Before you read any further, you must first know about them – ‘him & her’. You must know why they are the way they are.
He was the epitome of positivity. Everything he did, he did with a smile and a genuine one at that! He’d done well in life. He’d at least made his mother proud; it was all he had hoped for, till about a year ago anyway. He was like a bouncy toy doll – the one you’d punch hard enough to knock out, but that would rise each time. He loved to read – Shakespeare and Fitzgerald were his favourite. He viewed everyone around him in colours – it was poetic, he thought, others called him weird. He apologised even when it wasn’t required and showed gratitude when it was least deserved.
You could say he was a fool. In today’s day and age, he surely was an aberration. But he didn’t care. He’d met her.
She was a pessimist, at least that’s what her exes had said. She didn’t think so. Life had taken more from her than it had given, but she’d made the best of what she’d got. She was what they called dark. She viewed everyone with suspicion, never trusting anyone but herself. Everything for her was black and white. It wasn’t the most accurate assessment of the world, but it was one that made it easier for her to cope. She had a sarcastic sense of humour; one that some would call cruel. Books were her friends. She especially loved to read poems and quotes – Rumi was her favourite. They called her a realist but she was really a dreamer. Superficially, she seemed fine, but if you looked closely, you could say she was broken. It was in the sadness of her brightest smile. It was in the melancholy of her eyes.
On the surface, she was every other person. Her world was a mess, so she lost herself in him.
Together, they made the perfect fit. Anyone who saw them knew it. Everyone, but them.
She opened her eyes to ruthless weather. It had not stopped pouring since the night before last. It is said that Bombay is most striking during the rains; reluctantly, she agreed. Yes, the city looked beautiful, but in a morbid sort of way. It was dark and gloomy. Grey, that’s what this day is. She hated this season. If the rains were a person, she’d be capable of killing it. She checked her phone and rolled her eyes. Starting the day with a text from him had ceased to surprise her, especially after what she’d just read. Getting out of bed, she walked to the window. The weather really did reflect her; she allowed herself a chuckle. He really did know her. A small twinge of panic ran through her. Obviously, she would never admit that to him or anyone else.
It is against my policy to allow people to believe that they know me, because they don’t. They only know what I show them. If they think I’m frivolous, it’s because I led them to believe so.
On that note, she turned around to get dressed with a sense of excitement that shocked even her. She didn’t remember smiling that early in the morning in the longest time. Today was an exception though, because today she was meeting him.
He woke up to the sound of raindrops. The first thing he did was text her – ‘Grey, that’s what this day is.’ She’d hate this weather, but not him. Each event that occurred he could define in shades. The fragrance of damp mud – rust, the trees – green, the overcast sky – grey; he loved the rains. Everything looked pretty in this season, especially her. That’s twice in a row that he’d consciously thought of her. How had this come to be? He’d only met her a year ago. Was he really in love with her or was it just a crush? He laughed. A crush? I’m 34 for Christ’s sake! But even he couldn’t deny the warm yellow that enveloped his brain when he thought of her. A calm blue wave washed all over him. He closed his eyes again and imagined the sound of his name on her lips. Another wave of hot red hit the centre of him. His mother had said, “When you know, you just know.” He knew better than to defy a woman’s instinct. And with that, he headed for the shower.
He walked towards the park with an unusual sense of nervousness in his step. The downpour had stopped and the sky was gradually returning to its regular hue. Most of the dirt brown puddles had dried. He scanned the lawn looking for the familiar sight of her, it wasn’t that difficult. She was sitting on the farthest bench, all dressed in black. Of course she was. Someone had to protest the ghoulish weather! She was talking to a street urchin and guffawing at something the child had just said. He stopped to watch her – head flung back, her laughter rose above the din around them. The wavering beams of the evening sunlight seeped through the strands of her hair and cast a dull glow around her head, illuminating her face. He choked on a breath that he didn’t realise he’d been holding until then. She could not have looked more spectacular.
“Hey you, how long have you been standing there?” She’d caught him staring.
“Oh, I just got here!”
“Beautiful day, isn’t it? Here’s your coffee.”
“Did you just call this day beautiful?”
“Well, it’s beautiful now. Now that the sun is out, anyway.” Clearly, she wasn’t referring to the weather.
Are we really talking about the weather? Unbeknownst to the other, they had the same thought.
“Let’s go for a walk, yeah?”
They came to a halt at the promenade. “Wow, the sea looks beautiful.” Shut up Adam, just shut up. The sun glittered over the ripples in the water, shedding a bright gold sheen over it. From where they were sitting the ocean looked splendid. “I should take a picture, you know for my niece. She’s doing a project on colours. They have to capture different hues that interest them and describe it, like how yellow is yellow and how yellow makes them feel. It’s an exercise about expression.”
“Seriously? Oh, doesn’t that make you happy – a niece that’s starting to view the world like her uncle?”
“It’s the best.”
“Hmm, I guess I could get on board with that. Thanks to you, I’ve started to believe that not one person sees colours in the same way as the other.”
“I think it’s more than that.”
“It’s what the colour represents, no? Take blue for example. It’s not just the colour of the sky. It’s the colour of peace, it symbolises tranquility.”
“That’s pretty simple.”
