Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Streetside love stories

On the old Bombay Highway, the road that snakes through Mehdipatnam and Rethi Bowli and whizzees past the shiny new DLF complex to lead to the University of Hyderabad after crossing a beautiful bougainvillea lined stretch, is a tiny cafe called "Time to Time", Held up in a traffic jam I find myself watching lives unfold outside its colourful signboard. A couple walks by, slowly, the girl with a college bag slung over one shoulder and the boy carrying a backpack, dawdling their way to college, perhaps, carrying excuses in their pockets. Another woman stands at the adjoining bus shelter carrying a shopping bag, next to her is an older man, greying and a tiredness visible in his sloping shoulders. He turns to her and takes the bag from her in an almost proprietary manner. She looks at him and smiles.

The most poignant love stories are not the ones that are enacted on desert sands silhouetted against burning skies, or amidst warring families and blood feuds. They happen in prosaic everyday moments, to people in everyday clothes, with humdrum needs and wants, families, homes, meals-to-be-cooked and shopping-to-be-done, involving lives entwined, enmeshed in ordinary circumstances, in spaces that fall between bills-to-be-paid and livings-to-be-earned. They are built of feelings that are felt during those mundane responsibilities and realities, their romance woven into the threads of existence that cannot be separated from the routine

Do such love stories lose their cinematic, other-worldly appeal simply because they happen to people with wrinkled hands, slouched shoulders, dark-circles-under-the-eyes or splotchy skin and greying hair? There is no make up person to touch up the oily spots or darken those pale lips and un-lustrous eyes. There's only emotion, felt keenly, strongly, truly, an emotion that totally occupies the spaces that contain the quotidian, the spaces that fill the pauses between everyday moments.

And where do these love stories find a telling? Or a viewing? Are they too precious to be given on loan to the realm of words and images, to be corrupted by the sight-smell-touch and ultimately, the mis-interpretation by minds unprepared, or too, too prepared, for the extra-ordinary?

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