November is a lovely time for beautiful stories to unfold. Or fold up.
It has been three years, since Leon started his career. It is a prized place to work for and complete green pastures to make good all the wrongs and mistakes done in life. This is where it would all change finally. From here on, nothing and absolutely nothing will go wrong. So, he works and works like he never did before, bends like he never bent before, pleased the ones like he never pleased before. Truth be told, he has never worked or bent or pleased anyone before. He plays the messenger boy, the agony aunt, the cupid, the saki and does the puppet dancing like a natural. He links up the boss and the lady in the team and the two get engaged. He foregoes the Spain trip to accommodate the honeymoon of the new couple. He even celebrated something called the boss’s day! Such was the show that even the slimiest of the bootlickers in the universe would have choked out of disgust. Leon is having a great time. His work is getting recognized and he is going places. He gathers all the awards and rewards that are there for the taking.
But that isn’t what he is really after. There is a secret to all this show. A week or so after joining, he came to know about a prize. The company has a rewards portal. You gather points which are awarded by seniors for good work or whatever that means. In exchange, you may get coupons to the coffee bars, multiplex or restaurants. What catches his fancy is a diamond ring and that’s for 10000 points! It is a solitaire diamond in a platinum ring. It was unheard of, stuff of legends. But to his surprise and delight, Leon had accumulated those many points. He kept looking at the picture of the diamond ring. He has shown the ring to everyone that matters except the one. He takes a friend to get the right size of the ring. Little does he realize that there are people who actually get hurt when they get to know that they are just the approvers and not the ultimate beholder. Leon, simple and happy go lucky, goes around happy unaware of the all the shattered worlds falling behind him. After all, this ring was meant only for one person.
Her name is Nyphris. She is the one. Like the sea – calm and unbothered. She has waves of purples, grays and pinks and blacks. She is a mystery that just loves to be. Like wild rains of Konkan, like adamant nights of Risop and, why not, like the sparking waterfalls of Meghalaya. Soothing and raging at once, she is mesmerizing and magnetic. At this point, the author is helplessly short of words to describe her but hopes that the reader gets the image. Reasonably, and unreasonably too, Leon is totally charmed, magnetized and pulled towards the sea. The hands meet and it is like cool poison running through the veins. Twilight rumbles on the dusk and they gaze at the sky for the longest of hours. Its colorful dark world they make of shapes, tales, meanings, ferns, smokes, dreams, constellations, shells and starfishes. They close their eyes to keep the ugly daylight away. Death could be the only other wish. As if you didn’t know, life is beautiful by the sea. Leon wants to live his life with Nyphris. That is the only thing that holds meaning for him. There is little purpose of this otherwise mundane life.
But weren't we were talking about the ring? Oh yes, the ring that has the solitaire diamond fitted in platinum. I hear you reasoning out that Leon could have bought it too. But that would have been too tasteless. The beautiful pearl is there deep in the sea and you have to dive to the endless bottoms to get to one. Rest is all phony and science, and probably Made in China. Nyphris would have been unbothered by either; the dive was only for Leon. He dived in with a death wish, the moment he found his sea.
November arrives and the calendar snails towards the day when Leon will ask the needless question to Nyphris. The day, the time, the place all are set, the bookings in place, friends have been primed and all that could be has been planned. Sparing the details and its atrocities, after a long look into nowhere, Nyphris says no. There is this one thing Leon had to make it right. Alas, he could not. There was nothing to reason about. Often, things are that flat and that simple. He was not shattered or broken or enraged. He just did not want to live anymore. Ten years on, he still doesn’t. There is no joy or meaning or purpose to life that would excite him. Anyway, they leave the place and have a mint smoke. It was not clear who cleared the bill at the sandwich shop but the waiter could keep the ring as the tip for all it mattered. It did not matter to either of sandwich eaters anyway.
Tired with the story, are you, my dear reader? But life drudges on. And that is the biggest nightmare. Since, the ‘show’ must go on, Leon goes ahead with things. He marries Tamara, the innocent one. Hoping against hopen hope, as if the sea would wash it all off, he gives another chance. With all the sincerity and hope and vigor, he embraces a new life. He picks his bearing, collects himself, builds the forts, clears the air and springs a wonderful hop and walk at the aisle. Oh, look at him, he is smiling and talking and making adorable jokes. He is a happy family man who lived happily forever after.
But with all these masks he carries, they don’t go all the way to sleep. They all come off when he hits the bed and chokes himself with the pillow. It’s only Nyphris who comes in his dreams. Day upon day, in every dream he can remember. They spend a lifetime there. And life gets over and still it is the only person who comes in the dreams. She continues to stare into nowhere in that blue and white dress with the tan and wood background. He doesn’t remember any other dream. It’s a blurry line where dreams end and life takes on. And the masks are fumbling. Leon is not that good a juggler. He hopes Tamara doesn’t notice. She would be so broken. How many sins would he carry in this burdensome life? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind (Dylan, 1962).
