She slouched further into the seat of the car and closed her eyes as the cool, dusty wind lashed her face. Strands of her hair had escaped the fetters of her hair clip and were now playing truant and she tucked them back impatiently. She always enjoyed the quietude while travelling alone; especially enchanting if some soulful music played in the background. Her mind became empty, so to say, and she relished such moments when everything seemed so irrelevant- just an exquisite sense of peace.
But today, her mind was not empty – some pictures flashed in that inner eye; that quaint feeling Wordsworth spoke about in Daffodils – pictures that did not quite upset the calm in her mind but yes, did cause a few ripples…
She had seen him today again after so many years … he looked the same, well almost. The twinkle in his eyes had been replaced by a depth, a maturity that years and life experiences endow. There were streaks of grey in his temples, but she noticed the glint in his eye when he recognized her. At first, there was a blank look, followed by utter disbelief, and finally when it dawned on him that it was indeed her, the old gleam came to his eyes. They kept looking at each other for some moments, moments of recognition, recapitulation, recollection, remembered affection – moments frozen in time!
She had hoped she might run into him in that place. Why, she was not sure, just for old time sake perhaps. She did not have anything to say, and yet just to stoke the fond memories of an affection lost in time.
She had first seen him while in school. He was a few years older and somehow she liked him. There was no reason, no logic, she just liked him. She was too little to reflect on her fondness and was uninhibited in her affection. He was both embarrassed and flattered by her attention.
Seasons changed, the little girl became a woman. They rarely met, but sometimes when they did, furtive glances and shy smiles were exchanged. No words were spoken.
Years passed, she got married and so did he. They bumped into each other on occasion. Circumstances now permitted them to make polite, formal, small talk. Each enquired about the welfare of the other and moved on.
Today, after several years they had met yet again. So while they spoke outwardly the language of the world, making enquiries about family, mutual well being, silently, unseen, unheard, they retraced steps into a remote past. A subtle gesture to acknowledge tacitly, a gratitude for shared milestones. The first encounter, a glimpse into an unfamiliar and yet sweet reservoir of sensitivity, warmth-pure and pristine, too young to be tainted by instincts.
Somewhere a sleeping memory rustled, and was hushed back to slumber; and then wishing the best for each other went their separate ways…
Sleep caressed her eyelids, a smile played on her lips- of contentment, of serenity.
-Nirmala Varier | Edited by Farrokh Jijina