Riya stood staring at the mirror, she couldn’t recognize herself. She collected water from the basin and held it in her cupped hands before splashing it hard on her face. Nothing changed. It didn’t even help clear her clouded mind.
“What has he done to me?”
“Why did I let him to do that to me?”
The phone rang.
She knew it wasn’t him and she didn’t want to talk to anyone. It rang again.
She slowly moved closer to the mobile and took a peep at the display.
She held the phone and said,” Hello!”
“Huff! I finally get to speak to you.”
“How are you?”
“You tell me! Where have you been lately? Not picking up calls! Is everything alright, Riya?”
“Thanks for your concern! I am fine.”
“Your voice doesn’t say that. Can we meet sometime?”
“Not today. I am little busy, I will call you when I am free.”
“Maya, give me some time, I will explain things later. Bye”
“Take care! Bye.”
Maya was Riya’s best friend. She couldn’t believe she was hiding it from her.
It was late in the night. Riya was sitting in the dark still confused. She had to report to work on Monday. Recently she has been very sluggish at work; there were lot of tasks pending from her end. Initially she was distracted by the buzzing events in her life, now by fear.
Last week her boss had summoned her.
“Riya let me get straight to the point. Ever since you are back, I see a decline in your productive output, is there something wrong?”
“Riya, you are smart. We have seen you do tremendous work here and I personally have seen you grow in your career from the day you started here. If there is any ethical issue at work, don’t hesitate to tell me. “
“It’s a personal problem.”
“Oh! Don’t let it affect your work. With appraisals around the corner, this kind of output from you will affect your growth. Is there anything I can do to help you?”
“No sir, I will be fine. Just give me some time.”
“Ok! You can take a day or two off, if that will help.”
“Thank you, Sir. I will join back work on Monday.”
Riya has been buying time from everyone in her life, but now she knows her time is up.
It was 5 months back when she had gone to the US on work, she met him.
It was a new country and a bunch of new people; everything around was new. She was sent here to win a project for her company. She had a challenge ahead and she wasn’t comfortable in the new environment.
She had to depend on others for her smallest needs and that wasn’t Riya.
Riya was waiting at the lawn, for her colleague to pick her up to work.
The green pastures, fresh air and white swans in the pond soothed her emotions. Today was a big day! She had an important presentation to make, as she sat their collecting her written notes she noticed him playing Tennis in the background.
He caught her attention for more than a few seconds. She was transfixed; her eyes followed his run-up and her heart missed a few beats.
“Hi Riya! I am Vinod.”
She couldn’t cut back her vision to Vinod.
“Oh. Hi, I am Riya!” She looked lost.
“I know. Can we start?”
It was a busy day. Riya was introduced to her clients, and every time she shook someone’s hand, she could only envision being introduced to him.
She told herself, this is a significant day in her life and she had to be at it.
Riya’s presentation started, she put him in the background and took a deep breath.
The outcome of the presentation will be the fruit for her hard work.
She did exceedingly well.
“Job well done, Riya.”
“Vinod will pick you up at eight; we are having a dinner party tonight!”
The nervousness of the new place suddenly left her. She was inexplicably happy.
Riya sat in her portico, sipping coffee.
He walked up to her.
“Hi! I am Michael.”
It was like a dream coming true.
“I am a film maker. I make short films.”
“Oh! That’s fantastic!” She blurted out.
“I travel around to capture the lives of people in their own nests. It really brings color to life. “
Michael went on to add, “There are several emotions that surround a human life, the tiny things that upset someone brings happiness to another. It is incredible capturing the various moods.”
“I have heard India is land of stories – touching stories. I want to come there one day!”
“Yes! Absolutely. Indian society is widely divided; you have a Dhobiwala surviving on a meal day and a rich business splurging on his dinner at Taj living only miles away. India definitely has many tales up her sleeve.”
“Interesting! India is land of love and hate.”
“Much more!! India is land of laughter, envy, celebration, agony co-existing. “
“..And, a place of the ever evading serenity!”
“You love your country! Don’t you?”
Like India, Michael had a soul rendering history too.
It didn’t feel like she was talking to him for the first time. In the one month she stayed in that country, they spent every single evening together.
Michael helped her cope with her new environment. He told her stories about the community, the economy, the entertainment industry, and a lot more. He made her self-sufficient.
Riya knew where to pick her newspaper! The little things that make our everyday living effortless are best realized in a foreign land. She, now knew directions to the supermarket, she could even suggest a traveler where to dine in the new city.
He made her independent.
Riya and Michael enjoyed each other’s company. On weekends they went to the country side, Riya watched him shoot and aided him in his work.
“Why do you make films?”
“Ah! There is lot of intense moments in life which we fail to live. My lens captures them.”
He continued. “Every moment has a life. In our struggle to survive we miss the pulse of life, by making films I capture them forever.”
“I believe I will live through these films, even after I am gone.”
Riya was perched on a rock by the stream. The stream glittered in the moonlight. She could see the reflection of a cheerful, charismatic and calm Riya in the stream.
A Riya she hadn’t known; introduced by the man sleeping in the tent.
She was captivated more by the film-maker who gave rendition to life than the muscular tennis player she saw first.
She was in love.
Read Part-2 here.