Saturday, August 30, 2014

                                                    THE VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY
                                                              From Kiss to Kiss

 I was invited to accompany Mama, my would be mother- in-law (I also addressed her as Mama, as others in the family did) and Rosy’s younger sister, to Mussoorie who needed consultation with some specialist doctor there.

Our wedding date was yet to be finalised, possibly it was only a few days before our wedding some times in the month of November.  I willingly and with alacrity jumped to the invitation, as Rosy was also to accompany us.

 The ride, in the nearly empty bus to Mussoorie, snuggling close to Jeet, now that we had come a bit closer to each other with frequent meetings, in the approaching cold weather was heavenly. Every time the bus took a sharp turn, on the circuitous hill-road, the force generated by the turn would throw us even closer. It was an entirely new experience for me, sadly the thirty or so Kilometers did not take too long to be covered and reaching the bus-stand, I and Rosy got down along with others, albeit rather reluctantly.

I still have my doubts, if the whole thing was not pre-planned by Mama, a understanding mother, who possibly wanted to provide the two of us, some private time. My suspicions appeared to be justified since, no sooner that we had reached  'Library', the famous land mark of Mussoorie, from where the track led down to the doctor’s clinic, Mama casually suggested that we two go for a stroll around.

 It was off-season in Mussoorie. With the tourists gone back to the plains, most of the shops were shuttered, restaurants and cinemas buttoning down for the coming winters, the town with few permanent residents was nearly deserted.

Currently my reputation was under a serious cloud among the prospective sisters-in law. Although the two of us had had some moments together but had not advanced beyond the
Hand-holding stage, what to say of kissing, as yet, They possibly were under the impression that this was the done thing having caught the elder sister, mooching around a number of times

Much later, I learnt that that Rosy was fed up with her sister's interest in our love life, who in any case was nearly paranoid about this and could not understand this act of omission on our part. Questioning her time and again: Has he kissed you? Did he kiss you? Why has he not kissed you? Considering this as a blot on her, Rosy was also under pressure, which she was finding hard to bear.

I had decided this time to finally removes the stigma and thus climb a few notches up in the eyes of her sisters. I have no doubt that with her sixth sense, Rosy had also got an inkling about my intentions, especially when I suggested and she accepted, that we take a walk down the even more deserted Camels Back road, without comment.

Hand in hand, Rosy quiet, now a passive, though willing co-conspirator, I tense and not too confident of having enough courage to achieve my mission, we ambled for some distance on the deserted track of a road and sat down, close together, on the first bench, we found. Both of us short of words,. a pregnant silence, laced with a bit of expectation sat between the two of us.

 The lack of verbal conversation, with a high voltage current flowing to and fro between Rosy and me did not deter the silent communication, the two of us expecting some thing to happen yet not too sure of it, taking place;.

I was naturally nervous, an inexperienced first timer, apprehensive and no doubt more than a bit confused. Slowly very slowly, sitting by her side, I finally gathered enough courage and some how managed to peck at her left cheek. Nothing happened, the sky did not fall, lightning did not strike; the feeling of nervousness so over powering that it totally masked any other sensation which I might have been experiencing at the moment. It was definitely not a moment of passing ecstasy, as one would have expected. However, I had managed to some how cross the Rubicon. There was no apparent reaction from Rosy, though no doubt an upheaval must have been taking place in her also. As I backed-off, feeling sheepish, I happened to lookup and ahead across the track, there on the hillside were two women who had been watching my amateurish antics and laughing to their hearts content. It did dampen my spirits and added to my confusion to a considerable extent. I do not recall that if we spoke about this non-incident at all, both of us pretending as if nothing had transpired. But some thing irreversible had taken place between the two of us. it was the start of the journey of discovering  each other. 

What had just changed every thing between the two of us, did appear to be so unreal. The desolate town, the deserted track, the pale November afternoon sun, the rays filtering through the dense foliage of the pine trees, trying to fight the chill in the air, the peeping-toms having by now disappeared somewhere, all adding to make it look like an illusion. The to the two of us, a confused lot, wondering if it had  happened or was it just our imagination .

The next step in the turns and twists of the 'Journey of Discovery' just begun was to follow very shortly. We moved to the RV, decided earlier, the Kwality Restaurant where we were to meet for lunch. As we sat, opposite each other, waiting for our order to arrive, avoiding each others eyes, oblivious to the presence of her mother and younger sister sitting at the table, Rosy suddenly caught hold of my right hand and put the middle finger between her teeth and bit the tip hard. The sharp pain and the suddenness of the unexpected assault took me completely by surprise, the instantaneous eye contact with her was a searing lightning bolt which hit me hard. Possibly the pent-up emotions caused by the events of the last hour or so needed a quick release or was it her innocent way of demonstrating her slowly budding love for me? A question that remained
 unanswered. Through a spontaneous gesture, to me it appeared as a final act of accepting me as her companion on the voyage of adventure, discovery and adjustment; a long journey together that lay in the uncertain future.

Strange the journey which began with a perfunctory kiss, that day, early in November of 1958 in Mussoorie also ended with a kiss late at night on 30th October 2000, nearly 42 years later at Noida. It did end when she left me with her lifeless body in my arms, with our lips glued together, in my desperate but unsuccessful efforts to revive her, by mouth to mouth respiration.