There are only two stages in love – To be smitten by the beloved. And when the obsession matures, to become the beloved. Between the two is an interim that can last forever.
As the world lost itself in the festive mirth of her beloved’s birthday, she wallowed in that chasm, that in-between space where love wanders without identity, lost and aimless. Her heart wasn’t inclined to any ostensible way to celebrate him. There was only one thing that she was inspired to do today – imagine that she was idling by the banks of a river in full spate unbridled in its love for the rain.
A few meters away from her, a man was playing the flute, and it reminded her about her beloved. The temple bells at a distance were singing his praise. Or was it an ancient version of the modern day birthday jingle? She couldn’t say. The resonance of the river, the cadence of the rain, the echo of the night, the babble of the mynah, the boom of thunder, the screech of city life – to her they all denoted the same. His music.
She let herself loose in the man’s bamboo refrain with only the shadows of the waning crescent for witness. She was waiting and wandering at the same time. She was miserable and fulfilled at once. Her mood was sedate on the surface and stirring in the deep. She ranted his name for a while and plunged into silent deliberation soon after. The ripples her silence created touched the dark, pregnant clouds.
A raindrop presently fell on her face and she gasped. A lock of hair gently tickled her forehead as she tucked it behind her ears and waited. She sensed something propitious in the air. The droplet was heralding the arrival of a miracle. And then it started drizzling. She inhaled the scent of the earth, and held her breath. In that moment of stillness, she realized that her beloved was about to land in her terrain.
Slowly, releasing herself from the clutches of time, she went through the throes of his birth. Each breath of hers became the cradle into which he descended. She witnessed the birth of her beloved from the sidelines. The rain drenched her and goaded her to dance. But she stayed unmoved. Her celebrations were muted. Even the flute had fallen silent in her ears. There was only her breathing, and his birthing. Both in sync.
How long the two stayed like that, no one knows. For he had said to her once in the moments of their deepest intimacy, ‘In your breath, I am born, and in it I shall live till such time you become me.’