I haven’t met her, have not spoken to her and communications were only through text messaging. She was reticent, perhaps timid and unassuming and I felt she preferred to stay away from being noticed. She spent her moments away from the tawdriness and melee of contemporary life, not even in the periphery of it. Even if one were a trained danseuse (in Mohiniyattom), she humbled her ability even after being conditioned in the art form since she was 6 and after having done quite a few performances in temples and other venues. Her gregarious peers seem to have had not much effect on her decision to be different. In the age of social media and wannabes are everywhere jostling, elbowing for space and visibility a pretty eyed maiden whatever was the reason , she chose to be confined and less conspicuous , if I may say so?
In fact she was literally faceless on social media, but yet she had her own little space; you scour through her pages you may not see a picture of hers, but if you have the clever knack of sieving through, you may chance to pick her from the many faces in the few photographs of groups that you would see on her social media pages. But yet again, that can only be a conjecture. However I was certain. The vivacious, spellbinding pretty eyes and the élan of a danseuse was obvious in one among others in the few pictures she posted. The pulchritude of the eyes was arresting. Yet, until you can be sure guesses how so ever definite may stay just as they are - guesses.
When asked why she chose to be so, she said she loved it so. Was she a troglodyte of sorts? Oh no, definitely not. She must have been 23-24. Her eyes captivatingly beckon you from her pages. But what also was conspicuous was her outlook towards life and life around her. 23 or 24 may not necessarily be an age when one thinks deep about life and living, about wanting to give meaning to one’s life which in fact has no real sense – “we are just born without purpose, but we can provide one. Can’t we?” She once suggested in a chat. Now, that was some time ago and today there is no shred of line that can tell you about her whereabouts, she simply melted away. Perhaps she consciously left no foot prints.
Yet, what she said in the last communication we exchanged haunts, gives one an eerie discomfort, though she may have gone away as shooting stars do. She fancied them and their wanderlust.
She communicated with me the first time after reading my blog post which I reposted on my social media page. “My Gods of Small Things”, was the title of the post taking the cue from Arundati Roy’s novel of the almost similar name “God of Small Things”. The matter was entirely different in its content and I was seized with the few images of people from my life, who have all now passed, but the little things they did has been more than Godly.
I understood in course of our quite some discussion which touched on religion, love, morality, humanity, apparent frivolity of life, doing nothing, and even film songs of the old from Malayalam and Hindi, that she was a keen listener, reader and at the same time possessed a keen sense of reasoning in on almost anything we discussed about. But why was she being trained as a Chartered Accountant? Most of them in that profession are insipid aren’t they? The answer was simple, her father willed so.
It was her mother who cultivated in her the love for Mohiniyattam, she being a dancer in her own right. But had to compromise her passion in face of her spouse’s imperiousness, but not without the rider that her daughter will not be restrained. Occasionally she used to mention about her little sister who was about 10 years her junior and often hung around with her with the faithfulness of a satellite.
“Sir, (she always addressed me so), what do you make of this clichéd phrase of ‘settling down’? Why must settling down be confirming to what society and someone else, even be it what the family decides for you? Perhaps you can tell?”
“Yes, why can’t settling down be what you think would lend meaning to the frivolity of life?”
”Yes exactly what I meant. You see this is why I believe being sexy is not of a masculine body, an arrogant swagger, Ret Butler whiskers, broad jaw or high cheek bones.”(She followed up with smiley in her text messages). “It is how one thinks… it is the mind and it shows in one’s face. You cannot fake with sassiness and swagger. Men are terribly wrong, mistaken. Don’t you think so?”
“Haa, well, well. Indeed!”
” Thanks for agreeing, now think of that girl , you once spoke about, the one who cast away a wonderful job in the far east , heaved a back pack and took to travel the world. How old was she when she did that, my age?”
“Here Sir, I quote, I read from her book her own words, ‘4 years ago, I gave up my home, sold most of my possessions and embraced a nomadic life. This journey has taken me as far within as with my feet.’ ” I could see the text pause on the screen, then, “I hate him, the bastard!”
“What?” I asked not knowing what she meant. I myself had suggested the book to her and I knew those few words were not from the passage she read from the book. Certainly those words were not related to the texting she was doing quoting the young author of that book she loved reading over and over. If they were spoken words I could shrug off thinking I heard them wrong. But these were words she typed out and sent in text message.
She continued and not giving importance to my question. “…. how travelling changed my perspective on getting married, not wanting kids. ‘Sir, I felt sick after that.’ I finally decided to write this post for fellow dreamers, adventurers and rebels, who feel stifled by a lack of choice too.”
“What?” I asked again. There was a pause, a little long one from her and when I asked again, what she meant in between by something unrelated, she narrated.
“I wanted this out of me. It is he.”
“What? And Who?”
“Yes what about him?”
“He hugged and kissed me today.”
“Well what about a father kissing his daughter hugging her. I do. Haven’t he kissed you, hugged you before?”
“No, no, it is not that. Yes he has sometimes. But this was not of those kind. It was different. I felt it when he touched me. It was nauseating and terrifying.”
“Oh, what are you trying to say….?”
“Yes exactly that, but I feel like retching and am scared now. He kissed me biting my cheeks, almost my lips and I could feel it… that thing of his pressing on to my body, and through the lungie he was wearing… it was deliberate. It was all in matter of seconds.”
I was wordless and then asked her, “Are you sure?”
Please, understand me Sir, I’m no child. This had never happened before, but I could feel it, see it in his eyes that moment. I was numb that I could not shrug away from him. These days I sometimes felt strange when he was around, a kind of discomfort….but now…!”
“Did you tell your mother?
No, I can’t. That will make matters worse. You see they are not hitting off well and anything I say might jeopardise my sister too.”
“Is he your step father?”
Okay, what do you want me to do?
“Nothing, I just wanted this heaved off my chest.”
“Now anything untoward any sign of it, let others outside know. Call me, if you may.”
“Hmm, yes. Instead of wondering when one’s next vacation is, maybe one should set up a life you don't need to escape from.”
Was that a quote? I do not know. But that was what she texted the last before the line went dead. Months have passed and she just vanished without a trace. Perhaps her foot prints can be traced in the sands of time - in the deserts, the mountains, the wild basins of South American rivers and the forests she dreamt of. She may have gathered the courage to run away so that she has not to escape from places and people. Pray she did not relent and be captive.