I sat in the meeting room, glumly looking at each of them in the room, the meeting was not official, it was about a colleagues wedding trip that the whole team was planning to attend. I was not going, I could have stood out of the meeting too but I stayed to watch. One of them, a new joinee asked if I would be bringing the family, before I could reply, someone else said I don’t usually join such events that marked the end of the conversation. Interestingly none of them enquired if I was married or not. At thirty three with receding hair line, I might have looked like a convincing indebted father of two, I didn’t bother to correct them.
By the time I reached home, after my hunting for groceries I was tired. I opened my one bed room home and locked it behind me. A packet of good day biscuit and black tea served as my dinner and before I knew I was sleeping. I woke up in the middle of the night to watch dark lines of rain water seeping into the walls from the creeks above. I watched it with the sound of rain behind me. In the dark lines on the white wall, I was reminded of my sketching days. I was an amateur artist, with no distinctive flair or passion or course money to spend I still remain an amateur.
But during college days one painting of mine became a sensation. I was suspended from college for that. I remember sitting in my class watching my lecturer write in the black board. She had worn a low cut blouse and had crossed the saree and held it to the other end of her hip. Silently I drew her, and when I did, I did not let the saree be in the way I sketched her back of the neck, the low cut blouse and the slightly wider hip. I did not notice her walk towards me, or let out a gasp, until she reached for the paper in my hand. She tore the paper and crumbled it in her hand and I was suspended.
It took me a long time again to draw, I was no hero, to start again like a rebelling revolutionist. I was a normal person with raw emotions, and the impact of the incident shook me to an extend that I felt as they expected. I thought, what I did indeed was no art.
After few years, it was that phase of my life looking for a job, and I hunted job viciously like any other young man with a dream of job, a family and eternal bliss. I had long forgotten my interest to sketch, on a sunny day, I wandered into the park and slumped into a bench, weary with fatigue I looked around and my eyes fell on her. She was siting few feet away in a bench before me and as the crimson of the sun descended slowly beneath her, I watched her beautiful neck and slender back. She was reading a book but her body was not slumped it sat straight in front of me.. Taunting me.. I felt an urge to sketch her, a desire I had not felt in a long time, but this time I approached her.
She was a young woman probably in her early twenties. My unshaven and un-kept face, intimidated her and I could feel that in her eyes. Her eyes expressed lot more than needed and I felt that she astutely lets them do that. It took me few fidgeting movements to introduce myself and a few more dragging ones to let her know my intention. As expected she walked away. Once again with a hurt conscience, i decided against pursuing her, instead i went to the park every day to observe, I never approached her I sat in the same bench and drew everything that fell in my eyes in the park.. mostly nature. On the fourth day, she walked over to me, she sat at the corner of the bench and looked at my drawings. I held it to her and she took them and watched one after the other. This time her eyes did not convey appreciation or abhor and I naturally wanted her opinion, but she just looked, next day she accepted my request.
I asked her to sit down on the grass facing away from me, her right hand casually resting on the bench and left touching her long tresses that had come out of the loose bun in her head. Her legs casually left to her side.. and her face a bit turned to the side so that I could draw her eyes, when I did not get the angle I wanted, I walked towards her and tilted her chin a little, and in that moment I felt an intimacy with her but she obeyed like a professional model. I sketched her with my pencil on a white chart for 2 hours, even in my resolute intend, I wondered why she visited the park every day and why alone, but words were very minimal between us and when they existed, they lived only in my head.
By the time I finished it was almost dark and she slouched in front of the drawing to take a look. When I turned to look, our eyes met for a split second and locked. But again, she moved away without batting an eye or a quick breath. I walked with her until her hostel and she smiled at the gate and walked away.
Unintended to go out and not disturbed I worked on the drawing for hours and after two weeks, when she walked into the park bench she saw me, surprise and cheer danced in her face, and this time she did not mask it. She came to me wearing a white and blue salwar. I had in my hand three set of drawings, She took the first one and smiled, it was an image of her siting in the park with sun descending in front of her. She took the second one and her eyes widened in surprise, it was the same sketch but instead of the park she was sitting on a bed room floor. I hesitated before giving her the last one.. She took it and after several moments looked up at me, I said, “You can take it or tear it as you wish”.
It was the bed room with only a bed with crumbled sheet and a cushioned chair in it, on the chair rested her one hand and the other carelessly tried to mend her loosely tied bun with few tresses falling on her fair neck and slender back which was naked. A slight curve of her bare breast was seen along with the thin line that started in her neck and merged with her bottom line. Except her eyes no other features of her face were evident, the hand concealed them and on the corner where her gaze was fixed, was a shut window and the only garb she wore was the longing in her eyes when she stared at the window.
It was what I felt of her, a picture that game the answer to her quizzical indifference. I was disturbed form my reverie when I felt her eyes on me and back to the chart, confused she sat there breathing heavily and after few minutes took that picture in hand and in the other took my hand and kissed it gently and walked away. For many years, every time a romance in my life failed, I would think of her coming back to me in the same park, and I grabbing her slender waist and kissing her hard in the mouth. Or stumbling on to her in the park, when she is alone and waiting for me. I moved away from the city and soon forgot my amateur passion for her and for my artistic mind and along with the hair in my head, these thoughts also faded, but I kept the two drawings with me, as a treasure.
Now, like today, in my single bed room house that leaked, I imagine her married and settled. I would wonder if the painting was still with her and imagine the drawing falling in the hands of her husband, will she with those expressive eyes tell him, “I can explain” or has she destroyed it long ago.