The rise and fall of the waves make you feel dizzy. You close your eyes to calm yourself. The beach, but for the waves lashing against the seashore, is silent and lonely. Fear grips you. Nature in its wild form is anything but a delight. You wonder at the savage manifestation of creation. The pristine beauty and tranquillity of nature suddenly turn violent and aggressive as though it has unleashed its wrath against human greed. You are in deep thought. Serenity and tempestuousness exist alongside, which one will overtake the other is so unpredictable; you ponder over the contradictions that mark our existence.
You feel strange that in the forty years of your life you have never given a thought to the other side of life. Life, you feel, has been benevolent to you. Happiness and contentment have always been the hallmark of your life and you had no occasion to whimper or wince. It did not occur to you that such a smooth and easy life could mean some hidden agenda of destiny that would spring on you suddenly and catch you unawares!
The sea and sky seem to meet but they don’t. They are forever yearning for that culmination, that union, seeking solace in each other’s arms. You wonder at the charisma of nature. You are reminded of that unfulfilled desire that has caused turmoil in your life. Deep within you are troubled but you do not let it surface. Keep it buried within, you tell yourself.
How weird! Beauty has ceased to appeal to you. Only the bleak past is seated in your thoughts. Your life is bereft of colour. T is so painful to admit this stark fact. You want to move on as though it doesn’t matter but you are transfixed at that spot. Life has ceased to exist.
Immersed in deep thought you look at that curve of earth and sky where the sun is disappearing, splashing innumerable colours on the surface of the sea, and you experience an unfathomable, acute repugnance.
Strange! Isn’t it? The beauty of nature hasn’t impacted your senses. It has rather left you drained and dry. Those distasteful memories haunt you. You try to shake them away. You shrug, you shudder but they cling to you, they grip you fiercely, they don’t let you go. That is your retribution. You have to suffer to release yourself from the guilt of disowning, abandoning…..
You were mesmerised by the beauty of the golden sand and the blue waves meeting at regular intervals. Both seemed so much in love that separation even for a while seemed intolerable. Each waited for the other to approach. The waves drew the sand into their fold and left it halfway through.
You were there with her, holding hands, walking along the wet beach, waiting for the splash to drench you so that she would squeeze herself into you. Her grip was strong and your touch so tender! Reverse theory, wasn’t it? Female strength was pretty overpowering, but you relished that strength and proximity. You could go on looking into her hazel eyes, till eternity. She looked deep into your eyes, as though searching for something. Her gaze rattled your confidence and you looked away.
You stretched your hand to feel her softness….
All that came into your hand was the coarse sand. She was in your memory not on the beach beside you.
It was more than a year since you met her accidentally at the theatre and that first electrifying touch was so unsettling that you couldn’t make out whether it was joy or aversion that struck you. Joy, you could understand but why aversion? And that too when the touch was so adorable!
That grilling look of hers pierced through your heart and sent shock waves across your body. You literally had to steady yourself so as not to fall across her. Yes, you understood that vague sense of disgust at her touch, she was overpowering and strong. You were averse to female dominance. She was a fusion of feminine charm and repulsive attraction. Her ethereal beauty was magnetic and you found yourself pulled into a maze.
You waited eagerly to hear her voice, a voice that would strum your heartstrings. She didn’t speak, instead, she glared at you. That glare could have turned you to ashes. You shuddered again. She was amused at your discomfiture. That drove you mad. ‘
‘How dare you mock me?’ You wanted to scream at her, but your voice got throttled in your throat.
Just as she appeared from nowhere, she disappeared as quickly, leaving you shocked. Her exit created a void that nothing could fill. You wondered could a momentary, flash meeting be so profound and magical!
You wished you could google search her details. Google could locate, search, furnish details, and give information….. It knew everything. So why not this? The funny thought made you smile. Google, indeed!
“Hey, you! You owe me an apology.” You knew who it was.
You did not want to turn and bump into her again. You wanted to preserve that moment.
‘Hold on to this moment. Don’t let it go.’ Your inner voice urged you.
“I owe you? What? Why? You dashed into me…” You spurred her anger. That was the only way you could retain her there.
