07 April, 2011
Romance at Short Notice-Part 2!
Please go to Romance at Short Notice-Part 1 before reading this to get the full import of the story.
Turning her blatant gaze away from his face, Nilu finally managed to fish out words from her slightly quivering and very embarrassed self.
“I am sorry! I thought the house was uninhabited.”
“It is and I am the one who should be apologizing for giving you such a start. Actually I don’t live here as it is quite away from the city. But it is my great grandfather’s house and I don’t want to give it up. Being opened for some famous tourists from Delhi, I thought I might as well come here and pick up some stuff.” He breathed a pause, “I assume you are one amongst the many outside?”
She raised her eyebrows in consent and smiled at the reminder of being a part of the flock, almost a wry one and he returned it back as though empathising. “My god, I couldn’t help but peep outside earlier and with no offence intended, living in that must be like being on a highly dramatic stage always?”
“Not really, we do manage breaks in between when there is lack of audience.” And they both laughed, the ringing mirthful and reverberating through the hitherto silent room, watching it all like an engrossed spectator. “I can’t imagine though how someone can, not-live in a house like this. It is so perfect.”
He beamed again, spreading the charm on his countenance dwindling between the boyish and the manly, with the delight of one who was enjoying good company after a long dearth. “Yes, but when you live alone it becomes a little waiflike. And when I need to write books or paint, I do come here on a sabbatical of sorts.”
That was like rain wetting a thirsty flaky crust. Women in general have this compelling fascination for writers-men who express the world in words like the stringing of the perfect pearls; for men of the world otherwise always lack the right ones to do so. Nilanjana was doubly hit as she was a voracious reader and literature was her escape route from the accounts and figures bound new family. She couldn’t help but gasp at the prospect of meeting an actual writer.
“O-oh, I have seen that expression often young lady and before you pitch up your expectations, my books are still in publication. So I am miles away from being a celebrity yet.” And then mocking himself he added, “Tch, so the autograph would be of no use now.”
He watched her intently as her face see-sawed between being disappointed in one second to instant flushing again at perhaps the hindsight of what-the-heck-a-writer-nevertheless! “That’s okay, maybe someday I can gloat about this little brush of claim to fame, when you do become famous and proclaim that I stood in that house where history was being written.” Nilu cut short shyly at the realization of how dramatic it sounded- a rub off perhaps of all the bonding that’s been happening of late outside. She added rather dramatically again, “Literature is my first love.”
“And trust me it would be the most faithful one. Destiny has brought you here it seems. I have some original documents, photographs, etc, of writers, even of Wordsworth and some lesser known ones, a sort of a lineage and it would be a pleasure to share them with someone who understands their worth...just a moment, I’ll be back.”
Nilu couldn’t control the butterflies in her stomach and felt her heart would explode at the prospective excitement that was surging and was suddenly glad at not having come up with any excuses for this trip. She looked through his sketches and how immaculately they expressed faces, as though she knew them, as though she would cross them on the way.
Within minutes a box of treasure was opened before her and had God himself told her not to go near it like the proverbial Pandora’s Box, she would have sinned and shown that history repeats itself. She devoured unabashedly the unsullied pleasure derived from wondrous collection of things that were more befitting museums than be found in a house like this. Things spoke volumes to her and she was lost with no sense remaining of time, space or reality. She wished it was a giant ping pong ball and she would never get out.
Women of whatever ages are always similar to little girls yearning for real life fairy tales. Or maybe women from insides really are little girls who grow up on fairy tales but never grow out of them.
They kept conversing, laughing while he wittily recounted backgrounds and she entered the portals of history, passion and emotions, so generously unbolted before her. Unveiled were letters drenched in love so fragile, a locket that stood the test of time, a hand written diary that spoke volumes despite the dilapidated pages, pens of masters that rule eternity and what not. Imagine the fulfilment of a pilgrim upon reaching his destination-such was the unrestrained content ebbing in her little heart.
And just then came a sudden thump of an open window, made by a jealous, strong gust of wind, rudely breaking the trance!
Have you ever been in a dream where you were attaining something tangible after having craved for it from the longest of time and feeling it lovingly between your fingers; but then suddenly awoken, you clasp the palm trying to grasp the illusive, that is gone forever?
Sometime had elapsed as she returned to the present and finally managed to tear herself from the assembly of what had taken her breath away, to look up; and what she saw did not help transport her back either. Right before her eyes was her own sketch that the veritable stranger had made within minutes perhaps while she was lost in ancient manuscripts and she looked more beautiful there than any mirror had ever communicated to her.
Nilu was speechless. She fumbled for words. What words do you use before writers to express what you feel, so eloquently enough that it gets effectively conveyed to reach to the levels of how it is being felt?
But he didn’t want her perhaps to say anything as in the next moment he wanted to take her elsewhere.
“And if you think these are amazing, wait I have something more!”
And he disappeared again into an inner room before Nilu could summon the right words, leaving her with emotions that were not so familiar.
“Nilu, Niluuuuu... ah, here you are. I have looked all over this spooky house. It’s getting dark baby, we are all packed up to leave. It is a three hours journey back you know and we’ve already wasted much in looking for you.”
When Nilanjana had heard Anshul, guided by some weird gut feeling she had folded the sketch sheet and put it in her coat. She would spend years wondering why she did that, but at that time some voice within left her with no choice. With Anshul were the two nosey brats who had startled her earlier and who must have led him to the room. She had not realized how much time she had spent there. She panicked within, 'I don't even know his name...I didn't even express what I felt!' She looked around hurriedly and at the desk she wrote on a sheet kept there,
“I cannot thank you enough for today.
Please call me,
She kept the note under the same magical paper weight while Anshul was looking around at the sketches.
“Huh! What a waste of time and energy someone is going through in here! Come on let’s go.”
He put a hand around her waist as though it was not a suggestion but a command and she followed silently although her feet seemed to have been planted there. She took one last look at the room to keep a memory etched in the private domains of her mind and continued to be dragged against her emotions. Something had happened today that had shaken up her boring existence for good...something that would continue to stir her for years despite all calm exteriors.
So just like that she left, wondering what he would think when he came out.
And just like that also left the two little brats, but not before one of them looked around sheepishly and pocketed the fascinating paper weight-his very own souvenir to show off to friends back home.
And just like that came another mischievous gust of wind and took Nilu’s little note out of the window with it before it could reach the desired hands.
And just like that ended a love story that could have been a forever romance happening at short notice!