“Should I turn the car around, drive back, meet her, and say I am sorry? No! Obviously not. I mean, I have been away from her for the..I dunno, countless years! I have moved on with life, she must have too (at least she should have if she hasn’t already!) Whats the point in going back? Even if there was, should I? Could I turn the car around and face her?“.
Driving a black sedan at the highest permitted speed on Interstate 5, his head was abuzz with these conversations with himself. He was trying to escape, just like the last time. He might have denied this to himself countless times, but he knew deep down that her wisdom and her principles were a part of him. He knew that if he looks inside, she would respond- about the right thing to do.
Unfortunately he can’t ask her. This very female voice of his conscience is the person he is fighting the urge to turn around the car and meet with!
The blobs of street lights that decorate nighttime Los Angeles slowly are being turned on as the day sets. Unable to drive with concentration he pulls up by the emergency lane, stops the car to process all that is going on in the head of his. The scene he witnessed a couple of hours back starts to play vividly, as soon he closes his eyes. It was all playing again like a scene from a movie.
A green shadow lit the insides of his eyelids as he closed his eyes- a woman in a green golden saree coming out of a car. He was looking at her from the back, from inside his car, stuck in Los Angeles traffic. She was shining under the bright sunlight of the city of stars. The traffic has been stationary for over an hour; she came out of her car just like others had and started to fan herself with her hands. The more he had tried to look away, the more was he drawn to look at her.
It seemed to him as if the golden glow of her saree was engulfing everyone around her. The children were coming to speak to her, and so were the grown ups. All that he saw from his car was her nods and head tilts as she spoke to the fellow people stuck on the highway.He could see flowers in her bun, and a curled lock which she brushed behind with her fingers. All of a sudden, she turned to look at the queue of cars behind her.
It hadn’t been a whole minute since he saw her face and he thought, he could immerse himself looking at her. She was now making faces at the children to amuse them and he was looking at the expressions on that face. Such expressive eyes, he thought, as if she could speak through them. And then she smiled. Somewhere inside his chest, the muscles clenched and his heart skipped a beat….it was a very familiar smile. He looked again at her more carefully, and again….and again…and it dawned on him. This was the smile he used to wait for every Sunday; the smile for which he used to say stupid things! This was the face he had thought of seeing his whole life once. This was her. Yes, it was.
Seeing her after so many years had taken him off balance. He wanted to get out of the traffic right now. He didn’t want her to see him. “Why is she here? How?”, he thought, and opened the flyer of the programme he had come to attend, in Los Angeles. There she was, on the invited list of guests. She had come to perform one of her dance recitals, he thought. He had to go from here, his heart throbbed quickly, the heat growing inside the car.
He reversed his car suddenly out from the que of cars and started driving in the opposite direction. His heart though wanted him to stay there looking at her, his ego could not. He remembered how he had left her alone at the airport, five years ago; how he did not care to think what she would have gone through or how was she doing? He knew he wasn’t happy without her, though he had thought back then that he will be better off without her. Even today, he used to describe his things to her, though just in his head. Seeing her made him realise how real she still was to him, how happy he had been with this woman in his life. Yet he still continued to drive on in the opposite direction.
He remembered how she would be angry at him whenever he skipped dinner, no one cared if he had his food or not anymore. She did. Does she still? He opened his eyes now, still standing by the emergency lane on Interstate 5. Los Angeles was shining around him even in darkness. He looked at the road and decided that she doesn’t deserve to face this coward again in life. He was to drive south, towards home. He connected his iPod to the dock and started the car engine. Out of the speakers came out an old song. It sung, “I have gifted you all my light, absorbing all your darkness”; It brought back another old forgotten memory. He remembered her smiling face as two tear drops shone in the lining of his eyes. He drove on.
Should he have turned around?