They had met after ages. She had come down to Bombay after almost a year and a half. But it felt like just yesterday. It always feels like just yesterday. They pick up from where they leave it. Each time. Or sometimes, they start afresh.
Smoke. Loud music. Hazy lights.
They were standing in one corner of the club, giggling and guzzling down beer. Her eyes shone like a bright star. The multicolored lights created abstract patterns on her face. He looked into her kaleidoscope eyes.
She puffed the cigarette absent-mindedly and let out a cloud of smoke. His face was hazy. But she could see him smile. His lips parted, and then he looked down, shook his head and gave an impish grin.
It was late. The DJ had started playing Bollywood tracks. “Tu mera hero” boomed all across the club. It was cramped. Everyone around were swinging their hips. He took her hand into his, and made their way towards the bar.
“One vodka. One whiskey,” he shouted across to the bartender.
“Now I want to dance!” she yelled loudly above all the noise.
“Is she your girlfriend, bro?” one of his friend winked and asked him, at the dance floor.
“Are you?” he took his mouth near her ears and whispered.
They kept looking into each others eyes. The lights faded.
Next day, they met again.
“That star over there. That is Bellatrix,” she pointed it out to him.
“Like the witch?” he asked.
“Like me, yeah”
They were lying down on top of his terrace, as the night sky looked down upon them.
It was 3 AM. There was complete silence in the neighborhood, apart from their breath, and the occasional sound of a cricket.
“The sky isn’t the same like this in London,” she said.
“…and it was all yellow,” he crooned.
“Don’t even try. You are a horrible singer and you know it,” she teased, as a smile creased her lips.
They met everyday during her short Bombay trip. The day before she was supposed to leave, they met again.
“This looks intimidating,” he said.
“Oh, come on. We don’t have much time. Half and hour. Let’s finish this!” she giggled.
It was a cool winter evening in Bombay. The dark, small, yet cozy Café Leopold had more foreigners than Indians, sitting, talking, drinking and laughing.
They sat on one small table facing each other. There was a huge beer tower kept between them. As they kept guzzling down the beer, conversations kept flowing
“Can you see the bullet marks of 26/11?” she pointed towards the wall. “Still so fresh.”
He looked into her dark brown eyes and took a huge gulp of beer.
“My flight to London is tomorrow morning” she said after a pause.
He took yet another sip. A bigger one this time. He didn’t take his eyes off her.
She started to fidget with her curls. She knew he was avoiding small-talk and wanted to come straight to the point.
“You know the name of Bob Marley’s son? No? His name is Rohan,” she tried one last time, to take his mind off.
He took his eyes off now. Put the mug down, took a deep breath and said, “Where exactly do we stand?”
Her eyes turned watery. Like a dark blue swimming pool with sunshine bathing it.
“I’m leaving,” she finally managed to say.
“You always do.”
“But, I love you.”
She choked on her beer, but pretended to be fine.
She wiped her lips with the back of her hand, looked straight into his eyes and said, “Do you believe in fairy-tales?”
“I believe in a lot of things,” he said.
“Unicorn blood is precious.”
“A little less than phoenix tears.”
“True. And yes, I love you too,” she looked away and smiled.
The beer tower was fast finishing. They poured themselves two last mugs.
This was yet another meeting where they were leaving without knowing where they exactly stand. They will meet again. Many months later. Some more conversations. Some more goose bumps. With sparkles in their eyes.
Some stories remain unfinished. Or maybe, that’s the beauty of it.
By the time they came out on the busy Colaba street, it was dark. People from all strata of the society and nationalities were flocking the streets.
“It’s time to say goodbye,” he said.
“I am the dog who saw the rainbow, you know?” she said.
“You know why I am saying that, right? Please tell me you do?” she inquired.
“Umm.. because you have seen the rainbow in my eyes?” he laughed.
“Dogs are colorblind, you fool. And I am the dog who saw the rainbow. You make me see the unseen. You make me believe in the unbelievable,” she said.
“Ah.. You are my Marie Curie and Sylvia Plath rolled into one, baby!” he said.
“So, this is it?” she looked at him, her eyes sparkling.
He kissed her lightly on her cheek, took his lips near her ears and sang in a low voice..
“Hey there Delilah
Don’t you worry about the distance
I’m right there if you get lonely
Give this song another listen
Close your eyes
Listen to my voice, it’s my disguise
I’m by your side”
As she saw his retreating figure disappear in the dark, winter night; a tear trickled down her cheek. A lot of memories came rushing back. She lived in London and he lived in Bombay. Long distance. Each time they met, they would laugh, love, cry, make love, hug, smile, squeeze all emotions out of each other, but couldn’t commit.
Those words of lifelong commitment were still unspoken because , distance. How far can someone really go to get closer to someone, she always pondered. She didn’t want to ask him. She wanted him to realize it on his own someday. Surprise her.
She left. To far away London. To where she belonged. To her friends. Her family. Once again.
Six months from this day passed by, and there he sat. A Boarding Pass clutched tightly in his sweaty palms.
He was nervous. He was ecstatic. He was finally doing it. He was flying off to London, all the way to the other part of the world, to surprise her.
As the British Airways flight took off, he looked out of the window and smiled. He fished out a small red velvet box out of his trouser pocket. Once he opened it, the sunlight bathed the beautiful rock inside it.
Yes, finally. He was going so far to get closer to her. He will ask her to marry her. She is the one. He knew it. After all, she was the dog who saw the rainbow!
Oh also, watch the sweetest video of Sumeet and Chetna who got away from it all, to get closer to each other; thanks to British Airways.
The topic was – How far would you go to get closer to someone you love?