The girl at the stairs

In aankhon ki masti ke mastaane hazaaron hain...

There’s a girl at the stairs, waiting for someone.

She’s startled by the elevator doors opening behind her. I step out and our eyes meet. A hint of regret and longing mars her polite smile.

She’s waiting for someone, someone who’s not me.

I smile back and turn my eyes away. She goes back to gazing at nothing in particular.

She’s beautiful.

I step down and walk towards the gate. I want to look at her again.

But it would not be polite.

She stares at something in the distance, something that is quite not there. Is it a hint of melancholy I perceive? I wonder what secrets her eyes hold.

The pale morning sunlight flickered through the window and hit her face and her eyes shimmered and trembled like early morning dew lingering on a budding spring leaf. The golden light radiated through her soft pink skin, and it seemed she was receding, dissolving in all the light surrounding her. She looked ethereal.

I want to look at her again. I want to tell her she’s beautiful.

Should I tell her she’s beautiful?

I want to play a little game of hide and seek with you. But I’m afraid, if you hide, I will never find you.

I want to tell her she’s beautiful. Should I tell her? What will she say? What will she think? A lone girl waiting at the stairs, complimented by a random stranger! I wonder what connotations that event would hold.

What will she think of me- a pathetic idiot or a creepy stranger with inappropriate intentions? Or maybe she will consider me a polite admirer? Maybe none of these. Maybe she will just thank me with her melancholy polite smile and go back to gazing at nothing.

I wonder if the walls remind her of anything - its gray cement peeling away, exposing the brown brick underneath. Maybe our lives are like a weather-beaten wall, slowly revealing its layers while all we can do is watch.

It’s difficult to imagine someone so pretty beaten and battered by life. But the lingering melancholy seems to speak otherwise.

I wait outside the gate and hail a cab. It stops right in front of me. The driver smokes his cigarette and waits in anticipation, staring at something beyond me. Is he staring at the girl at the stairs?

I hesitate. I want to tell her she’s beautiful and I want to tell her she has the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen. I want to tell her her eyes are all I saw at first glance- big black eyes eager to tell a story. Alas, I was not the listener she was looking for.

I turn around. I want to tell her she’s beautiful.

The girl is gone, and only the empty stairs stand cold.

*In aankhon ki masti ke mastaane hazaaron hain…

The intoxicating beauty of these eyes attract thousands of admirers.

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