A Moment. A Lifetime.
There she was!
Just as Abhinav opened the door excitedly, he saw Vedini, and immediately the ambience went into the obscurity of non-existence. He had opened the door slowly hoping to surprise her but life had planned to surprise him instead by placing her in front of him.
Vedini was about to keep the yoga mat inside the cupboard when the door opened and she found his smiling face peeping in from the door along with the morning sunlight. He stood there with one foot inside the now ajar door and his head peeping inside the room. The rest of his body was outside, as if asking for permission from her to enter the house that was not hers, to enter into her space and in turn into her being that had already held him irrevocably. His one hand held the knob of the open door that had stopped opening further the moment he saw her.
Both of them stood stunned in silence, separated by just a few steps that quashed thousands of miles of space between them that had existed until the previous day, and a time-ocean of two years of separation that had seen crests and troughs of their relationship and had ended with the latter.
Vedini was awkwardly posed, bent slightly with mat in one hand and holding the door of the storeroom cupboard half open with the other. The ajar door behind her led to the drawing room where other yoga participants were indulging in playful banter after meditation. Their garbled voices floated about in the space of this ante room that was occupied by the sacred privacy of these two beings held motionless, as if in unspoken gratitude to the existence for giving them the privilege of looking at each other at leisure, as if in celebration of the moment that granted them the honour of expressing their unguarded feelings for each other in the windfall of solitude, made possible by being caught face to face, unprepared and spontaneous.
A small wooden dining table with neatly arranged chairs stood between them. However, things and spaces around them were blurred to their vision. An open door on his right led to the kitchen from where the fragrance of hot idli, vada and sambhar wafted into the ambient air. A flight of stairs on his left silently led to the upper floor of the duplex flat. Melodious Bollywood number was playing in another small room next to the kitchen. Stimuli to every sense organ existed in the immediate ambience around them but their eyes seemed to have taken involuntary control over every organ. His palms felt cold against the doorknob but his eyes would not let him feel it, her back had started to strain under the bent pose but her eyes didn’t let her feel the stress. Their eyes spoke to each other in their silent language, heard each other through the signs that only they could comprehend, felt each other through their invisible hands, smelled each other through their unblinking eyelids and drank the nectar of each other’s presence in their unabashedly honest, loving gaze. The eyes involuntarily assumed such domineering control that they betrayed their own normal reaction and preempted the tears of painful separation and joyful reunion from manifesting.
They stood there, holding their awkward poses in the cradle of their gazes, even as they felt the fullness of the moment of love pulsating in the heaviness of their breaths and the pounding of their hearts as the only sign of life in a space that was otherwise bereft of any movement. In the photographic stillness of that space, there was an outpouring of such immense love that was unseen by the worldly eyes, unheard of by the romantic ears, untold by raconteurs, unwritten by poets, and unprecedented in its simplicity and awesomeness of that moment.
Abhinav saw in Vedini’s face wave after wave of tumultuous emotions lashing the shore of her glistening eyes, the eyes that forbid the dike from breaking. He noticed how in that brief moment her face was flushed as she was reliving the joy of their togetherness and the pain of separation, the unbridled laughter of good times and the uncontrolled cries of arguments and misunderstandings — all of which were part and parcel of the love that had been theirs for the taking in all its hues.
She noticed in his face a confident repose that had always defined him, a naughtiness in his smile as if it held a secret, and a sincerity in his gaze that had always overwhelmed her and had made her feel like the most beautiful woman on earth. His eyes unabashedly told her that what was there between them was unequivocal love and that it was alright for such love to exist despite its ups and downs, trials and tribulations.
When the stillness of the loving moments brimmed and spilt over, both of them moved simultaneously, as if on cue. She threw the mat in the shelf without breaking the eye-contact even as he entered the house and closed the door behind him. She ran towards him, her hands eagerly outstretched as if they were pulling her entire body to him. He took a step inside and held his arms open for her to come and take her rightful place in his embrace.
Vedini ran quite briskly but his eyes saw her movement in slow motion, which allowed him to notice a lot more than what was humanly possible: how her hair tied into a neat bun bounced with every step, how her eyes reflected his image in them, how her smile matched his in magnitude and proportion, how her blue yoga dress matched his blue jogging suit, how her entire being eagerly wanted to feel his embrace just like he wanted to feel her. He noticed how her eager running towards him was like the river leaving no stones unturned in her journey to merge into the ocean and how his spread arms were like the unlimited expanse of the ocean ready to consume the river in the largesse of its oneness.
A huge wave of current spread through them as she melted in him and as he engulfed her in his embrace. She was on her toes while he was bent slightly, her hands wrapped around his broad shoulders while his hands held her by her narrow waist. His chest and her breast heaved into each other simultaneously as their breathing had a coincidental synchronicity. They clasped each other tightly as if to erase the residual impact of distance and imprint each other with a scent that cannot fade with time. The joy of their eyes from a moment ago was now the ecstasy of their whole being. He felt the softness of her cheek against his one-day old stubble as he breathed into the hollow of her collarbone. She felt his prickly stubble against her soft cheek and earlobe even as she breathed in completeness over his shoulder.
The hug was an act of pure consummation of their love, an end and a means to that end, an act which was its own fulfilment. The embrace gave them a moment of such gratification that they would not have complained if their existence was interrupted with an earthquake in that moment. They would’ve gladly gotten crushed under the rubble, never to have known a life of separation thereafter.
They stood there in their eternal embrace with their eyes closed as if there was nothing else to see after having seen each other, for everything else that they could lay their eyes on would be a movement downhill from the peak of perfection of that moment. For the next few seconds that felt like a long time, they continued to breathe into each other, felt the heavy breathing in their chests and heard the beating of their hearts. When her cup of life was filled with the love in his embrace, she sighed a sigh that said a lot more than any spoken word could. He turned his face slightly and gave her a peck at the spot where her jaw met her neck. She went weak in her knees. He waited a few agonising moments before she returned the gesture by giving him a light peck on his cheek. He sent out a silent gratitude to existence for that moment.
When they broke the embrace and looked again into each other’s eyes briefly, they realized that no words were spoken, but more importantly, no words were necessary. Such was the power of their eyes and the sanctity of what they had felt for each other.
Silently, they thanked heavens for giving them those few moments of exclusivity in the midst of the crowd. Then they turned simultaneously towards the drawing room where he had to surprise their other friends.
In the few steps that they took towards the drawing room, Abhinav noticed how the freedom of the heart was taken over by the practicality of the mind as she moved slightly away from him. He saw the transition of her eyes from unbridled fountain of love to a trickling joy of friendship. He noticed how a mask of platonic propriety was worn to hide the pure nakedness of love that had flushed her being a few moments ago.
As they inched closer to the door, Abhinav smiled his naughty smile again, but this time it was not about the secret he held; instead he was smiling that his secret was revealed. The secret was his knowing that no mask could hide her love for him and yet the mask would be worn. The smile, however, was also of total acceptance of her transition, assured in the knowing that he had experienced love in its pristine purity in the moment that had just passed. It was enough to last a lifetime.
He realized that the love was buried again by the time she opened the door to tell their friends, “Look who is here.”