Just like the first green, translucent leaves open their spades with the changing season, my life was taking a beautiful turn. The tenderness exhibited by the leaves reflected the placidness I was experiencing.
Today, in my art class, focusing on the unfinished canvas, striving to breathe life into it, I noticed that my strokes were unusually instantaneous. The pastels in the background were being overshadowed by the lively blues. This is unusual, I thought to myself, my hands seemingly possessed by an external force, controlling my Kinesis. I was glad it was noiseless Tuesday and hence no distraction.
“Excellent,” he mouthed the words, as he patted my shoulder, surprised at the bold strokes on my canvas. I always thought he was extremely passionate about art since his paintings were always loud and brisk. Unlike me, he used his fingers to daub the canvas with paint, declaring his unabashed persona. I was pleasantly surprised that he shared his opinion of my art. Should I pursue this conversation? I wondered, smiling amiably. Before I could contemplate further, he walked back to his spot, diagonally behind. Observing my painting, I noticed how each speck on the canvas reflected his style.
The class ended an hour later and as we waited for the elevator, his presence made me conscious. An awkward smile later, we entered the elevator together. Another few jumped in as we stole a few gawky glances. Exiting the premises, he offered to walk with me. Only because I was walking towards the beach, I agreed.
Walking by his side, wordlessly, seemed comforting somehow. As if an unknown drape engulfed me in its protective shell. The rhythm of our harmonizing steps made me feel unexpectedly sheltered….and cared for.
What is it that we could talk about today since neither of us could hear? As if he had taken a cue, he asked me if I came here often. My confirmatory smile made him signal towards the sunset.
“My favourite thing to watch- the sunset” I motioned my fingers to form the words.
“Have you ever heard the sunset?” he asked.
“Heard??” I was surprised by the question. “What does it sound like?”
“It is hard to explain. But, rest assured, it’s the most soothing sound ever,” he responded.
Today, the feeling of simply watching the sunset along with someone was so unassuming. Beautiful!
Next morning, as I was getting ready for work, I received an unexpected call from him. “Hi, Rayna?” After the silence from yesterday, his soft, heightened voice made music.
“Yes…” I responded. The monosyllable, more of a question than an acknowledgement.
“Hi…this is Vihaan,” his voice seemed easing.
“Good morning,” I let out a self-conscious, cheerful smile. “I didn’t know you had my number…”
“Ah, well….,” he paused. “Would you like to grab a bite, this evening?” This was not the most surprising question. More surprising was the fact that he had chosen today since the taste buds were at rest on Wednesdays. Regardless, I agreed readily.
Is it his charm or my vulnerability that is making me sashay towards him? I wondered while dressing myself in a beautiful monochrome evening dress. Tiptoeing immediately, I reached the restaurant to meet him. If there was any hesitation in my mind, my demeanour didn’t display it. We ordered for the specials on the menu and had an elaborate dinner. The fact that nothing tasted what it looked like was not a botheration. All dishes spread out elaborately made us devour the colours and aromas completely. None of these moments spent with him seemed tasteless.
“How about some wine?” he offered.
“Well…” my uncertainty was unmistakably evident on my face.
“Yeah, not today… Actually, there’s a wine tasting just outside the city tomorrow. It’s work related, but you can join in,” he noticed me warming up to the idea so he continued, “I’ll pick you up tomorrow morning. Okay?” I nodded. Sweet!
Surprised at how every day brought a fresh new feeling, I joined Vihaan who drove us to the venue, away from the monotony of the city where each day seemed like a week on loop. I was just glad to put off my work till tomorrow. The morning drive to the vineyard was as lovely as I had remembered the last time I had visited here, years ago. Previously I could breathe in the fresh, spirited, lively aroma of the grapes dangling from the vines. Even though the experience was not the same today, the memory itself was vivid and lasting.
The tasting hall was filled with connoisseurs looking at an assortment of wines lined up immaculately. Post the tasting, they made their notes while Vihaan interviewed them. His mannerism, his expressions, his voice, were as spunky as the brazen colours he’d splash on his canvas. My eyes kept wandering from him, to elsewhere, and back to him. His aura was magnetic and I was enjoying the hustle around with no contrition of being unable to smell the whiff of the wines wafting in the air.
We clinked the wine glasses, that he carried, to celebrate this togetherness.
