The Setting Sun

The winds weren’t blowing fast today, the sky all splashed in orange and red, was clouded with still whites.

He sat there with his shoes off, the sand pricking his feet slightly. As the waves gently splashed against the coast, he began running his hand through the sand, fisting some and then squeezing hard enough to watch it spill free from his palm. This was his favourite place, the shore… yet not his “happy place”. He would always be here when he was sad yes, but only to continue to brood.

Som stared ahead at the big globe of radiance… the sun was setting, he always tried to follow its dip but it never seemed to move when he fixed his eyes on it. He’d always known some curiosity in that queer ball of light.

His thoughts were now racing faster and louder than ever, bringing him back to the brink of the same overflowing well. He thought how lost he was, with success in pockets. Grandeur rooted deep into an emptiness, a hollow happiness, he exhaled.

Soon, the golden sheen started to blur out, as he started welling up. Everything, once again, was coming back to him. This was not the first time he was reminiscing, but every time always seemed to be worse than the last.

He recalled how he gave up everything he had, for today. How he let her go -the only one who had stood by him- blind, chasing a so-called prosperity. It all seemed so futile now, so unreal.

“Was he ever really successful?” Som sighed. On evenings like these, he realised how he wanted to meet her just once more, feel her anger, for it would claim him in some manner… “meet her” he started shivering as the sunlight mocked him. He wanted her to see his tears, sorrow.. guilt. And so, as always, he held his tears back, refusing to let the evening bear witness to them. If only he’d be granted another chance he’d know bitter peace as his cheeks would taste the forbidden saltiness. If only he’d find her once.

Eyes red, he gazed at a distance. It was as if he could actually see her; arms folded and head slightly bowed down – yes, she would always walk that way – with her dupatta covering her dark, long hair, a sound wilderness. She held it to her face, bracing herself from the winds which now had risen fast.

He blinked. Again. Was this real?

He helped himself to his feet, earning her attention. Nisha turned, mirroring his shock. They both froze. Before she realised what was happening, Nisha started walking towards him. He couldn’t. Was his heart playing games? But then he saw her, near and real. He could hear her anklet clinking as she approached him, her breath, ragged for some reason. The glistening fresh streak etched on her cheeks.

What was happening?

A still from ‘What happens in Vegas’

She was there now. There, in front of him. His love, his friend, everything he ever found in her, he could feel it emanating again from her… But there was something else too. He could not bear to see it… or look away, not this time, not again.

He waited for her to speak other than from her eyes. He wished she would scold him, shout at him and cry, accuse him. But she just stared on as another tear escaped to her wet cheeks. He raised his hand, reaching out to her. She was still, expecting nothing. He placed his palm on her head, running along the wilderness he wished to lose himself in, and gently caressed her locks. He wanted to tell her so much. What a bittersweet moment, he thought, she was finally here, with him. He could tell her, cry his heart out and apologise. Maybe even, ask her to punish him? He longed to enclasp her in his arms… and never make the mistake of letting her go again.

And then he dropped his gaze … was it guilt, was it foreboding, he would still wonder later. A wicked sparkle struck his eyes. It was hers… her hands. He fixed himself at it. The ring, shiny band and a big diamond. He’d seen many ladies with such sparkling ornaments but this one seemed to be very unusual, very taunting. The first thing he decided in the very first second on seeing this one was that he didn’t like it.

It was as if this tiny band of metal would choke him any moment. And he waited, till the reality crashed on him. His eyes burning, he tore them away and raised them up to Nisha, who had hers closed already, weeping and shaking slightly. Something must’ve burned his hands, for he jerked them back away. Everything seemed to have changed in a second. Everything seemed to have fallen apart, again and this time, faster.

She blinked out tears. He could no longer cry. He had lost her again. Now he saw it, what her orbs were shrieking out. It was distance, ruins and futility. There was no one word. He couldn’t blink. He didn’t stagger. He just stood there, like the silence following a storm…or was it the one that came in before the winds?

Nisha heaved heavily. Her eyes now dry, face streaked, she took one last glance at Som before she turned, walking away. She didn’t rush, she didn’t limp. Just stepping away, she might have disappeared. He didn’t see. He couldn’t see. His eyes still longed to let go of the pricking drops. He looked away, searching the sky.

The sun had set.

Ojhal


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