I could not take my eyes off her stunning face… her long flowing hair, her hourglass figure, the graceful dancer’s pose with her lacy gown flowing upwards! Her eyes stared into the distance, compelling in their intensity, unblinking. I had fallen in love at first sight.
There she stood, the most exquisite figurine in the antique shop. I had sauntered in because I had time to kill before I met my friends, Dev and Sundar. It was just another antique shop, replete with all kinds of artefacts, dreadfully overpriced and overblown. However, the moment I laid eyes on her, my life changed. I could not move away. Her eyes held me captive, as the dark shop lit up with her aura.
I had to have her in my life. I moved closer, trying to get a glimpse of the price tag, hoping that it would suit my pocket. As I peered in the dim light, my heart sang. I did have enough to purchase her, and own her.
I walked home, a song in my heart, debating where I would place her. My latest love! I held her gently against myself, falling more in love with every step.
Back home, I prowled around, trying to find the apt space to show her off. And yet, I wanted to be the only one to see her for I was already possessive. No other lingering glances would fall on her. She was mine, only mine!
My phone rang for one startling moment. It was Dev.
“Hey, Jai, we have been waiting for you for an hour now. Where on earth are you?”
I cut him off with a brusque response. I had no time to waste.
Suddenly, I knew where I could place her. There was a tiny niche by my bed, where my books lay, dust laden, but precious. I pushed them all onto the floor, and placed my lady there, shifting her so that she would always face me. Her eyes seemed to glisten in the dark, almost as if she approved of her niche, as she danced as though her dance could have no ending.
The phone rang again, but I did not pick it up. The world could wait. I had my priorities right.
From that moment on, my life changed. I would go to work, finish whatever I had to do, and hurry back home. My work, which had been so vital to my wellbeing, now began to take a back seat, as I turned cursory, sometimes forgetting to make amendments that were needed.
My boss was truly concerned.
“What is the matter with you, Jai? Of late, your work has slackened. You were never like this?”
What could I tell him? That I had fallen in love? That I, an engaged man, was now totally, insensibly in love with another woman?
Oh yes, I had forgotten to mention that I had Mitali in my life, a girl who had come into my life two years ago, and made a better man of me. She was a ray of sunshine who made my dull personality sparkle in a way it had never done before. I was truly happy for the two years that we had been together. Finally, I had gone down on my knees and proposed to her, as she gazed entranced at the diamond ring that winked on her finger.
“Oh, Jai, I have been waiting for this moment for the past year and a half!” she had exclaimed as she threw her arms around my neck, her eyes streaming with tears of joy.
The phone rang again. It was Mitali. I needed to pick it up, tell her that I was busy. Before I could do so, the call got cut and I heaved a sigh of relief, before going back to my latest love. Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion came to mind… I wished my beautiful figurine would come alive and move into my life and make it Paradise.
Every day, on my way back from work, I would stop and pick up little gifts for my lady back home. One day it was a strand of jasmine which I wound on her hair, the fragrance heady and overpowering.
On the next, it was a translucent piece of lace with which I enveloped her slender shoulders. It made her look ethereal.
Mitali came over one Friday evening. She was unusually quiet and when I welcomed her with a half-hearted hug, she gazed into my eyes.
“What is wrong with you, Jai? You have stopped calling me, you don’t pick up my calls and we have not met this past week.” She paused, her eyes filling with tears. “Have you been having second thoughts about us? It sure appears that way.”
I had no idea how to break the news to her. I gently shepherded her to the bedroom and her eyes opened wide when she saw the figurine. Today, I had cloaked her in a bright blue stole, and she looked beautiful. Mitali looked at her and let out a choked laugh.
“Don’t you think you are too old to play with dolls, Jai?” she said, with a faint smile.
“She’s not a doll, Mitali. She is a figurine.” My fingers caressed the blue silk as I spoke, my attention wandering. Mitali’s eyes widened further.
“Are you in love with this lifeless thing?” Amazement laced her tone.
“She is not lifeless! Don’t you dare say that!” My voice had risen, and she could see that I was simmering. Almost at the end of my tether! My hands were clasped around the figurine, as though to protect her from further insult.
Mitali’s expression changed… it was as if she was battling a combination of emotions – disbelief, bewilderment, and shock. She turned to me, her throat working convulsively.
“Have you lost it, Jai? Where did you find this… this… figurine from? Is it bewitched or something? I mean… a grown man behaving like this? I am sorry, I cannot handle this.” She paused, and then went on, her voice growing louder with every word.
“Listen, you need to pull yourself together and stop acting like a lunatic. This is a lifeless thing. It will not love you back in a thousand years.”
I could not help it. My blood boiled and I pushed her away violently.
“Go away, Mitali! I do not need you. I have found the true love of my life. Go away! NOW!”
Mitali stared at me as though I had slapped her. She began to say something, and then her eyes darkened. She pulled off the diamond ring that I had given her and threw it on the floor. She spun on her heels and made a beeline to the door. She turned around and there was deep sorrow in her eyes.
