A strange familiarity.
lovers are not lovers for love's sake.
love is not always illogical or blind or a momentary lapse of reason.
love is not love for love's sake.
love does not need a love story, love does not need to be professed, love does not need to be found.
it just materializes, as an answer to questions that haunt you, striking you at the moment you least expected.
for all questions there is an answer, and that answer more often than not is love.
i stole a story, i loved it...i hope you like it too.
orignal link : A strange familiarity.
author : Krish
The rain was knocking hard on the window panes and he was surprised to be annoyed with the same sound that he once loved and romanticized about. Nakul had arrived at the hill station 2 days ago, riding all through the night. But, his plans of exploring a beautiful terrain that held a soothing promise were thwarted by the incessant rains, making it impossible to get out of his hotel room. He checked his smart-phone for a signal. Like most guys of his open and collaborative generation, his first reaction to any feeling of elation or frustration was to share it with friends on FB. It is incredible, he thought, the way social networking sites have helped him and most of his friends in anger management by forcing them to summarise their screaming agony in just a few words. Left all alone in one’s own company, with nothing to do, could be unnerving for most and Nakul was writhing in its clutches now. Idle and without the means to express his irritation to a truly global audience, he finally decided to get drenched, pocketing some coins for a hot cup of coffee.
It was pouring outside and after trying unsuccessfully for over an hour to get some sleep, Hazel decided to walk to the balcony and watch the grey skies and their whole hearted expression of love for the green valley stretching in front of her eyes. She has been here for a week now, all by herself. “I cannot last a night if left by myself”, her friend had confessed with a wide eyed amazement at Hazel’s plans of a solo trip. She wasn’t entirely comfortable of her own company either, but then it was a time when serious decisions had to be taken. She had to find a few answers, an arduous affair, much like trying to find a piece of paper with scribbled poetry, lost in the clutter of a room or searching for a page with memorable lines in a thick novel. It needed a peaceful ambience away from the overpowering concern of the older generation, which, in her opinion had the ridiculous habit of administrating solutions without even comprehending the problem in its entirety. But 7 days into her trip, her mind was still like the troubled surface of a river, which refused to let her see what is hidden beneath.
The first time she saw him, he was standing at the edge of the cliff, holding on to a bamboo pole, and trying to get a full view of the valley, mindless that he was dripping from head to toe. “Men could be so stupid”, she thought, “incapable of even taking care of themselves, leave alone others.” She wondered what fun there was in shivering under a cold shower, with muddy pants and a soaked head. Nakul turned around suddenly, almost feeling her stare on his back. She was beautiful, in a casual shirt and pyjamas, with frazzled hair and an amused look. He became conscious and slowly walked to his bike parked a few meters away and got busy trying to move it farther away from the sun shade, from the edge of which, water was pouring down in a thick stream. “That confirms it”, she thought, “worried about the bike getting wet.” He couldn’t see her mischievous smile.
The skies had cleared finally, the next day. It was a beautiful morning the sun shining gently on the rain-kissed leaves of the valley, almost too gently, as if to caress the glistening drops perched on blades of grass. The breakfast was sumptuous and the tea was heart warming. He was enjoying the view of the distant mountains, seemingly rising from the fumes emanating from his cup.
“Quite a morning, huh?” Her voice startled him and he could only manage a sheepish smile that instant. For years, he has been underlining lines from romantic novels to quote as an impressive response when the opportunity presents itself. But suddenly they felt shy as well, preferring to lose themselves in some hazy alley of his mind.
“Soothing, especially after 2 terribly depressing days”, he manufactured a reply. He badly needed company and was absolutely unaware of her need for the same.
“Nah, longer! I have been here for a week but haven’t had a chance to walk around much.”
“That makes this morning all the more precious.” His smile had a hint of flirtation in it. “For you”, he added.
“Aren’t you interested in exploring the place?”
“I will. My bike is itching to get on the road. ”
“Ah, I see. I will get going then, before the sun decides to get cosy behind the clouds.” she smiled subtly, even as she exercised her poetic license, a little bit.
“I can do with some company.”
“Me too. But I feel a walk is much more pleasurable.”
He hadn’t always liked women who were confident enough to make the first move with strangers. “She knows where to draw the line, though”, he thought. He was surprised to find that he was impressed with this trait, in spite of his prior preferences and prejudices. He made a mental note.
“I can let my bike rest a little longer, if it isn’t a problem with you.”
They walked all morning. He realised that silence when used well could be comforting. You could spend hours with a person just admiring a beautiful valley or sitting on the edge of the lake. He realised he was wrong in believing that every moment has to be painted in the shades of a romantic conversation to make it memorable. The beaten track in front of him seemed more familiar than it would normally do. Everything around him seemed drenched. But in the bright sun, everything seemed to sparkle in hundreds of unheard and unseen colours, as if to show they weren’t complaining about the rain at all. From time to time, they would come across streams that would cut beneath the roads like tiny cascades. At other times, the sound of the gushing waters would resonate all through the woods, without really making an appearance, much like a bass violin that completes a symphony without really taking over at any point of time.
