She was walking. She always walked to her office. It was going to be a day like all other days: meetings, client briefings et al. In the corporate world, the best way to move forward is by learning the jargon and spewing it whenever necessary. She was well versed in her trade and also had the inherent ability to fool people with words. She enjoyed her work thoroughly. What she did not enjoy, however, was mundaneness; and lately, her job was getting less satisfactory as days went by. It was all getting a little too repetitive for her. She walked with her eyes fixed on the ground, not because she felt shame, but because that was her way of walking. She wondered how difficult it must’ve been for women to walk in their little six-inch pencil heels all the time. The road was uneven and she was glad to have worn pumps. She had tried it many a time, but she hated wearing high heeled shoes.
Her twenty-five minutes commute was a silent one. She liked to walk, but there was one particular stretch of non-metalled road which she abhorred. It was a short cut and she didn’t necessarily need to take it. The eerie feeling she got every time she walked on that road made her a little afraid. She was a brave girl nonetheless. There was no point in being born a woman if she couldn’t even overcome her fears, she thought. Her own argument won over all other arguments, and thus, she always took that five minutes long stretch twice every day.
It was secluded save for a stray dog or two, and was equally peaceful. She could always hear herself thinking. She felt one with her thoughts and imagination whenever she walked down that stretch. It was the only good thing about it. Today her mind took her to a day, six years ago, when she had just begun dating Pranjal: the day they had shared their first kiss. The day was crystal clear in her head. She could never forget that day, probably because it was she who had initiated the kiss.
Pranjal was too shy, a borderline timid personality. He had oodles of charm, though. He was intelligent and was a good listener. He didn’t talk too much. They had met through a common friend and gradually grew fond of each other. At first, his shyness bothered her. She wasn’t used to guys being silent. Men in her family were authoritative, they could take charge, they could lead. Pranjal was happy with anything. He just went with the flow, no matter what the situation was. At first, even her gut told her not to be drawn toward him, but he just had a peculiar aura about him that no matter how much she tried, she could never be not drawn to him. Maybe it was meant to be; maybe it was written in star stuff for them to be together. Soon, she was head over heels in love.
The memory of their first kiss was so pristine. It was her treasure. She could effortlessly recall each and every sound from that moment. It was ingrained in her: rain falling on the road, vehicles rushing, the rumble of the clouds. Everything moved so quickly, and yet, there they stood, looking into each other’s eyes. Time had slowed down, but only for them. She was trembling, standing on the pavement. He was in front of her, looking at her. His eyes trailing the droplet, which fell on her forehead, traced her cheek and disappeared on her lips. His gaze was powerful. His kind eyes exhibited something like love. She wasn’t bothered about it. The moment was just too hypnotic.
She leaned forward, he did too.
There it was: sparks in the rain, love in the air. It was pure, unadulterated magic. Their lips touched and it felt divine. On some pavement, running along a drenched road in Chanakyapuri, they kissed in the torrential rain. Anyone could see them, but she had no care or worry in the world.
He had said, “You are beautiful.”
She had stayed silent…
Her reverie was broken as she reached the main entrance to her office building. If only she could go back to that moment again! Lately, the spark between them had been dying. Sometimes she felt that it wasn’t there at all. She loved him, she really did; but something was amiss. She believed that she was the one at fault. He just felt distant. He wasn’t a great talker or someone known to be expressive, but she could sense it. He just didn’t seem into her anymore.
“Maybe I should talk to him,” she thought. She didn’t have time to ponder over it as it was ‘work time’ now. Thankfully, she still had her evening walk home to think about it, once and for all. For the first time in her life, she was willing to walk on that lonely, barren, dark and unmetalled road. For once, she wanted to take charge. She looked forward to that evening.
Someone else did as well.