“I am sorry for you, Jai! I cannot even feel any kind of anger. This is sheer madness. One day you will realise what you have lost. Goodbye!”
I did not even see her out. I did not need her anymore. I had all that I wanted in my life.
The phone rang in the afternoon. It was my mother, who sounded as though she had swallowed a typewriter.
“What on earth is wrong with you, Jai… Mitali had called me… how dare you treat her so badly? Have you lost your senses… she said something about some blasted figurine…whatttt…?”
I interrupted the flow.
“Ma, please stop. She is not a blasted figurine. She is the woman of my dreams.”
There was silence after I said that, though I could hear Ma’s agitated breathing. For once she seemed tongue-tied. I savoured the moment, and then continued, “I do not care about Mitali, Ma. Please don’t talk to me about her. If you want to meet the love of my life, you can come over.” I switched off the phone and heaved a sigh of relief. A huge load had rolled off my chest. Now that Ma knew, she would make everything right for me. She always did!
Of course, Ma did whatever she could. She brought in a half-naked fakir who rolled his eyes and swatted me with a broom. He intoned all kinds of raucous chants which had no effect on me. Next, she dragged me to a temple and made me roll on the ground around it, but all I got was a few bruises. A psychiatrist came next, a pleasant woman with a voice like honey who asked me questions to get at the truth. Nothing worked.
One day as I was having a shower, I heard some noises outside my door.
“Who is it?” I asked, a trifle alarmed.
There was no answer. I hurriedly towelled myself and rushed outside, hoping to nab the intruder, if there was one.
There was no one inside. The front door was a bit ajar, and I peered out, wondering if I had forgotten to latch it.
When I got back inside, I changed and went to say Goodbye as usual to my love. It was then I realised, to my utter horror, that she had vanished. I looked everywhere, my heart filled with dread. Someone had crept in and stolen her. I screamed in frustration as I turned the whole place upside down, hoping against hope that she was still there.
My life had come to a standstill. I needed to find her. In despair, I called my mother.
“Ma, did you come over a while ago? Where is my figurine?”
Ma was quiet, and then she said, “Jai, it is better that you forget her. You will never see her again. I want you to go back to Mitali….” Before she could say anything more, I snapped back.
“Ma, I swear that I am going through hell. If you don’t bring her back, you will never see me again.” With that, I cut the call and threw the phone down in a fit of misery.
The newspapers turned it into a circus.
Mentally imbalanced man falls in love with a figurine!
Last evening, Jai Rathore, an IT employee working at… was found unconscious at his home. He had consumed poison because a figurine he claimed he was in love with disappeared from his home. Luckily, he was found by his mother and rushed to hospital. He is recovering and will soon be discharged.
With that report, my entire life changed. While my heartbreak continued, people crowded me with their avid curiosity. Who was this strange character who could fall in love with a figurine? The press followed me around every time I stepped out.
My heart was breaking. All I could see was her exquisite face, her graceful stance and her beautiful eyes. The latter followed me around in my dreams and I would wake up with a start. My mother shifted in with me, trying to tempt me with enticing dishes, but I had no appetite. I did not even look at her, but floated around like an apathetic spirit, trying to hold myself together. I had no desire to live, but I did not have the strength to kill myself. The last experience had been horrendous.
Once again, I allowed myself to be taken to a new psychiatrist. As I walked in, my heart fluttered. There, on her desk, stood my beautiful figurine. I rushed to embrace her.
The session was relaxed. My heart was at ease since I had found her after days of frenzied search. I had even agreed to being hypnotized. The psychiatrist put me at ease and the process began. I would remember nothing later, she promised my mother who sat outside, a prayer in her heart.
It was obviously a long-drawn out process, or so I got to know later.
When I finally surfaced, I walked outside. There she sat with my mother, looking as beautiful as ever. My heartbeats quickened as I embraced her and for the first time, she embraced me back. It was a miracle, and I was overwhelmed at the onrush of joy that filled my heart.
The psychiatrist glanced at my mother, a gleam of understanding in her eyes. My mother stared at me, unable to believe her eyes. I turned to her and opened my arms out.
“Ma, thank you for being so supportive. Thank you also for reuniting me with my love.”
My mother gulped, nodding, bereft of words. She took a deep breath, and said,
“You both go ahead. I will settle the bill and follow you out.”
We walked out, hand-in-hand, into the sunshine.
The psychiatrist and the protagonist’s mother were left alone, and they smiled at each other.
“Don’t worry, Mrs. Rathore. The hypnosis seems to have worked, even though it took quite a while. He was receptive to the idea because frankly, he had reached a terrifying abyss… one in which he found himself alone with no love or support. I only replaced one love with another.”
They both turned and looked at the figurine that lay hidden by the base of the giant desk. The psychiatrist picked it up and put it away in a deep drawer.
“I will give this away. I don’t think she will trouble you anymore.”
The mother smiled tremulously, as she cleared the bill. She walked out into the sunshine and walked towards the car. As she neared it, her heart was filled with a deep sense of relief. There stood her son, Jai, with his arm around Mitali, both oblivious to the world around them.
God was in His Heaven, obviously.
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