Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Matter of Time

If you looked at her eyes, they would betray a feeling of happiness, something she’d felt after a long time. She was beautiful once, but time takes away what it gives. But as if with a strange sense of magnanimity it leaves a few traces behind. For her it was her eyes, and she assumes that he’d seen what she’d lost by gazing into them.

She stopped and picked up a coffee mug from the shelf to her left. It was a plain white mug but it had this image printed on it, that made it look like it had a crack running down from the top. She didn’t know if he’d like it. She would take a look at everything down the aisle, which had some of the most ridiculously expensive items one could fathom. They called it the gifting section. She was sure he liked coffee. He’d told her this, on numerous occasions that she’d visited him. She thought back to the day she’d gone to meet him at his house for the first time.

He hadn’t taken too long to answer the doorbell, and she walked in dressed in a yellow Salwar suit and shrouded in apprehension. He had whiskey on his breath and his hair spilled carelessly yet beautifully over his forehead. He was dressed in a navy blue shirt, and had left a few buttons at the top open. He had a light stubble on his face, just the right amount. He smiled and looked at her, as if trying to see through those invisible walls she’d built around her for years on end. He shouldn’t try she thought.

She assumed his house was perpetually in the state of disarray that it was in then. Men were like that, she believed. Her son and her husband were no different. He gestured for her to sit down on a rather dusty armchair. She smiled and obliged. He brought a chair from a room inside, and sat down just across from her. He asked her for how long she could stay. She had an hour before she’d have to go and fetch her son from school. He asked her how she was and if she’d been doing well and if she’d been happy. She’d mumbled a few things before he said that he’d been meaning to tell her a lot of things about himself and his life. He spoke about leaving this town soon. He spoke about travelling for a while, and visiting places. He spoke about soul-searching and about wanderlust. She knew what it meant. It was one of the most sensuous of words. He spoke fervidly about fulfilling his dreams of travel. He explained to her the morbidity of an ordinary life, and he then went on to speak about love and how we conveniently defile it in the name of marital sanctity, which was but a set of senseless impositions by an incorrigible society.

She only listened and listened intently and she could see a glint in his eyes, every now and then, interjecting and yet adding meaning, like remarkable drunken poetry.

She placed the coffee mug back on the shelf as she remembered a quote that speaks of how ‘It’s always words that undress you’*. She walked further down the aisle as she permitted herself a faint smile recollecting whatever else that had happened on that afternoon.

He was putting on his shirt, as she prepared to leave, and he asked her if they’d meet soon. She had nodded, smiled and left.

She’d met him several times since then and she’d be meeting him tomorrow too. It was his birthday, and she decided on buying him a coffee mug, albeit a one different from the one she’d picked up earlier. She also picked up a card and wondered what she should write in it.

As she made her way to the billing counter, she felt that in her own little way she was doing what she can to escape the unpleasantness of what he (and now she) liked to call an ‘ordinary life’.

She was just joining the queue, when she saw him not too far away from where she stood. He was walking towards her hand-in-hand with someone else with that song of a smile on his face that she’d grown to look forward to. That smile was a song for that someone else too. That someone else did look happy.

She turned away and walked as fast as she could. She set the coffee mug and the card on an arbitrary shelf, and she didn’t let any of what she was thinking show on her face, but if only you could look at her eyes now.

You’d know that time does take away what it gives. 

*'It's always words that undress you'- Shahir Zag.

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