The electric blue sky was like a sequined canopy overhead. The moon smiled wanly. Intimidated was it by the cluster of stars twinkling gossips and poking fun ? I wondered as my foot steps echoed on the cobbled path steeply rising and then dipping low to disappear unto the night. Lined by houses with closely shut doors, heavily draped windows and unlit porches, their stone facade held secrets of centuries archived in the primeval past, stolidly indifferent to the humdrum of a rocketing present. The alley pirouetted past to where there was no return.
I wondered what I was doing here. It was not the time to be out on the desolate streets of a run-down corner of the city. Behind the stunted row of houses loomed the monolith of the Mosque, its minarets spiraling up in a frenzy to tear through the damask of the firmament. The imposing structure always left me awestruck – its pristine white dome astutely set against the darkened casement of the night like a Sufi seer who has found answers to a lifetime of seeking.
I could have gazed at the cold exterior of the architectural wonder for hours forgetting the count of time but for the trundling noise of wheels on the cobbles which distracted me for the time being. A rickshaw had come up from nowhere, the puller standing silently, waiting for the lone passenger to settle down – a young girl in her unspecified teens in body hugging jeans and an equally clinging top, a little reluctant to take the journey wherever she was destined to ride to. A stream of instructions emanated in whispers by a lady standing next to the appendage. A lady in white of indiscriminate age. A lady who must have been a robber of all sane senses in her heydays. Yet she glowed like the wan moon high above, a little unnerved perhaps by the sprinkle of stardust carelessly strewn around.
I could not take my eyes off her face. A face so pure and perfect redefining beauty in its most pious personification. Her contours shrouded in attires a little alien to ours. The flowing texture adding a mist-like aura to her slightly obese form. Stood apart on her spotless visage was a pair of kohl-lined eyes reminding me of a pair of softly blushing lotuses floating sedately on the body of a ripple-free pond. Serene yet holding havoc on leash!!
She must have sensed my gaze on her. For a split of a second her attention freezed on my shadowy presence. A lightening sparked somewhere and thunder roared afar. Pearly drops made way from heaven wetting the parched path underneath. Relief! I thought as I looked down. The cobbles would now be a bit slippery by that sudden unburdening of tear-filled clouds. Strange! From where did these come ? The stars had taken hurried shelter into the bosom of the night and the moon had pulled a gossamer sheet over its face just like the lady in front.
But she wasn’t as fast as God’s sleight of hand. Before she could hide herself, within the folds of her crumpled dupatta, I had seen her clearly even though for a nano second! Those dark, deep set eyes had pulled me back in time when we had played pranks and laughed aloud taking pride of the callous wind that had ruffled our hair and knotted our dupattas behind our carefree backs. Her anklets had murmured songs on the beach and her eyes had showered innumerable hints. Her playfulness had got us into trouble and my waywardness had made me infamous.
I could have screamed her name curdling the silences around but she was gone…like the vagabond wind…like the searing lightening….like the distant blaze of the thunder…
But those deep pools of her eyes remained with me for a very long. long time tempting me to walk a few more miles with echoes of silence all around!!