22 May, 2010
It was the mood that came upon him and he woke up. The bedside clock radiated 4.15 am. Totally restless & feeling the walls closing in on him, he had grabbed the car key and simply taken off. The need to feel the wind on his face was overpowering. He had topped the tank at the gas station and hit the main road. After a while he found himself cruising along Marine Drive. Even at this time the horseshoe shaped sea face sparkled with the headlights of zipping vehicles, streetlights and billboards. He tasted salt on his lips from the cool sea wind. He liked it this dry flavor. Traffic was sparse. He was on autopilot as his movements kept the powerful hatchback in a smooth cruise. The eyes alternately scanned the road ahead through the windscreen and the rear view mirror. Looking glasses both, he said to himself; vision gateways.
He switched on the radio and Hemant Kumar gently hummed…
Hmm….hmmm hmmm..Pukar lo, Tumhara intezaar hai…tum pukar lo
Khwaab chun rahi hai raat..beqaraar hai
The words hit a spot and he automatically looked in the mirror. Was it his imagination or did he see a pair of nut brown eyes in it? The song faded into the background as the wind swept away the years and he traveled back. Yet another car, that time around, a large SUV with other people in it. A friendly banter had been on. Sitting in the front it was easier talking to people behind looking through the mirror rather than craning the neck. She was spewing words nineteen to a dozen having a whale of a time pulling each ones leg in style. It was in the mirror that he saw for the first time that her eyes were a curious shade of almond, flecked nut brown. He had not been able to drag his gaze off after that as he observed her quietly. While making a point the flecks sparkled. She seemed to have felt his gaze and their eyes met; almond became roast. Just for a moment a question mark sprung up in them and as his lips twitched they twinkled again. He was lost completely. She had smilingly raised one eyebrow as he shrugged raised both of his and smiled back. The others chattered on oblivious. Then a game was on. Not a word directly spoken except for general talk with the others while the mirror became their own special conduit to a different deeper communique.
Hemant da stepped into this train of thoughts and crooned on.
Honth pe liye hue...Dil ki baat hum. Jaagtey rahenge aur kitni raat hum
Mukhtasar si baat hai..Tumse pyaar hai...Tumhara Intezaar hai..
Hmmmm hmmm hmm Pukar lo
Many a sleepless night had passed but somehow the words that formed on the lips never spilled over. Each had waited for the other in anticipation and the window of time that had opened a whisker very gradually shut. Even today he didn’t have a fix on the why of that silence. But the moment and connect was pure and the memory had stayed on.
Hemant Kumar now seemed to be voicing his very thoughts. He just smiled to himself wryly. Earlier he had always flowed with the voice and the lilt of the gentle melody but today the words of Gulzar were the ones making an impact. The brown eyes twinkled back from the mirror.
This was not him. He had never ever believed in the hoary cliché of the greatest love is the one unfulfilled. But he was not clear at this instant. It was only when the brow over one eye shot up in the mirror that he burst out laughing and they laughed with him. He felt the restlessness inside subsiding. Was it the drive,the cool windy night,the melodious song or was it the eyes in the mirror? It was a little bit of all of them…
Hemant da’s final words enveloped him; the tune that seemed haunting triggering of a stray memory moments ago now sounded soothing.
Dil bahal to jaayega is khayal se...Haal mil gaya tumhara apne haal se
Raat ye qaraar ki beqarar hai...Tumhara intezaar hai
Dawn had broken and the streetlights were turning off. The city was waking up shedding its slumber reluctantly. The view through the windshield grabbed his attention now. Sitting up straight shaking his reverie he saw that he had started back. The eyes had smiled one last time through the mirror and his face had swum back into focus. Restlessness like the moment was gone.
As he reached home a taxi just stopped in front of his gate and he could see that the wife was alighting with her overnighter. She was back. Seeing her something caught up in his throat. She turned and saw him and the deep black eyes lit up. All this he saw through the windshield. He glanced at the mirror and his own eyes stared back. Looking glasses both.