“An open restaurant by the beach, it’ll be beautiful”, they’d said. So I convinced myself to actually part ways with the love of my life – my bed – and get ready!
I mean, who was I kidding? I’d been miserable. No, it wasn’t because I got dumped. I keep away from diseases like love and relationships. (And yet there are times when I end up wanting those diseases. Rare times. But let me save that for later). Well, I resigned from my previous job because my career’s a mess and had been home since.
I hadn’t shaved in weeks. My hair was the only disheveled thing that looked good on me. Yet, I managed to put on a decent white shirt and beige three-fourths, put my shoes on and reached the given destination. It was late evening, the sun was almost about to set when I spotted my friends.
Okay, as much as I hate to admit – the place was indeed something! Low couches with round tables in between, clustered around the open space. Miniature lanterns hung up at the poles that marked the corner boundaries of the restaurant. Right in the center of the arrangement was a huge bonfire surrounded by logs to sit over. The sky made for the roof while the bar was under a thatched shelter. Rustic yet simple.
Waves crashed by the shore, tides were pushing back; the sun surrendered to the moon on the other side, obviously exhausted by its job.
And the sky. Oh boy, was it breathtaking! The horizon was crimson, above which it all faded into darker shades of maroon, indigo and ink blue. Merge them all (if you’re a painter) and you’ll have what makes you skip a heartbeat! In fact it even got me thinking why I had kept myself locked up in my room for so many days. I must have smiled a most heartfelt smile after ages.
Anyway, it was great to see my friends. And we had company; everyone had a date along. Except me! Ugh. It’s funny; just when you think that getting out of the house wasn’t a bad idea after all, the very next moment you want to take your thoughts back. See, it isn’t that being date-less annoys me. It’s the compulsive cuddling, and the PDA, and the “aww” moments of couples that get to me. I don’t understand the need for it. Simple. And my poker face really, really comes off as rude.
You must think I’m a detached asshole. Oh, I am, on most days! But a good thing about me? I know when to keep my mouth shut! Wink.
We practically chattered through the entire evening. I, a little less than the others since I am not much of a talker. Dinner was great, as were the drinks. I was playing along but felt like something was amiss. We retired as it got close to the “late hour” and the party shifted, one couple at a time, to cozy corners and huge rocks by the sea.
So I was left alone at the bar. Finally!
I like my solitude. Nay. I love it. And if it’s served with alcohol, I am bound to get intoxicated! The beach and the wind were the additional bonus. Ah, the night was somehow beginning to own me! And it was doing a bloody good job at that. Why? Because beyond the instrumental music of the bar, I heard the voice of Mohammed Rafi. I scanned the now diminishing crowd to locate the source of “Maine poocha chaand se“, and spotted a girl.
She had her back towards me; body slightly leaning behind supported by the palms of her hands, and legs stretched forward, one crossed over the other. Her gorgeous hair almost flirted with the breeze. She sat on the bare sand, beer bottle at her side and a small speaker with USB connected.
Mindless and drawn to the old song – and partially to the girl – I took my beer bottle and approached her. Our eyes met as she sensed someone move beside where she sat. I took my chance and asked permission to join her. She shrugged a polite “sure” as I seated myself.
Unbelievable as it might sound, all we did was just sit, sip on our beer and listen to her playlist shuffle from good old classics to ghazals! Neither I, nor she, uttered a single word. Not even a “hi”. And it had been the easiest conversation I have made with anyone! Like there wasn’t a need or compulsion to make small talk. In that moment, what had gone amiss, suddenly wasn’t missing anymore. My miserable self started feeling relaxed again. It might sound stupid, and maybe it was. But when simple moments align themselves generously, everything feels okay again!
I can’t say that I didn’t check her out from the corner of my eye. I did. She lip-synced a few lines of the songs that played, occasionally tugged her hair behind her ear, smiled possibly when her favorite line of the song came along, and maybe, maybe, even looked at me and shied away.
I’m unaware how long we sat like that, but if moments arrive, then they must also pass. As bitter-sweet as it was, so did this perfect night. The playlist ended, she disconnected the USB, collected herself and got up to leave. I looked at her expectantly, but she had already begun to walk away. Except, she halted as if she’d forgotten something.
She walked back, extended her hand and said, “It was nice… not talking to you”, with a wink. I sighed, unable to make my idiotic smile go away and shook my hand with hers. “What can I say? Ditto”, I winked back. She rewarded me with a subtle laugh and left me grinning for the rest of the night! We didn’t exchange names, let alone numbers; and yet, no night had felt nearly as complete and content as this one!
Silence is comforting. And to bump into people who can effortlessly share your silence, is overwhelming and humbling all at once!