Light and Darkness

This story is about a blind man in love with someone- someone about whom he knows very little - not her name or her address though he knows her touch and her fragrance

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1. LIGHT AND DARKNESS

It has been over a month now and there is no sign of her. I  go to all those places where I had encountered her – the bus stop, the library,  the canteen, the tea stall outside the university entrance… just about every  possible place I could reach on my own! I ask people  I meet in those places  if they have seen Sujata.

Sujata – a fairly common name immortalized in literature by  none other than Tagore!

“ Which Sujata?  I  have ten listed here. Do you at least know the department ?” asks the clerk at  the library.

My friend Ravi is of no help either.  He was not there when I was with her.

I try calling the university hostel and draw a blank again. “  Can you at least describe her? “ asks the girl at the other end.

Describe her….!  How  do I describe something that I have never seen?

Yes, I am blind. I was born blind so I do not even have a  reference point from which to start describing something.

Born into a well to do family I have been given the best education  that this country offers for a blind student. Driven by a determination to  overcome my visual impairment I used all my other senses and faculties to the  maximum. A brilliant student , I am a research scholar in the economics  department of the university. Generally, very self sufficient, I can navigate  my way around any known territory.  I use  the services of volunteers to help me read books and write my exams.  I rarely speak to them  outside of their task. To me they are often  nothing more than instruments- like a pen or an audio source!  I don’t want their pity disguised as “kindness”

Ravi .my childhood friend is the only social interaction  that I have outside of my family.  Ravi  knows my hang ups about life.  He is  often critical about the way I am but I let it be…!  I sometimes think that he is like my eyes but  I feel he thinks he is also my conscience!  A loyal friend he was the center of my dark  world- that is,  until I met her.

 

The new academic year had just begun and I was sitting in  the library.  There was a paper due for  submission sometime next month and I was waiting for my usual “ reader” to show  up.  I fingered my Braille watch and  found that it was almost an hour past the time he was due.

 

It was then that I heard her, or may be experienced her  presence.  A faint smell of  ponds powder, a rustle of some cloth , a  faint clinking of bangles across the table and then that voice which asked “ Can I help you?”

 

I started! “ No.. it is okay. I am waiting for someone” I said  in my usual gruff voice.  “ Yes I can see  that but can I help you with something in the meanwhile?”  she asked again.

 

I had never heard a voice like that before. Absolutely  divine!  Sounded as sweet as honey and as  soft as velvet.. I wanted to continue hearing it ring in my ears. And ring it  did - continuously for a month as she became my official reader of books for that paper preparation.

 

We used to meet regularly. There was a pattern to it. I  would wait for her at my usual table in the library. She would then walk me  around the shelves reading out the names of the books and I would indicate whether  or not we needed it. Then we would issue those book and move out into the  garden outside where she would read from the chapters I wanted and I would take  notes in Braille. A few hours of this and we would then go to the canteen for  tea and snacks following which I would drop her off at the bus stop.

 

I usually knew she was there even before she announced  herself. It never failed to amaze her!   For  such a talkative girl, I am surprised now when I think back, how little she  actually told me about  herself. Most of  her conversations would be about others- particularly me.  Other than Ravi, I can say that she was the  only person who actually came close to scaling those walls I had built around  myself.

 

Sujata……a presence that slowly became a voice then a touch. It  was raining that afternoon when  she  pulled me close into the umbrella that we were sharing. Her touch was as soft  as her voice could be when she asked me some very sensitive questions. Was it silk or her skin I wondered as we made it to the shade of a tree.  I wanted to take her in my arms and kiss  her..

 

“ You are the most beautiful woman in this world”  I said pulling her towards me.

 

“ No I am not. I am a  dark , fat and ugly girl” she laughed

 

The rain stopped and we parted. I remember the musky smell of her body –sweat and ponds powder. Felt her lips on mine and the smoothness of  her hair ..  Her breath on mine and her  soft hands against my face

 

That was one month ago.  I haven’t met her again after that.  I don’t know if I ever will ! The world of darkness and the world of  light do not often intersect. If they do then the rules of this intersection  are determined only by the people who live in the world of light!

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