Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Wait

The sun blazed overhead
She rushed out
Forgetting to wear her sandals
Half-turned towards the shoe-shelf
Changed her mind and started climbing the stairs
Reached the terrace
Out of breath
Looked around
No sign of him
Heaved a sigh
He had promised to meet her at five

The afternoon breeze had cooled
She stepped off her perch
Placed one foot on the open terrace
Then another.
The floor would be the perfect cool at five.
She heard a noise from behind.
And turned hopefully.
It was the wind against the door.
No sign of him.
He had never surprised her.
Never turned up before time.

The sky was more blue, less yellow.
She squinted at the sun.
Looked down at the matchstick men.
Trying to spot
A dash of yellow
In a sea of gray.
Her alarm beeped.
It was 5:01.
No sign of him.
A mental note was made.
Get Boy a watch

Overhead, a flock was heading home
Below, the sea of gray turned thicker.
Her eyes darted about – restless.
Left, right, extreme left.
Suddenly she saw it – the yellow.
Her eyes danced.
Her lips began to break into a smile.
A lady in gray picked the yellow bag
And entered her house.
No sign of him.
She shrugged.
Wasn’t the joy in the wait?

The sky turned amber, deep blue and then grayish-black
She had finished the whites
The greens and the reds
She was counting the blue lights now
The yellows – she would save for the last
She heard a low rumble – her stomach.
She hadn’t eaten since lunch.
No sign of him yet.
Blue light number thirty four.
Blue light number thirty five.

The stars had begun to form shapes.
Her tongue was parched.
The rumble in her stomach grew louder.
She continued making faces 
At the make-believe mirror in front of her.
Frown. No.
Deep frown. No.
Angry eyes. No.
Flared nostrils. No.
Sad smile. No.
No sign of him yet.
Back-turned. No.
Disappointed nod. No.
What face was she to greet him with

The moon seemed farther away than usual.
An hour.
An hour before the terrace would be locked.
She made up a new game.
He will jump down from the moon.
He will parkour up the walls.
He will come sailing in a hot-air balloon.
He will steal a helicopter.
No sign of him yet.
He will hire a crane from the construction site.
He will come riding on a giraffe.

The stars had disappeared. So had the moon.
The watchman climbed the stairs in slow measured steps.
She said one last silent prayer and looked downwards.
Still hopeful.
The sea of gray had thinned.
No sign of yellow though.
A drop of tear trickled down her cheek.
She wiped it hurriedly and turned
Just in time to stop the watchman from locking her in.
No sign of him yet.
Maybe something happened to him.
“I hope he is alright.”

She crept into the house.
Picked up the phone.
Dialled his number.
It rang twice.
He answered,
“Hi! Are you OK?"
“Yeah! I’m sorry about earlier today. I had to go out.”
“That’s ok.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow evening. Terrace. Five sharp. OK?”
“See you.”
She went to bed on an empty stomach.
A smile on her face.
Waiting for tomorrow.