December 1st 2007, Friday. It had been a long tiring day. My Roommates had gone out for the weekend, I was alone in my apartment, and bored. So I picked up a beer and sat before the Idiot box. Again nothing interesting. May be it was the beer; I soon drifted to what I call the heavy sleep. Thus begun the dream.
I was waiting for a cab to pick me up, I was supposed to go to the Airport, and my flight to the United States of America, the Land of Opportunities was at 2.00 in the morning. Till then I had never set foot on a flight, and my fear of flying was pushing me down. But I summon all the courage I had and go inside the tube. I manage to find myself in a seat and complete the first flight and land in Dubai to get my connecting flight. People always tell me that I have the looks of an Arab, but I always thought that the guys were pulling my leg, because of a Muslim girl I was talking to. So here I was in Dubai Airport, looking at my next flight timings when I hear an Old gentleman say something to me. I heard “Hakmish Al Zogrish” or something like that. I keep staring at him, and I manage to say “excuse me; I don’t understand what you are saying!!!” On hearing that, the old man’s eyes go wide as if I had shocked the wits out of him. He manages to say “What, you don’t speak Arabic”!!! He apologized for that and left me wondering what makes most think that I am an Arab. I still haven’t found an answer!!!
The scenes shifted; soon I was at Pittsburgh the Bridge city, PA, USA . The city was serene; the country side looked like a Picture from the Post Cards. The silence was eerie, and the Winter Cold brutal at times. But I found myself with a lot of friends back from India. So begun my life at Pittsburgh, it was different from the fast and furious pace of Chennai, it was calm. I wanted to settle down there. There was nothing special to talk about the work place, save three extra ordinarily beautiful women. Well they all had boyfriends or were married, so there ended things. Whoever thinks that America is a land where only sex matters, no culture, no virtues, are way off mark. I saw that most of the People really cared about their families, and took every opportunity to shower their love on their loved ones.
Another day, we decided to go on a road trip. We hit the road, and were on our way to Niagara Falls. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. The sheer power of the water hitting the rocks, the beauty of the falls made me stand transfixed there. Atlantic City with all its Casinos showed me what money can get one. Edison with its Huge Indian population made me see home away from Home, Trenton with all its universities took me to another world, and Philadelphia showed me the celebration of life. Each place made me wonder as how vast and beautiful the world is and what all is still left to see in this world. I was happy that could see so much in so little time.
So life was moving at full speed, when one day I met her. It was her eyes, It had everything about it. Happiness, sorrow, the emotions…wow, she was beauty personified. She sees me staring at her and tells me “Hey, it is not polite to stare”. I just mumble out a few words, not knowing what exactly to say. Still she holds my stare and asks me what I do, well it is the tell me about yourself question, that most Indians would have perfected for the interviews so I rattled of some things about myself and my job. From the look on her face I knew that she didn’t understand a bit. Just to keep the conversation going, I asked her what she did. She told me she was a Dancer at a club. It took some time to sink in but I knew what sort of dancer she was. I told her that I needed to go and meet someone, and that i would catch her around. She understood that I never intended to see her again. The eyes, they pleaded to accept her as what she was. But no matter what the Eyes did, there was a small voice that always kept sounding the warning “She is a stripper, you mean nothing to her. She is just looking for money”.
A few days later I met her again, this time at the Shopping mall. She looked beautiful. I waved at her, and the eyes beamed with a sense of recognition. I walk to her. She gives a dazzling smile and says “So we meet again”. We walk together for some time, talking about various things, and I realized that we had similar tastes. Time flew. I decided to go out with her. My friends all had the same thing to say “You are out of your mind!!”. I told them I knew what I was doing. She became very close to me. We went out a few more times, and we would walk back home every day. She had wanted to become a model, she left home to seek her fortune here, but ended up being a professional dancer. The eyes told me that was true. I did not know what else to do, so I kissed her.
That night was beautiful. I forgot everything around me, as she lay there in my arms crying softly. She fell asleep in my arms. Time flew. She joined an aerobic training center, and she got a job as a part time trainer there. The eyes, the sorrow in it had vanished. Her eyes shone with happiness. One day as we were strolling around, she said she wanted to buy something and asked me to wait at the Coffee shop outside. She came out a few minutes later. She had a gift box in her had. The gift was for me. It was a beautiful crystal stone. The eyes said everything she wanted to. She was in love with me. She had quit her job at the club and got another one as the aerobic center. I heard the voice in my head again “stripper, culture, family, India……”. I couldn’t look at her. As I walk away from her, her eyes scream at the betrayal.
I am on my Flight back home and I think about her, and what I have done to her. But I was trying to console myself saying that it was for best. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the pain in her eyes. She hadn’t uttered a word, she stood there with tears streaming down. The eyes they haunted me. I closed my eyes to shut myself in darkness. I hear the pilot announcing us to fasten our belts as we land in India. As the tires touch the Runway, the plane skids and the engines let out a scream as they scrape the ground.
I wake up screaming, am sitting before the idiot box again; the finished beer is at my side. I thank God that it was a dream. I slowly get up from the chair stretching, wondering what to do on a Saturday morning. I see the calendar the Date reads February 2 Saturday 2008. I am stunned. I feel something in my jeans. My hands trembled as I pull out the crystal stone that she had given me. I am sitting alone in my apartment again with a beer in my hand now.