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I went back several times on the shore to see if the stranger was there, but he was not to be seen, he never came. I saw him in my dreams several times.
It was just another busy day for me, with the usual the morning blues. I sat at my study desk, making a list of the chores I had to finish today. Bank, grocery, electricity bills, and then I had to run to my work; I had taken a half day today to finish all these stupid errands.
Sigh! I need a break! Lifting that coffee mug I went for a shower. I stood under the cold water, all the while feeling exhausted. I stepped out of the shower, reached for my cupboard, pulled out that polka dotted red gown of mine. I don’t step out without my trademark kohl and lipstick; I sat in front of the mirror for my dose of makeup.
Oh damn it, lipstick and Kohl are getting over, I need to buy them. Two more additions in that errand list of mine. I looked at the mirror and felt like an ogre. I had dark circles under my eyes; I had not slept well since last one week. Sluggishly I applied that kohl, my maroon lipstick, applied a little mascara, some blush on my cheeks. No, I won’t wear my glasses; they are only for reading and writing. But why do I need to do such a lot of make up for these mundane chores? No, I will never improve.
Wearing the stilettos I left my house. Something is wrong with me today. I am not feeling that good, why is it but? Anyway, life has to go on, and I am single, so I need to do all by myself. Plugging in my earphones, tuning to some songs, I stepped out of the house. It is a windy day, the sky is overcast and it might rain, no I won’t carry an umbrella today. Let it rain, let me get drenched and fall sick and lie on that bed for a week.
I didn’t realize I had reached the beach and had forgotten the market route. Fair enough, I will break my rules today, I won’t go to my work even and there is no need to inform my office. I am done, exhausted. I sat on the sand; made circles with a stick, made a few sketches when I got a feeling that someone was watching me. Women have a powerful sixth sense; it’s a God’s gift to us, and in me that sense is very dominant.
Yes, I was right, he was watching me. He was in his casuals and was puffing a cigarette. He walked towards me and said “Lonely? Can I give you a company?” I gave him a quick look, a tall guy in his forties (may be, my guess), had a moustache, somewhat fair, unshaven cheek, looked like an athlete. How did he read my mind, am I looking desperate, I should have been careful! I thought.
Without even waiting for my answer he sat next to me and looked at my sketches I had made in the sand. “Do you want to make sand castles?” he asked smiling. “I used to when I was a kid, now I have forgotten to make them,” I told him. “Never late to learn, you can start making those castles even now with me,” he replied. He is a complete stranger, has not even introduced himself and now he speaks of sand castles, that’s my destiny, how funny. Ok if that is my destiny to make castles with a stranger so be it. I agreed. We made sand castles and I laughed at how messy I was in making those castles.
After a while he said, “Get up, let’s enter the sea.” I forgot everything and ran with him towards the waves. I laughed when I realized I hadn’t laughed so much for a while. He played with the waves; I was slipping when he lifted me and said “Try to live life dangerously.” I liked the saying, so I did that. I played with the water, I slipped several times, and when the salty water passed into my throat I told him “I am tired now, I am all wet, my chores are unattended, and I need to go.”
“Where do you stay?” he asked. “Not very far, just a ten minutes’ walk,” I said. “Can I join you?” he asked. I don’t know how I could agree to a stranger by inviting him for a coffee.
We walked together, I was peeping at my dress, I was wondering if I was looking filthy, when he again said “O come on, no one is watching you, all are busy, and just be yourself.” How is this man reading my mind? This day is certainly different. Good Lord, I had met someone who is reading my grey cells.
We reached my home. Handing him a towel to dry himself, I went for a shower. I changed my clothes, fixed two cups of cappuccino, and returned. “I am sorry, you are wet but I don’t have any clothes to offer except my gowns, and you will look like a female!” I told him laughing. “So you know to laugh as well?” he grinned.
Sipping the cappuccino and pulling a new cig he asked “What do you think whole day?”
What a silly question! What do I think?
“Umm, nothing, anything, I really don’t know, why?” I replied.
“You were looking very serious, I saw you making sketches and you looked confused,” he smiled.
“So you were watching me? Don’t you have any other business apart from watching a woman?” I replied, suddenly angry.
“No, I don’t have any business, so I was watching you, happy now?” he replied smiling at me.
This time I could not stop laughing. He pulled his chair closer to me, without giving me a chance to speak he said, “Enjoy your own company; you came alone, you will go alone. We have been sent by the almighty for a purpose, and we don’t know when we will be called by HIM. So live your life and that too in a buoyant way, love everyone including strangers, because when you truly love there will be no strangers. I am a complete stranger to you and you must be thinking why I am advising you so much? Don’t get me wrong please, I just felt I could talk to you; even I am alone, so I thought two alones can add up and make a happy day by just playing and laughing. Life is short and happiness is a mysterious high, it makes the young laugh and the old cry. Do what you love, if that calls for wasting a day playing in the sand, then do that; if that calls for reading a book the whole day, then read; if that calls for bird watching, then do that. Explore your hobbies. You need not be so harsh on you. Live your life. ENJOY!”
I couldn’t hold my tears, breaking into silent sobs I told him “I find it difficult at times, I struggle to find my existence, I feel hollow and completely lost, I need love and to be loved.”
“That’s natural, you are a human and it’s a need to love and to be loved, look around you, there is love in everything. The path you walked gave you love, those flowers you watch give you love, those waves you played with gave you love, if you speak of human love, you will get that too. Wait for your time, each love has it’s time, you need not wait for your prince charming, maybe someday he will come knocking at your doors when you are least expecting him,” he replied.
I was still weeping when he reached out to me and touched my hands. Lifting my chin, he pulled me closer to him. I could smell the musk of his perfume. Gently rubbing my eyes, softly brushing my sleek hairline covering my forehead he whispered, “Stop weeping, look you are in my arms, I am loving you, so why do you cry?”
I didn’t know how long I was in his arms, I was lost, I clutched his Tee, I wished him stay the night, when he gently said, “Now I need to go, it’s very late, it’s almost midnight, you need rest, go to sleep after I leave and eat something, you haven’t eaten anything since we met.”
I watched him tie his shoe laces, and when he held me close to him for one last time, he lowered his face and planting a soft kiss on my lips he said, “Goodnight and sweet dreams fairy, don’t forget to laugh, play the foolish games you loved once, don’t be harsh on yourself, your chores can wait and also your work, but love! that cannot wait, so fall in love each day, don’t get lazy in love, the more you love the more you get, lay the foundation of love and that is what you call love.”
I couldn’t speak. I watched him walk away. I didn’t ask his name, neither did he. Gradually he faded in the dark night; I could no longer see his shadow.
I entered my room, I could feel him everywhere. I sat down on my study desk and wrote a poem for him. I didn’t know where he is, who he was, but what I have is the lesson he taught me about love and life.
Each night I write to him, my closet is full of poems which I have written for him. The poems lie in my hands with smashed words broken, I remember his lines “You need not wait for your prince charming, maybe someday he will come knocking at your doors when you are least expecting him.”
So that’s me waiting for him with my closet full of poems which I have written for him and I know I need no prince charming, what I know is only to love him. I still visit the shore with a hope I will see him, I still wait in my balcony looking at that road where he walked away, yes I know I want him even more.
The stranger who taught me to love and live life.
Image source: pixabay
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Rimli Bhattacharya is a First class gold medalist in Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of
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