She stood out instantly from the crowd. Because of those dark curls with purple streaks, doe-eyes, copper chandelier ear-rings, colourful metal bangles on one hand, wooden bracelet on another and flip-flops. She wore black top, long black skirt and a deep purple scarf acting as a waist-band separating the two. The scarf gave way to the navel piercing every now and then and her nose-ring gave her a rustic look. She could be easily spotted from a mile away because she was the only outsider roaming aimlessly in that north-eastern state of Tawang on that freezing evening.
She crossed many shops which proudly displayed the plump Laughing Buddha, many sweet shops with sweets she has never seen, many furry street dogs whose fur even curtained their eyes, ancient buildings and many small eyed, straight-haired, fair Arunachal people. She seemed to be the only person without a hint of woollen clothing on her, except thin pair of gloves. She attracted many glances. The smile she carried enamoured many. The mystic aura that surrounded her sent a wave of curiosity among all those who got a view of her. She continued her evening walk, unaffected. The earphones stuffed her ears and the music emitted by them did a good job of keeping out everybody’s murmur. Her daily solitary walks were puzzling everyone in the neighbourhood. As the mercury in the thermometer went lower each day, the curiosity of people regarding her identity went up each passing day. Just three words filled up everyone’s head, “Who is she?”
Back home, her friends and acquaintances thought they knew the answer for that question. For them, she seemed like any other girl. She was like an open book to them. She was the ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of a person. Even though she seemed like a regular girl, something about her made everyone place her in the ‘something different about her’ category.
If only people could peek into her soul, they would know that she was anything but an open book. She was more like a magic pad. A blank space when you initially see her and then you see what you write on that. She could easily change colours according to her surroundings. Changed her mannerism according to the people who surrounded her. She was so many colours that she herself forgot what the original colour had been. She was a master of masquerading that no one could uncover her secrets, desires and dreams. Just like her black skirt was hiding her long legs which led her to many victorious races, like her thin gloves her hiding her fingers which loved to write, like her t-shirt hid the tattoo that no one had ever seen, like the contact lens hid many dreams settled in her eyes, like the braces that once hid her now perfect teeth and like the black clothes which hid her real colours. She never understood why it was so hard for everyone to figure her out. Why all the guys she dated failed to understand her and ended up being mere chapters of her life’s history book. Why all the people she knew had different words to describe her.
How come no one realised that, indeed, she was like any other girl. She wasn’t an ancient code waiting with layers of historic dust to be found and decrypted. She was a girl for whom the smell of tennis balls, a big part of her childhood, was comforting ; someone who loved posing for photos but wanted to lock and dig her childhood photos; someone who loved being with friends and goof around all day but at the same time loved her solitary walks to the beach; someone who could talk nineteen to a dozen but craved for a little ‘me’ time where she could be blissfully quiet; someone who loved eating but hated cooking; someone who wanted to drink till getting sloshed, yet wake up the next morning without a hangover; someone who wouldn’t trade her independence with any kind of riches this world could offer; someone who was majorly confused sometimes in spite of exuding confidence; someone who wished for wings just so that she could fly to all the places that brag about being a part of the atlas; someone who was getting crushed between keeping her dreams alive and keeping her family happy; someone who was trying to cram a lifetime into a few years before she has to face the big ‘M’ word; someone who was tired of waiting; someone who wished to 10 things at a time so that she could do everything before she breathes her last; someone who was fiercely loyal and loving, with an ability to destroy anyone with an evil eye towards her loved ones; someone who was fed up of the society; someone who enjoyed the company of coffee, books and music more than other livings things who call themselves ‘(so-called) friends’; someone who had more questions than answers; someone with a mask of a nonchalant, carefree, tough, tomboyish girl and with a heart of girl who was afraid of getting hurt again; someone who was still waiting; someone with many imperfections but that was what she loved the most about herself; someone who just couldn’t understand why people had a tough time figuring this out!!
And now here she is. In the far state of north-east. Wondering all this, hiding it with her smile. She was oblivious to all the stares and the cold. Standing on the edge of the road, her eyes followed the long, winding road. The evening was looking lazy with the trees shedding all its leaves and the birds retiring to their nests which somehow were balanced perfectly on the naked trees. Somewhere in a distance there was a vehicle manoeuvring the tricky road. Almost symbolic to herself and her life. Laughing at her attempted philosophy she watched the vehicle becoming a speck in the mountainous terrain, until her vision got disturbed by specks of white. A snowflake got entangled in her curls and others looked pretty against her black attire. She wanted to be a kid again, make snow angels, snowman and throw snowballs at unsuspecting people. The memories flooded her mind and overwhelmed her. Whether others had a tough time understanding her or not, she had one hell of a life, an object of envy for many. Now all she wants to do is leave behind something worthwhile and beautiful which says that “I was there, I was here doing something I love.”
The Laughing Buddhas are still laughing; those sweets still remain a mystery; the Arunachali dogs are still able to see in spite of having ton of fur before their eyes; the people are still puzzled and were still staring; the weather was still cold and lazy; she was still leaving footsteps behind, on the soft snow. Guess some things never change. And it’s better off that way. Maybe this was this beautiful state’s way of telling her to never change. Not for anyone, irrespective of the hurt, irrespective of people not being able to understand her. Embracing all that she was, has been and that ever will be, she walked on. And yea, what people find different about her, well that’s a mystery to her too, which she thinks is better unsolved.