A day dawns; just another day in a series of normal days, all blending into one another, with a thread of mundane reality binding them together. I yawn as I go through the motions of a normal human being; mechanically brushing my teeth, bathing, eating, walking, talking. Sometimes, somewhere during the course of the day, a thought occurs and fades away – a memory of what dreams had been, and a reminder of what they have become.
This day has begun, with another agenda, another deadline, another target to be reached. My life is purposeful, I have work, and I suppose I am happy. Shreeja tells me, ‘You don’t know how lucky you are! A successful job, a beautiful house and such a caring family! I would DIE to be in your place!’ I smile at her; and it is a smile partially in acknowledgement, and in inner amusement at her exaggerated way of talking. Sometimes, the thought strikes me that she is too frivolous for my taste, but I am bound by time – a friendship forged in kindergarten cannot be shaken off for a whim, just because a person has changed beyond recognition.
I’m in my room, when my grandmother comes in. Do you wonder if we are close? What is ‘closeness’, but a relative feeling of intimacy? I share my news with her, talking about the new project that’s coming up, about the book I’m reading, about the problems at work. Having held a high-profile job in the corporate world, she has always been highly ambitious for me. She is my mentor, and yet, my lips are sealed against the thoughts which occur randomly; abstract thoughts which do not need to be thought, which do not have any purpose, and thus, are unnecessary; and yet, those are to which my mind turns to, in times of leisure, when I sit talking with my mother.
Amma and I sit on the veranda, and I say thoughtfully, “Why do you think the sun sets in the west and rises in the east? Why couldn’t it have been the other way around?” She tells me, “Rules exist for a reason. What do you think would have been the state of the world, if that had still been under debate? Sometimes, the word why just causes trouble.” I look at her mischievous expression and burst out laughing – I know, that this is her way of alluding to my love of the realm of fantasy, that she accepts it, and yet, so cleverly brings me back to solid reality.
Another friend of mine, one Roy, tells me, “You always remind me of a dryad or a nymph, Pranati. If one catches you in an unguarded moment, that faraway look in your eyes makes one think of worlds far away from here; someplace where dreams are reality, an eternally unchanging world – where you can do anything you want.” I smile at him, and this is a smile of camaraderie, for Roy is a kindred spirit, a friend truly priceless – one who may not be there whenever I need him, but who shares all those thoughts which make me feel fey at times – thus, standing as a symbol of assurance that I am not all alone in thinking them.
The day passes away, and I find myself at home, being surprised by a party. It’s my twenty fifth birthday, and I spend it with them, overflowing with happiness at the thought of what I must mean to them; for, though one values oneself, the realization that one is loved, and for the right reasons, will always give joy. They are there – Shreeja, with the designer bag she thinks I will like; my neighbour Govind, with one of his beloved plants from his hothouse; my father, with a camera I had wanted for my previous birthday; my grandmother, with a book on time management which she thinks I need;my sister Preethi, with a copy of L.M Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, which I’ve always wanted, but forgotten to buy; my mother, with a smile and a heart full of love, and Roy, who has come empty handed. I look at him questioningly.
‘Come with me.’
I follow him outside to the grove of trees where we used to play, as children. We sit down on the grass, and I’m wondering what‘s on his mind, wondering whether he’ll say it now, for we have never needed to acknowledge the bond between us. He speaks, and I find, in truth, that what was in my heart, is reflected in his; and though I have always known, it fills me with joy. I look at his dear face, and we smile at each other, with the full knowledge that love can be quiet, and deep, and unchanging – not like the crescendo of a wave to a height, which dies away; but like the ever-flowing, sweetly tinkling waters of a stream.
The day ends, and I find myself looking into the mirror. Twenty years ago, in a fire that burnt down our house, I suffered from severe burns. I look at the scars on my face, which have never healed, at the burns which make a wistful smile look sinister, and think of all those who love me so much, that they wouldn’t change any part of my appearance, including these scars, for they are a part of what I am.
They say beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. As I drift away to my beloved land of dreams, a fancy flies in and out again, that it is not an object which contains beauty, but the love in the eyes of those observing it, which gives rise to that feeling of admiration in their hearts.
Disclaimer : All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. -_-