Picture
The music played louder than ever. It was well past 11 pm and Rashi couldn’t make herself leave the dance floor. Dressed in a pink lehenga and silver jewellery, her hair open like waves of music, her bow shaped lips shining with pink gloss and her long earrings dancing on her neck. She didn’t care about the four inch heels she was wearing, although they pinched her like crazy. Just when she decided to sit and rest, they played her favourite number.

Mukul had been observing Rashi for a while now – her beautiful eyes and her gorgeous smile. His eyes refused to part with her. Eventually, he went and joined his gang on the dance floor, but his gaze kept gliding onto her. How her long hair moved with the music, and her tiny waist moved to the beats, making her lehenga swirl around her. He wanted to go and hold her, to dance with her, to hear her speak and laugh - she was beautiful when she laughed!

The music slowed down and he found himself alone on the dance floor. She was nowhere to be seen. Quickly, he went looking for her. He saw her at the place where the bride and groom sat and she was getting her pictures taken with them.  She looked heavenly; it was like she outshone everyone around her, her luminous skin glowed in the stark lighting. He no longer had control over his senses. His feet took him right to the spot she was at. He watched her up close and wore the mesmerized look on his face. “Please come together for a picture.” The photographer said to him. He drifted closer to her and posed for a picture with the newlyweds. She smelled heavenly, and he wished the photographer’s camera would get stuck so he could linger a bit more.

 “Mukul, you look so lost today”, the groom said to him. He looked around to find her but she was gone.  He gazed around in the entire hall; she was nowhere to be seen. His heart sank deep and imprinted her images on his mind forever….the day he fell in love!

Mukul had never been the ‘girl chaser’ all his life. He had always been the sophisticated, quite and studious person. With a square spectacle frame resting on his nose, he was very tall – about six feet, not a very muscular frame but a sturdy one, his hair brushed neatly with a side parting. He had noticed the overly long glances made at him by the opposite sex, but he chose to be oblivious. It had been two years since he had seen Rashi and whenever he closed his eyes, he could see her bright cheery face and the pink dupatta. He had never been a fan of the movies, but the cliché happening to him made him aware of the substance in them.

It had been two years since the incident and he was a successful dentist now. He assisted Dr Dey at his clinic and had noticed the unusual increase in the number of female clients visiting him. He was overwhelmed by their charms, but always reacted politely. His mother had conveyed a few marriage proposals which he had been getting, but he didn’t seem to have any interest. But his ears were always open to hearing the word Rashi from her. He knew it was a long call and was never bound to happen.

He had glanced through the wedding album a number of times, whenever he visited the couple. He had even asked on one occasion, but they both seemed to not remember who she was. “I think her name was Rashi or something…” But no one seemed to remember. This had confused him, she did not look like the party-crasher, then why couldn’t he trace her? She had existed in the mist of that night and had vanished with the first rays of sunlight.

He kept listening to “Ajeeb daastan hai ye….” on his ipod over and over again. The more his mother pestered him for his wedding, the more he felt the urge to go and look for her.  But fate had decided to play hide and seek with him. So he just hung on to his patience levels which rose and fell like the stock market.

Dr Dey had noticed his restlessness and tried to talk to him about it. “It’s nothing, mom is pestering me to get married and I am not ready.” “Take it lightly boy, this will go on, mothers always do that! If there is anything else, let me know. Don’t walk around with such a long face the whole day.” Dr Dey gave him a pass to go and see a dance show – “a patient gave me this, it is supposed to be all sold out and this is the last one I got.”

With a Sunday full of looking at pictures of prospective brides, he was way beyond fed up. He walked out of the house and closed the door behind him. After walking a few paces in the park, he decided to go to the dance show, least expecting a break from his psychological chaos.

He sat in the second row from front, it was a good view. The dance was breathtaking – a ballet with beautiful costumes followed by a contemporary. The music was from a live orchestra and was very engaging. The dancers moved swiftly with every beat and the steps grew faster with the music.

“Wow papa, she is doing great.” He heard a familiar voice behind him. It couldn’t be her – was fate at its best ricks again or was his overwhelmed mood playing hallucinations with his mind? He couldn’t focus on the dance, nor could he hear any music anymore – he was entwined in his own thoughts, curbing his urge to look behind him. He didn’t know what to say to her after so many years. Many thoughts encircled his mind, but none fit the situation he was in. He waited patiently for the performance to finish and rose up to go. He turned slightly and looked at her – it was her, after so many years! More beautiful than ever, the same charming smile, the same luminous glow.

“Are you Mukul?” the man beside her spoke to him. “Ya, do I know you?” The man smiled. “Your mother had sent a picture of you to us, and we were interested, but your mother said you were not interested in marriage right now.” He couldn’t gather this own thoughts and put together the pieces. “Anyway, meet my daughter Rashi.” “Hi Mukul” he smiled and his face turned crimson. “Hi”

They started to move out of the auditorium. This was the time. “So what do you do?” He had to break the ice somehow! “I am a flower decorator. I mostly work at weddings. I love doing that.” He chuckled “I bet you do and you do a fantastic job” “How do you know?” “Well, let’s meet for coffee sometime and I will tell you how.” “You think I will go out with a guy who rejected me without even looking at my picture?” she smirked and naughtily teased him. “I think I can rationalize that as well.” And they both laughed and gazed at each other in an ever-locking gaze, with fate playing with their minds and teasing them with Cupid’s silent involvement.


 


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