She would come on the balcony, her hair almost dried. Ruffling her hairs with the fingers of her left hand, in an attempt to drain the last drop of water that often sneaks through the strands of hairs and settle down as dew on the scalp, she’d then gather her hairs in her fist. For someone observing this scene, it seemed as if she would lift herself off the ground using these hairs. Grabbing them in her right fist just above her head she’d meticulously unhitch the hairband from between her teeth. The hairband always matched her top and anticipated between her teeth until she was done with this hair business, this pulling and catching. She’d then try to confine these hairs into the hairband. A few strands, however, always alluded her and swarmed around her temple, at sometimes curling behind her ears while at others sneaking just to the side of her ears as if staring at him. Calling him to her. He loved it. Her hairs. These strands. Their call.
Done with this business, she’d greet his mother who was always, at this hour of the day, in the kitchen that overlooked the streets and her balcony. Surreptitiously she would then glimpse at the book in his hand. Or at him. He never knew. A glimpse that no one fathoms. A glimpse similar to the one that leaves ethereal questions of love and togetherness in the minds of boys. A glimpse from which all the loves he had read or watched about were born out of. And this happened daily. Only things that changed were her hairbands and his books.
Now, he likes to think of the past like this. Her secretive glances, colorful hairbands, the books in his hand, the balconies separated by a narrow road, those furtive smiles, and, when later things had taken a positive turn, his never acknowledged flying kisses, the occasional throwing of letters that were at times rolled so much that the wrinkles didn’t even render them legible and at others when the letter fell short of the target and landed on the road which then had to be quickly picked up by either of them lest ‘people’ were alerted. Separated by a road. What all duties do Love not bring along. And, what all do people not do when they fall for someone? He was the tough one, but, he is convinced that the tough ones when they fall, they fall hard. How unromantic had it all seemed to his friends when he had told them about her. The girl from the opposite house. ‘Insipid’ had they all cried in unison. ‘Adventurous’ had he replied. ‘And bloody risky’, after her father got an inkling.
But it all changed. Just like the weather, and just like the people.
5 years whizzed past. Time loses all its character when spent with the right people. At times rendering you everything you wish for while at others taking away the only thing that matters to you the most. And this happens to everybody. All the time. If all lives have something in common it has to be this tendency of the lives to move towards the mundane, making the future seem more profound and the past seem glorious.
And what about his own life. What about the things that mattered to him the most, or which, at least, the time had cajoled him into believing mattered the most? The hairs, their calls, those glances, her love, the books, all reduced to what now.
Now. They share the same house. He often looks across the balcony and it smells of her scent. A scent that only reminiscences can conjure up. A scent that is found only in books and movies. A scent that, in real life, is often subjugated by fears and egos. A scent that he had first actually felt when they were married and that since these 5 years has never left him. They now sit hand in hand on their balcony, she reading her book, and he, often thinking of the old times. At times, he even wonders if this was all the more exciting when it was still a pursuit, their love, separated by a road, inhibited by the fears. The present, he cogitates, is overrated, most of us live outside of it. Some dwell in the past, while most dream about the future. And this is what makes lives all the more viable — this relentless battle between the troubled memories of the past and scary dreams of the future. Sometimes we win by achieving these dreams, while at others the pursuit of these dreams leaves us with the troubled memories. And when he begins to overthink about the time, he pulls her close to him, and answers the call of her hairs by caressing them.