I miss the river you know, I miss this clayey living flow. Where I live now, there are lakes, still beautiful lakes, dirty bubbling lakes, but no river.
He looked back at her. Then back at the river. He knew she is still looking at him.
How can I miss you Diya, I feel you are always with me, part of me.
Then why did you say you missed me?
He looked back perplexed. The setting sun made her face golden. She is smirking. HE could not read her smile. – I said I missed the river.
Her smiled widened and almost reached the breeze. But you cute fool, I am the river, did you never notice? – She leaned sidewise and placed her head on her palm, rested her elbows on the Ghat stairs on which they both were sitting.
He could not remove his eyes from her. The Ganges tide was coming up the stairs, he could feel his feet then backside, his arms getting wet, he could see the water reached her leaning smiling elemental figure.
Neither moved. Neither moved till the floating garbage started to come in. Half wet they walked up the Ghat to the narrow lanes that creep towards the bustle of the city. They both felt damp, dirty, humid. They river is beautiful, but not clear.
What has gotten into you today? – He had to ask. Diya is not like him. She is practical. She does not like his over-emotionalizing everything. – You are sophisticated enough to dislike walking down dirty and wet down the evening streets. Why did you do it? It’s not like you.
Do I look that bad?
He looked at her. Bright halogen lights are making day of the gloomy street. The smoke from the nearby cremation center had just made the light a little bit hazy. She looked like wet uneasy macaw from the Zoo gardens. – You look beautiful, you always do.
Silence and walk.
He laughed out, awkwardly, to break the silence – You are never the river Diya. You are fresh as green lettuce. The river is old, very old.
She has lived longer, but she is never old, she can’t be. – She smiled back at him, she could feel him getting perplexed. – You are not used to me talking like this are you.
He nodded in consent.
You are still like a kid you know, waiting in school benches, waiting for your ear to get boxed. When did anyone last box your ears Kiddo.
In sixth class. About 13 years back.
What you still remember it?
Yeah. It really was something to remember. – He stopped and looked back at her. – Come its time.
He pulled her by the road corner, sat down on the pavement, oblivious to the curious bystanders and Diya’s uncomfort. Took his phone out and searched for a number. Looked at it with knit brows for sometime. Sighed. Stood up and put his touch-screen inside his pocket again.
I can’t do it. I can’t call her.
Great now lets move on. – Diya did not ask for details, she knew he would pour out everything soon enough. She had known this half crazy guy for sometime now. His unpredictabilities are quite predictable at times.
She looked like an angry lady always, with crazy hair. She carried a scale, always. You could never predict her. But, we always wanted her to come to our class, it was a challenge, an excitement to be in her class. She taught us more about life in literature, than literature. Diya I will never be a younger again right – He grasped her hand in full force.
Hmm, but its hurting. – He loosened his grip, but still held her hand.
She taught me how to swim through poetry, sometimes upstream. She taught of how respect and empathy weaves a hope of action. And how action leads us forth to life and to poetry again. I stole her number from the school records years back. I wanted to tell her how she has impacted me. But I am too scared to tell her. I am always so scared, Diya. Time always runs so fast before we can do so much. I am scared of time Diya – He again strengthened her grip on her hand, he forgot he was hurting her.
Diya did not complain of the pain this time – Are you afraid of me too?
Huh? You ? – He looked at her. He felt bad, he always bore her with all his nonsense stories. He should be more romantic – I can’t be afraid of you. Even if you wear a dreadful mask and come to kill me, you would still look ineffably beautiful.
But you just said you are scared of me.
When? I said I was scared of …..
Diya held him by his collar and drew him close – But do you never notice me? I am your time.
The whooshing cars around, the living moving behemoth of the city, the flow of million lights fell on her face. Dark to light Dark to light. He could not breathe well. Closer he went to time, to her, his own ideas less and less he could feel. Her eyes fixed to his, the unseen vibrations of their eyes synced with the flow of light and dark. He realized, time could not get any older.
Some pimp from the local red-light area thought one of his girls had bypassed him to get a client, so he came to break up them up. He retreated with several apologies on realizing the truth. Diya was getting late for home. Its still 15 mins walk. This time they walked bubbling with laughter and jokes. For the incident with the Pimp had been embarrassing, but have lightened them up.
So does it mean I gotta give you money for going out tonight – Sure why not, I take checks too, send me half a crore by tomorrow – Half a crore, even my organs together may not be worth that if I sell them – Well you should have thought about that before asking me out – Hmm, I think I gotta take loans for this then, do banks provide dating loans nowadays?
Her home had come. While opening the door she asked casually – When are you leaving for your work city?
Tomorrow, early morning.
She looked back at him, and looked on. And he looked on too. Till they started sweating like hell on the closed apartment stairway. Both parted.
She could not have said , he said to himself walking down to his home, She is the Silence.