Thursday, 7 April 2016

Three Paintings and a Canvas

She shivered in the cold, trying to protect herself from the blistering wind as best as she could. Her eyes darted around to see if someone would pass by. Anjali had never imagined that the trek in the forest could have landed her in this situation. She wished she had heeded the call of her friends to stick together and not drifted so far apart in her quest to admire nature..the flowers, birds and trees...the sights and sounds of nature she loved. She had shouted for help until her throat felt sore...they seemed to be well out of range. Now, afraid, cold, she was caught between hope and fear as dusk closed in on her. The beauty of the valley below with a light mist enveloping it seemed lost on her.

A Saviour?
The rustle of leaves prompted her to shout out Help! A thin young man, crept out of the trees. He just stared at her. This made her decidedly uncomfortable and nervous. Trying to hide her fear, she blurted "My friends are just around that bend and about to join me. They should be here any time now. Who are you?"
Surya maintained a stony silence and kept staring at her. Anjali then somehow sensed, with a woman's sixth sense, that her worst fears were true. She was assaulted brutally until she almost lost consciousness. Surya was about to push her down the cliff when she, with folded hands pleaded him to let her live. Thankfully, Surya, just disappeared into the night.

Three years later...
There was Anjali again. At the same scenic spot which brought back the darkest day of her life back to her present..she lived with each wound physical and those inflicted on her mind. Unruffled this time, although she was alone and dusk was approaching. This was the exact day, three years on and nothing much had changed at this breathtaking spot, whereas everything had, for the person who was now reliving it. There she sat, quiet, her feet dangling down the cliff. And then she heard the rustle of feet on dry leaves. Her heartbeat quickened. She kept looking down at the valley. Surya stood at a distance and peered at her in amazement. Then he threw his head back and laughed, wondering at the foolishness of this prey of his. He advanced toward Anjali and she was caught between the edge of the cliff and this monster who loomed menacingly in front of her. She turned around, got up and pleaded with him. "Please, I am just getting over that horror, let me go or I'll jump off the cliff." Surya found this amusing as he snatched her wrist in attempt to pull her towards him. In one whiplash of a movement Anjali swiveled around and pushed him with his own momentum off the cliff. The look of surprise and disbelief on his face made this worthwhile, as her fiery eyes caught a glint of the dark orange sun. Quietly, she trundled back to the car park, walking through terrain which she now knew like the back of her hand.

And a year down the line..
This day had become a ritual of sorts. There was the same cold breeze, the same enchanting beauty all around her. Anjali had, however, lost the ability to appreciate any of this as she sat in a contemplative mood. These were just elements which existed but did not touch her soul. Then the rustle of firm footsteps on dead leaves, the distinct crackle that kept playing in her mind over and over like her own screams. She remained calm, to her own surprise. A man in a bright yellow T-Shirt and jeans joined her. As he admired the view of the valley before them, he seemed to say half to himself, half to her, "This is like the perfect painting. I must come here with my easel sometime." That made her curious but she kept mum. As the sun set fully, he then began walking back and seeing her still seated there, asked her,
"Aren't you scared of the dark that will be soon be enveloping us under the thick forest cover? We should be heading back to safety fast."

Without answering him, she got up and quietly made her way. On the path back, Karan struck up a conversation. "Hope you don't mind but I'm the talkative type." This brought that rare half smile on Anjali's pale, beautiful face. Before she knew it, she had agreed to have coffee with him at a famous hill town Cafe. Karan shared his side of the story which Anjali heard patiently without her facial expressions revealing anything. He paused decently for Anjali to speak. "Do you speak at all?" This made Anjali laugh but she immediately withdrew into a shell again, examining her emotions. Seeing that her thoughts had drifted, Karan chose to remain quiet too as they both sipped coffee.

They met a second time at an old book shop, this time accidentally. She shyly acknowledged his presence.

On their third meet, this time in the same Cafe, "I don't mean to pry but you do seem to be in a world of your own" Karan said. Anjali looked away and her eyes welled up with tears. Karan said, "Let's meet at what seems like your favourite spot tomorrow. If you feel so, let's talk"

It was Karan's turn to be silent. In fact he was overwhelmed by what he heard as the setting sun painted Anjali's face in warm hues, making her look all the more beautiful. The eyes which welled up with tears were now his. Anjali clasped his hand as they slowly walked back.
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