You Name The Title

She smelled the book she was reading as if the book was the most fragrant thing she had ever come across. She loved the way she used to feel when she smelled the books. “It is the rusty smell of the book that makes me nostalgic. It brings back the memories of my childhood, the books I have read and the way it made me feel every time I read them.” Her words and her thoughts used to fascinate me a lot. I would think how could one be so surreal and yet be my reality. She was like the river flowing, sometimes fierce and sometimes calm. She was unpredictable like a sudden downpour.

We were friends for a very long time now. We met at an art gallery. She was fascinated by colors and I was the one who filled colors. One day I see a lady gazing upon a painting and trying to figure out what it was. I thought maybe I could be of some help so I ask her, “Miss, what do you think of this painting?” She hesitantly turns her head around gives me a bleak smile and says, “Mrs”. Immediately after her correction I found it bit awkward to be standing next to her. I apologized as fast as I could. But she looked at me with those innocent eyes, which had so much of pain, and said,” This painting is amazing. It sums up my entire life. This part, pointing to the darker shade of the painting, depicts the gray days of my life. When I was under depression I thought life was only about grays. No black no white. But do you see this color yellow here, and red there? Yeah this depicts me after depression. Yellow for me means bright days ahead and red means love, compassion, and passion for my work.” While she was telling me all of this I could see her smile which showed how accomplished she felt all this while. I was lost in her while she spoke, then suddenly she touched my arm to ask if I was still there with her. I was embarrassed to be caught staring at a lady so beautiful but to my surprise she was more embarrassed about the fact she had told so much to a stranger.

To comfort her I tell her that this painting must not have had better interpretation than this. She but then stops me there and tells me with a very comforting smile, “No, this is not the best interpretation for this painting. The artist who made this might have had a different perspective while making this painting. How I perceive life might be very different from how you might perceive life. But that doesn’t mean my version is better than yours .We are equally best in our versions. I am surprised how people always try to prove others wrong. Isn’t it supposed to be simple? Aren’t we supposed to live a simple and less complicated life?” She gasped for air as if she had been out of breath while explaining this to me. I told her,” I might have not thought so much while making this painting and I have just filled in colors but then trust me you brought life to these colors.”

She was startled by this revelation. She had said so much about the painting to the artist himself. She was embarrassed as well as apologetic for saying so many things all at once without knowing who I was. Then I comfort her by saying,” Remember how you just told me how our versions can be different?” She nodded reluctantly but then she apologized a hundred times. I had not been so amazed and spellbound by someone so headstrong yet so humble at the same time. She was the perfect example of a survivor. She was strong individual though she had gone through so much.

Today she caught me again staring at her and admiring her while she packed all her books. She smiled at me and told me,” Mister, have I ever told you that you not only fill colors in canvases but in people’s life too?” I was blushing and yes, she did catch me blushing. She laughed and kind of blushed too. Trust me she looked beautiful. Flawless she looked, without any scars, without any pain, without any hurtful past. There would be days when her depression would come back. She used to cry all night and by the day would act as if nothing happened. She wanted to be free from all of the pain and every day she would try to overcome it. Her determination to feel all right was much more than any of us.
Now she was feeling better than ever. She got her dream job she was trying for years. Her relationship with her divorced husband remained as friends. She was moving her base to another country. She was a happy, independent woman again. And talking about me, I never told her how much I loved her. How much I respected her, admired her, adored her, and how much I wanted her to be mine. I know she loved me as deeply as I loved her, maybe more too.
I didn’t want to hold her back with my love. She had waited for this day for a very long time. For her, at that time feeling herself was more important than feeling loved. She never told me so but I could see it in her eyes. In one way I might have assumed too much but some things are better left unsaid.

It was time for her flight, time for her to go. We had promised to be in touch. Even I had started my freelancing. So, I would get an opportunity to fly to her place now and then. Meeting each other wouldn’t have been a problem. As she bid goodbye to all of us, she held my hand for the first time. But it never felt like the first time. She whispered into my ears which broke me down into tears. She turned away to leave and to avoid being an emotional wreck herself. I mustered up all my courage and held her hand tightly, pulled her towards me and kissed her until we were done. Then I told her, “I love you too. I love all your imperfections too. I have never felt this lucky in last 57 years. I have had failed and imperfect relationships but then I know with you it’s going to be the most beautiful one because you are beautiful; inside out. Don’t go. Without you I’d be miserable. I would not ask you to marry me because I don’t want to tie you up but just be part of me, actually just let me be part of you. Remember how you told me that smell of the books brings back good memories to you? Your fragrance brings reminds me of all the good things in life. It makes me feel loved, it makes me feel complete and that’s because you complete me. Will you be my forever?”

I didn’t believe the hopeless romantic in me had finally woken up. She smiled with tears in her eyes and hugged me tight saying, “Today and forever.”

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