Mumbai Meri Jaan

An impromptu plan. She agreed, which was a pleasant surprise for him. Early that day he said,” Meet me at the junction, I am taking you away. Today you will see Mumbai through my eyes”.
“You mean explore the unexplored bylanes?”
“No dear, to see the union of waves with the shore, to feel it”.
” You very well know what I am fond of, just wondering, if experiencing this union will make me forget the present.”
” You may very well drift from the conscious, but nowadays I am rooted to the ground. I have the horizon in my view. You have nothing to worry.”

Her chariot was waiting at the corner as promised. A quick exchange of pleasantries as they drove off. Mumbai calling. Traffic, signals, people, crowd, all was a blur. He glanced sideways at her and  thought, she seemed radiant today. That was a sign signifying all will go well as planned. She took charge shuffling the radio channels and setting the mood for the evening. There was no sense of urgency to reach any place, neither did she quiz persistently on the plan. He could see the trust she placed on him. It brought a sense of relief and a huge pressure was lifted off his mind. The journey mattered.

In no time the Bandra Worli sealink was in view. The rain gods had decided to call it a day. The atmosphere as dusk started to set in was welcoming. Through the grey clouds, the washed away shades of crimson and orange peeped out. The sight was too inviting to ignore. She thought, this is it. Probably we will sit on one of the benches on the reclamation, and watch the seagulls. But he swilled the wheel  towards the toll booth. She watched him curiously, trying to gauge his thoughts. She was itching to ask about his plans for the evening, but decided otherwise. They drove on, sharing memories of the bygone, singing to the ghazals tuned in. Worli, Haji ali, Peddar road, Marine lines, Churchgate, Kala ghoda, then it dawned on her. Gateway of India. So this is where we are headed. Teasingly she asked” Are you taking me to the Taj?”
“Do you want to? We can have a quite dinner there.”
She smiled, ” No, you promised the ocean, I don’t want to sit confined in a place and watch the dark waters from enclosed premises.”

They circled the Taj Hotel for a couple of times, in hope to find a safe parking area. There was none and he was at a loss. It seemed the whole of Mumbai decided to visit the Gateway today. She asked him, ” Are we going to sit here? There is a huge crowd and too dark to even look at the sea and the waves.”
“I thought maybe you would like to see the Gateway.”
She giggled, “And do what?”

He smiled and a dejected look washed his face. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. Disappointed they decided to drive towards Marine drive. By now hunger was gnawing her insides, they hadn’t stopped for a quick bite. The scene there was no different. The entire stretch was full of people and noisy vehicles.

They drove on till Haji Ali and zeroed in on Mainland China. If not the sea, the quite dinner can be a success he thought. Two glasses of Jacob Shiraz, some appetizers set the mood for what was to follow. And what a revelation it was! Once the conversation started, they realised, they had many things in common.  Their love for books, his knowledge of literature, music, art, poetry all weaved effortlessly into they talk as if they were composing music together. Their shower of praises for each other knew no boundaries.  She highlighted his strength in his work and he showed her a path to make her weaknesses, her power. Theirs was a perfect combination of give and take. Then and there they promised and made plans to work towards a mutual goal. A perfect end to a perfect evening they walked together outside, with unlimited hope in their hearts.

“Let’s take the expressway, we will reach faster” saying he drove on.  Little did he know, the universe had conspired this evening to last even longer and make their wishes come true for tonight. He missed the turn on a bylane and turned left. Suddenly they were in front of Worli seaface. She looked out at the sky, switched off the AC and rolled down the window, letting the natural cool breeze come into their space. By now he knew her too well to even ask, what she was doing. He slowed down and tentatively stuck to the left, when she blurted what he had already anticipated,” Shall we wait here for some time please?”. He smiled knowingly and parked at the side.
Few moments and she asked, ” Do you know what I am going to say next to you?” 
Within a 2 seconds he said, ” You want to step outside?”
She gushed,” Yes! He, the sea is calling me here! I can feel it. it seems only fair that we respect his request isn’t it?” and her face lit up like a child.
The minute they walked towards the broad cement barrier that separated the sea from the walkway, the breeze engulfed them. Without a moments hesitation, both ran like kids, swirled their feet over the barrier and sat facing the sea.
And then silence!
” Tell me what comes to your mind looking at the waves. Quick three words! Don’t think.” he said.
” expansive, silent, coming home”.
He looked at her expressions and her face showed many emotions, “Watch the waves break against the shore. They fall back as if the shore has pacified the passion in the wave. The wave goes back in and comes back with renewed strength. This is me, the shore. You are like the wave, fighting with vigour against all odds and crashing into me. I am here to be your strength and you go back to being yourself, at your peak. That is what you are meant to be. It explains all that we have spoken today and what we mean to each other.”

She looked at him with absolute adoration, mesmerised by his simplicity and understanding the depth of his words. He was right, this is what all this journey is all about. They went back to observing the waves, made poetry, creativity and inspiration was all around them. They were lost to the world and time stood still.

They lived the moments, like movies it felt like a dream, just too good to be true. In bargain rediscovered  themselves. Through many  wrong misses and turns, they still found their path in this one evening. Just like life, which  throws you at multiple crossroads till you find your own calling.

image

Credit to the picture, (actually I literally begged him to share the pic with me, which was so apt to this post): Thank you Vishal 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Mumbai Meri Jaan

  1. Vishal Shankar

    Very beautifully narrated!
    It’s a treat to read for those who deal with heart and fond of Mumbai!
    I specially liked last two lines of the story, life’s journey mixed together.
    Hang on! I think the sketch has got it’s perfect place, else it would have been only romantic…but now it’s alive with the words expressing an era!
    So no need of credit line and all 🙂

    Reply
    1. Infrired Post author

      Thank you :). That’s exactly what life is about isn’t it? A journey. Your simple black and white sketch added colors to my wordplay.

      Reply

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