There she was again. Face half-hidden behind her long dupatta, a glittering ghagra sending out rainbows in the sunlight as she walked or rather glided, the presence of her feet given away by the soft jingling of her anklets. He stood mesmerized as always. The place he was from, he rated a woman by the length & shine of her legs or hourglass figure. He wasn’t used to be stupefied by a pair of kohl-lined eyes or the sight of multicoloured bangles adorning slim hands. But Samar was smitten & not by a desire to conquer, which was strange. All he wanted was to capture the face, her face, her persona, capture it in his camera & show off to the world this startling evidence of the existence of true beauty untouched & virgin.
Samar was an amateur photographer settled in a crowded metro. After the news of his grandfather’s demise, he had decided to visit his old ancestral home & finally sell it off. It was on this visit that he had come across her. Their first encounter had been near the well in the orchard, he was having quite a hard time filling that bucket when she had made an appearance. Without uttering a word she filled her bucket & was about to leave when Samar had asked for help. That was the moment he noticed them & realised what all the poets of the world meant when they spoke of drowning in a pair of eyes. And now all he wanted was to take her picture. But that was a lost case in this strict village which made it’s women hide behind long dupattas & stay away from strangers especially those from the city. But, he wasn’t the one to take a no for an answer. So he stalked her.
He knew when she went out to fill water in her pots & what time she visited the small market with her friends. And yet it wasn’t ever possible to see her face clearly, let alone talk to her. Frustrated Samar waited until the night before his departure arrived. He lay on the bed listening to the wild animals call & watching the leaves turn silver as the moon rose high in the sky. He couldn’t sleep. Was there no way he could take away a glimpse of her face with him?
The sky turned lighter as the hours passed. He could take it no longer. Armed with his camera he walked down the empty village roads, hoping to capture the last dawn before he left. He went in the direction of the village pond. It was to the east & a picture of the sun rising over the water would be good. “May be next year…” he consoled himself.
He stopped in his tracks.
There she was, in the water, half-clothed, her jet black hair creating ripples in the water. The sun was slowly rising, the soft golden hue reflecting on her face giving her a God like appearance as with closed eyes she performed Suryanamaskar. He knew what had to be done.
“Look what shame she has brought us!” “What a vamp…shamelessly stripping off like that!” “Send her away, we don’t want our women to be corrupted with bitches like this around!”
She stood mute, head bowed, hair dishevelled, tear-stained cheeks & dry eyes. Ever since her picture had appeared on TV on some documentary they showed, her life had become hell. The villagers with nothing better to do than watch the national channels had been aghast when they had seen her picture on TV, in that half-naked condition. The fact that the picture had won a national award for some contest on divine beauty mattered least to them.
Samar was very happy. He was sitting by the window seat of the train taking him back to his village. He was here to handle a few pending work & also to meet her. He would take her with him. There had been offers from many ad agencies. But she would make the perfect face of India. Indian tourism department wanted her in their new campaign. She would be famous soon.
As the train neared the station, Samar got off the seat to take down his bags. He missed the girl running through the dirt road parallel to the track.
A girl in tattered bloodied clothes with kohl-lined eyes & a glittering ghagra…
P.S: This story is by Sagar (narrated to me while riding pillion on his bike :P) Since he was too lazy to write it I penned it down (with alterations)