There was once a girl who was seized with the madness of sheer ecstasy. No other object had she, nor rhyme, nor reason.
Sitting quiet at a table, at a neighborhood cafe she would want to shout out in joy. Walking tree-lined dappled sunlit roads she would want to dance, skip, scream. Staring out a high window, up towards fluffy white clouds in a bright blue sky, she’d want to fly.
But she stayed quiet; she pressed her lips together and swallowed her incandescence. And dropped thick lashes over her burning, swirling eyes. What was there to do? They’d look at her askance otherwise. They’d shake their heads in bemusement or whisper or frown.
Then they’d know, as she did, so very certainly, she was not of this world. That there was just one of her kind here – her. That even in her bliss there was a streak of bleakness – loneliness.
If only I found a companion in joy, she thought, we’d be able to express ourselves in full with each other. If we both laugh, or sing or dance or fall into the yellow flower studded green grass, then they’ll understand.
Now where was such a twin soul of joy to be found?
She looked for her twin in everyone she met. She’d look deep into their eyes and smile – a nothing held back smile. And in the smiles or the not-quite smiles she’d receive, she’d gauge the weight of that person’s light.
There was so much joy but it was broken, hesitant, sliced into slivers, girded by fear, and sometimes, tempered by love. In each one, dim or bright, some radiance sparkled. Then was promptly hidden again. Where though was the light that would mirror and amplify hers?
Sighing deeply, the girl pondered her dilemma. How would she reach the heart of the world without a partner? How would she traverse the depths and highs alone?
It was dusk and a red stripe banded together earth and sky, merging into purple and dust. She hummed an evening raga as she walked, face tilted to the sky. Her arms lifted to express the melody better and whoomp! collided sharply with a metallic object. A camera.
From behind the askew camera, an annoyed face emerged – keenly intelligent and stamped with a deliberate, watchful quiet.
‘I’m so sorry!’ she exclaimed. ‘I was just singing and didn’t see you there!’
A pause and then unbidden, a smile. ‘It’s okay, your Raag Yaman was lovely. But you should be a little more careful, okay?’
‘Okay!’ she skipped a beat or two, humming, and considered him, tilting her head at an angle. There was something…
‘Hold on! Don’t move! One second, okay?’ he called out, disappearing behind the camera.
The camera panned in her direction. Moved in this direction and that. The shutter rose and fell with rapid clicks.
‘Lovely!’ his delighted voice rang out. ‘Look!’
He came to stand next to her, turned the camera and showed her the LCD screen. A succession of intense images. Her face, her profile appeared as a glowing ember against the gathering dusk. There was something of the truth in those images.
Something of her intense longing. Her striving and search. Her very own joy.
She smiled a full and free and wild smile, and in his answering smile knew that she had found her heart.