Wednesday, March 5, 2008
she.... in yellow....
She couldn’t have been more than 19. A fairly good looking girl, not outright attractive but not ugly; presentable you could say if you took away all that smudged make-up from her face. She had a faraway look in her eyes as she passed me by; a sort of dazed dreamy look as though she was lost deep in thought and had no idea where she was heading. In fact she looked like she was just gliding through the sands, her yellow dupatta wound tightly around her neck, billowing behind her. I don’t know why, but I had a sudden vision of a girl wearing a yellow flowing evening gown to a funeral at that very instant. Maybe it was because of the cheery colour of her dress and the morose expression she was wearing, it somehow didn’t feel quite right.
I had gone for a stroll by the beach side. I like to go there all by myself sometimes in the evenings. It’s true what they say about solitude being the sole solution to certain non fixable worries. Yes I love being in the company of people. What’s life without friends and family; a lot of parties, hang outs together, sharing secrets, being together in times of joy and despair. What’s life without someone beside you? Yes I completely agree with all of that. Yet, at the end of the day, a moment of solitude feels so sweet…
It was one of those evenings when I was savouring the smell of a nearby fried fish and bajji stall, wondering if I should give in to temptation when she passed by me. It was the strange way her dupatta fluttered in the breeze that caught my attention, not to mention its bright screaming yellow colour. She didn’t go too far. She crossed me and sat on the sand. No, I generally am not the kinds who stare at women a lot (for obvious reasons) but there was something very strange about this girl. She kept staring straight ahead. I followed her gaze to see if she was counting the ships on the horizon like I usually did. I saw it was nothing so. She was looking at the sea with a sullen look on her face. Her expression didn’t change with the rhythm of the waves, her eyes never left the nothingness she was staring at; in fact the only thing that moved was her dupatta. But there was a gloomy feel about that too. It flapped behind her in a way that was depressing. It seemed like it was trying to break free from her and fly away. I’m aware that I sound insane, but it almost looked like it was alive, struggling to get away from her binds while she fiercely kept pulling it back to stay in place. She had nothing with her; not even a small bag. I wondered how she had got here and where she was from, probably someplace nearby. She had big eyes smeared with a lot of kaajal. Her eyes were red and much of her kaajal had spread. Her hair was however tightly tied up in a neat plait and she wore a strand of jasmine flowers on it. She wore a small red bindi and lipstick too. She wore no jewellery. Her churidar was also yellow with red streaks, tightly tailored to fit her just right. She didn’t look very rich but she couldn’t have been very poor either, there was a certain charm on her face, of course if it weren’t for that mournful look.
And then she looked down, groped around, took a handful of sand and slowly let it slip through her fingers. She kept doing that for a while and I think I saw a tear trickle down, I couldn’t see very clearly because it was dark already; more so because her expression never changed. She was like a wax statue forever wearing a dejected face. I was tempted to go up to her and talk to her but honestly I didn’t have the guts to. Or maybe I just didn’t care enough to.
I think I must have stared at her for too long a time because she suddenly looked up at me. She had a scary piercing stare. I looked away almost immediately and tried not to look back at her, fiddling with my cell phone. For a minute I thought she’d walk up to me and yell at me for staring at her, or maybe give me that murderous glance again. Nothing happened of course, and after two or three minutes I turned to look at her again. She had gone by then. There was no trace of her anywhere nearby. I got up and went where she had been. She had drawn a small ‘om’ in the sand and that was all.
And then I was back at the beach two days later. The girl with the yellow dupatta unforgotten, clearly etched in my memory. I knew I wouldn’t see her again. You never really meet the same stranger again at the beach, no matter how often you go there (that is apart from those sundal kids). I spent an hour walking around, sitting on the sand, looking at random couples, children playing, kites, balloons and those fancy lights and stars, the carousels and then the yellow dupatta… the same yellow dupatta stashed away with a pile of trash. It didn’t look life like anymore. It looked dead lying there. I didn’t want to think of what would have happened to its owner. It all seemed so spooky. And then I was reminded of that strange funeral vision again. I tried to shake it off. I didn’t want to feel guilty about anything now. I hoped she was fine, whoever she was, whatever had happened, wherever she was from. I hoped she was safe.
And I just walked away from the place.