The impeccable beauty of the sky with its vivid display of numerous warm colors on its palate exhibited a phenomenal artistic masterpiece!!! The crimson…the vermilion….the saffron…the yellow….with the faintness of dark blue tingeing the peripheries….evinced the dusk taking reign of the sky. Innumerable breakers emanating from the nonchalant vermillion sea marched onto the calm sands of the beach….washed it intermittently…..and left behind a couple of shells…..sometimes a decadent corpse of some sea creature….and few other things that often become an object of décor on the mantelpiece. The briny breeze….the pallid foams….the myriad of colors….and the lonely couple….all uttered of warmth….and intense affection.
Untiring incessant disquisitions…followed by the mild frowns of the lady…..and the deep sighs of the man spoke of a sincere subject of deliberation that might have been stifling them….or just might have been a casual conference about politics.....the worldly affairs…..the future….or Love. Soft romantic murmurs were losing itself in the garrulousness of the obstreperous sea…as if the nature, envious of them was trying to usurp the romanticism from the Lovers!!! The man fiddled with her hands…..often ran his fingers through his lady’s tresses….and each time he did…..they got tangled in the overflowing mane….and every time she liberated them from the lover’s captivity. There were gestures of affection and understanding…..but the smile that often smudged the corners of their lips was not as frequent as it used to be!!! There was a play….a sonnet of intense emotions…..an enchantment that tangled the two…..a murky luminescence of mirth….and yet an unfathomable silence. What was it that the silence spoke of??? What stirred behind the girl’s woebegone stern face???
A couple of stars could be seen in the dark blue canvas….which had transformed its complexion in those flying hours. The warmth in the sky had faded away with swift nimbleness….and just the crest of the retiring Sun could be witnessed…beckoning the lovers to depart….but there was a hesitance……a refusal….and an unusual plaintiveness in ‘The’ day’s Farewell. The eyes which mirrored her soul reflected tears. The girl clang to him with an honest persistence…..while the boy with a weighted heart made ceaseless endeavors to cajole the sulking lady. What was it that had expunged them of happiness??? It was her wedding the next day!!!
It was the dirge of severance….of sacrifice…..and their servile love. How could have love survived the test of the societal norms….and stood against the clout of money and the strength of reputation??? Was it not obvious for the Father to get his darling daughter a husband, decked with riches and residing in the upper niche of the society??? Was not ‘Their Love’ a feeble and a childish amalgamation of passion and caprice??? Who would have cared to fathom the soreness of the incision….but chasing penniless Love would have smutted their reputation……and then ‘They’ would have spoken!!! ‘They’ were the people…the kin…..the neighbors….and those who suddenly become cautious of the duty of being a well wisher. Then was it not wise to break the links of frail love….and choose what ‘They’ said???
Years trotted away….making way into the future……and the beaten love had melded itself somewhere in the staleness of the past. He had carved out a new life for himself…..and probably was happy….and the girl??? She had been placed amidst lavishness….so she too might have found happiness!!! And ‘They’???? ‘They’ never cared anymore!!! He had been patient all these years….patient with his failures…..the pain of estrangement…..and his efforts to wade through that grotesque pain. But the future hours generously turned amiable to him. He procured all that an ordinary man craves for…..a well heeled job, a comfortable dwelling…..and a beautiful wife…..but still the shards of the broken love dwelt in some preserved corner.
A couple of decades or more of family hood passed by!!! Those were the fertile years begetting him happiness….and prosperity. He had wealth, opulence, a business of repute and children. There were concerns of life and family melodrama. Years had started to ripen his age.....the rolling hours stole the bliss of youth from him. He had grown a frailer being. All his tasks were done…and he had been transformed into a recluse. His wife had died….and he too had succumbed to the decaying life. But that sunken Love??? Had it disappeared??? Is it not a palpable fact that memories are ephemeral colors that get expunged with time??? Because time plays its role well….and conceals every wound. He visited temples…..shrines and a few NGOs to devote himself to the service of God…and his men. He spent hours in the churches….attending to masses and deciphering the gist of Life. He had given himself to art, literature and all those refined instincts that had been the most prized possessions of man.
It was a cold winter Sunday, silent and pristine as usual. The church door smoked out a rhythmic hymn being sung in chorus. But he sat himself on an ancient iron bench which occupied an obscure corner of the untamed garden and tried to confiscate a bit of harmony from the serenity. He was all alone in that tranquil suburb of that garden…..perhaps with a couple of sparrows and……and a woman with a ball of wool and a half woven sweater in her hands. He could catch a glimpse of that bundle of white through those green thickets….and every time he craned his head to get a proper view of the lady…..she got camouflaged with those heavy untrimmed hedges the more!! It was as if nature was playing a childish game with him.
Uncontrollable curiosity and an hour’s monotony pushed his feeble frame toward the lady. She had in her hands a pair of knitting needles with a half woven red woolen piece hanging from one of them….and her heads almost buried in her creative work. It could have been a scarf….a sweater or something else. It might have been for her son or her grandchildren….or for her husband. He kept gazing at her……and she kept playing with her needle and the woolen thread with a commendable dexterity oblivious of the man’s presence. The mellifluous hymn which echoed out of the arched doors of the church had become silent…..and the fluttering sparrows too had flown away. He thought to leave the garden and head towards that sacred cradle……but suddenly pushing herself out of that trance, the lady raised her little head. It was her!!!
The man stood dazed and speechless. But she was still…looking straight into his trembling visage….no restlessness….no excitement….and not a streak of dejection. The fluttering butterflies…the dancing leaves…..and the singing voices….all seemed to have muted. There was an absolute silence……and the shattered debris of those gilded memories was being resurrected. The furrows that had made their
ways through that broad forehead revealed the time…..the long time they had been apart…..but yet the Love seemed to be oblivious of the dark gulch of the decades that separated them. It was young and fertile!!! The charm had been wiped out and the youth had shriveled away…just remained the memoirs of that unrequited love!! Neither the rendezvous at the roadside cafeteria…nor the unquenched hours of ceaseless rapture was alive…all what stood in that long passage of time was that ardent desire to slip their hands into each other’s and tread that narrow lane again….once again……or watch the lurid play of colors of the evening sky by the seaside. But he had been a married man…..and she too had been married…..and married to a rich husband. Was not she???? How could he have forgotten the bitterness of parting??? But where was the red dot on her forehead??? It was blank…..and there was not a single smear of red on her….she was widowed!!!
Sympathies clouded the more and the lover stood in despair. He was grappled with an irresistible desire to clasp her hands and never let them go!!But the sense of obligation….the call of duty…..above all the cacophony of the refined and the trimmed society….all prevented him to escape his confinements of ‘those societal norms’. He had sons, daughters and grandchildren. What would ‘they’ say?? Would not his impulsiveness make him a mere subject of mockery??? Man can learn to live without love…..but not without honor.
It was ‘they’ again. What would ‘they’ say?? But who were ‘they’???
‘They’ were none!!!
‘They’ is the self erected reason of an unfounded awe…..and a gorge that tears apart man from himself. It is just the virtual image that stands behind the mirror…..and is non-existent and imaginary. It is the noise of the muted voices which speak without reason……and influence our vulnerable conscience…..but then???? It is gone!!! Gone forever!!! And we are just left with ourselves…..all alone with regret….and sobbing repentance. But again….what would ‘they’ say????
The man stood there with a palpitating heart and tried to step forward….towards his lady. She picked the half woven woolen piece in her hand with a sudden jerk and tucked the woolen ball into the straw basket she carried….and briskly walked away….fading into the crowd which oozed of the church. And she was lost again!!!