It started to drizzle once again towards noon and they decided to grab their lunch while they wait for it to cease. They had muddy feet and jeans drawn up to their knees. They could so easily have been mistaken for childhood friends, who had nothing in common except for the need to run away from all things concrete and instead, hide in the dense foliage and grand hues spreading all in front of their eyes.
“So what do you look for when you visit a new place?” she asked finally, to get his attention. She was annoyed that he was surveying his photos for quite some time now and she made no secret of her annoyance.
“What do you look for?” he tried to indulge her desire to have a conversation.
“Nothing particular. Good places express themselves in their own ways.”
“Then you would carry more memories than guys with cameras usually do” he replied, appreciating her idea of looking at things. “Do guys with cameras, fighting with angles and light all the time, annoy you?”
“Not always. But sometimes, I just wish they enjoyed the charm of the image they want to freeze. I don’t see much sense in creating memories when you don’t pause a while to realise why you want to cherish them.”
It is incredible how inconsistent, a gift eloquence is, he felt. You don’t always get answers at the time and from the person you want them from. He made a mental note once again.
“I was searching for this”. He showed her a photo of hers admiring a pair of lovebirds, hands in her pockets, bare feet teasing the grass. She would have been annoyed if she knew someone was staring at her through his camera. But now, with the moment dangling with life in front of her eyes, she couldn’t help but acknowledge the fact that it was a moment that deserved to be frozen.
The next morning, he accepted her idea of having breakfast back in her room. He was surprised how much better the room felt compared to his, although the colours and the furnishing were much the same. It was in the way the curtains were drawn out to bring in the right amount of light, in the way, every single thing was present where it is supposed to be, as if with a purpose and in the way, it would please the housekeeping guys when they come to clean the place after her departure.
“What is it about women and orderliness, almost to the extent of insanity?”
“If you had a girl friend, would you like it, if you are tossed into the same place as the rest of her friends or treated like anyone else?”
They exchanged smiles.
“So what is it that you guys love about lovemaking?” Hazel asks a slightly embarrassed Nakul, even as he was excited, trying to get some photos of 2 mating birds.
“Surely, this isn’t the first time you are witnessing it?” she asks, with mischief unabashedly portrayed all over her face.
“Well, it is interesting but the reason varies. Some guys love the aesthetics, some guys love the passion, some love the form and others are almost incurably stuck in the habit, just as unaware of it as we are of our habit of looking for the toothbrush even before our eyes are fully open every morning.”
“Yes. I would be lying if I deny.”
“At least you are honest. Not that I would have believed you if you said you never cared about that aspect of guys and that you were different.”
He had his fair share of relationships, in college and at workplace. Over the last couple of years he has ceaselessly flirted with women, young and old. But, the last few days with Hazel had been unbelievably enriching as far as his understanding of the fairer gender’s psyche was concerned. Perhaps, it was because of the absence of any pretence or inhibitions on either person’s part, he felt. He wasn’t wrong. He was stationed at an important juncture of his life, with his parents constantly pestering him to get into the whole business of meeting daughters of their family friends, colleagues and distant relatives and choose their prospective daughter in law. Hazel had provided him more answers than he could imagine getting from his girlfriends of the past. For the first time in his life, he felt the peace that one finds in being honest and without the burden of living up to someone’s expectations, whether it is your own family or a girlfriend who expects you to be everything you are not.
“I never realised until now that this could be fun.” Hazel thoroughly enjoyed the walk in the rain. The very thought of her family, being annoyed at her getting drenched in the rain, with a stranger, comforted her even more.
“So, do you flirt with every girl who comes your way?” she asks, with an innocence that only women can exhibit, almost sweeping him off his feet.
“It isn’t intentional. I guess my group of friends and I never really found our muse, and hence we are still painfully stuck in the search for the perfect one. Every new person is a ray of hope and that immediately sets us on the wrong track if you know what I mean.”
Opening up to her was so easy and he failed to tell her that he has never been this eloquent with his thoughts or intentions. For once he cared about being liked for what he was, rather than for what he portrayed. He never knew until that point, that there was such a big difference between the two.
“So what’s your story? All I know about you is your name. Although, I would have preferred to ask this question with a casual air, I am failing to hide my excessive interest to know more.”
“What makes you so sure, you know the right name?” She was laughing at his surprised expression, although her laughter wasn’t completely bereft of guilt. “But I am at least, the person you have been talking to for the last few days.” He understood what she meant and was actually relieved at the possibility that she can read his doubts.
