This is what makes the world beautiful”Rohit had whispered while passing me the rolled joint just a few hours ago. And I had believed it at the moment for I didn’t know I would be meeting Shriya later in the evening.
“You, me, the setting sun….. and this” I had laughed before I took the last drag at the very same rock where we sit now, the waves crashing beneath us with the similarvigor.
After throwing the joint bud in the sand below, Rohit asked me whether I wanted to go uphillon the lawn where the wedding reception was about to begin. I refused at first, I wanted to catch the sunset until its very end. But he insisted that we go there and shake the hands of our friend who had walked the aisle before it gets crowded and I reluctantly agreed.
Once we were done with the photo formalities we took a seat next to the beautiful garden and it is here that I spotted her.
She was with her group of girls clicking pictures with the trees in the background. I kept staring at her while all the ladies around her ceased to exist, it was as if she was the only one in that garden posing especially for me.
From that moment, I felt my soul detach itself from my body, I remained seated at the same table while my eyes and along with it my soul followed her silently, losing in her sheer presence and her every move.
She was wearing a green lehenga and a golden choli, a traditional Indian wear with a combination which would have put the bride to shame. A gold pendant dropping from her forehead was literally like the term“sone pe suhaga”
In the crowd of hundreds, our eyes met, once, twice. And I couldn’t shift my gaze away from her.
“Talk to her” Rohit pushed me. I never have the courage to speak to someone randomly, but she was different. I breathed heavily and responded “yes, I will”
Bereft of ideas I Googled “how to talk with random strangers at a wedding” but I was bestowed upon with impractical tricks.
I saw the drinks counter and suddenly a tingling light bulb flashed in my head.
Picking up two glasses of wine I walked in the direction of her. It was a pavement surrounded by wedding décor. She started walking towards me as well, a little moment of panic hit me, my stomach churned, but I remained strong. Our eyes met and she lowered her gaze, tucking her hair behind from her ears, she wanted to show me her glistening gold earrings perhaps.
Just when we were about to cross each other, my phone rang loudly.
“Umm, excuse me, can you hold this for a second?” I asked. The miscall from Rohit at the right moment had done the trick. Poor guy with two glasses in two hands with no tablearound couldn’t have picked the phone from his coat pocket.
“Oh. Accha . sure” She said as she took one glass from me as I lowered my eyes towards the coat pocket.
The phone stopped ringing as soon as she held the glass and I looked up.
“Cheers” I said. After a briefpause, she burst into a laughter, a cute one at that.
“Smart” She winked while our glasses clinked.
“Aman” I introduced myself.
“Shriya” She replied, nodding her head.
After an awkward pause of another few seconds, I bluffed “I have seen you somewhere..”
“Oh, me too” Her expressions turned more curious.
“You were in Xavier’s right?” I asked.Another bluff, an arrow in the dark.
“Yeah” She responded with a smile on her face.
“You are pooja’ssister right?” My two bluffs had given me the confidence to go ahead for the kill.
“Oh my god!, yes, How do you know it?” her face lit up.
The deafening music started playing in the background, the DJ had gone into a full swing with a party rock anthem, to begin with.
She said something and I couldn’t hear, tilting my face towards her ear I asked: “Do you wanna go down the beach for a walk?”
While we walked down with juice glasses in our hand, I found questioning myself, is this really happening? I pinched and winced. It was real. She is real. Is it so easy to pick up chics at a wedding? And that too not an ordinary girl, I am sure she is the life of any party.
“Ouch” she winced; albeit cutely as soonas her cold feet landed on the cold patch of sand, the dwindling light of thesun had disappeared.
“What happened?” I asked acting all macho and caring.
No matter how emotionally weak guy you are, when a girl says “ouch”, your “what happened?” has to come out heavy.
“Nothing, the wine has increased my sensations” she giggled and with her, I felt my heart giggling as well. For the first time in my life, I was not high on alcohol or weed but instead her perfume. Her hair frill hit my face due to thewind and she smelt exquisite like the angel had come down on the earth, just to walk on the beach with me. Why have the gods been so kind to me?
Her black smooth silky hair fluttered under the influence of strong evening breeze, she plucked two pink wildflowers while on our way to the shore and put one in her hair and tucked another behind my ear for fun.
People glorify the walk during sunsets, the exact moment when the sun bids adieu or even the moments before it slowly drops into the sea.
I, on the other hand, love that stage just after the sun has set. The darkness is slowly engulfing everything around and yet it isn’t pitch black. It has started to feel cool and yet it isn’t terribly cold. The warmth of sea waves gestates you at the arrival of soothing darkness and the tiny birds which have not made it to their home are zooming behind its usual flock;making you chuckle.
We walked there, chatting and discussing the “what’s” and “how’s” of our lives; we came back to the reception and sneaked down the beach again with food plates in our hand.
I was not surprised that Rohit didn’t call me, “Bro code” was important to him.
We lost track of the time and it was getting late, but I didn’t want to be the one to say “let’s go”, I wanted time to freeze.
“Can you wait with me for another hour or so?” She asked and I pinched myself again.
we came to the edge of the beach where the sand ended and rocks began, rising atop and amalgamating into mountains.
It’s Dark. Beneath the rock on which we sit, is the blue water while the moon is glowing brightest.
And the reason she wanted me to wait is a minute away now.
“You know, I was never in Xavier’s” She quips in suddenly, breaking my ocean of thoughts at the exact moment a strong wave hits the rocky surface, water splashes up and wets our feet.
I look at her and she has the same enchanting smile she has kept throughout.
“I don’t even know which Pooja you were talking about?” this time her smile gives a way to giggle and I stare at her with an even more dumbfounded look.
After a brief silence, she stares ahead and whispers softly.
“Actually, I wanted to get away from that place, and away from the thoughts of my ex-boyfriend, who was at the wedding”, She looks back towards me, this time with a compassionate expression on her face.
At this moment, I want to say something, but somehow the words dry up, my brain is doing its best to process the tiny shocks she is giving in every sentence she speaks.
“I just liked your courage” her eyes hold a truth which is hard to negate.
“But then, as we walked, I realized how amazing person you are, our thoughts converged, our footsteps aligned and now, I find myself sitting here with you and I have no idea about the time” She starts with a convincing tone which becomes a laughter as she looks at her wristwatch.
“Almost midnight” I reply and the meteor shower begins.The sky lights up and so our faces. Our eyes are transgressed and transfixed, she slowly slides her palm and rests on mine.
“This is what makes the world beautiful” She whispers not taking her eyes off the sky.
“You, me, the falling star….and this” I reply, presenting her the pink flower which she had tucked behind my ear.
- Gautam Mayekar