A very romantic spring evening. Raghu and Mounika set for a nice walk alongside the lake , next to the Hotel Vermont in Nainital.
The sun was far in the horizon setting, making the entire mountain range glow with the golden hue- the shimmering brightness would last for a few minutes, before it changed to orange and then red. Soon after that darkness would obliterate everything but the city lights would begin to spin their charm.
Until then there was plenty of time for a relaxed stroll. Mounika had looped her hands to the left arm of Raghu and was hanging close to him, enjoying his body warmth that pervaded through his sweater. She liked the cologne that clung to his dress and a smile spread permanently on her face owing to the inner happiness she felt.
Raghu liked these walks. This was the last evening of their 3 day vacation at Nainital and they would get back to their busy life in Delhi the next day.
He enjoyed the way Mounika walked with him, her body very close to his, her hands looped in the crook of his arm and her perfume hitting his nostril mingling with the scent of the flowers she adorned on her hair.
They did not talk much. Just a relaxed walk for about an hour before heading back to the hotel room.
They saw many couples walking along the path. Many were with children too. The place was lively and yet it soothed those who did not want to be a part of the vibrancy.
The sun’s golden glint seem to cover all present there giving a surreal look.
Suddenly Raghu’ s eyes caught something that was bright red in colour.
A old woman swathed in a dark blue shawl was sitting on the lake side concrete bench and knitting a sweater.
His heart constricted on seeing that lady deftly knitting the sweater with practised hands that spoke of many such sweaters that had passed through them. She was about 60 years, greying hair and rimmed spectacles. Her head bent and her lips moving constantly. May be she was chanting prayers.
Her profile hit him hard as she resembled his mom, who passed away last year. He thought he recovered from the loss, but the silent tears streaming from his eyes spoke otherwise. She was seated relaxed, exactly the way his mother would on a sofa, chanting prayers as she knit. The loss of his mother renewed with full force and streamed down as tears.
Mounika felt the change in Raghu. She looked up and saw his eyes staring something or someone in the front. She noticed the old lady instantly and she understood the reason for the change.
When she looked up again, she saw the tears and began to worry. ” Raghu?”, she called his name gently hoping to end his pain.
Mounika never understood the pain Raghu felt for his dead mother. She had not met his mother who had passed away nine months before their marriage.
Of course she understood human loss as she had lost the good father who brought her up in the orphanage. Having never known a mother or a father(her own) since birth, she could never relate to these feelings.
Initially she found it difficult to soothe the raking sobs Raghu would have at nights. Recently he had become stronger and she hoped to fill the gap. But now looking at Raghu, his tears running down his face, she realised the extent of his loss and knew that she will never be able to erase the same.
By then they had reached the lady at the stone bench.
As if by cue she looked up. Her eyes locked with the soul searching, tearing eyes of that young man. It was not at all shocking to see a grown man crying in front of her. It seemed natural. It seemed that she was expecting him right then, at that time,in that way.
She knew without him saying anything about his loss.Slowly she smiled. The smile that was soothing. A smile that reached his aching heart.
She had stopped the knitting and the prayers. She noticed the young wife stuck with the inadequacy to deal with her bereaving husband.
She lifted her hand and raised as if to bless him. Just then her smile struck a chord with him. He smiled back as he wiped his tears.
All trouble seemed to melt in the golden hue which was fast changing into orange.