Those 5 minutes...
She stood alone on the crowded Mohammad Ali road... Where did he go? Maybe he was thirsty and went to get a drink... But he could have stayed put in one place at least till she got back... Now she was angry... She didnt spend much time adoring that kurti at display in the window... Pretty things catch her eye. That was probably her only handicap... She could not resist pretty... And now he was gone.
She kept looking for him.. doing 360 degree turns all over... all she saw were people... There are so many of them in this country, she thought... And still her heart goes out to one boy... And he cant even stay put in one place.... What was he - a 5 year old?
Why does she miss him so much? How did she fall so much in love with him, that his absence would make her feel so alone... Or was she worrying... Worrying about him? But he is not a 5 year old - in spite of the way he behaves around her... She knew he was known to the city as much the city was known to him... He could not get lost, or could he?
She saw a constable dressed in khakhi buying a glass of chai outside a tea stall... Should she ask him if he could find him? Would he laugh at her?
He wouldnt get lost now, would he? He will find his way back home... But was it him she was worried about? Or was it herself... She was left alone in the middle of a crowded street... She knew the way back home... She knew should would reach home safely.. then why the worry?
The noisy street started to turn quiet... No noise could reach her eardrums or maybe the eardrums failed to send the vibrations to her brain which was now heavy with worry...
What should she do?
Some maulvis passed by her after their evening prayer...What could she do? Go ask the maulvis? What would them holy people know! Who could she ask? There was a boy selling mango juice... He must have seen him... but he seemed so busy mixing the juice with his ladle!
Ah... he is so stupid... If he is hiding behind one of these shops, she will punch him in his stomach, she thought...
The first drop made its appearance in her eye... She was helplessness.
He tapped on her right shoulder and stood next to her left side, while she turned right expectedly, only to find him standing on her left....
Anger... Hate... Relief... Love... All this for him. Stupid boy.
"I am sorry," he said.
He had an apologetic smile stuck on his face. She looked at his smile. She so wanted to punch him , but God, she loved his smile.
It was a joke! Why did she have to be so worried about it! Silly girl. Worries so much. He shouldnt joke around with this sweet girl. How much he hated seeing her cry... Why would she cry? Did she think he left without taking her with him? Of course not... She knew it was joke... didnt she?
"I was worried," she said with a stream of tears flowing down her cheeks.
She was worried. When was the last time someone had been so worried about him. She cared for him. She was scared of losing him. She wanted him too. Her stream of tears brought a wave of satisfaction with them for him. He meant something to someone.
"I just left for 4 minutes," he said using reason to justify.
That is it? 4 minutes? It seemed so much longer. She looked at her watch. Yes. Only 4 minutues.
She worries so much. Why is that attractive? How he wanted to take her in his arms, console her... Should he, in a crowded street like this? Would she be comfortable? Was he thinking about someone else's comfort? Since when did he start doing that... Should he hold her hand? Maybe he should... He liked her... He could hold her close to him... It is okay... So many people brushed past him... On a crowded street, where unknown people come too close for comfort, it was considered wrong to hold your girl close to you... This whole country is an oxymoron of sorts...
When he looks at her, why does it become so uncomfortable for her. He made her so concious of herself. His look could pierce everything.
He held her hand... She was the only one on the street that probably had around 6000 people about 10 seconds ago. The shops disappeared.. The shopkeepers were gone... The street transformed... Now it was just an empty street... Her big brown eyes... Her dark long hair... Her soft hand...Did HE who made her fall in love with her too? An empty street... It got quiet...
He held her hand... Why is he holding her hand... There are so many people around them... They all seem to be watching... What if someone sees them... Is it wrong? But this is a street... The way he looks at her... He seems to be calm... Doesnt he get scared? What would she give to get him scared like he did to her just 5 minutes ago... His smile can make him get away with murder, cant it? An empty street... It got quiet...
"I love you," he said, "I guess, I always have... always wanted to tell you..."
"I love you too," she said,"what took you so long?"
It stayed quiet in the empty street, when slowly, the 6000 people started to return... starting from the end of the street... Soon their noise filled the street... The shops re-appeared...
Those 5 minutes...
Editor in chief arshat chaudharyCurrent Issues: down the memory lane, girls, men, mumbai 6 letters to the editor Links to this post