Joined: 10 July 2005
Hey all, as you know, I'm a HUGE Pallavi-Kamal fan. They are one of my forever-favourites. This idea had been in my head for a while, and finally I got a chance to write it out. It doesn't exactly do justice to them, but nonentheless… I miss them! Anyhoo, this one goes out to all my AM-Niche girls. A special shout-out to the new Mommy, apni Sidu darl'in!
A Kamal-Pallavi FF
By desi chic
A strange sense of youth enveloped him in the ripeness of age. The long fleet of stairs felt like a two-metre walk, while the slouched shoulders cunningly shrugged upwards. In short, life had at last revisited a forgotten corner of his secluded heart. As he reached the top of the staircase, there was no raspy texture in his breath, rather a tender calm as though having returned from a refreshing walk in the wilderness. Indeed, he had been walking in an almost overwhelming wilderness for years… a wilderness of a different kind. The feeling of reaching your destination tends to provoke a mild euphoria that balloons with each passing minute. But what he felt right now, was beyond all that. There was this inexplicable sense of serenity in the scene afore… he could feel it in his very soul.
"Late, as usual," came the flat, matter-of-fact, seemingly sarcastic voice.
He didn't flinch at the strangely expected comment. Rather, a bizarre smile threatened to surface his blank lips.
The soft ruffling of running water filtered into the mysteriously quiet night. The sky was a thick coat of black housing the universe. As though attempting to break the unbreakable, tiny specs of light peeked through the depth in a vibrating glow. The stars are stubborn. This was evident in the incalculable amount of roshni they emitted despite the absence of the moon and scarcity in number. But perhaps there were other things more stubborn than the specs of luminosity above.
"Sshhsshhsshh…" Unseen ripples of silver ran across the watery surface from one end of the large rectangle to the other. Just as unseen, was the restlessness… deceptively concealed in the sweetness of solitude. They whispered mysteriously into the air, expanding from one point across the length of the dark waters
He took a small step forward, not in the least unsure of himself but of the image consuming his vision. It had never in his wildest dreams occurred to him that such a moment could arrive in his life. The joy he felt was immeasurable, something that could not be expressed... not in words at least. He didn't want to break the scene therefore retreating the hesitant foot… and then resettled it forward. Moving towards the seated figure, he followed suit by rolling up the ends of his worn, white trousers and dipping his legs in the welcoming waters.
No words were exchanged for uncounted minutes. The closely familiar phrase, "silence speaks volumes" now seemed too real. There was so much to say however, yet nothing… as the past revived in some vacant, awaiting corner of some solitary heart… hearts.
"You know, he meant everything to me… everything." Pause. "But more than that everything, was the source of it… you." He didn't remove his eyes from the thick water immediately. Rather, he slowly lifted them towards the ones boring into him. It felt as though they were searching something within his, just like he so often felt they did. He had never been sure of what it was, but this time, the soft glaze hovering over her honest eyes indicated the search was not fruitless. The gaze tore away, it seemed something inside him had been ripped as well. He had always paid heed to what he had seen, but what we see is not often the truth. It bit him like venom, realizing his loss… so many years later.
A lifetime seemed to have slipped passed before she spoke again.
"You know what your problem is? Impulsivity." Nothing new, he had heard the comment numerous times, but never dug deep into it… especially when she passed it. And here she was, telling him again. But it was not all the same. The previous times, he had been quick to spew fire back in response, but this time… silence. Even if he wanted to, there was no response he could make. Nothing. Maybe it was because for the first time in his life, he felt the truth of the remark. It defined his attitude towards her. Impulsive. The mental wrath he had experienced before coming here had left imprints… sore ones, which again made their presence felt.
His mind retreated towards the previous line she had uttered. But more than that everything, was the source of it… you. A bitter sweetness entered his mouth at the thought, while his open eyes envisioned the moment once more, as that train of words was uttered through those lips. It dawned on him how he had missed this… her. Indeed, she had followed him throughout the course of these long years, but it didn't occur to him that she had somehow become his shadow. The names on legal documents had changed, old letters had yellowed, dried leaves had gone amiss, black had aged into grey… but she was always there, somehow. Again, he felt the need to speak, but words were lost. What could he possibly say? Irreparable, the word stuck out at him like the needle in a haystack. Heaving an internal sigh, he continued staring at his kneecap, barely hovering above the water.
"Pallavi Maa, there is a…" As soon as the voice broke into the muteness, a silent prayer escaped his soul. The silence was soothing, but there was a strange element of agitation in it that unnerved him. It took him a minute to realize that the voice had come from behind, where between the sliding glass door… was, "Maithali." The name rolled off his tongue so as to sound like an open-ended question. Shock etched in his face as he stared blankly at the young lady clad in the faded pink kurta and white salwar. "Uh… Mr. Avasti… Yes, she's actually kind of busy, would you mind trying again tomorrow… Yes, alright then… Goodnight." Her soft, hazel eyes now met with his as though newly acquainted. "Maithali… you… here…"
"Life takes people down windy roads… you never are sure who will end up where." He traced his still surprise-laden eyes towards the still flat-toned voice. For a minute, he continued to stare… almost shamelessly, thankful of the breath of air causing him to blink. Turning behind once more, he was welcomed by an empty space. She was gone.
