The Moon, the Stars and the Pizza
Leaning on the cold rocks, scribbling the wet sand and feeling the saltiness, she felt as empty as ever. As if the water drained her burden and drank her sadness. She could feel nothing. It was one of the best feelings. To feel nothing. No weight, no thoughts, and no words. The dreaded words. Sara always said, “Words don’t matter”. If they didn’t, why they hurt her so much, she’d ask. And Sara would nod in her usual manner and say she was impossible.
Niti liked her loneliness. She was able to ignore all the words tormenting her. Her mother taunting her to study more, her father wanting her to take some responsibility and her friends needing her to participate in the bickering. Only person not judging her was the moon. Silently being with her, listening to her thoughts and giving her company, the moon was her silent guardian. As if watching over her and guiding her.
It was almost twilight and time for her to head home. Her mother would be waiting for her. If she’d go an hour late, her mother would be at her horrible best. Only if she could find an hour of solace, it’d be all worth it.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” The words disturbed her moment. Cursing her luck, she turned around. A strange yet very mystically familiar face smiled back at her.
She had never seen him before. Yet he seemed someone very trustworthy. The slow breeze tingling her senses whistled in her ears, jolting her out of her spell. She quickly stole her glance from his captive brown eyes.
“It is,” She said looking around awkwardly.
He, on the other hand, looked seemingly relaxed, standing on the rocks, staring at the sky, wearing a pair of blue denim and a white shirt. His face gleamed of peace and she wanted to keep staring at him.
It was time to say something, hide her awkwardness and show him the she wasn’t really awestruck.
“The moon is fascinating, isn’t it?” he asked.
She couldn’t come up with anything. It was stupid. She didn’t know him and he wasn’t Tom Cruise. She couldn’t think of anything even though she might possibly be the greatest admirer of the moon. Damn her mind. She tried to pull up a fake smile, but her wobbly lips were proud to display her anxiousness. Idiot!
She was being a dumb girl and nothing more. She stared at the moon and silently wished for some sanity, only to realise this stranger, he was cute but he had ruined her moment. She craved for these silent times. It was what kept her going. She was about to have one and he very well ruined it.
It was time to leave.
“I will be here tomorrow,” she heard him as she turned around. Yeah, like she was going to come back for him. She walked away without looking back as if his words never touched her. As she headed home she couldn’t help but think about her mother’s incoming lectures.
The morning sunshine was new and fresh. Yet, she couldn’t leave behind the face she had seen the other day. What was it? Why did he keep on entering her thoughts? Who was he? A stranger? A friend? A comforter?
She didn’t intend to find out.
She wasn’t a fool and she wanted him to know that. She wasn’t going to fall for his tricks. She wasn’t going to go there just so she could see him once. She was going to college, then classes and finally home.
It was decided. She knew it. Still, standing at the bus stop she couldn’t make up her mind. Should she go to the beach? There was ample of time and her mother wouldn’t complain. Going there would mean she was into him. She didn’t want him to know that. She headed home.
Her mother stared with wide eyes, looking at her face and the clock alternatively.
“Are you sick?” she asked baffled.
Niti almost let out a chortle. “Would you like me to be?” she teased.
Her face changed. Her wide eyed surprised look changed to flared nostrils angry look. “When will you learn to talk straight? Talk about impertinence. Don’t you know…”
That was more like it. She preferred the angry mother to the worried one. Or rather, she could say she was more used to it. Niti quickly climbed up the stairs even as her mother continued to lecture her about manners and some other things. Niti didn’t care what they were.
She rummaged through her bookcase looking for a book that might interest her. Her usual crime novels seemed dull today. She ran her fingers over the next row unwittingly, over the Mills and Boons series she had loved as a teenager.
She picked a book out of the ones stacked tightly in the middle. The cover held a picture of a man and a woman staring at the sunset. The stranger’s face flashed in front of her eyes. Would he be there, waiting for her? Looking up at the sky, standing in front of the water, wearing the same denim and white shirt. Probably wearing a fresh pair of clothes. She laughed. It was silly.
She looked out of her bedroom window. The moon and the sun were there, staring at each other. A sight so rare to be seen except twilight like this one.
The thought was haunting there. The stranger. He could very well be standing there and waiting for her to come. If she had gone, he’d probably be talking to her, telling her about the stars, the sky and who knows, maybe about himself as well. She looked at the book and nodded. She patted the back of her head and smiled. She was losing her mind over a stranger.
He was talking about numbers and nothing was entering. The words were clear but the meaning a mere blur. The exponential on nine didn’t make any sense and delta, it only meant a triangle. It never happened before. Mathematics was the only subject that she loved so dearly. Yet today, it was killing her.
She couldn’t help but look at the watch again. When was the class coming to an end? Somehow, the time had slowed down. Maybe, there was an alien attack, attacking the mind of young people. That’d explain her loss of focus and the time speeding down. She had to confide in someone.
Maybe the guy from the beach.
