Friday, November 19, 2004
An innocuous walk through an avenue lined with trees, late at night. It would seem ethereal, magical too, if only your heart was with the person walking with you. Arched doorways on either side of the road, old buildings that reared their heads at the turn of the last century, seem immobile, impassive, as the two of us can only pretend to be.
I told you once, how much I love old buildings, how I would lose myself in the lanes and alleys of north Calcutta, and suddenly come to awe-struck attention before one spectacular wrought iron gate, spangled with leaves, flowers and mythical beasts that numbed my self to the pavement. I remember I told you about that love of mine, and this love of mine smiled, and pressed my hand closer. And now, here we are walking at night, on an avenue lined with trees, and I stop suddenly, to stare up at the big dome atop the Taj hotel ahead.
I've heard stories about it of course. Vague, scary stories of a blueprint gone wrong and a suicide all because of a damn blueprint. Scary to think people can be that stupid, vague to think there is no other evidence to support that theory. And then , it took another walk at night, by the ocean, before the Gateway, to debunk that vague, scary theory, and get at the facts behind it. I remember I had laughed then, and nodded my head in relief. Scary to think of anything so scary and brief and vague.
But that dome is a monster in itself, a theory and a fact in itself. Can hardly look up at it, and not be transported to another century. There are no iron grilled gates here, as they were in the lanes of the city I grew up in, but there is that something else. It is not so much about history, as it is about aloofness, or grandeur, or haughtiness. Of aloofness. For a second, I have a thought about touching that dome, whereon the moon glints in a smiling scimitar shape, and then I feel your breath come behind me, and your hands touch my shoulder. Your fingers close on my flesh, and the dome is no more my centre. It is a background. How could it ever be anything else, a lone corner of a mind in turmoil asks softly, drowned in the ocean waves crashing behind the Taj?
We walk on back into the avenue, away from the waves. I have seen them too often here, too often at this time of night, too often with other people, to see them now with you. I find it impossible to walk in silence to the car, and so I laugh, and try to make a remark designed to make you smirk, designed to make me think to myself - ouch! I never apologise for bad jokes, I toss my head and say, that's me, take it or leave it, and I pray inwardly all the time, that no one does leave ever. You reach out a hand and grasp me again, and even though I can sense you falling in love, I only feel myself falling into a comfortable alacrity. But I tell myself that it's alright, that I am not deceiving you, and that you are not looking for anything more from me than I can give you, and I lie myself to bed each night.
A left turn here, a kiss shared under one of the arched doorways on either side of the avenue, and then we get in the car.
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