By Ananya Mukherjee
Tumse sadiyon ki wafayon ka koi naata thha..
Tumse milne ki lakeeren thii mere haathhon mein….
(I was bound to thee since eternity, it was designed on my lines of destiny)
This anecdote has been conceived, constructed and cultivated against the backdrop of a synthetic dream. The date on the calendar refers to a dawn in August in the mid-90s. The location is an up-market apartment on Park Street, Kolkata, India.
A light rain screens through the open French windows spraying droplets of restless dreams on my face and hair. It’s too early to wake up and start the day, and in this blissful moment of semi-conscious wakefulness, I have neither the intent nor vigor to pull myself out of bed. Turning my face away from the window, I see your otherwise restless countenance arrested by a deep and peaceful sleep now. There’s no mark of the frivolous recklessness that characterizes your disposition at all other times that I have seen you. Instead, with a streak of that wet morning light gently caressing your face, your eyes closed and a fading smile still tucked somewhere in your pursed lips, you lay in a quiet stupor like a hermit who has found salvation in his trance.
My heart melts at the sight and I am overpowered by an unassuming desire to protect you thus, undisturbed by the waking realities, untouched by any malice that the day might bring upon you. I want this moment to linger a little longer, this comfort of sharing silence to prevail forever. As if somewhat reading my mind, you retaliate to my notion of an invasive silence between you and I. Even in your serene respite, you turn your face towards me, pulling me closer and burying your nose in my hair, whispering a muffled “Good morning, Sunshine”. The lull of your voice fills in the air, my dewy-eyed endearments get submerged in a few ‘meaningless somethings’ that follow. With eyes half closed and senses half awake, we lay interwoven in each other’s arms, welcoming the start of a new dawn.
In this red-tiled third floor apartment in one of Kolkata’s plushest neighborhoods, we are locked in a sense of oneness, intimacy, security and comfort of having found each other. It is not just the realization of having discovered ourselves individually in that ‘search’; we are wrapped up in a strong perception of belonging to each other completely—mind, body and soul.
The idleness of our prolonged love-making transcends to a more relaxing moment of quiet togetherness. Leaning your bare back against the wall, still holding me against you, you pull out a stick from a box of cigarettes on the bedside table. The clink of your Zippo rings sharply into my ears, the smell of tobacco fills my nostrils. Somewhat unused to the odor, it stimulates a sense of hunger in me. Planting a quick wet kiss on your lips, I turn and ask, “I need to eat something. Are you hungry?”
Do I wait for an answer to a question so redundant? If I am hungry so must you be. By the next few minutes, tripping on rosy wings, gathering the white cotton long sleeved kurta (an XXL that I supposedly ‘borrowed” from my Dad’s closet and never returned) around me, I scurry towards the kitchen door. A ray of light trickles through the half- smoked glasses, making curious patterns on the red mosaic floor—in circles, some full and few broken, like a child learning to write an “O” in a kindergarten school and making several attempts at it till he masters the art. Conscious of being watched, I finish my chores in the kitchen. All the while, I find myself recollecting scraps from last evening that we spent at Bar-B-Que, reliving the conversation over dinner, revisiting each confession we made to each other and reassuring myself of the commitment we now share. In a flashback of happy sequences, I see myself rewinding to the days when we first met each other, on a beautiful spring afternoon many years back as kids. Little did we know that a chance meeting on a sprawling school campus in eastern India, a decade back would leave such a lasting impression on either of you or me.
When destiny had planned our first meeting, I was an effervescent ten-year-old prancing around in shorts and sneakers and you were a lonely 12-year-old kid who drew cartoons when you were sad. I was the uptown metropolitan girl visiting her mother’s alma-mater while you were a local resident. Our mothers were contemporaries in college and only an unrehearsed meeting had brought our lives together. That spring afternoon, you were tasked with the duty of showing me around Tagore’s land. I was more than excited to have such a guide.
Though with very few words said, you had taken the task with utmost sincerity, and escorted me to all the tourist ‘must see’ locations throughout the day. By noon, our little feet were tired. When we finally reached a clearing by the river Kopai, it was late afternoon. I was hungry and somewhat tired of the silence that prevailed. I had brought out a ham sandwich from my little box and offered you a bite. You had taken it from me, thanked me and begun sketching again….leaving me to wonder if you didn’t like me, if you had even noticed my presence.
An hour had passed by and neither you nor I had spoken. I played with the grass, digging the earth with my nails….making circles with the dried twigs and thinking what life in a sleepy place like that could be like. You seemed unperturbed by my presence. Evening was setting in and we had decided to walk homewards. The path was smeared in a palette of crimson, scarlet and flaming bloom, heralding the season of life in a riot of colours. "I wish I had that flaming red branch of Palash, that one that is so full of flowers that you can hardly see the leaves, right there at the top," I had said with a childlike obstinacy, not hoping in the least I would be heard and walked in silence towards the guest house. You had escorted me till the wooden gate, said ‘goodnight’ and walked away. My ‘thank you’ had faded out in the darkness of the evening.