Readers Write In #230: HER

Posted on July 26, 2020

0


(by G Waugh)

Art allows one to enjoy aspects which others might find very ordinary or superficial. Literature that is generally premised on a healthy imagination helps one to enjoy things which are not immediately perceptible to others. For example, I can sit inside a dull and gloomy Electromagnetic Theory Classroom for more than two hours listening to a mind numbing lecture, yet keep my spirits alive if you sit across me in the same classroom, draped in your favourite saree, in a parallel sun-lit bench. I can look at the lecturer whenever she looks at me and yet manage to steal a few glances at you, drinking your understated grace at infrequent intervals and reinvigorate my inner fibres every now and then. I don’t know whether every man will find you deeply fascinating as me but it is nothing but my literary mooring that throws more inventive ways to look at you as a result of which, you grow in your elegance in fine, unpredictable ways each time I look at you. You are a sort of thing that must be looked at, purely from an artistic point of view so that at least one dimension of your unfathomable glory is sufficiently explored. And that is precisely why you must not sell yourself short. You must understand that to be able to excite an artist, one must be art herself and nothing less and hence, make sure that you find someone who, even if he is poor materially, is atleast endowed with a fine eye to discern atleast a few specks of your overwhelming immensity.

 ***

When she sits beside me, am I the only one who thinks this way? It must be a cliché to say that by choosing to sit with me she just elevates my persona in front of my unsuspecting friends to an altogether different dimension. When she exchanges a few words with me, I feel that her vocal intensity somehow manages to penetrate into my being and hit my gut thatlies dormantly like an over-eaten python most of the time. I cannot fathom how such a thing happens – is it because I still cannot believe the fact that I and nobody else is the Chosen One to be granted that exclusive privilege of conversation with her, no matter how fleeting that is and, that mortals like me aren’t simply wired to handle such intensity of loads over their systems even if sufficient notices are given beforehand?

Whatever that may be, I am the one she has chosen to speak to on this occasion and I don’t want to miss out on that.

Oh see I have missed the most of what she just said and would have to make do with her last few words and push hard to give her a properly composed response. Or else she would think that I am a lousy listener and would not bother to come back again to me.

***

I have shifted my place in the class now. I am sitting behind her as she is listening keenly to the boring lecturer. I have long given up the vain attempt to listen to him and try to focus on interesting things in front of me. No, I am not looking at her certainly, not at those hastily thrust buds of jasmine that adorn her hair, or those pointed, slender earrings which resemble tiny children swinging themselves in the park when observed from a distance, or those luscious shoulders that strongly resist the smothering of the thinly perforated fabric that covers her whole body.

I am woken up by the mention of my name from somewhere. My name sounded too differently this time. In fact, my name felt too endearingly warm to me when I heard it now. It doesn’t happen all the time.

I am able to hear that again with the same effect on me. Her half-crescent is suddenly visible to me and the lower part of it is trying to move. Oh! What a fool I have been!! She has written something on the notebook and has been trying to call my attention to it all this time.

I think I got what she wanted to ask from me and I have decided to answer her with a left-hand gesture pointing to something written on her notebook. I glance at my left-hand and notice how shabbily folded my shirt cuffs are, with shameful disgust. So I decide to fold them up over my elbow and finalize on deploying my well-haired and reasonably built left-hand forearm to answer her question.

My hand leaps over her shoulder to point to a written expression on the paper, and unwittingly disturbs her duppata arrangement very slightly, and she gives a mild jerk. Oh man! I can assure you that I haven’t touched white swans that swim across gentle streams even once in my life so far but I am somehow fully convinced that this is how they must feel when touched.

***

The room is tinged with a sleepy yellow light while the shrouded windows remain dark with thin streaks of white streetlight here and there. I have woken up in the middle of the night just like how I used to all these years but this time something else hangs in the air. I feel warmly pampered by an unmistakable flavor of ethereal jasmine similar to the warmth and protection babies feel in the proximity of their mother’s generous breast.

She sleeps inches away from me draped in a blue silk saree embossed with tiny golden peacocks all over, with her face and body turned away from me. The back-strings of her golden blouse are no longer knotted properly, the right-side of her glistening hip is slightly exposed by a recumbent pallu on the bed, a few buds of her densely-knit jasmine are scattered over the pillow and in spite all of that, there is a profoundly disarming poise to her whole being while she sleeps with her legs folded inwardly like a self-absorbed foetus.

Flashes of what happened the morning before emerge all over my head – hordes of known and unknown people calling me out and flashing their best smiles, an unmissable odor composed of smells emanating from turmeric, vermillion, burnt ghee, embers of firewood and raw rice and finally a happy clamour of a variety of incompatible sounds that have mixed into each other drowning the all-too important calls of the lone perspiring priest to the presiding Almighty. Among all these little scenes of joy and warmth and tender sensations, a single image of a girl with folded hands and closed eyes surrendering herself to an yellow thread to be tied over her neck by an impatient me appears to be the only powerful one that will remain engraved in my memory for years and years to come, even as my happy conscious crawls unwillingly to another fit of comforting sleep. What a winner I am!