“Look, mister…. I can’t wait all day here for your apology. Get going. One word- sorry and I will let you go.”
‘That’s exactly what I don’t want,’ you murmured.
Her eyes dilated, her nostrils bulged and her cheeks became crimson.
Your eyes feasted on the glow on her face.
‘She is so beautiful, I just can’t take my eyes off her.’ You mumbled.
Hearing some voices and footsteps you looked up and found people gathering around you.
You quickly took a step back and apologised to her.
“I am sorry.”
But you couldn’t bear to see that victorious smile on her face. You said under your breath as you walked past her, “I am not.”
She jumped out of her skin at your proximity and those sharp words.
Before she could retort you had vanished in the crowd.
Wasn’t it a weird act? You wanted her proximity, were curious about her, and suddenly you chose to cut off that nearness? Your behaviour hadn’t struck you as odd?
Hide and seek? Distance makes the heart grow fonder, were you trying that? How sure were you that if you hide she would seek? Wasn’t that a juvenile thought? She did not play the ‘seek’ game and that had left you parched and desolate.
You realized it only too late and couldn’t make any amends. She had gone. Gone never to return. You had captured her image and lived with it.
Your next meeting was as sudden and unexpected as the first one. You had given up hope of catching even a glimpse of hers.
But fate had other plans.
It was a gloomy day, the sky was laden with dark, heavy clouds which threatened to burst any moment. Your colleagues had left early expecting heavy rain. You too would have left if your boss hadn’t reminded you of the deadlines.
You had ordered strong coffee from the cafeteria and were craving some hot pakoras. As though the cafe’ boy had sensed it, he appeared with a flask full of hot coffee and a plate of snacks. He was no less than God to you at that moment.
Sipping coffee and munching snacks in between, you were immersed in your work. You had lost track of time. And when you did look at the clock you were surprised that it was past eleven. The security guard was dozing off. You woke him and asked him to lock the cabin. You waited till he checked all the locks, swiped the card and left.
As you stepped out of the building, you bumped into someone who was hurriedly walking towards the lift.
“ Bloo….hell, can’t you…”
You stopped in your tracks. There she stood, in her eternal beauty, clad in a sky-blue saree that accentuated her contours. A fairy, an angel? What was she? You stared at her as though in a trance. Real or illusion? Involuntarily he touched her and she jerked her hand away.
“Oh, so you are real!” You had exclaimed.
She brushed aside your presence and walked past you into the lift. You did not exist for her. She looked through you.
You said with dignity, “Hi, so here we meet again.”
“Again? Do I know you?”
Right royal snub.
Her aroma was tantalising and you wanted that moment to be perpetuated.
“Yes, whether you like it or not, we have met, rather bumped into each other the way we did now.”
You weren’t going to let go of her. Not this time.
She looked hard at you and hid the smile.
“I am sorry, and I mean it.” You were apologetic.
“How come you are here at this hour? Don’t tell me you work in one of the offices in this building.” You were curious, hopeful and eager. She pretended as though she had not noticed your excitement.
“No way. I had a client meeting and it went on for more than two hours and couldn’t leave because of the rain.” She said in a casual tone
“Oh, so it had rained. Hadn’t noticed.” You tried to calm your agitated nerves.
There was a long pause. As you stepped out she held your hand, knowingly or by chance, it did not matter. What mattered was the touch. You wished time would stand still. Just as you were about to clutch her hand she withdrew quickly.
“Shall I drop you? Difficult to get a cab at this hour. Though we still are strangers, per se, I can offer you a lift. Your impish pun did not escape her but she chose to ignore it.
“Yeah, strangers who meet and disappear suddenly and reappear as suddenly. Why not exchange those customary pleasantries?”
“I am Yogesh Mehra, Project Manager in KR Systems. I am engaged to be married.”
If she was shocked, she didn’t show it.
She shook your hand and said, “Good to know. Hearty congratulations.”
There wasn’t another word from her. She refrained from exchanging those ‘customary pleasantries.’
“You are….” You prompted but met with stony silence.
“Hey, don’t be so serious. As promised, I shall drop you. Get in.”
