The air was thick, breathing was difficult. I walked faster with just one aim –to reach the point of summit before the lights went off or the sun went down. In both cases the seven storied building would plunge into darkness. I climbed the steps; the elevator was out of order. I had to get a glimpse of my love, my beloved. Throat went dry and the shortness of breath slowed my pace. I stood on top of the stair case. One more step and I would enter into that world of dream with my beloved.
There I was walking on the red and ripe leaves fallen around the trees. Slow heavy footsteps on the leaves dried and withered rustled under my feet. Some cracked and some stuck to my footwear. I enjoyed the air. It was clean and fresh and the recent snow on the pathway took on a dreamy haze.
The fragrance of nature spelt autumn. A ray of sun peeped through the foliage of thick trees and danced in the evening sky. I loved it and loved nature and my beloved waiting for me. A bird chirped and a leaf fell on my head and slid to my forehead. I brushed it aside with my index finger and the leaf floated in air for a moment and fell on the ground. Last autumn we were here in the same place, walking hand in hand talking of all the things under the sun.
Generally our topics ranged from idealism to fantasy to films to neighbours to God to dreams and to ourselves. Then we sat down with a sigh and looked into each other’s eyes. We saw ourselves there and laughed. The world was so good, wonderful and we were the happiest. More than words, what mattered was our silence. There was such sweetness about silence and we experienced it. It was as if we understood ourselves more in our silence than in our words. The very core of our individuality hung on this silence. When someone walked past us throwing a sardonic look, we just looked at each other, as if to say that was an unnecessary infringement into our hideaway. What was the charm that held us? We didn’t know. But it was a wonderful one and we finally called it ‘love.’
The blob of cool shade thrown by the Maple tree around was an invitation to sprawl on it and stare at the blue sky where tiny eagles circled in absolute silence. Up there in space there was total silence. We lay under the tree, in the shade, on the bed of dried leaves and stared at the sky. A tiny cloud crawled from nowhere on the sky and began to sail till it diluted and disappeared. The sharpness of the sun’s rays troubled our eyes. But the gentle breeze deflected the rays with the foliage. We enjoyed the changing patterns of the foliage and the gentle warmth. What was more enticing was the natural fragrance, a woody fragrance that emanated from the grass and the trees. A bee droned adding music to the surroundings. This was enhanced by the crackling of twigs underfoot of passers-by.
In the wake of its newness and especially in autumn last year our love had blossomed to the fullest.
Somewhere at the farthest end of the thin winding path, shrouded by the thick leaves there stood a paddock where a man was selling candy floss. We loved to have candy floss. The soft whirring of the machine and the churn of the pink coloured sugar into floss was a beautiful sight to see. Holding the long stick in our hands we tried to eat the cloying, sticky floss. The man hummed a soft tune as he counted the coins we had dropped in his palm and invariably he seemed to disappear into those curling wisps of cloud that emanated in the distance, strapping the machine to his back.
How many countless people in love, feeling this blissful feeling of completeness, that inexpressible feeling of comfort devoid of fear and uncertainty of the morrow, togetherness secured with wholeness and entirety, with a song in their heart and twinkle in their eyes have passed this way? How many would have been in this state of bliss for years and years without any reduction in love on the face of galloping age and changes? To walk on the same path covered by them, to breathe in the same air of love, breathed by them, to enjoy the sameness of love in its irreducible measure was thrilling. I wanted eons to pass by in the same way. But did time, the immortal sage, grant permanency of any state or status to any mortal?
The patterns changed and the sharpness of the shadows blunted into soft elongated ones. Dusting our dress we walked with the smell of the soil around us. The hanger of golden trees, the chirping of birds on the trees, a distant sound of dog barking, threads of smoke curling from a cottage chimney all appeared so romantic and I committed them to my memory. The setting sun invited dew drops and suddenly the sky turned pale.
The seasons changed to summer and rains and autumn again.
‘Unexpected arterial blocks and one major surgery, and love fizzed out of the heart forever!’
How could this be? There wasn’t even an attempt to know anything of the problem. Probably reality was harsher than imagined. Who wanted reality? People wanted to live in a world of dreams and be led amidst the beauties of nature and all that is easy and flowery. No, this love was just nothing but just a la mode. Not anything more.
What I glanced surreptitiously was even more distressing. The fingers intertwined and linked, closed on in a tight, firm grip and they walked straight, there was not even a remote feeling of penitence, or memory of the recent past, or guilt of repeating a love story and ironically in the same ambience.
But what promises held us? Nothing! What worthy words of wisdom bound us? Nothing! I had lived in a world of chimera. Probably I was in love with the feeling called ‘love’ or in love with nature, and nature’s beauty. I was definitely enamoured by nature and might have complicated this feeling with ordinary human love. Or better still embodied that love!
I turned back and began to retrace my steps but something held me, firmly and resolutely. I was slipping on the mossy grass and oh, I landed safely out of the autumnal landscape and I was still standing on the staircase staring at the exquisiteness of autumn beauty short of me. After all I don’t need this worldly fallalery any more for I am an astral body now.