"I know what you're thinking." He watched her extend her arms behind, while looking upwards. "You know, her story and mine… it's quite similar." Pause. "She lost everything… I lost… everything." Long pause. "But I suppose, nothing and nothing must equal something." Pause. " She was supposed to be in Bangkok supervising a new branch of the college. The tickets were booked, the plane took off… but she was left behind." Break. "Her retreating feet sent her to me… intentionally of course. This wasn't the first time we had met. Tell you the truth, the first time we had met, I had seen the distinct spark in her eyes." He continued his unabashed observation of his host as she now turned her head ninety-degrees, so to look into him. "She's not the typical one." A peculiar smile slipped into her lips as she retraced her vision. "Ah… well of course not. She has lived with the Agarwals." He didn't react. He realized that the trace of amusement in her voice actually penetrated his own funny bone. Holding restraint, he remained motionless. "But I guess the Agarwal bahus have a uniqueness…" Her voice trailed off as though she were aboard a distant ship, fading farther and farther towards the deep horizon. "Anyways, since then, she has been living with me and with time's grace, we have developed a sort of bond. She reminds me of someone…" A pause ensued as he took all this information in. "… him." It came like an after-thought… one that lingered in the night's air… meshing with the breaths giving him another chance at life…
His spine had unknowingly straightened like a log. Feeling the pressure now, he relaxed as the image of Maithali appeared before his open eyes. It wasn't strange he supposed, that the girl had rarely crossed his crowded mind since the day she had left. He had at some point stopped to consider the storm that had taken up her estranged life. The poor girl had been through so much at such a young age… his heart ached for her. Flashes of her entered his thoughts as though the frantic waves of water rushing downstream. He couldn't seem to decide what he felt for her… sympathy… admiration… compassion… Desperately, he bit the end of his lightly quivering lip as the connection between Maithali and him became apparent to him as it had to her.
"You know what day it is today I suppose?" He noticed her motionless figure pause briefly, as though not expecting an answer, but perhaps something else. It never came, and he watched as her lanky figure got up and disappeared into the house. After a long pause, he did the same. They entered the corridor, closed doors lined his right side, except a single one to the far left. By way of habit perhaps, curiosity unfolded in tender layers as he flipped through the possibilities of what lay beyond…
"Don't think to much, it'll put pressure on your mind… and we both know what that could cost." Surprisingly, the comment generated only a tingle at the corner of his lip. The impish moment glided away as they stepped afore the closed door. While waiting, he realized a sudden pressure in his chest… remembering now that he could let go of his breaths, and so he did… He let them go to the opening of the door… the door that caged the entire wealth of his life. It was as though he had stepped into a whole different reality. Turning to his right, his eyes warmly traced the handsome features, somewhere highlighting his own. Stepping forward, he found his fingertips a breath away from the moment encased in a moment he yearned so deeply for. Blinking away the blur, he observed again, as though seeing for the first time. Krishna.
In the midst of the swelling of his heart, realization cleared before him. He had always taken care to notice the similarities – the soft smile, twinkling eyes, the thick hair. The defining characteristic of his son had always been his eyes. They were magnificent. Liquidly and real. The colour of his iris shifted depending on which angle you looked from. The similarity was striking. He pictured the dark water of the pool outside. Its darkness was threaded with the silvery light borrowing from the stars. The slightest movement was captured in the rippling across the surface… The image shifted, blending into a pair of distant eyes. In a passing second their duskiness melted into softness. As the reverie broke, he turned around, faintly capturing the walls boasting of his son's life. They were staring at him now, those eyes… the ones he had moments before seen without setting his own on them.
"His eyes… they are just like yours." The words slipped voluntarily from his mouth as though waiting for his mouth to open. He waited for a reaction. Nothing. Instead, he felt relief budge between the breaks of anxiety. He saw the cracks in the invisible wall standing between them… he noticed his shadow outstretch in the reality before him. She was observing him too… holding his frame like it were a fragile piece.
"He is my son after all." Her tone was firm, edging with an element of challenge to those who opposed. H e knew in that moment, that indeed, his son was not his in the sense that he had known all these years. But Krishna was his mother's son, the son of Pallavi Agarwal. She had defied everything, everyone for him. He was the foundation of her existence… an existence brought to life by him, Kamal Agarwal. An unexpected breeze entered through the open drapes of glass, dusting away at a dormant corner of his heart, awakening it from years of slumber. He watched her firm features melt under the sun of warmth she nurtured so deeply for her son. "… The source of it… you…" she had said. He remembered that long ago time when he had told her of his love. A thin film of water shadowed over his eyes as he took a slow step towards her.
"Ours," he whispered into her voice. She looked at him with an indescribable look. All he could understand was that something had stirred the still waters wading between them. Her firm eyes betrayed the barrier she always held as a shield against everyone… including himself, he realized with a sudden sadness. He remembered that distinct feeling that had welled within him all those years ago… that feeling of attachment to her. A feeling he had locked within himself, a sensation unlike any other… It was a once-in-a-life-time experience. Never after that had he felt anything for any other woman. Not even Trishna, who had been nothing but a betrayal. It dawned on him now, that all these years, he had been part of a charade. A charade that he had become so involved in, that it blurred any sense of the true reality.
The glaze on her dark, definitive orbs told him that she was reading this… reading his unspoken words. At some point, she looked away. It was as though a page had been turned in the scribbled book of his life. This page was blank, fresh, but not unwritten… Taking a gentle step forward, he bridged the gap between them. Taking her hands between his, he met her downcast eyes as he lifted her hands delicately to his lips. They lingered against her skin for a moment, as though attempting to soak away her ache. "Ours," he repeated more firmly, while meeting her watery gaze.
Faintly aware of this ancient intimacy budding between them again, he looked into her eyes, he saw a reflection of loss… a loss that drew them close without them knowing it… until this moment. She shook her head, nodding positively to his assertion.
This moment he would take to the grave… this moment when he saw her reveal herself… This moment when the ruthless Pallavi unfolded into Pallavi Agarwal, the one he knew from lost time. His forehead met hers in agreement as they mourned and celebrated a bond that had been born from the embers of betrayal and aged under the veil of an inferno. He would remember this for life-times…
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adi- maithali & Kamal
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