“Surreal”, I say at last, in desperation or as the last attempt to hold on to something that was slipping away from my hands. She turns and looks at me, I am relieved. It is a look that says, “You are too weird, but I’ll go with it”. She smiles, I look deeply into her brown eyes, the magic happens. Surreal.
She and I are sitting at a mountain top, feeling the cold icy wind sandpaper our faces and making our cheekbones pink which is further mixing with the hues of the setting sun. “Enough of nature gazing”, She says as always, not too ecstatic about being out in the cold. She plucks sun from the blushing horizon and puts it in her marmalade jar, it glows bright red lending the orange hues to the thick citrusy preserve. She smiles at me and looks on victoriously like a chess player beams after a winning stroke. Her eyes seem to say, “Your turn” and I oblige, reaching out for my rugged brown bag. The evening has dimmed a tad too fast today. Barring the nude blush on the horizon, there is hardly any light left in the sky. “Hurry up” she says seeing my wrestle with the knot, the bag has an odd habit of tying itself too tightly and takes forever to open. “The folks must be waiting for the moon to show up” I ponder, hurrying my pace and groaning at my inability to do such a trivial task. She purses her lips gently to stop herself from smiling and says, “Shall I throw in some clouds to cover up your goof up? They will surely wonder what happened to the moon.”
“No need for the clouds, no one looks at the sky anyway”, I throw in a casual remark to cover up my inability to untie a simple knot. The moment the bag opens, a silvery flush reflects on our faces. We look at the incandescent ball juxtaposed against the rugged brown bag. “You have done a great job” She comments and looks admiringly at me. I smile, yes, it is indeed a mammoth task to clean the fifteen days of cosmic dust that gathers on the moon and slowly dims it until a black ball of nothingness remains hanging in the sky. It is then that I pluck it from the sky and take it to the silvery lake by the mountain to wash it clean. It takes fifteen days of scraping, scrubbing and polishing for it to gleam “like a diamond in the sky”, a description closely resembling gay lisping of the children singing their favourite rhyme about the twinkling stars. The evening has extinguished, even the glowing embers of the horizon have dimmed, she looks at me impatiently. I know she is waiting for me to fasten the gleaming moon on the western horizon, but I have some other idea on my mind. Looking into her magical eyes I get up, helping her stand too. I see her eyelashes flutter like the delicate wings of a butterfly, a sign that she is nervous or confused. My delay is raising numerous questions in her mind. I kneel in front of her with the moon in my hands, presenting the most beautiful gift a girl’s heart could ever ask for. “Can you promise to be mine always?” I ask, my heart as vulnerable as any lover’s when they confess their love for the first time. She looks at me, with a mixture of love and repent, her lips quivering. “You know that…” She begins to say. “Surreal” I blurt out quickly, bringing her back to my world. Surreal. “Can you promise to be mine?” I repeat again, feeling like I have said it for the very first time, “Promise me?”. She nods, taking the lambent ball from my hand with tears shinning brighter than it, “I have always been yours and always will be.” That seals the deal.
“Now let me see you climb this ladder and put the moon in its place.”
“But it is for you. I just gave it to you as a token of my love.”
“Put it where it was dear”
“But you want it right, you love the way it gleams in your hands, see?”
“I love it and I want it too, but I can’t pluck it from the sky just for my happiness. The sky needs it at night.”
“Surreal!” I shout out, very well understanding the underlying meaning in her words. I take out the matchstick from my pocket and burn it in the air, the sparks suddenly amplify, and become lighting which flashes in the horizon. I do it a few more times, giving vent to my frustrations.
“Surreal it is!” she retorts back. “Now put it back, the sky needs it, the stars need it and the folks wish upon it.”
“The sky somehow manages for fifteen days without it right?
She eyes me, her gaze non relenting. I give up, “Don’t you want just a small chunk of it, may be to put in your ring like the folks wear solitaires?”
She shakes her head and I start climbing the ladder, soon enough I have tightly secured the moon in the western horizon. My proposal has delayed the rising of the moon, but I know, only the folks who study weather and climate would have noticed that.
“While I am still up in the sky,” I say to her in high pitched voice, “Can I bring you a handful of stars? Please don’t say no.”
She nods, blushing like a bride and I know she will blush even more when I tell her that I intend to sew them on her bridal trousseau and even tuck a few of the extra ones in her hair so she is the most beautiful bride ever. Like a greedy kid in a candy store, I stretch my hands and gather as my stars that I can in my hand and slowly climb down the stairs. She gushes to see her lap full of twinkling stars about which she has just read or heard about. It is total silence almost as if the air around us was some viscous impermeable membrane. I pull the white blanket of snow and wrap it around her shoulders, she must be cold, I can see her nose redden. I embrace her, my cold lips touch her pinkish forehead. “Shall I switch winter off? I think you are yearning for a warmth.” She shakes her head, burying her face deeper, digging the warmth of my chest and perhaps listening to the rhythmic thud in it.
The night is unusually bright, closely resembles a dim and cloudy day. We fly up in the sky, leaving our bags and ladder on the mountain top. When we have given up the real world, could we care about these trivial items? She has wrapped the soft blanket of snow around her, a few pieces of hail have been trapped in her silky mane, looking like pearls. She is looking like a fairy, floating in the wintry air, if only she would tap her wand and make this night last forever. We hover over a lake and pour gallons of water into it. She sprinkles many drops on the grass and leaves for dew drops.
She wakes up in my embrace and flinches, as if waking from a beautiful dream. I look at her in remorse. The night has ended, and the morning is lighting the eastern horizon. She looks up, her eyelashes fluttering and gathers her clothes. She drops the white bedsheet from her body, and I can see her curves and the silky smoothness of her skin. My fingers still feel her warmth and curves. She dresses up, combs her hair and picks up her things. I smile sadly, knowing that no matter how carefully she picks her things, she is bound to leave something which will later remind me of her. Even if she picks up everything, the room will be smelling of her, her laughter will be stuck in the chords of the windchimes and the lamp will have the glow of her brown eyes. Bit by bit she transforms from my fairy to someone from this world. She combs out the lovely knots which are a sign of her freedom in my arms, conceals the lovely imperfections of her skin behind a dab of powder and transforms the natural pinkish hue of her pinks under an unnatural colour of her lipstick.
She is ready to go, stands at the door fiddling with the eyes.
“Surreal?” I say, perhaps for the last time, and aware that she will nervously shake her head. The strangest thing about this strange journey is that it began with a word. This word. Surreal.
“It’s time to return to the real world dear.” She says, shaking her head.
“But wasn’t it beautiful? We were plucking the stars and flying and….”
She gives her hand bag one pull on her shoulder and looks sadly into my eyes, her brown eyes, lovely brown eyes and says, “If we could pluck the stars, switch off winter and add the sun into my marmalade…perhaps then we could have been together.”