Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Flipped Image

Ragini put the book down, a certain melancholy settling in her heart. Memories chased each other, leading to that moment of nothingness - the anti-climax when truth came calling, when reality proved to be far simpler and much farther than her imagination. Staring at the emptiness ahead, she had wondered at the power of her own mind in projecting a future that had no basis on the present.

And the mind continued to bring them up, even after 20 years, even after she had moved on into a happy reality, into a world that was solid beneath her feet and warmed her heart. She reread the few pages, about a man and a woman who nurtured feelings for each other that could never find expression. They meet unexpectedly after a long passage of time, after having lived their lives away from each other, as if they were still bound by strings that were never severd, tugging them towards each other for this moment when their longing for each other could keep them apart no longer.

She chuckled. Why, she had met the man who had never professed to have any feelings for her but who had evoked such deep love in her a few years ago. And the meeting had been just as undramatic, in a popular mall, the two getting all the time they would have needed to confess anything deeper. They had touched on those days, they had talked of the memories, but of feelings, there had been nothing.

Yet, when she read the pages again, she saw herself and him there, of their eyes meeting, of the thousand unsaid things being exchanged in that moment, of the ache the unspoken words brought with them, of the desire to feel his arms around her.

She put the book down and sighed, looking at the empty side of the double bed she was sitting on.

She heard the front door opening and closing. "Mom!" she heard her teenage son calling out to her. She got up and met him near the door of her bedroom as he came up to it, flinging his bag on the sofa and kicking the shoes off his feet. Unlike most boys she had heard about, he was not shy of expressing his emotions - the entire range - she thought with a smile to herself. Much like his father, in fact, who could never be faulted for reticence...

Soon her older son returned from wherever he was, and the family was complete when Sudesh, her husband, came home with tickets for a night show. Ragini herself never felt enthused about missing sleep, that too for a movie that gave nebulous pleasure, but no was not an answer her husband would take. So she sacrificed sleep to be with her teenage sons and husband and felt at least it was quality time.

"Is it such a flop?" she asked Sudesh as they entered the nearly empty hall.

"It was such a hit that I couldn't get the tickets till today," Sudesh explained as if to a child, knowing how Ragini had no interest in movies and probably didn't know one actor from the other.

She shrugged and looked around after they had settled in their seats. People were still coming in, when she heard Sudesh catch his breath. She turned to look at him and then followed his gaze to find him looking at a beautiful woman. A naughty smile played on her lips, but as the lights dimmed and the advertisements began, she settled back hoping the movie was worth 'losing sleep over'.

When the interval came, she was relieved. All the violence and chase were just what her boys loved, but not she. The suggestion of a headache made her seek the rest room out and splash water on her face. When she looked up in the mirror, she saw the woman whom her husband had so obviously fancied. She wiped her face and followed the woman out. Seeing her sons by the popcorn counter, she headed towards them. She looked around and saw Sudesh and the woman in earnest conversation, a certain wonder and surprise evident on both their visages. Instinct told her that they knew each other. But he hadn't uttered a word... Not hinted a thing.

Something sank - her heart? Suddenly, her mental image flipped. It was not she with the man she still cared for; but instead, she saw her husband with the woman.

She drifted towards them, her eyes fixed on Sudesh. As she neared, he stared at her, his eyes blank for a moment. Then he smiled at the woman and introduced the two. "She is a colleague from really long back," he said.

Ragini nodded smiling, and then it was time to go in. But now, her mind was in a tizzy. And she sensed Sudesh just as lost, not following what was on the screen. The image of Sudesh and the woman refused to go away. She couldn't get away fast enough, and was glad when they finally made their way out - both Sudesh and she hurrying out as if there were a bomb scare.

That night, in bed, she said softly, "Today I was reading a novel where a man meets his love from past - an unexpressed love - and the two unite in passion, on the sly. If I were the wife of the man, I would burn him alive..."

She felt his hand seek hers out and twine his fingers with hers. "If that man had a wife like you, he would never..."

She rolled towards him and buried her face in his chest, the image vanishing forever.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...