“I hope you’re not bored,” he inquired.
“Not at all…I am actually having fun!” Smiles. “This is really unique! A wine tasting event where sommeliers are unable to smell the drink but are making notes on the basis of taste. Quite an exceptional event, I must say.”
“Exactly why we scheduled it today, so the sommeliers can register only the taste of wine without knowing the aroma. I am glad you’re finding it as interesting.”
“Cheers!!” I clinked my glass again, smiling. The taste of the wine, the sparkly bubbling on the taste buds made my heart jump with joy. Just yesterday, I would not have had enjoyed this flavour on my tongue but today, it tasted heavenly. I realized that my heart was humming mostly because I could feel his gaze on me. It was impossible to believe he felt much closer in my heart while he was standing almost a foot away. Bubbly!
We returned by midnight and he dropped me home. A formal goodbye at the doorstep promised a meeting at the next art class. That I was humming all morning, at work and all the way to the art class was not surprising. In spite of being overworked due to the backlog from yesterday, I felt fresh for the evening art class.
“Hi Rayna!” he called out from behind. “I have a new canvas today to go. I am required to complete it over the weekend and bring it back for the next class. It is for a representation.” This crisp information sounded like a child’s info-emit on returning from school. The two hours in the class went by quickly, I looked at my canvas where the added dimensions meant another few depths of blue. The colours spread, oh so carefully on the canvas, made it look like a potpourri of an abstract.
“Vihaan, why do you attend class on Fridays when you can’t even feel paint on your fingers?” I asked him innocently as we walked back home.
“It’s a challenge I love,” he paused before continuing. “It’s interesting how my other senses are heightened and I don’t have to submit to touch at all.”
“Have you ever been able to focus as much that all your senses sing in unison?” my query sounded more like a challenge. He smiled.
As we stood outside my door, waiting for him to say goodbye, he held my palm and rested it on his. From the forefinger of his other hand, he drew a line on my palm. I felt nothing.
“Think about this straight line on your palm, the next time you paint on Friday. It should help.”
My eyes glided from my palm back to his face. It was strange that I could see what I could in his eyes, and yet felt nothing on my hand. I noticed correlated emotion in his eyes.
Pointing at the 48×60 canvas he was holding, he said, “I am going to begin work tomorrow. Care to join in?”
“Sure!” excitement ringing in my voice.
“At my place, tomorrow morning?”
“I’ll be there!” I unlocked my door behind me and looked at my palm where he had placed his finger, trying hard to sense his touch. Fail!
“Saturdays are never my favourite!” he announced as he poured white wine into the flutes to carry towards the centre of the room where we seated surrounded by the easel, paints, brushes, sponges and palettes. The canvas background was already sprayed, I noticed.
“Actually, Saturdays are my favourite,” I refuted him, the first time all this week. He waited for me to continue. “Actually, this is the day I feel alive when I feel normal, I can breathe freely.” He was amused.
“Who decides normal?” Strikingly, he always responded with a certain restraint that contrasted his frenzied persona. His quizzical response to my reason encouraged him to further delve into the subject. “I mean, every day of our lives brings us to embrace our senses in a unique way. I don’t take my senses for granted and enjoy each day to the hilt.” His de facto tone was more assuring than intruding.
“I have always felt that there’s ‘something’ missing from the day, except Saturdays.” Baring myself in front of him didn’t seem awkward at all. His warm smiles melted my heart.
“Do you know why you joined the art classes?” he asked sipping the wine from the flute glass.
“Hmmm! basically to calm myself.” His piercing glance scrutinized me, he smiled yet again, a naughty twinkle in his eyes.
“Actually, you joined the classes so you’d meet me,” he teased as he squeezed a tube of bright green onto my fingers, held my hand to smear the canvas in unison, the colours carefully chosen to turn it into a harmony of sorts. The hands twined into each other’s made perfect music as I could feel his pulsating blood moving through his veins on my fingers. I was pleased with the result on the canvas and the glint in his eyes made me believe he was too. Magical!
