(Image courtesy: Google)
I still remember the day, the sun was ablaze tanning my skin a deep brown. The air was crisp and I hoped the saline breeze would not cause much damage to my camera lens. Being the amateur photographer, I was experimenting with my new SLR on the beach. I captured a lot of beautiful images that day. At least, I like to think so. But what captivated me the most was a picture that I shot at random. A pair of legs, the left one adorning an anklet. The sound that it made when she moved her feet were music to my ears. The owner was lost deep in thought. It appears that she has not noticed me clicking pictures of her dainty feet. The water lapped around her ankles. She seemed distant, far away.
The wind blew her auburn tresses over her shoulder. There were deep red highlights in them that shone through when the sun kissed it. She wore a light blue dress that stopped short at her knees. She must have felt my eyes boring into her back for she turned her eyes and looked at me. I saw a look of surprise on her face, which soon turned into indignation when she noticed my camera. Perhaps she knew that her memories are already mine.
She took a couple of steps away from me. But I was not ready to leave her. At least, not yet.
"Do you mind if I click some of your pictures?", I asked.
"And what if I do?", she answers my question back with another one. This one was going to be tough, I realized.
"Well, I won't click any more of your pictures then." , I replied.
"So, that means you have already clicked me without asking." There was no mistaking the mild annoyance in her tone.
"I'm sorry. If you want I shall delete them right now. But the snaps are beautiful. You can have a look if you like." A look of uncertainty crossed her face before she agreed.
I could see the delight that she was trying hard to mask on seeing the pictures. Like me, the shot of her legs in the blue water, with her anklet peeping, held her attention.
"I can mail it to you if you like." I offered.
Surprisingly, she passed me her email ID. Tanya, that was her name.
And that was how she came into my life.
I transferred the files onto my laptop the first thing I did when I reached home and mailed it to her. I waited the entire night, but there was no reply. She seemed to be taking her time, though I was sure that she had seen it. Sometime after midnight, I slept off. The next morning, I woke up to her Thank you mail on my screen. Somehow, that made my day. I couldn't wipe off the goofy grin on my face all day.
That evening, I caught her online and started chatting. It was mostly monotonous replies from her side and you could say it was more of me doing the talking. But the more she resisted, the more I felt drawn to her. She was reluctant to tell me anything about her. But somewhere along the way, the ice melted.
Maybe it was my reluctance in giving up. Or maybe she simply took pity upon my desperation. But whatever the reason, I was happy. Not talking to her, made my day incomplete. Like a love lorn puppy, I lapped up all the attention she threw my way. In spite of talking to her for over six months, I could still not figure her out completely. She was aloof, immune to my charms. And maybe that is what fascinated me. She could not be termed my girlfriend, she was certainly not that. Maybe the word that I'm looking for is obsessed. Yes, she was more of an obsession for me, that had me hooked. There was something about her, something for which I always went back for.
The very rare occasion, she decided to come out for a coffee or a movie, after a lot of cajoling, my heart sang with joy. She would sometimes hold my hand, stroking it softly, as she spoke to me. A whiff of fragrance when she tossed her hair or leaned across me would waft into my nostrils. Vanilla blended with honey. That is the smell that would always remind me of the time I spent with her.
The truth is, I have never been able to figure her out even today. There are days when she would ask me to click her pictures, posing for me without inhibitions. With a careless abandon. Other days, she would snap at me if I did as much as click her picture on my mobile.
And so, when she told me out of the blue, that she was moving away from the City, I was not taken aback by her decision. But that didn't leave me any less heart broken. She appeared not to be bothered about my sensitivity. But deep down, I knew that she was deeply affected as well. Had I played a role in driving her away, even unconsciously? I will never know. Some people come into our lives and leaves an impact. A long lasting one. For me, it shall always be hers. The stay, however short it maybe, gifts you memories to cherish for a lifetime. They shall remain locked up, fiercely guarded like an intimate secret, that you dust and look at when you are alone.
And today, three years later, when I hold my first photography exhibition, my showstopper is still a peeping anklet.