“Well, how would you describe colours?”
She turned to look at him. “Your eyes are blue but I don’t see them as calm. I see depth. Sometimes, I see an ocean of thoughts that cannot be read and other times I see playfulness. Sometimes I think I see something I recognise. It’s just a flicker.”
“Really?” He raised an eyebrow and she saw it again – that flicker she thought she knew. But was it really what she thought it was. Was he looking at her that way? The way she’d read about in her books? At that exact moment a quote crossed her mind – If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. If you don’t take a step forward, you’ll always be in the same place.
Was I supposed to take the step? What if he didn’t want me?
“Sorry I got lost there. But to answer your question – yes.” No. I would wait a while longer.
“Since we’re on the subject, your eyes are black.”
She laughed her laugh, the one that made him sigh; the one that made his insides blush. The one that made every colour burst in his vision.
“What are you smiling about mister?”
“I had an insane thought.”
“Are you going to tell me? Or do I have to search your eyes for a flicker of it?”
“You could, but I’m going to tell you and spoil all the fun.”
“Go for it.”
“I was wondering if it was possible to describe people in colours, you know. Like that kid over there. I think he would be a red. He’s mischievous; look at him, running around and driving his mother crazy. She would be a yellow – bright and completely amiable, enjoying the little tyrant’s every move. Together they make orange, yeah. Orange is the colour of the two of them.”
He looked to her for an opinion. Her face was a culmination of not one but many thoughts.
If I don’t ask, how would I know? Her heart was waging a war against her brain. Should I, shouldn’t I? Take a small step, her conscience urged her, a teeny-tiny one. What’s the worst that could happen? She did not want an answer to that question.
“Do you really go around looking at people in colours?”
“Yeah, most of the time. I believe everybody has one core colour that defines them, or rather that helps me relate to them. It becomes easier for me to understand the person if I associate a colour to them. It’s my thing. Why? You think that’s weird?”
“Well, that you are sitting here having a conversation with me establishes the fact that you are a stone’s throw from normal.” She said that with an air of nonchalance, but he knew that there was something she wasn’t saying.
“What’s in your head?”
“Oh c’mon Eve! What’s on your mind? Tell me?”
Oh, what the hell!
“What colour am I?”
When you know, you know. And he knew.
“I thought you would never ask.” He paused for a moment, “You are every colour all at once. When you’re lost in thought, you are a dark blue. When you look at a baby and smile, it’s a very pronounced pink. Green is when you want to punch someone in the face. Plum is when you’re laughing. Red is when you try, quite adorably I might add, to look sexy. White is when you want to appear like you’re peaceful, but really you aren’t. And black is when you’re trying to display an air of mystery and succeed at it, like when you look at me like you want to say something but somehow you don’t. That is how I see you; in every colour, all at once.”
“Black is my favourite though.”
“I know. The colour of mystery and flawlessness – it quite becomes you.”
There was a long drawn out silence. She was embodying black again.
“Your turn? What do you think?”
“What do I think about what?”
“About me, what colour am I?”
She swore for the second time that day. Her heart had put up quite a fight. Take the bloody plunge already.
There is a time when you hesitate to do something you’ve wanted to do for a while. Life is full of those moments. Sometimes it’s okay to not do it. Sometimes it’s ok to let go of that opportunity. But every once in a while, such a moment presents itself and it is never easy to make a move. It seems like everything has stood still and that one decision could change the course of your life, as you know it. It weighs you down, this moment. But it also feels like your whole life has amounted to the magnitude of this one small step. That is the moment you act.
If you don’t take a step forward, you’ll always be in the same place.
She raised her hand to his face, tracing his eyebrows, moving on to his hair. Every inch of her body had ached for this moment, but this moment had grown so big. Could she bring herself to say the words that were right there, at the tip of her tongue? Suddenly, she couldn’t seem to find her voice. She’d only just realised how close they’d leaned in. She stiffened at the closeness of his presence. She could hear his steady breathing. She could feel the warmth emanating from his body, the curiosity of his steely blue gaze boring a hole through her head. In that moment, she thought he could see right through her. She contemplated changing the subject, or passing out if it helped. But he smiled at her, almost knowing and she felt all her fears leave through her fingers that were now touching his.
“Your colour doesn’t have a name. It is the colour of every feeling I’ve had about you. It is the colour of the first time I saw you. When we talk, it is the colour of our conversations. It is the colour of the first time we danced. Do you remember that? We danced to ‘We are the People’.” The dam had burst. The tiger had been released from its enclosure. The words poured out of her and there was no stopping that.
“When you held my hand for the first time, it was the colour of your touch. It is the colour of this moment in which you’re this close to me. It is the colour of your unfinished thought. When you say my name, it is the colour of your lips. It is the colour of your smile. When you look at me without even looking, it is the colour of your eyes. Whenever I think of you, it is the colour of pure, unadulterated joy.” She paused to smile at him.
It felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off her chest. She didn’t care if the world called her crazy for falling in love with him. And she didn’t care if he rejected her either. For the first time in her life, she’d taken a risk and that was a start for now.
It was barely a whisper but it rung in her ears. The colour of his voice filled the darkness of her soul.
“Adam, I think of you in colours that don’t exist.”