As I lay awake on my bed this morning, I realized it was a day of mental detoxification. I’d prefer that the wind was blowing softly through the windows,
ruffling the sheer curtains, the tender morning sun shining on my face, warming my body to set it in motion. The birds chirping melodiously on the tree-birch right outside my window and the hustle of the world below. But none of this was going to happen today. It was surprising how the whole world would come to a standstill this day, every week. I rolled on my bed trying to think- How can I make this day unique and useful in spite of all the senses, that were speaking to me so fluently yesterday, refusing to respond today?
Sundays had always been quiet, as long as I remembered but today, my heart longed for more – for the way Vihaan looked at me, his stolen glances. I wished to see that smile and hear him call out my name ‘Rayna’…once…and yet again. I wanted him to touch my face and smell my hair. Wouldn’t it be tawdry to imagine eating out from the same pear and tasting the graininess from the fruit all the same? My mind laughed at the prospect. Unlike any other day, simply lying here and dreaming about the man who had whizzed all my senses made for a fulfilling day. Dreamy!
While I was cooking for myself the next day, he called again. “Rayna?” gosh, that voice breathed life. “I’m going to the veggie-mart today, join me!”
“I’ll drop in after work,” my chirpiness worked overtime.
We walked to the veggie-mart in the evening, breathing in the scent of all that was sweet… bitter… sour and tasting all that we could. The sellers stayed on standby in case we needed something, everything else moved like clockwork. That no one around us could see anything never seemed to cease the world. I touched all the signage to be sure what I was picking up and then…. there it was!
“Would you like a pear?” I jumped with joy.
“A pear?” he sounded amused.
“Yeah, it’s my favourite…would you like one?” I instantly picked a Bosc pear- the textured skin revealed its firmness. Inhaling the sweet, fresh fruit, and reckoning I had picked up the best, I handed it to him. Another few went in my bag. I closed my purchase and turned towards him.
“Did you try it?”
“How is it?”
“No, what does it taste like?” He was silent. “Like how does it feel on your tongue, the graininess, the sweet crispiness, the ripe flavour. How?”
“You surely are passionate about food!” he remarked.
“I am passionate about senses… how something feels,” I responded honestly.
“How does this feel?” he placed his hand on my face, his palm feeling my cheek softly, caressing the gentle contours on my face.
“Like a pear!” I smiled as his fingers brushed my lips. I sensed he smiled too, I could feel it through his touch.
Hand in hand we walked back. I juggled to insert the apartment keys to open the door when I heard him behind me.
“Will see you in art class tomorrow, after work.”
Wow! Monday went by quickly, I thought. I stood inside, holding my hand against my cheek, reliving the feeling of his palm against my face, my heart pounding inside my chest. Bliss!
My canvas, here, in front of me, was no longer mine. The bright hues of blue, splattered across were the pinnacle of my intensity. Regardless of the fact that he had never touched my canvas, it displayed his expression. I looked at him from across the room, his passion was captivating as he engaged himself finger- daubing the paints on his canvas. The memory of the swift movement of his fingers was vivid in my mind from the time we’d painted together.
As if he sensed my gaze on him, he turned towards me and smiled. I indicated that I was about to submit my work, he signalled a thumbs-up. The few hours, through the week, spent on this canvas delivered the most delightful work I had ever submitted. The curator was as surprised. His words of appreciation, mimed for me, left an everlasting smile on my face.
Vihaan joined me in the elevator. “Are you watching the sunset today?” he asked. My eyes shone. He is ready to do this all over again with me. I nodded.
Even though a frequent visitor to this beach, I realized it had been a week since I had been here. The sunset today, with Vihaan by my side, seemed warmer than last week’s. There was utter silence, in spite of a crowd around.
The sky turned from golden yellow to bright orange. We stood quietly, hand in hand, breathing in the salty breeze emanating from the sea. Slowly, the colour turned from red to violet. As soon as the sun touched the horizon, he turned around and kissed me, hesitatingly first and then passionately. I closed my eyes, his palms cupped my face. I could feel the soft tenderness of his lips on mine, I tasted the sweet suppleness of his mouth on my tongue. My heart beat faster than I had ever experienced, the hair on the back of my neck rose. His breath gave the most superlative fragrance that I had smelt.
And then…. from a distance, I heard it. Like my ears were trying to lend to the gentlest whisper that floated in the wind. The breeze washed the salty balm from the sea and carried the music along. The music of the sunset, just like Vihaan had said! I realized it was not just a song of dusk but the song of love. Unison!!