You drove in silence. She had suddenly withdrawn and you couldn’t crack that silence.
“If you don’t tell me your name, I shall call you by a name that I like the most.”
You tried to break the ice.
“Mrignayani. It is such an apt one for you. Your eyes… they are mesmerising.”
“Don’t you dare call me by that name? And stop flirting, you are betraying your fiancé’.
Her voice betrayed her feelings.
You could feel that lump in her throat as she spoke.
“I am sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I am genuinely drawn towards you. I have not been able to shake off that feeling all these months since our first meeting. If I am not mistaken you have similar feelings. Don’t deny it. I have been longing to see you and I have spent restless nights. Now at least you can tell me about yourself.”
You could feel her tense body, you put your arms around her and tried to comfort her.
She stiffened and jerked away.
“No qualms. I too am engaged.”
That was the final blow to you. You were knocked down completely.
“If you can be, so can I be? Nothing to be surprised about. So that makes two of us.”
How could she be so calm and composed? You wondered.
The attraction was mutual, neither could deny it.
You wanted to continue this relationship; wasn’t that deception and betrayal? You knew it was a breach of trust. Yet you couldn’t snap your relationship with her.
Was she also struggling with her feelings? Was she too in a dilemma?
“I should rethink about my engagement. Even if it means breaking her heart, I should speak to her….” It was more like an aside than a direct dialogue with the one seated beside you.
“NO. You can’t do this to your fiancé’. If my fiancé were to do this to me, I would never be able to forgive or forget the anguish of a broken engagement. We are destined to part ways. So be it.”
“It is unfortunate that we met under such circumstances and fell for….”
She clutched the door handle to steady herself.
You said, “At least let me know your name.”
“Goodbye Yogesh. Let us do justice to our respective marriages. Let us be loyal to our spouses. I hope our paths never cross again.”
“Memories can’t be erased.” You had whispered as she walked away.
You woke with a start. The sand stuck to your back and your hair was dripping.
“Did I dream? Was I floating in the water? Why am I unable to move my limbs? Are they tied? Is there anyone here? Can you hear me…….”
It was all chaotic. You thought you were shouting for help, but you had not uttered a word.
You felt the sap of your life draining out.
Lifeless, and dispirited, you lay on the noiseless shore.
Alone and abandoned!
You were horrified at that thought.
“Asha.” Her name escaped your lips.
‘Would she be uttering my name?’ You wanted to believe she too would.
Asha, hope. You kept repeating her name as you tried to prop up.
Why did you harbour dual, opposite feelings? Why did you lie to her? Was her engagement too, a bluff? Were you hoping or were you justifying?
You wished she hadn’t lied. You hoped she got married. You wanted to save yourself from the guilt that was gnawing at your vitals.
That gloomy night, has ever since, haunted you. It has shattered your peace and has gobbled up the essence of life.
You live a life of a loner; your wife Rajini, is a compromise, she could never bridge the gap nor fill the void. You never allowed her to, though she is what you have always wanted your spouse to be – meek, docile, LOYAL, obedient, and caring…….
It has never occurred to you what Rajini has gone through in this relationship. You have never given a thought to her silent acceptance of a dutiful wife.
You still yearn for Asha, whom you deliberately abandoned.
Your imperfections and weaknesses glared at you through her strength. Compatibility was at stake. You knew it would be stormy marriage and neither would be happy.
You understood the repugnance and aversion that you felt towards her despite that attraction. You couldn’t accept her strength. You couldn’t manage your complex.
You failed to understand the one you married and deserted the one you loved. Caught between your failure and imperfections, you have flung yourself into an abyss never to return.
Far away you see a silhouette wading through the ruffled waters. Is that you running away from yourself, distancing yourself from the realities of life or is that Rajini walking away from you, the spineless you?
Or is it Hope walking into your life? Asha….
The glistening sand on your body pricks you and you wince.
You are still the same.
You have not evolved.
Asha looked at the receding silhouette. Was it him? Has his quest for a meek, submissive one not yet been fulfilled?
She did not know her lie had wrecked someone else’s life.
The earth and the sky seem to meet – the horizon is an illusion.
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