September 5, 2011

The Shortest(Lived) Love Story

Because he looked at you when you weren’t noticing.

The evening time resplendence highlighted the delicate contours of the back of your neck, under the setting sun that basked in the tangerine glory of His royal farewell, lending an intrigue to your form while your soft eyes, kohl laden and soul-stirringly sad, dazzled him with their spark of innocence. He stood there, tense, observing you, measuring every gentle rise-and-fall of your soiled, weary breasts. He stood in the queue, with bated breath, as you stood behind the counters laden with freshly picked apples, waiting for his turn in receiving two red apples, his daily ration(like yours, and everyone else’s)from you. And every time you would pass him by, he would take in the arousing rhythm of your gentle walk that reminded him of the ripples in the accumulated rainwater from the winter rainfalls resulting from the Mediterranean moisture winds.

By then, you had come to know a few of your fellow muhajirs. You had to abide by the mandatory apple-pickings with the girls in the mornings, and the retiring to your tent before the flooding of the valley by the blinding opacity of the moonshine. The nights were colder than the bellowing loneliness lurking in your tent. There was the numbing grief from the separation, probably permanent, from your parents, while trying to cross the border, along with hundreds of others. You did notice him, for there was no missing the chisel-sculpted jaw line, the jet black eyes, and the nose that lent the extra dimension to his face. From his eyes you could perceive the warmth of Southern sea. The only warmth that, you felt, could be any balm on the pain of the loss of your parents. You would wish for him to look at you, but you never saw him looking back.

Because you looked at him when he wasn’t noticing.


Then, the Government of the nation you had all escaped to(under delusions of a better future), refused permanent shelter to your lot, and subsequently booked you all under charges of cross-border terrorism. Defying every clause and term of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it ordered you all to be shot down.

There he stood in a queue again, a different one this time. This time at the end of the queue, there were no apples, but bullets, that awaited him. Neither were you standing behind a counter at the end of this queue. Instead, you were right behind him in this one, separated by two little girls and an old man.

Moments after the soldiers took their aim, and before the shots were fired, you turned to see him one last time. To bathe yourself one last time in the warmth that his eyes exuded. The soul-stirring sadness in your eyes kept brimming over, and together with the kohl, flowed down your cheeks, as if it had given up on its resilience. And then, for the first time, he looked at you when you were looking back, and realized that your rainwater-ripple walk was what had kept his hopes, his heart alive. For the first time you looked into his eyes to see the warmth of the Southern sea radiating directly towards you. And thus was born a love. A love, that to the world, made up the shortest love-story ever, but which, in reality, lived on after the shots were fired, lived through the global-outcry against the breach of human rights and allegations of genocide, lived on in the memories of the apple trees, and resonates till date under the evening time resplendence of His Majesty, the Sun, bidding farewell to humankind every dusk.

(Ritwik Goswami - March 2007)

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