Leela’s eyes had lost none of their glitter nor her walk it’s old rhythm.
She ascended the stairs, her anklets jostling, her infectious giggle rippling like a fresh brook finding its way into the locked domains of his heart.
The memory of that moment hit her like a surging ocean wave- drawing her into it, the sour smell of darkness, those sobs erupting like an echo from a bottomless pit. She held his burnt photograph in her old, wrinkled hands feeling odd how simple things can still remind one of those terrible times and how the moment one tries so hard to forget becomes ones sharpest memory!
He caught her by her tender arm ornate with green glass bangles that made a cracking sound. His lips whispered “leela” in her ears, she shivered and giggled and started running…he ran after her and caught her by her slender waist….delving deep into her fragrant jasmine adorned hair, he felt her entering into him through the forbidden passages.
She thought about all the rules they broke in the name of love. Those evenings at Assi ghat when on the far end they mused over the pyres burning, and feared they’d too die someday, feared about who would be left alone if one of them dies early! She walked on those water smeared steps telling him to take her away….it was time she turned on the radio, and request for the song ja ja ja o bewafaaa….that played every evening on one of the monks radio on the ghat, he would’ve been a victim of unrequited love, she thought then, and empathised with him now! And with a cold sigh, “Angad” she would say….and lie on her broken chair, plunging back to thoughts of him that were now 40 years old and still new!
But he IS there…she knows, in the balmy Subha- e- banaras, whispering her name in her ears. He is there in the orange embers spitting from the pyres, he is there among the boats on the Ganges, in those simmering hot tea cups, he is there in the evening Aarti on the ghat….he is there in the floating oil lamps, he is still there holding her by her old tender waist….he is there like no one else ever was, or ever would be!