Saturday, 2 May 2020

OS : Autumn evenings and classic cinema...

She was a doctor, a scientist at her heart and a classic nerd; but her taste in music and movies were stuck in her parents' generation. Not that he minded. It had been close to a month since this had begun. The local multiplex was showing classic movies in the evenings for a month and she had got hold of a pass for two for the entire duration. When she had asked him if he was interested to join her for movies, he hadn't even blinked when he had said yes. It had amused him to see her so excited about something as mundane as cinema. She had put up the screening schedule on her locker and had drawn little star marks next to the ones that she had enjoyed. He had stared at her as if she had grown two heads when she announced that "Plan 9 from outer space" was her all time favorite. Here was this woman who thrived on rationality and logic, loved a movie which was famous for the obvious mistakes in it. He gave up trying to understand her.

In the mornings at work, they argued about cases, she embarrassed him with her questions and they never talked about their evenings. There were odd gifts once in a while commemorating the movie they had watched previous evening; like one time she gave him a plastic tomato complete with gift wrap after they had watched "Attack of the killer tomatoes". In retribution, he had given her a Santa Claus and an alien toy which eerily looked as if they were in middle of a hand shake. He had glued the two toys together, of course. They had loved and hated the movie "Santa Claus conquers the Martians" and had watched it again on his TV. Their colleagues had given them weird looks when they received their respective gifts. Her sister was surprised to find little plastic toys on a shelf next her medical textbooks in her room.

Their evenings at the movies were innocent and miles away from their daily life. By the end of first week they had settled into a nice schedule. After the movie, they walked around for a bit, talking about the movie, about the society in general in early nineteenth century, war in those days; everything and nothing. They met at the multiplex every evening and parted after a movie, a walk and a coffee. He liked it immensely. He came to know about her more in the last one month than last three years put together. When they walked, she talked about the movie non stop, revealing a bit of herself to him. During those times he listened to her, sometimes adding a comment here and there or just listening, analyzing and committing these moments in his memory.

She was a very honest person and had pursued truth all her life. But when it came to emotions, she was extremely private. It wasn't as if she lied about her feelings, she simply didn't show them. She had hugged him for thirty seven minutes once they came out of the multiplex after watching Bette Davis version of "Of human bondage". He never asked for a reason and she never disclosed any. That day on his way back home, he had purchased the book on which the movie was based and read it through the night. In the morning he drove to her apartment, the book in his hand, hugged her for few minutes, kissed her cheek and slept on her couch till evening.

When they missed going to movies because of surgery or an emergency case or a meeting, he rented a movie and they watched it at his place. He generally cooked them a late night dinner after the movie when she talked about the movie. She would rest her forehead on the window pane and draw pictures on thin sheet of dust. He had stopped wiping the window when he saw her art on his window pane in the morning. He had smiled when she chided him for not cleaning the windows properly on one such night. She couldn't stop smiling either.

Sometimes when things got rough and life became a little overwhelming, she withdrew from everyone and everything. There were no changes in her performances and most people would not even notice the difference in her behavior. But then again he wasn't 'most people'. At times her actions hurt him, more than her words. He once told her that.

"Action speaks louder than words Riddhima, haven't you heard the saying?" She had shot him a look that he couldn't decipher.

"If there were no words, then what meaning would an action have Armaan? The power of action comes from words when the action itself is defined, put into words, talked about and not from action itself." At that she had given him a guarded smile. For now, it was enough for him. Who cares if action was loud or silent or whatever?

It was the last movie for the season. This schedule of theirs would come to an end and he would miss it terribly. He wondered if she would miss this too. He couldn't help but feel a bit melancholic. It was autumn and his heart felt as empty as the trees around him. During the movie, she made no contact with him, made no comments and sat still.

"The novel on which the movie is based is my favorite you know." He gaped at her. She loved "The Fountainhead"?

"The main character resembles you a little." She ignored him.

"I loved the main character because he is perfect. He is ideal. He is what a man should be."

"Not having a flaw is a flaw in itself, is it not Riddhima?" She looked at him and smiled. While she enjoyed the banter with him, his corny jokes, his silly one liners, she loved this rarely seen intellect part of him.

"Isn't nature always trying for perfectness? Nature chooses the best species, helps them to continuously evolve, change and grow; to achieve perfectness. Universe is always looking for equilibrium Armaan. Adding things, cancelling out, creating new things, things getting extinct; as nothing is ever ideal or perfect, this is never achieved. That's why there are certain things in excess and certain things are lacking. That's why some people suffer while some are happy. After sometime, these roles get reversed. It's always a matter of time."

"Watching Fountainhead make you philosophical Riddhima?" He chuckled. She simply stuck her tongue out.

"The last time I read this book, I was in college. I never had a chance to watch the movie though. I am just reminiscing old thoughts. That's all." She was smiling at an old memory.

"Do these old thoughts still stand good? As in, do you still believe them?"

"I am not the same person that I was ten years ago; yet at a very basic level; I guess I am still the same. There are certain things that I believed in at one point of time, based on my own reasoning and observation of society around me. Some of my beliefs have been changed after I met our friends at hospital and after I started spending more time with you; like importance of loyalty to other humans, taking break from mundane and doing something adventurous . Things like that." He felt happy that she was acknowledging him as an important influence in her life. She continued.

"But there are things like relationships, for which I have my own beliefs even now."

"Like what? Please don't tell me its all chemical reaction. It reminds me of biological warfare." He gave an exaggerated shudder and winked at her. For a minute she contemplated on telling him about what she believed it. Wasn't that similar to showing him what she truly was? Beliefs reflected the character and personality of the person itself. She decided to go with the mood and give him an idea of what she truly thinks.

"My theory on love has always been that love is a decision. When people decide to love someone, there is a sense of rightness that prevails. It's the sense of love of beauty that you get when you watch a beautiful sunrise. Sun is not aware of that feeling and neither am I when I am just enjoying it. Neither Sun nor I are disjoint and in that there is equality and in that there is love." She looked at him and gauged his reaction.

"You mean to say that relationship can exist only between equals. That's what you mean right Riddhima?"

"Yes. No one gives more than other and no one receives more than other. If it doesn't happen, then its not love; it's a compromise for a commitment. It's vulgar if one always provides and the other always receives. The balance of a relationship should be more symbiotic than equal partners in every task. That would give a whole different dimension to the relationship than simply sharing same views, same tasks and same goals. Helping each other, needing one another to achieve individual goals would nurture and further evolve the relationship." She hoped that he would understand what she was trying to convey. Of course he did. After all he was a good reader of people and when it came to her, he held a doctorate. She continued further.

"Relationships are beautiful as long as there is rightness to it and an honest respect. When one's whim, one's wants, one's anxiety and one's life is more important than the other, that person has automatically lost all the rights to a relationship. Till I overcome this aspect, Armaan, I cannot honestly tell anyone what love for me is."

"Then why are you telling me this?"

"Because, Armaan, I know you will wait till I am ready. Until then, I give you classic movies, long walks and stale coffee." They shared a laugh, a hug and a kiss on cheeks and walked towards their respective cars with a promise of meeting next day for breakfast.




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