Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Death is never final...

An entry for the story competition started by ZB.

It was summer. The gulmohar tree just outside her window was laden with vibrant orange blossoms. the morning, shades brighter by their colour. Priya was late getting up today, so her usual luxury of a few minutes to herself with a hot cuppa had to be skipped. Hurriedly she dressed. The blossoms in mind, she chose an outfit in muted orange silk. She was aware of her beauty but not carried away by it. She knew that her long and soft tresses of mahogany made heads turn, she knew that her hazel eyes and earthy complexion never went unnoticed. Her figure was full and her gait naturally graceful. Yes, she was aware of it all, but it didn't really matter to her, she brushed away compliments at times casually, at times with a degree of annoyance.

Work was her life, she was focused, she was determined and more importantly, she was good at it. She had inherited her looks from her dad, but her indomitable spirit and focus was that of her mom. Her mom, who had brought her up single handedly, who had worked two shifts, so that Priya could never feel the lack of luxuries. Her mother was the face of joy, a life that lived to the brim, that looked sorrow in the eye and crushed it by the balls, a life that was inspiration to Priya. Her memories of her dad were like old photographs, dusty and sepia toned, the edges tattered, the smiles forgotten, they just existed in a part of her brain, like a lot of useless things that need to be thrown away someday, too insignificant.

Today she did not have the time to ponder on such facts, she quickly kissed her mom goodbye and almost ran to the lift. Her day had started on a hurried but good footing. The boss came to her desk and approved her plans for the coming segment. Not only that, she was also praised for her innovative ideas. With lingering traces of a smile she looked up to see a young and well dressed man standing in front of her. "Arun", he said his name was. Arun had some queries which were addressed and cleared by her in a quick and efficient manner, which was her trademark. In spite of herself, she noticed that Arun had a very well groomed appearance, he was quite tall, definitely above 6 ft, his hairstyle was neat and his face aquiline. A conservative style of dressing and a polite demeanor. Quite an eye candy she thought as she saw him leave.

Maybe it was the breezy summer day, the flush of youth, Cupid's arrow, or any such excuse, but Arun could not erase the face behind the counter from his mind. The aloof smile, the bright eyes, the soft halo of hair that lined her face, the way she spoke, her soft , well modulated voice, in sharp contrast to her brisk manner. Images floated in and out of his mind's eye like waves licking a meandering shoreline. At lunch time the next day he was again at Priya's office. He was not a man to beat around the bush, not a man of many words either, he was straight and he was implacable. Yes, she was indeed beautiful. Today she was in beige, the colour enhancing the depth of her eyes. There was no recognition in them however, he noticed. The face that had conquered his dreams had apparently not given him a second thought. It did not matter of course!! Everybody need not believe in love at first sight. Arun's steps did not falter as he walked towards her. There was neither flamboyance nor plea in his voice or words. The voice was confident, the words were clear. "I came here with a query yesterday, and I am back today to take you out for lunch and get better acquainted with you. I hope you have no pressing engagements". Priya had heard lots of pick up lines, but never such an honest one. She vaguely recollected the face, her eyes noticed once again the careful dressing and the neat hair. For an unknown reason she felt angry. She could not show temper, as his words did not beget that, neither could she act offended, because she was not. She was probably for the first time at a loss of the right thing to say. She saw no reason not to go for lunch with this man, he was handsome, he was well groomed and very polite. And yet..why should she? What for?..just because he asked? She had learnt to say her 'Nos' very early in life, she never minced words and drew very good boundaries. "No, I am sorry" said Priya, "I don't see any reason to go out with you, please excuse me, I have work to do." Polite, firm, and final. A slap would have shown better prospects thought Arun.

He could so clearly see what she could not, at least not yet! There were things that defied explanation and logic. There were things that were meant to be. Smiling to himself he turned to leave her office. Priya's evenings were made by her mother. The small studio in the ground floor of their building was her mother's haven, she made pottery, ceramic ware and quite a few oils, the place was like the woman..spirited, vibrant, and non fussy. Priya loved being there and see her mother work. It rejuvenated her. Today she kept the incident of Arun to herself, used to telling everything to her mom, she was surprised at her own reticence. There was something about the guy, something genuine that had the capacity to filter through her years of mistrust of the male species. Given a chance, he would sweep her off all her notions of love and betrayal. And that was what scared her.

"Somethings on your mind Priya..spill it out", said her mother still turned towards her canvas. "Nothing really Ma, just some guy who wanted to take me out for lunch." Priya didn't have to say it, her mother knew that lunch had not happened. Why was it so difficult for Priya to get into a relationship, this was not the first time she had been asked out, throughout her college years good boys had made a bee string for her, and each of them were nipped in the bud. They had talked about it in the past, and each time Priya had said the same line,"Mom if you can be on your own, why can't I?No guy can supplement my life in any way..I don't need a man." The discussions had always ended with those lines, but this time it seemed different. Maybe for the first time a man had actually found the crevice in the wall that Priya had built around her heart. Prying was not her nature so she went back to her strokes and Priya was left alone with the thoughts of the well dressed man with an easy smile and neat hair. A sudden urge to see that smile again coursed through her mind, she decided it was a good smile, she was shocked at her own thoughts and yet had seemingly no control over them, like winged creatures they took flight travelling from his face to his hair to his tie and she even remembered how neat his nails were. Lost in these thoughts, she left the studio and went up to her room. Had there been a mirror, Priya would be surprised to see herself blushing.

to be continued...