Seemingly oblivious of my presence she was looking up at the sky, a morning sky on the verge of maturing into a full-fledged sunny day. For my part, I didn’t care about being in a crowded place, the place where I was told she would be located. People brushing against me as they rushed to their offices, hurtling towards their petty dreams and to their miserable lives didn’t bother me. All I could see was her blue skirt flapping against her legs making the outline of her legs appear unhindered to my vision. They were not long legs, but their lean nature gave the impression of length that was further accentuated by the pointed head of the shoes she was wearing. The blue and surprisingly smooth triangle at the other end of the legs left me with no choice but to peer into the centre. The orange shirt that covered her upper body was a size too big and that too facing the march wind stuck to her body. The lack of sufficient provisions at the breast made my scanning vision quickly settle on the slender hands; outstretched, as she was using them to shield her eyes from the sun. The neck too was slender but glistened not with pearls or other jewelry, she seemed to be the kind of woman who had since long stopped wearing fancy to prove her feminism. The neck glistened most likely with sweat, or probably with something that was building up inside me, burning and thus making everything start to acquire a shimmering look. My attention mildly diverted by the brilliant colors of her clothes and the outlines of an enticing and well structured body returned to the object of her close attention at the moment, the sky.
What was she looking at, or was trying to, I wondered. The sky was a flawless blue without a trace of cloud, there was not even a bird in sight. Is she looking for the gods, for a sign, or is she asking the universe about the meaning of life, trying to remember a song whose rhythm haunts her but she can’t find the words. Maybe she just loves the blue, the tranquil sky which makes us feel insignificant, which infuses us with insouciance and insight at the same time. All these are the thoughts I might have if I were her, maybe we are no different and we connect at this moment; both looking at the same expanse of the sky. It struck me then, against all the apparent odds that I might be capable of love. Immediately though I realize it to be just wishful thinking borne out of the queasy feeling I woke up with today; which since morning has been messing with my mind. She is most likely looking at something I won’t ever see, maybe her thoughts are so different that mine that no amount of reflection can bridge the gap.
I was startled when she stopped looking up to fix her scrutinizing gaze at me, her beautiful, dark eyes piercing through me, as if I am naked and she can see my tainted soul. It then occurred to me that she might be looking at him towering over me and not the sky. I still have doubts about his existence even though it’s been years since I have been aware of his presence. How does one make sure, I have always wondered. When you can’t be too sure about yourself, how do you verify the physical existence of a feeling, a whim that you start believing in so much that it becomes impossible to find ways or methods to prove it. This elusive entity makes it appearance at the times I feel most vulnerable, when I feel exposed by my own arguments, when I waver in carrying out my work, and especially when I start thinking of emotional constructs like love and kindness. It never faces me but puts a soothing, almost motherly hand on my shoulder, not that I have known a mother, but my measly interactions with people who I have worked upon have given me a notion of the calming effect of a mother and her famed touch. The fact that I derive strength and sanity from him makes me feel ashamed, but over time shame has taken a back seat as he became an addiction, a part of my life. Like all addictions that fail social conformance, I fight the desire to get rid of him, vacillate between loving him and eliminating him. But if he is something that exists in my mind, a product of faith, the only way to destroy him is to destroy myself.
I freeze as she starts walking towards me, the only muscle in my whole body that works makes my grip on the pistol tighten. She has come so close now that I can see everything I assessed about the eyes coming true, I could grab her and kiss hard on the dark lips or kill her with a click and walk away. Instead, like a love struck kid I remain motionless, emotionless, which she must have noticed because a smile escapes her beautiful mouth. It’s so captivating that my last muscle and last hope to make the day count vanish in the crevices of the crinkled eyes as the smile transforms into a laugh while she draws my hand out of the pocket, grabs it and starts walking as if she had it planned to the last details. Don’t worry, she says to my still love struck frozen face, we will have a coffee and settle the matter without love or war. I agree with a nod, realizing how helpless I must look, but for the first time in my life I feel as if I am in safe hands.
I still vividly remember the day when it happened. I remember not finding anything suitable to go with the blue skirt, my favorite in those days. But the vivid memory is about the message on phone with the details of the person I had to deal with that day, and what followed. This person had good looks; was tall with strangely wiry limbs, but what stood out were the eyes. They seemed as if two drops of darkness are suspended in cups filled with liquid ivory, eyes that looked beyond you as if they were not capable of focusing on anything. I could feel that if they focused all they would see is grey, they looked as if searching for beauty in the depraved, searching for gloom in the happiness of people, finding it in the pain and suffering. For the first time in my life I could say something with assured surety, I knew he haunted this person too. I also knew together we could get rid of him, to be free from the shackles of obsession. Something made me happy and I couldn’t remember when was the last time I was so happy, that day I choose coffee over the morning shot as I headed towards the place of the engagement, the sky was a flawless blue, the way I loved it to be.