We gazed long and blank at the scarlet bird that twirled amidst the thicket of deodar, dark green, majestic deodar, bordering the tapering roads, the ones we drove on, the ones that drove us. The bird glowed red amidst the green groves, the mist circling the blue hills, dark clouds concocting seance. Silence, a confusing one.

Asher, does the forest not scare you with the many buried stories and tired ravenous leopards lurking in your shadows, their green eyes glowing, their warm spotted fur longing to soak you, the formidable black bear aching to devour your heart with its covetous claws? Asher, where do these birds come from, the ones we have never seen, do you wish to follow them into the unknown? Asher, why does your chest quiver when my hand rests idly on it? Why do I quiver when you do the same to me? Asher, how does it feel to make love in the dark cold nights in the scanty warmth of Pahari boondocks?

Asher, do winters keep you warm here? What do these hills whisper to you when you sit all by yourself sipping tea on a cloudy winter morning? Do the demigods on the palanquin, skirted with sublime music of Shehnai bring tears to your hazel eyes? Those hazel eyes, Asher, what do you keep burried in them?

So some day, beneath the overcast sky, somewhere in an unsung village, when the evening pours into night, when the scarlet birds hide in the midst of deodar, when the forest wakes up, I shall take your hand and dive into the depth of this silent valley, with the same questions that I might never ask, and sleep in your arms in that fleeting night, not knowing what the break of the dawn would bring, not wanting to know what it would bring.


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