“Sir, sir,” this man panting like he’d run a marathon poked me on the shoulder. He spoke as though certain I knew the answer to whatever he wanted to know.
“Yes,” I said as I turned around. I looked at him and saw the man. He was wearing these black jeans and a t shirt. He was bent down, his hands on his knees and his back heaving up and down. He was catching his breath. I was initially just going to shout at him the instant I turned, but something about that man mellowed me.
“What, what is it my good man?” I asked him, concerned.
“Sir, I, just wanted, to know,” he said panting, his words punctuated by deep breaths.
“Catch your breath first man. Take a second,” I told him, concerned very much now for his well-being.
“No no, it’s, it’s fine,” he said as he placed his left hand on my right shoulder. “I’m fine.”
He said that, but his voice made it seem as though he was about to fall down if he didn’t take in a gulp of air fast. I took him by the hand he had put on my shoulder and walked him to a chair close by and sat him down.
“Deep breaths, deep breaths,” I said in my calmest voice possible. And he did. I think he calmed down a bit and took in deep breaths. I didn’t know I had such a voice in me.
“What happened? Why are you so tired and panting?” I asked him in a soft but firm voice.
He had finally relaxed a bit. The deep breaths had done their trick. “I’m, I’m looking for someone,” he said. He was calm but his voice was still fast, as though he was still running.
“Is that why you were running?” I asked him.
He calmly looked down at his clothes and realised they were all sweaty and dripping.
“Yeah, I guess that’s why I was running. I really wanted to catch her,” he said.
When he spoke, his voice sounded so good, so pure, so calm, yet so hollow. Broken and barren. Full of emptiness. He was like a beach. A beach where everything was perfectly calm. The sun wasn’t too harsh, the ocean was calm and not crashing into the beach loudly. The birds were chirping in the background concordantly. And a light breeze covered the beach. Yet despite all the calmness, the beach was empty. Bereft of people. Despite its calmness and seeming stillness, nobody set foot in it.
“Who were you finding?” I asked him. My voice was rushed, fast and discordant. But, not as hollow. I was like the beach where there was everyone. It was full of people, where the sun was shining a bit too harshly and the waves were crashing in loudly. The light breeze were just arm winds hitting the faces of the people. The people too were loud and chaotic and too self-engrossed with the beach’s imperfections. They whined and complained, rather than appreciating what they had. And all of them thinking how they will have to go back to their lives once this holiday is over, rather than enjoy being at the beach.
“There’s this girl I want to find,” he said. He looked right ahead, obsessed with the search. There was something about him I couldn’t yet pinpoint.
“Who’s this girl you so desperately want to find?” I asked.
“See, this girl. She’s named Love,” he said.
“A girl, named love?” I asked him, a bit bewildered.
“Yes,” he responded.
It was when he said this I figured out what seemed off. He wasn’t looking at me, he was looking above my shoulder. He was looking beyond me. And he wasn’t talking to me, he wasn’t talking to nobody in particular. He was just talking. Out in the open, to all those who could hear him.
“What, what happened to her?” I asked him, bewildered and a bit worried.
“She’s lost. She’s gone somewhere & I, I just can’t seem to find her anywhere,” he said.
“What does she look like?” I asked him.
He let out a huge sigh. “She, she’s beautiful. She looks as though an angel came to Earth. She is as beautiful as Heer and Juliet and all of them. Her face is pure and innocent. And her words are beautiful like a brownie that melts in your mouth. Her scent is so pure, so clean and fresh like the fresh mountain air, high into the sky.” As he spoke, I lay there mesmerized. His words captured me. He spoke with so much passion about her.
There were no hidden agendas with him. He had no grand plan as to why he wanted her or what he planned to do after he found her. He talked about her and wanted to find her as though it was his sole purpose in life.
I thought about the last time I felt like this about something, about anyone. I don’t know how long it has been since I wanted something with all my heart, no strings attached. Only because I love it. We trap ourselves in our little bubbles, doing what we love but for some bigger reason. To make money, to become popular. To be someone. But the things we love should be just that. The things we love. Not things we will in time try to monetize or show them off. They should be just for us, for ourselves, for our happiness. If something you love doesn’t make you happy, what’s the use of it?
It didn’t feel long thinking about all this. But it was long enough for that man to go off again. Running somewhere probably, leaving me all alone to think on the beach, where the people had gotten up and the sun was setting and the moon was coming around. The day was ending on the beach, and hopefully, the next day might bring some change in the beach.
To all Udta Punjab fans! Yes, this story is inspired by the song “Ikk Kudi”(Literally transalated to “One Girl”). All those who are not familiar with the song, it goes like , “Ikk Kudi, hida naam Mohobbat , gum hai, gum hai, gum hai” (A girl, whose name is love, is lost, is lost, is lost). The concept of a girl named love being lost is based upon the song.
Do tell me how you guys found the piece and whether i did justice to the beautiful song from Udta Punjab.