Monday, January 3, 2011

The Stranger

Celebrations were on and she had a good time with her favourite bunch of souls who brought laughter and happiness together.Smile came easy when they were around or so she felt.Everything was not over and done yet,but a strange thought of seeing them leave one after the other in a while very soon crept in her mind.She pulled herself back and sat in a corner watching them.They seemed like perfect pieces of a jigsaw puzzle to her,perfect only when together.She loved them all.But no one was here to stay because each had found something more worthy and desirable to get back to or run behind.This fete was nothing more than a break from the monotony for eight of ten in the room.There was no point in being here longer than necessary, thinking so she put on her over coat,wrapped the muffler around her neck,wore her cap and gloves and stepped out of the door.

The snow fell fresh bringing cold but she did not want to turn back.The colourful lights dangling from the trees or the songs and noise from the buildings,nothing appeased her.She hurried down the lane and reached her most frequented place,a rusty old bench at the end of the road looking across the river which was about five streets away from her home.Here was where she felt she was left to herself.When she came close to take her seat a shadow on the ground near her bench startled her.It was occupied already by someone.He looked tired and old,the white flakes melted on his unkempt beard as his eyes turned red filling with tears.He was intensely disturbed.So was she.

She did not want to give up her place at any cost, this had been always hers after all.So she sat at the other end of the bench,a two feet away ignoring the strange man.The sound of the boat engines sailing through the waters,the wayward traffic on the bridge,the flickering light of the lamp posts were the few things keeping the balance of the landscape.After an hour long silence hiding his grief he looked at her and said “Hello!Good to see you here my friend”.Not with any less bewilderment she asked“Hey hi,why do you call me so?I do not know you.Can strangers ever be friends?.

Amused by her question he replied”Oh why not,strangers can be the friends you never made before,may be the best ones you are about to make”.She smiled,the fellow was not as weird as she thought of him a while ago.This wonderful prospect of life that he made her remember brightened her mood up,for she already had met and made many.The only task left and most difficult was to keep them.”So what is your name young lady?” he asked in a fatherly tone.”I am Miss Joyce,my folks and friends fondly call me their Joy”she replied.“Do not mind O’little one,but I do not see that on your pretty face,may I know why”he asked back.

Something like a strong instinct made her believe she could confide in him.She told him her story,about how lonely she felt and why she walked away.Nobody was wrong,nobody was right either.They did not get into an argument, nor did they fight with her.They simply did not notice her go.She told him that she comes to this bench often when she gets time to think about herself and the things she wishes for,how the untouched serenity of this stretch makes her feel special every time she is here and with the same calmness he listened to her.Suddenly struck by skepticism,she questioned him naively”But,may I know why are you here,how do you know about this place?”.

It was his turn now.He began,”I made a friend out of a stranger for the very first time right here on this bench very long ago,she was the best that ever happened to me,I miss her”,saying so he stood up and walked a few steps ahead looking at the sky.He remembered the days and nights of his past with her,deep in his heart something kept saying only if she chose to stay.He wanted to give her as much as he yearned her presence.He wished he knew every thing that she had wished for.He smiled at his fate for not knowing her as much as he should have and asked the girl sitting on the bench ”Can friends ever be strangers?”

She said”Ah, well! A yes and a no,that is precisely what I felt a few hours ago.In every friend there is a stranger whom you shall never know, yet you just wish you could.And when you part,the next time you bump into him somewhere in a crowd he is not a stranger to you anymore.You may not get to talk to each other but if anyone talks to you anything about him wouldn't you say hey I know him,and that is what exactly I am going to shout aloud and say the next time I see you Sir!”

After hearing this he laughed for the first time,a year after his best one was put to grave. He turned and walked back towards her, he gently patted her shoulder and kissed her forehead and left towards his home saying “May you touch many hearts like mine and live up to your name”.She now realized what made her rush out and come here,only to discover that joy is in giving.In giving hope,dream,smile,love and life;nothing else.She dashed back to join her friends back in the spree.

"Today give a stranger one of your smiles,

it might be the only sunshine he sees all day!"



nothingprofound said...

How beautiful it is to touch another's soul with a word, a gesture, a smile.

Bikramjit said...

WOWO.. loved the words you ended your article with .. yes indeed give the stranger a smile ...

and it doesnot take much to smile :)

loved the article


Sumit Sarkar said...

I think sometimes friends can really be strangers...more than real strangers...
Loved reading :)

Raksha Bhat said...

@nothingprofound: Indeed!

@Bikramjit: Thank you Bikram:)

@Sumit Sarkar: Hmmm...:)...thank you Sumit:)

Beyond Horizon said...

Giving without the intention of receiving gives much pleasure and yes a smile does light a life
beautiful post :)

Raksha Bhat said...

@Beyond Horizon: Thank you for liking Poonam:)