I just realized I haven’t introduced myself yet. The name on my business card reads Arvind Dubey but friends and family call me RD. And the girl I’ve been talking about is Maya. Nice name, isn’t it? It’s got such a mystical ring to it.
Look at her now, someone’s approached her. He’s not bad looking, but she can do better. That’s the thing about her; she has no idea how incredible she is. Again, I’m not referring to her looks. Although, now that I think about it, she has been looking pretty darn nice nowadays. It’s her smile, that magical smile which makes her radiate with happiness. You can’t escape it. If the smile is intended for you, consider yourself lucky! There’s no way you can walk away from her unaffected once she dazzles you with it. But like I said, she’s completely unaware of it.
Like now, I’m sure she has no idea how enchanting she looks. Not to me, mind you, to the guy who just walked up to her. Her eyes are cast downwards and she’s crinkling her nose ever so lightly. She gets that look when someone compliments her and she doesn’t know how to react. Any moment now, she’ll look up at him and smile and that will be it. He’ll be hooked too.
Maya, the enchantress. I laugh now, because knowing Maya, I know it’s completely unintentional. I remember when I first saw that smile. I couldn’t think about anything else for days after. There was something so pure and innocent about it. And nothing has changed; her smile is as enchanting as it was the first time I saw it.
I had quite forgotten about Maya after our first meeting. It was only when I found myself wandering on the same street a week later that I remembered the soft brown eyes. Her face was clearly etched in my mind, as though I had met her just yesterday. I was alone and had an hour to kill before my friends were going to show up. I had nothing to lose. I walked into the store and surveyed the customers quietly. She wasn’t in there. I remember feeling quite stupidly disappointed when I hadn’t been able to spot her. As I was walking out, I stopped at the counter where I had left the book for her. She hadn’t taken it. The billing attendant handed the book back to me with a sympathetic look. I had paid for it, it was technically mine. I had grimaced and opened the first page. She had scribbled a little note for me.
Apology accepted. You don’t have to bribe me.
I ran my hand over the handwritten text. She had used an ink pen, who used those nowadays? Everything about this woman was a puzzle to me. Though why it should matter to me what kind of pen she used was a mystery to me. Strong, bold strokes indicated she had a fiery personality to match that temper. I half smiled as I remembered her glare. At least I knew her name. Maya.
Maya. I had uttered her name softly. Did she come here often? Had she enquired about me? I had so many questions for the billing clerk. The billing clerk was an elderly gentleman, he smiled indulgently at me, probably thinking that he was playing cupid. I could have corrected him, I had no dishonorable intentions. I just wanted to know her. Know Maya.
The clerk wasn’t of much help but suggested that I check out a couple of other book stores nearby. Maybe she was a regular there. I had scoffed at the idea of going through all that trouble just to find this woman, whom I didn’t even find attractive. But I had nothing better to do. I decided to try my luck. After the first two stores, I had more or less given up hope when I saw her. She was rummaging through a stack of old comics, her hair covering her face. I could only see her mouth. And then I saw her smile. As she reached for a comic, a smile appeared on her face, her breathing quickened, her cheeks flushed and reddened. She stood up victoriously and glanced around to see if anyone had noticed her great achievement. Of course I had! Her eye caught mine and she smiled slowly as she recognized me. That slow, deliberate smile of hers.
The one that’s on her face now. I see the guy responding to it. I know exactly what he’s feeling. He’s basking in the warmth of that smile. The laughter shinning in her eyes is making him feel like he’s the only person in the room. The deep dimples which appear on her cheek, I know I have been sorely tempted to reach out and touch them. I’m sure he’s no different.
She’s looking at me now, seeking approval. You know the way friends do. Something on the lines of “What do you think about this one?” she asks, raising one brow. I respond negatively. Hey, don’t look at me like that! I’m telling you she deserves much better. Much much better!
Photograph via sxc.hu