Its two years now and another November rolls on. Unaware and unbothered, Nyphris shakes Leon. As if nothing has happened at all. For her, nothing has as Leon never told her what happened next. She wants to know when Leon will ask her again. That question. And all the walls and all fortresses Leon has made in these years come crumbling down. Understandably, or inexplicably, he is torn. Torn like has never been before. There is his life calling him when he has already burnt it all. Truth snakes out. The silence between them is deafening. He wants to go to a dark mountain top and scream. Scream.
Nyphris too walks on. She always has taken things in her stride. Come what may and she has met with it gracefully. She finds a suitable one, fights out her battles and her November wedding album is out there for the admirers. Funny, Leon could not look at it. It was not jealousy that took ever or it could have been some random fatal vile stinging pain. But why would he ignore the pain. Happiness is fleeting, but pain, the redoubtable, is here to stay. He looked at it and knew she was happy. He was actually glad to know that she was happy. That was all that mattered. He reasoned so. Oh, look at her, she is smiling and giving all the adorable looks. She is, after all, a happy family lady who lived happily forever after.
It’s not the life after a full circle. All our characters would be dead then and nothing much would be left to say. It is never a full circle. Instead, life moves on. Doesn’t it, my wise reader. So here we are and this is now. Let’s take that corner table with cozy cushions and open windows so that some rain sprays onto our snacks and old monk. The characters have no where to go but only where we take them. We have all the time in this world while the waiter is still courteous, falsely believing we will leave him a heavy tip. Sing us a song, you are the piano man, sing us a song tonight. We are all in the mood for a melody and you got us feeling alright. To the beautiful melody that you just sang, we shall move our characters. This evening we will make sure that they take the best step forward as an ode to the evening.
Tamara is fully engaged and engrossed with happenings around her. Her world is different, simple and uncluttered. There are clear questions and answers, riddles and solutions. There are people who need to be there and others don’t. The experience of life thrills her and she decorates her life admiringly. Truly, she deserves the best of life. She has given everything and plunged into an unknown without a second thought. This could be the purpose of life Leon has been missing. Gulnaz is a beautiful child and love is the only thing she knows in this world. Her eyes shine and the skin glows as she plays with dad. She makes friends with everyone. Unafraid and unaware, she embraces life. Life is all joy. Look at her and what more else would anyone need? She needs lots of love and care and nurturing and she would have such a rich personality. She would conquer the world and lead a happy life. Leon fears the day when the rosy world picture would give way to the real one. But he is sure that she will take it in stride and make the best of it.
Nyphris did justice to whatever she did. She has taken the right path; away from what she knew would have been an eventual downward spiral. She deserves a good life. The past that she clings on too needlessly is just an entertainment which would be forgotten in the days to come. With the entire world in her glorious blue bag, she should smile and shine and wink at the sun. It is ugly no more. One of these days, she may quit smoking too. Her book of poems will see the light of the day. And a certain fan would ask for an autographed leatherbound book with a familiar book mark. The salad bar would be a grand success and so will everything that she touches. Before she starts worrying about a hair, she would get them dyed into electric blue and sport a baggy brown cap. The starfishes will walk sideways frothing bubbles. With a little push, the two left legs will become Michael Jackson. The barbeque sticks will find some use. Nyphris will finally quit learning guitar forever and take up drums for that are what she really wants but doesn’t really know. She will bring out the red boxing gloves and she will finally get sand bag to punch. One fine day, the salted cookies and stale fungus cheese will be a rage. And she won’t ping the writer right at the while he is trying to meet a deadline. Everything and absolutely everything will be just right.
Leon is now in the phase of what could have been, should have been and being a romantic lament. It is a comfortable place to look around and narrate rosy November tales. Books, bookmarks and torn ends look artistic. They like the new ice burst smoke. He often hopes that the paths would cross again and this time there will be no mistakes. Nothing and absolutely nothing would go wrong. He is happy for Nyphris chose a different life path. She would certainly be far happier than what he could offer. With him, she could have been miserable. The dream, the perfect picture, would get spoilt if it were to be a reality destined to be ugly. The daily mundane life would kill the beauty of what could have been. So, now, Leon will stand up again, reason up things, find new purpose and will stop clinging on the past. The steps will be measured, the approach will be functional and the march will be brutal. Everything that is to be done will be done. The risks that need not be taken will be kicked out. After all, this is what it is to be mature. There are so many people who look up to him and point at good things that will happen to him. And these are random anonymous people who are not concerned with Leon. They make unbiased statements and even that’s favorable. So there is everything to look forward to and build a new life. There are frontiers to reach and reasons to live and people to make happy. What more could Leon ask for. Life has been good and he has met such wonderful people. Who would be so lucky? It’s a life that deserves to be lived like happily ever after. Go Leon, go! It’s going to be November again!