the rains you are talking about, for I am the wind that accompanies the rain and blows away the umbrellas. You pour. I drift.”
And that is how Varsha met Sameer.
Varsha stood there that day by the beach, contemplating whether she should finally give in to her fears, her darkness and end her life for once and all. A person drowning in the sea was after all not uncommon in the Bombay monsoons.
Sameer visited the sea like each day to engulf the salty moisture laden air, to feel the sense of optimism which the sea imparted to him. After all to feel released and liberated was the sense which the Bombay monsoons brought about.
Days later they spoke, less through spoken words and more through those little black printed letters that flashed on their mobile screens. He made her wise and she made the stoic him smile. They weren’t ever spotted together for their interests and their lifestyle made them the twain that could never meet.
She was the fleeting butterfly who hoped out from one local to attend a dance recital only to hop onto another one a little later to rush for a drink at the local pub and strum her guitar and perpetually fail to meet office deadlines the next day. He was the disciplined one who would analyze, contemplate and then plan the day, time his schedules and made sure each day was productive. She lived like a manic, going without sleep for days and then hibernating for a few days to catch up on all the lost sleep with vigor as if she will not be able to sleep again ever. He lived by the watch and with his streaming mailbox showing him the way.
He asked her to slow down. She asked him to loosen up. They decided to come to a mutual consensus. After what seemed like barely six weeks, six months into their meeting, her colleagues at work fainted when she was punctual at a meeting impeccably dressed. In contrast he woke up with a bad hangover and called in sick to miss an important meeting, leaving his boss to wonder whether something was seriously wrong.
Their dinner sessions were speckled with sarcasm; their drive home was filled with crazy tuneless songs. There was warmth in his face that made her glow. There was a spark in her eyes that made the world around lit up. There was a bond between them that spelled companionship and comfort.
There are moments in life which sweep you away and then there are moments which make you stand more grounded than before. The irony is people around you often remember, contemplate and interpret the former, with little attention to the later.
There wasn’t anything that was romantic, yet there was a faith that imparted life. She loved him in the way she had come to embrace life. He loved her in a way he had come to embrace laughter.
She thought this would go on forever, which each day beginning with a smile and ending with a comfort sleep. He didn’t know how far this love would take them in a relationship that could never be named.
Sometimes we are wise enough to know at the outset that some endings are never to happen in the fairy tale fame, yet when endings loom near it seems easier to end it abruptly rather than seeing through it. Sometimes being wise is not enough. Sometimes love is not enough.
She depended on him and was scared to lose. He never had anything so was scared to depend.
She felt she needed to talk. He felt he needed to talk.
The dinner was at their favorite Italian restaurant. She was edgy. He was edgy too. But still they were comfortable, for there were looking into mirrors before themselves and not “another person”.
They drank champagne till the French vineyards threatened to run dry and then they decided to walk down the beach. The cold wind and rumbling clouds made her shiver. Angry skies had always scared her.
It was then that the lightning struck.
He held her and looked straight into her eyes and told her that he was going away to a different land. She just stood there numb. She said he couldn’t leave her. He said he made no promise to stay ever. She reasoned that he never said he would leave.
He said they had found enough within themselves to sustain.
The rains splashed around her and the lightning struck again. She closed her eyes and felt she would be dead that night. He forced her to open the eyes and face the rain.
“It’s out to kill me!”, she screamed.
“It’s out to save you!”, he shot back as he left her there stranded and walked towards the car.
To look on as an outsider, a guy walked away from a scared girl on a rainy night leaving her stranded on the beach. To both of them he left her in the boxing ring with her fears, leaving her with the option to learn to fight back on her own and emerge victorious or to accept defeat. But yes with him waiting in the car for the victorious or defeated her.
It was her first morning without him. But strangely she was not unperturbed. It seemed as bright as yesterday when the phone buzzed to greet her. She smiled into the mirror which still whispered to her she was pretty, like it had been for the last year. She did not settle for grey instead picked up her favorite purple scarf. Lavender was his favorite.
She wasn’t late for office and there was the same amount of positivism throughout the day. Yes she did check her phone for that non-existent missed call or message but smiled at the blank screen instead of feeling sad.
The rumbling clouds and a terrible rough weather made her colleagues advise her to go home early. She smiled and acceded, but didn’t drive home. She knew where she had to go.
She stood by the sea-shore, the salty water traces kissing her smiling face. She didn’t mind the salty traces of the vast water body that lay before her stinging her eyes.
She had left her umbrella and socks in the car. She didn’t need them anymore. She now knew how to face her worst fears without bowing down to them. She looked at the sky and thanked the angel who had entered her life to change it forever.
There are a few people who enter your lives to teach you to walk following the footprints they leave on the sand. There are others who teach you to fly like the migratory bird that shows you the way, but leaves no traces of the path followed – leaving it up to you to decipher your own way.
He was the bird who helped her to un-clip her wings and spread them wide. She now knew how to fly and was deciding on the course to take – confident and courageous she stood there. there was no bitterness for she knew that he had not stranded her but had taught her to live and lead a strong and contended life.
Strangely she still talks to herself in his voice in her head…