COMPANIONABLE SILENCE

The  breeze blows across my body caressing it. The trees around me sway in the darkness, nodding  their heads as waves of pleasure  ripple through my body. I stretch out in the moonlight enjoying the sensation. It is a pleasant night. The rains have abated and a hint of autumn is in the air.

 I know I have almost reached the end of my journey. It has been a long way from my home in the hills. I am only a few hundred kilometers away from my beloved. I long for his arms to engulf me. The energy that characterized the beginning of my journey is no longer there. I am slower now, but deeper- in love and in wisdom. People depend on me and I do my best to give them what they desire.

I hear a movement from among the trees and look up.

 Oh, it is she..!!! My friend!

 But what is Naina doing here now ?

Naina and I have known each other for a long time. I  met her first as a school girl. She used to come and sit beside me writing in her diary. She talked to me about her troubles and her dreams. I was the first person she came to when she was angry and it was me she sought when she was happy. She would sit and spend hours with me until her mother came looking for her. It was with me that she shared the news about her college admission and I know that it is I who inspired her to become an environmentalist and later take up a job with the pollution control board.

 Like a good friend, I am the quiet listener, never interrupting her soliloquy. I sometimes wish I could reach out to her in a less passive way. I want to tell her that I am happy for her , proud of her achievements and sad when she is sad.  Though she never said it in so many words,  I know she also cares about me. She cares about how people treat me. She has never allowed the dirt of humanity in this town to touch me!

Ours is a friendship that defies barriers. We are different but similar. We share a sense of connect that only we can understand.

So, it was but natural that I should be the first one to know about her love. He was a handsome young man from very wealthy family.

I knew she loved him about as much as I loved my Sagar. I watched them spend evenings wrapped in each other’s arms. I heard him whisper his love to her and make promises which I hoped he would keep. I watched him kiss her for the first time. I was witness to her  confusion and happiness after that

It was on a moonlit night like this last month, that  I watched them make love. She seemed ecstatically happy but  I don’t know why, I was very afraid for her. I wanted to whisper in her ears “ Be careful. Too much happiness is dangerous”.

May be she sensed my sense of foreboding because her visits reduced after that. Or maybe, a friend,  becomes less important when one is in love. Oh how I missed her visits! I wanted to ask people who knew her if she was okay. But I had my constraints. I could not communicate so easily through words. So it was quite a surprise to suddenly see her walking towards me.

I see her silhouetted in the darkness . But why is she alone?

I want to ask her “ Where is he?” .

She sits down and stares at me. Her blank eyes tell their own story. I know without her telling me that it is over! Strangely, her eyes are bereft of tears. They have a vacant, far away look in them.

Naina, of the beautiful eyes is today the woman with the vacant eyes. I don’t  like  what they have become. She opens her hand and pieces of  papers fall on to my lap. The ink dissolves as do the shallow words that they had etched. I watch words  like “Beloved”, “ Darling” “ Sweetheart” “ My soul” disappear as rapidly from the paper as they probably they did from his mind. My  heart surges in anger and my soul churns with rage.

“ What will I do now? My life is over” she tells me.

I want to tell her that there is more to life than a broken heart. Life abounds all around us in its different forms. But before I could tell her anything she leaps into my arms.

I hold on to her tightly ,wiping away her tears. Her body feels very cold in the night. I bring her close to me telling her it is alright. She knows I will take care of her pain. Her heart is beating very fast as her breath comes in out in gasps. It is only for a short time I whisper into her ear. It will all be over.

“ You will be at peace”  I whisper in her ears rocking her in my arms. She closes her eyes as she finally falls asleep. I place her head tenderly on my lap. I do not want to leave her alone in this town to face the gossip and speculation. She must come away with me to the blue land of my beloved.  As  her friend, this is the least that I can do for her!

I glide away gently so as not to wake her. The eastern sky is now lighting  up with flashes of gold. Bells begin to clang in the temples nearby as chants of  “ Har Har Gange” echo through the dawn!

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