The last weak claws of the usual weak winter of Hyderabad,were drawing away slowly. February was in the air and so was the nascent Spring. A silent tussle between the fading darkness and the emerging daylight. Nature’s every scuffle either destroys or transcripts something magical. The soothing breeze gave evidence to the later.
As a part of rare occurrences,that day I was on my jogging shoes and trod-ding the half existant tar road of my colony. Crushing the fallen dead leaves gave both my shoes and myself a mystic childish pleasure. The crispy sound added to the bliss. The meager quantity of the newly arrived fresh sunlight could just help me figure the end of the road giving itself away to the main road. The metro rail construction stood as a mammoth on it. I planned to make it my point of turning back,still about 300 meters ahead.
Panting heavily, the laziness inside me prompted me to take a halt before turning back. I rested my back against a small closed Pan shop that stood exactly at the corner. By the time my breath slowed down, the darkness was almost defeated for the day,lending more visibility to the vista. Just when I was about to start, a very distinct sound of someone coughing scratched the silence.
Inquisitiveness defies logic and need equally. As I went back of the shop, the sudden curiosity got its cure. It was a few sq.feet of space quite hidden from the direct glance of any passer by. She stood there with a cigarette in between her left fingers. Draped in that dark black,only her face was visible. She was beautiful. The contrast among the pinkish tinch of her face and her black attire helplessly multifolded her attractiveness. The slightly faded red lipstick had few of its particles coated on the filter of the cigarette. The rest, still on her lips along with with the magnificently sculptured eyes spewed in a silent enchantment. She was a lady,probably in her early thirties.
My sudden intrusion startled her. And I was in some state that slowly dripped from the astonishment of her presence towards the dazzle of her beauty. Shocked , she stepped back a little. Shocked, I stood there firm. The cigarette kept burning itself without a pause. Few thin flocks of smoke aimlessly floated around before migrating to non-existence.
As I came out of my startled phase, I realized that I was intervening on somebody’s utterly private an stolen moments. Some how I managed a faint smile and turned back. A strange temptation of wit and I turned again. This time with a bigger smile I pointed to her cigarette and said “That may kill….first your beauty and then you..”
A smile in reciprocation. A puff more to establish ignorance to the caution. A smile again.Then she spoke “It cant kill me more than this black piece of cloth that has killed all my wishes and desires long back. I live in the same planet as you, but in a different world demarcated by this black cloth. So near to every worldly pleasure,yet so far from even a bit of them.”
She paused. And then spoke again “ I was killed a few days after my college when I was forcefully introduced to this black world. How can a small stick of tobacco kill me again?”
With a a faint laugh, she threw the last remains of her cigarette and popped in a mint gum. She unfolded the veil of her Burqa over her face and walked away slowly.
Startled further I walked back home. Thoughts were galore but conclusions were none.