They decided one evening to visit the coffee plantations in the region. It was something about the ambience and the mud tracks that put one at ease. Freshness has a fragrance and neither had enjoyed it to the extent that they were now experiencing. She loved the way he nonchalantly walked through the greenery, uninhibited in his curiosity, in spite of her presence. Her cyan coloured shirt, slightly unkempt but long hair and the click of her anklets added to his experience of enjoying the woods. He observed that she had the odd habit of picking up fallen flowers, of all colours, stuffing them in her dangling bag. Neither of them was driven by the unnerving need of making the other person comfortable. They were absolutely at ease, even when he would spend quite a lot of time, getting his angles with the camera right, or she would just examine the coffee plants for an abnormally long time.
“So do you like Dominique?” He was shaken out of a reverie with this sudden enquiry, even as the meaning slowly dawned on him. She would have noticed the book on my couch, this morning.
“I love her.”
“Can you handle it, if you do find her someday?” she smiled.
“Certainly not! And that, my smart lady, is the story of every guy of my generation. We love everything that we cannot handle.” His generalization had a hint of exaggeration to it accentuated by a flashy grin, but he didn’t seem to mind it, supremely satisfied at his own understanding of men.
“Do you like Roark more or Oliver Barrett?” He enquired.
“The prospect of testing out a Roark is mouth watering,” she replied. “But in the end most women love what they can handle”, she added.
“Are you like most women?”
“Most women are like most women most of the times. But I wouldn’t generalize. I wouldn’t mind a rich Gatsby, though”, she laughed. Yes, she loves her literature and he seemed to like that.
He seemed to recover from the daze he wore over the last one month. That alone had satisfied the purpose of his trip. She seemed to make up her mind on certain things, strengthened and weakened in different ways. She was taking the bus back home and it was due to depart that night. They chose to spend the morning on the idyllic banks of a lake nearby. The coincidence of finding a stranger in the hills who feels distinctly familiar could be a joy and they chose to bask in it while it lasts. They discussed a wide variety of topics ranging from Lady Gaga’s dressing sense to the possibility of the existence of Loch Ness monster in the very lake that they were admiring at the moment. They argued about the importance of money but agreed that tickets at multiplexes were unfairly high. They almost quarrelled over the idea of possessiveness amongst lovers, and discussed the pros and cons of arranged marriages. They were like husband and wife, only without knowing anything about each other’s life. Yet, they felt, they knew everything about each other’s ways. In a week’s time, they had argued, quarrelled, sulked, pampered, angered, ridiculed, dismissed and appreciated each other more times than their normal lives could have ever permitted them to. Yet, they had both chosen reticence, until now when it came to details about their private lives.
“So, what brought you here? Incredible that we never got around to talking about that,” she never came to terms with the idea that some guys could pick their backpack and set off on a bike in the eeriness of a starless night.
“I was upset.”
“A girl I never met.”
“Was she so important?”
“No. I have been meeting quite a few of them off late, with my parents pestering me for marriage. It is so annoying, and yet there is no escaping from it.”
“I have always felt like a mannequin, standing in a designer-wear showroom.” She embarrassed him without a hint of reluctance or guilt.
“I can sense the venom. I always have. I never wanted to choose someone on looks alone. So, I approached my parents with an unusual request.”
“And that is?” she asked without the usual liveliness or mischief, as he seemingly dragged her back into the melancholy world that she escaped from, couple of weeks ago.
“I wanted to talk to someone and get to know her before I see her photo. At least, that way I wouldn’t be overly influenced by looks alone and be able to respect her personality at the same time.”
Her eyes widened for a moment, but he didn’t seem to notice.
“I started liking a girl, and I was pleased with my own decision. Now I believe I wasn’t entirely being honest in the image I portrayed”, he continued.
“She chose to reject you?”
“She chose to run away from me and her family as well.” he winked, to hide the disappointment of such an outright rejection.
“It hurt you that you were being judged unfairly, although you have been judging her all the time?” The smile was back in a small way.
“It hurt a bit, but now I know better.”
“The futility of finding someone who is impressed by the wrong ‘me’”
“Oh, I can see the aura behind your ears now”, she teased him, like she has been from the very first day.
Before getting on the bus, she gave him a note, requesting him to read it after she left. He gave her his copy of Fountainhead, declaring audaciously, that he has every line of the book thoroughly memorised already. As the bus set itself on the highway for a nightlong journey, she fondly traced her fingers over his handwriting, on the front page.
“I felt I have talked to you before, although that is how you feel every time something special comes along. I hope I don’t start looking for you in every person I talk to, but then at least, I see the benefits of just being myself.”
After riding that night for a couple of hours, he stopped at a roadside tea stall. It had started raining, but the chill in the air couldn’t affect his beaming face one bit as he re-read the note, for the fourteenth time: “Go home and call me at the same number. The girl who ran away, would like to reconsider this distinctly familiar stranger.”