She couldn’t wait to head over there and talk to him. Not about the aliens though. But what was she to do if she went there? What was the guarantee that he’d even be there? Even if he were, what was she to say? She was tongue tied the last time she checked. Words failed her, mind betrayed. She couldn’t look at him without blushing. Could someone have this effect on one look cast?
She looked around. People were busy scribbling something. She was supposed to follow them and write something but the burden of her pen weighed a ton. She couldn’t lift it without squinting. What was this feeling?
She had to get out of there and head to the beach. It wasn’t a feeling, a thought or a notion you can reckon about. It wasn’t a choice but a compulsion. She had to get out of there.
Niti got up and stormed out of the class not worrying about the consequences.
She was early. She was there but the moon, missing. Her dear friend, her silent guardian, her compadre wasn’t there. She was early and the moon so late.
She looked around. He wasn’t there today. Just like the moon. Of course he wouldn’t. He said he’d be there the previous day not today. To even think that he’d be waiting for her would be the height of silliness.
A wave of disappointment rode over her. This was her place. She wanted to be there and she was there, but she couldn’t find her peace. Fool! Waiting for someone she didn’t even know. She stared at the sky and watched the stars. They seemed as lonely as her.
It was over an hour and nothing had happened. She was there like she was before, alone. Like her wet feet, her eyes started to soak. It was crazy. She couldn’t understand this feeling. She didn’t know him then why was she crying? Damn it.
It was stupid and she, a fool. It was time to go. This place has nothing to offer more than her own home. She got up and gave one last look at the sky. Suddenly, a light travelled fast from the sky to the horizon.
A falling star.
She closed her eyes and wished she could see him one last time. So she could understand why he mattered so much. So she could make some meaning of her stupid heart and crazy mind.
“What did you wish?”
Her heart struck a beat. His voice sent shivers to her body. She opened her eyes in a flash and slowly turned around. He was there, right by her side, with his captive eyes looking back at her. Right there with his blue denim and a checkered shirt. Charismatic.
He asked something, didn’t he?
“Huh?” she said, probably looking at him with her mouth open like a hungry wolf.
“Wish. What did you ask for?” he said.
Right. The falling star. She had wished to see him and he was there. How could she tell him that? But she had to say something.
She needed Words, quick. Instead she was just staring at him blank.
“You didn’t come here yesterday?” he said.
“Yes,” she said.
‘I came today’ she wanted to say but she just smiled.
“I was here till ten.”
“I sleep at ten,” she said. What was that? What was she thinking? Embarrassing herself like that. Shush was better than this.
“You like pizza?” he asked.
“Pizza? You know, Italian, like pasta…” he said.
“Yeah… yeah… pizza. Of course. I eat pizza,” she said.
“Okay then,” he said.
He took a phone from his pocket and dialled a number. He mumbled something and very quickly whispered into his phone. She didn’t know if it was related. But a call to his girlfriend or mother at this time would be really awful. She sure hoped not.
“Ten minutes,” he said.
“Okay,” she replied.
It was getting better. At least the words weren’t failing her anymore. Even if not witty, they weren’t outlandish like before.
The clouds moved slowly and the moon showed its face. Niti couldn’t help but smile. She felt happy and a bit contented. As if her life found its meaning. There was some existence to it. The lovely cold breeze touched her face and caressed her softly. What more could she ask for?
“I’ll be right back?” he said and jumped down from the stone and ran across the street and stood in front of the gate of a huge house that stood across. He waited for about a minute and a guy dressed in red rode up to him in a bike.
The pizza guy.
He was back in a minute holding a box of pizza in his hands.
“That’s new,” she said.
“Give any address and get the delivery guy before he hits the bell. That’s new.”
He laughed out loud. “It serves hot,” he said as he opened the box.
She took a slice and bit a portion. Hot and crispy. The pizza did taste good and it was a novelty idea. Ordering pizza on the beach, who could come up with stuff like that?
They silently gorged on the pizza while watching the beautiful scenery. It was lovely. And there it was. She had her moment. She never thought she could feel this and share it as well with someone.
She picked up a tissue from the box and the bill stuck its way along with it. She read the name. It was ordered in the name of Jay Malik.
“Jay?” she said.
“Yeah,” he replied. “I won’t not mind if you’d tell me your name.”
“It’s beautiful,” he said.
“I should go,” she started to get up.
“When do I see you again?” he asked as she turned.
“I’ll come by.”
“Okay,” he said, biting another piece of pizza.
“And you?” she asked.
“I’ll come when you will,” he said, staring into the sea.
“How will you know?” she asked.
“I came today, didn’t I?” he replied.
The guy was a freak. Was he stalking her? How did he know she had come? Either he was a creepy stalker or a psychic who knew where she went. Or he was a ghost. It made more sense.
Her mother once said, “No living man can satisfy you.”
Whatever he was, whoever he was, she loved being with him and staring at the sky while eating a slice of pizza. She smiled at him and walked away. She had been coming to this place for years, looking for something. Now that she found it, she wasn’t going to stop – creep or no creep.
As she walked past the house across the street, she read the name in huge letters “Malik House”.
She nodded her head and walked away, preparing herself for her mother’s sharp words.
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