“Wo jo ruki si raah baaki hai
Wo jo ruki si chaah baaki hai..”
– Phir Le Aya Dil, Barfi! (2012 )
You’d think things would have changed after 6 years. After Jhilmil, things have. Yet so much hasn’t and you do not know until your past shows up right in front of you.
Barfi saw his past through the stained glassdoor of Puja dukaan, now dressed in a starched cotton saree. The saree was unfamiliar but his pulse rose as he identified the figure through the glass. Shruti – he engraved on the new Prestige cooker, hands shaking.
He swallowed the knot in his throat, combed his hair down, pasted an all-too-easy smile and walked out to the main shop to meet her.
When she finally turned to him she smiled surprised, her eyes vulnerable as their last goodbye, while the scarlet of her sindoor stared down at him.
Barfi smiled back.
He smiled at the lie that you stop loving somebody once they leave your life. That one day, 6 years later when they show up, they will not take you right back to where they left you, a moustache-less heartbroken 20 year-old chasing after her bicycle and running along on her busrides.
He smiled, and this time Barfi knew well enough to not fall.
The ends of her saree were wet from the outpour, Shruti mumbled a goodbye as she stepped onto the road where her husband awaited.
Heartbreaks are hard not because of rejection. Heartbreaks are hard because of the shared future that crashes down before your eyes, because of the pretty-faced kids and grandkids you won’t raise together, bus rides with them that you missed and the what-ifs that haunt for long after.
There’s no way to run when your past corners you like that, at Puja dukaan counter with the Prestige pressure cooker.
On the street, the man switched on the engine to go home. He looked smart. He probably read their kids bedtime stories to sleep, sang to the tunes of the radio and listened to her daily complaints. He probably woke her up from sleep by whispering her name, the name he could only do a botched job at engraving. Barfi watched as Shruti walked into the car, colorful bangles tracing her slender arm.
Jhilmil taught him that one can love again. Life reminded him there’s nothing quite like first love.
PS : I wrote this as part of Switching POV exercise for my writing workshop. I didn’t like it enough then because my narrative voice didn’t feel authentic, but it doesn’t seem too bad now 🙂