Sunday, March 18, 2012

To the stranger at the beach

Dear XY,

I never thought I could fall in love with someone I have never even met. I am not that type of a girl. I don’t have crushes on celebrities or characters from books. I don’t dream about knights in shining armour riding towards me on a white steed and sweeping me off my feet. I have never been in a damsel-in-distress situation. I don’t like romantic comedies. And I dislike the entire concept of candle-lit dinners.

I also intensely dislike the notion of ‘love at first sight’. Each time someone mentions that phrase around me, I snigger inwardly. Sometimes, I forget and even laugh out loud. I receive looks of pure hatred from the speaker of the phrase. I shrug, smile sheepishly and try to change the topic. I usually avoid confrontations.

Until recently, my world consisted of my books, my writing, my brother and the evening walks by myself on the beach. And though I was never too happy, I was quite content.

Why then does everything have to change? Why does life have to go topsy-turvy? Why have I become the very kind of person that I once detested? And why don’t I detest the person I have become? Why?

It was exactly two weeks ago that I first saw you. You stood there, in black tracks and a blue tee, hands on hips, right at the edge of the beach, gazing into the distance. It was as if you were waiting for a signal of sorts. I remember noticing that the blue of your tee matched the blue of the sea. You must have stood there for over half an hour. Perhaps longer. All that while, I stood just a few metres behind you, wondering what it is that you were waiting for. Your lady love to return from her trip? I hoped not. I hoped that you, like me, were standing there to soak in the sound of the sea. You waited till dusk had set in, and then you turned and left.

After that day, you came to the beach at exactly the same time each evening, dressed in exactly the same attire. And stood for exactly forty three minutes gazing at the horizon. And each day, I would watch you, and wonder about the story of your life. A million thoughts raced past my head. Sometimes I wondered if you were mourning a terrible loss. Sometimes I wondered why you never changed your clothes. Sometimes I wondered what if you had eyes on the back of your head and could see me all along. And sometimes, I wondered if I could ever muster the courage to come up to you, lock my hand in yours and gaze at the sea standing by your side. I imagined several other such scenarios with you, but I never once imagined a conversation between us. Maybe because I was already so comfortable with the silence we shared.

After the eight day, you stopped coming. It has been six days since I saw you. On the first day, I thought maybe it was because you had some errands to run. On the second day, I thought you might have caught a fever. On the third day, I feared your lady love was back. On the fourth day, I imagined you got bored of gazing at the sea. On the fifth day, I grew restless. Today is the sixth day. And I am afraid. I am afraid I have lost you even before I met you. I am afraid we will never meet. I am afraid I will never be able to tell you that I love you. For I do. I fell in love with you the very first day, the moment I saw you standing at the edge of the beach with your hand on your hips, gazing into the distance.

And do you know what it is that I am most afraid of? That I might run into you sometime, somewhere, and never recognize you because I never saw your face.


It was magical...

It has been a long while since I last wrote. In the last two months, I have often wanted to write – sometimes because I was angry, at other times because I was hurt, and at times because I was sad. But today, after a long while, I want to write because I am happy. It’s not that the last two months have been unhappy. They definitely haven’t. But writing requires a certain state of mind – and that has been eluding me for quite a while now.

Yesterday was different. Yesterday was beautiful. Yesterday made me happy.

It was the Rooftop Film Festival. A bunch of friends and I were attending it. And though they were around all the time, as were a couple of hundred others, I felt alone. It was a nice kind of alone-ness. Not the sad lonely kind, but a happy kind of solitude.

We were lying down under the open sky. Whenever the film or the talk got a tad tedious, I would gaze at the stars. The friend on my right was an astronomy enthusiast and pointed out some of the constellations. After a while, I drifted off from our conversation and began inventing constellations of my own. Here was an elephant’s bum, and there was a lady with long-flowing hair. And up ahead, to the right, was the little boy with a bat in his hand.

The first movie began. It was one of my favourites – Before Sunrise. And it contained one of my favourite scenes. The one in the church where Ethan Hawke tells Julie Delpy about the Quaker wedding he had been to. It’s the most romantic description of a wedding that I have heard. The couple kneel down in front of the congregation, and they just stare at each other. Nobody says a word unless they feel that God moves them to speak or say something. And then, after an hour or so of just staring at each other, they’re married.

At the end of the scene, I had a weird sense of happy-sadness. Happy, that something so beautiful exists. Sad, that I had no one to share that moment with.

I slept through the latter half of the second movie and most of the third. When I woke up, at the end of third film, I happened to glance upward. And what I saw, took my breath away. There, on what I had thought was a moonless night, stood a slim crescent shining bright in the eastward sky. It was magical.

At the end of the fourth movie, I glanced upward again, hoping to watch the crescent as it faded away. But it was already gone. Instead, in its place stood a bright, orange ball. I smiled to myself. So what if I only saw two of the four movies completely, I got to witness two miracles. I am happy, once again.