Been paying a lot of attention to lyrics today. I just wanted to write about someone who might have inspired those wondrous words.
You’d probably not have noticed me that day. And neither did she, possibly. Every guy seems to be around my height, slightly stocky, wears glasses, and everyone wears the horrendous striped tshirts I wore with jeans back then.
Fag end of a long day, the first week I was interning, and the Volvo I was getting home in smelled like an armpit, while the airconditioning whirred desolately. I wasn’t used to working this hard or commuting thirty kilometers a day, and certainly not by bus. I wilted, standing in that crowded bus, with only the promise of a chilled beer and a soft bed keeping me from falling. I needed a smoke.
Around me were other such tired men and women. The girl with an IGate badge was busy texting. Her boyfriend in Delhi, presumably. The middle-aged HR lady from NetApp was trying to solve her maid’s family problems on her phone. I would have listened usually, but my mind shut down today. The four people in the neighboring seat teased and giggled. One of them was this guy who licked his lips nervously every few minutes. I adjusted my headphones and closed my eyes.
The bus jerked me awake. Was it Silk Board yet? I shouldn’t be sleeping on an unfamiliar route. It wasn’t.
A gaggle of women got in. I checked them out mechanically. My eyes were closing, when the bus jerked again.
She strode in.
Her crinkled white saree stood out among the pinks and greens. But it wasn’t just that.
There she was, tall, and resplendent.
No, that would be doing her a disservice. She wasn’t tall and imposing like an NCC cadet, or RK Narayan’s Commandant Sarasa. There was something feminine about her height. And yet imposing. You know like when a Bharatnatyam dancer goes on stage, and you feel her presence, you feel her exuberant aura, and her body language tell you she is Shakti or Durga or Kali?
No, I didn’t just say she’s like Kali because she’s dark-skinned. Oh, did I mention that? She was dark. A cheerful, ebullient dark. The crinkled organdie of her white saree only accentuated that. Yes, I know it’s organdie, because I’d heard someone say it, and it seemed such a nice beautiful word I immediately looked it up. I’d been disappointed to know it was just a crisp material prone to wrinkling. But the wrinkles, oh the wrinkles became her, a woman organized enough to iron that beast of a material every morning, and work through the day enough to wrinkle it. And yet, her face showed no trace of fatigue or wilting. Her jet-black eyes glittered as she took in her surroundings, and parted her lips in a smile to reveal a perfect set of teeth. Here was a woman used to smiling, used to putting people at ease.
She walked with a sense of purpose, smiling all around, holding the sharp set of pleats a little aside as she walked to the middle of the bus and stood there. Was she a nurse, I remember thinking. But no, her saree was bordered with alternating rows of green and maroon. She hadn’t even pinned her pallu. The organdie stood stiffly. It would be sacrilege to even think of a pallu drop here.
Nethra Raghuraman, wasn’t that who she looked like? The lady in Bhopal Express, playing a cheery housewife, about whom Lucky Ali sang that song.
But she wasn’t like Nethra. Nethra was dusky. And willowy. She however was dark. A cheery, laughing ebony. Ebony made ebonier by the white saree, and the pearly even-rowed teeth. Ebony made elegant by her bunned hair. So dark, so lovely, the name Krishna became her. She wasn’t the well-nourished willowy figure Nethra was. She was bonier, a body that had known difficult times. And still managed to be the one that brought in light into the lives of those around her.
Try as I may, I cannot remember her breasts. Somehow, I can’t chop her down to the sum of her parts. I couldn’t then, and I can’t now. She is she, she is a woman, she is a person. She is Krishna, the ebony one. It felt abhorrent to call her my Krishna. She was her own person, her own force of nature, if their be such a thing.
Tu jab chalti, chalte badal, jhuk jaati toh girte patte, tu kehti toh diye jalte phoolon ke, dil dil se milte.
Everyone had made way for her. Even those who routinely pushed, moved away. Here she was, the world at her feet, and unaware. No, that wasn’t it. She wasn’t like a deer that did beautiful things unaware it was being watched. She owned her beauty, her persona, her aura, her light. And yet it didn’t matter to her.
Sagar ki lehron mein lehrati hai tu ghal-ghal, pattiyon ke payal mein laati khan-khan.
I tried imagining her poring over a document, or arguing with someone, and couldn’t. I couldn’t imagine her brow furrowed in concentration. I tried to imagine her making love. I couldn’t imagine her being beside herself, losing control. She was like a blooming flower in my mind’s eye, a dark, dark flower that bloomed light.
Khat-khat koi nayi aisa ek jhonka hai
She began moving towards the door. I had to too. Where did she come from, would she walk back home alone, or would someone meet her? Was she dressed that way today for a man? I had to know.
In the last second I stopped myself. It didn’t matter. Her lower incisor began seeming a little out of line. I looked away. I shut my eyes, though I wasn’t sleepy anymore. No, I wanted to remember her like that.
Kuch hai sach hai, ya tu ek dhoka hai
I took the Volvo regularly for the next eleven weeks. Roughly the same time, roughly the same crowd. The Delhi girl, the maid-problem-solver, the guy who licked his lips nervously.
I thankfully never saw her again.
Tu Kaun Hai