‘It isn't love if you aren't proud of him. Had you ever been? I can’t think of a single instance when you battled for him or contradicted our statements that mocked you rather, him and you as a couple. Was this not inevitable? Is this not just? The years shall unfurl how propitious and wise have been these hours which you scorn for being so dark.How imprudent you could have been to prod into a world which is so disparate to ours and catch an ailment that could have jaundiced the repute!Had you not been a gem and a subject of adoration to many such eyes which find place in the grander niche? It was undeniably a ridiculous camaraderie.’She had been silently listening to Dora with her penitent countenance buried in her palms. Her elbows were pedestalled on the table with a pair of shiny boots resting next to them and she sat muted and engrossed in the thoughts that had been pestering her since her conscience rebelled her desires.
Dora had been a witness to that companionship since it began but it never found a gesture of appreciation from her, ever! They had often communed the most intricate and the surreptitious matters with each other but this never picked much importance to be a topic of disquisition. It all began when there wasn't much intrusion of the friends, foes and those detested others who were often found in her proximity. A summer’s violent moon, engulfed in its silvery attire had mischievously played the subtle game that day. He had been a soothing companion to her seclusion and despair, which was later pursued by a strong infatuation and then…..which wasn’t ‘Love’ .It would have been strange if it would have happened at all! But it did, violating the conventions that governed the assortment of a perfect companion.
Rose had looked straight into his gleaming eyes and had fathomed the earnestness with which he had asked her to bare her heart. She could have flouted it but she hadn't! Perhaps, it was the virtue of the intellect of a painter that made her succumb to his unseen immensity. It was an obscure corner of a balcony owned by a tea-shop that was preferred by the non –garrulous, self-possessed fraction of the populace. He was a painter at the nascence of his career and she was a corporate professional. The bounty of richness that brandished her status was quite ungenerous to him. She had been a woman of means while he was mean, in his etiquettes, his attires and every social attribute that defines ‘Gentleness’. Yet, he had picked her curiosity! It was definitely not by mere chance, but by the stars that they shared the same table that day.
They had conversed, though not for long but it was enough for her to be seized. The flippant deliberations had gradually begot a serious tone about the tumultuousness of life, the perils and her. She had perhaps found the most suitable pair of ears which could listen without placing forth a single opinion. She could see his fingers playing with a pen captured betwixt two of them and the rest of his entire body captivated in her words. She had always been a lonesome child then a lonesome woman and craved for a voice in her silence.
She was enthralled by the naïve witticisms, the slovenliness and the ingenuousness that described him. Before she could speak more, which she desperately coveted to, he stood up with a jerk, pushing the seat behind and hurriedly spoke, ‘I wonder if I could talk more but I have to depart. I had a friend who was to make a visit and I should have been home by now.’ She made no delay in probing into the purse clasped in her hands and soon they emerged with a small paper which bore her name, a few more details and a number. She rose from the stool to reach his hand that extended towards her. He stood upright, yet small in his full length while she leaned towards him to hand him the paper. She took notice of the full stature of this man who had amused her with his brilliance and simplicity. He appeared a little charmer, basking in his naturalness opposite to her fine daintiness. He grabbed the paper and he straddled away while her inquisitive large eyes still rested on the receding man.
It wasn't many days yet, when she received a telephone call. It was her ‘little man’. They often conversed thereafter, rendezvoused, walked down those long tedious lanes where they would have rather taken a cab, spent hours waiting for the bus but took to their heels when they saw one nearing. Perhaps, they found solace in each other’s presence except when even the most reluctant eyes watched them with derision while making their way past them on the streets and in the cafes. Their scornful stares intended sarcasm at the unlikely couple. She was tall, slender and refined while he, a petite unkempt imp. How could she have found love in that incongruence? What made her slip her gentle hands into his’? It was perhaps the colors she usurped from the artist that probably explained the affair!
The frequent trysts had progressively found a place in their daily schedules but there was an unspoken discomposure which had progressively got raised. The sarcastic stares and those disconcerting remarks of mockery which appeared insignificant some time ago had gradually gained quite significance. She often appeared quite dejected in his companionship and frequently passed swift diffident glances at the crowd around to spot such ridiculing eyes.
Soon she could feel a faint slackness in her desire to adhere to her little man. It was an enforced detestation. Yet she yearned for him. But wasn't he an ill-fit gem in her solitude? Wasn't severance the panacea to all her woes? She was pursued by a determination to part with him. Ultimately, happiness born of immature whims is ephemeral!
The sudden intimacy trailed by an abrupt avoidance was an unjust affair that had ravaged the normalcy of the poor man. It definitely wasn't an unrequited attraction. The inexplicable avoidance had made him approach her several times to scavenge for an answer but it remained unanswered! He could have never perceived the thought of being disregarded for being that what had enticed her but only when he received a written note, his curiosity was answered.
The note explained their disparateness and her naivety to pursue an unlikely communion. The note was answered by another note. It was the best token of affection that he could have sent. And the last one!
It was a pair of high-heeled, grey boots for men and a note was attached to it!
The letter read:
Love is an inevitable ailment and it finds way through the loneliest of all paths. Perhaps I was loved by your seclusion than by you! The ‘disparity’ betwixt us is an exaggerated explanation to your conscience to justify thy imprudence. The difference in those insignificant inches and my flawed behavior could probably be a justifiable reason for the separation in your ostentatious niche. Hence, I gift you these pair of boots which cost me all the money that I had accrued over time to procure something precious for you. But love is often less valued than the luster and life! The boots might prove to be a better companion in your solitude than me.
Dora continued, ‘The idea of severance is indeed an excruciating one, but you can’t consume which cannot be digested!’ She lifted her sunken face from her palms and passed a serious gaze at the garrulous ever intruding and irrefutable friend. Her hands sluggishly crawled over the surface of the table and grasped one of those polished boots and the crumbled paper and glanced at those distorted letters buried in the folds of the letter. Was it not intense impertinence? But was she not deceitful?
She shot up from the chair with an unexpected swiftness and tucked the shoes into box. The words were rude enough to malign the egotism and the blow was to be answered. She marched out of the room pushed the boots into the bag resting at the corner of the table. Dora stood dazed at the abruptness of her friend. It was rather a sense of accomplishment that her persuasion wasn't rendered futile.
It was after few months when Dora received an envelope. It contained an invitation.
The honor of your presence is requested at the wedding of
Rose and J.Vimal
The seventh of July
Two thousand and thirteen
At two clock in the afternoon
The Wedding Hall, Street-5
Near Café 9, Gurgaon, New Delhi