“Just let your thoughts
And dreams unfold
Let’s talk of love
Of tales, untold…
Speak! So I can see your soul….
Speak! So I can see your soul”
Somehow, this title track from the famous talk show Rendezvous with Simi Garewal has been ringing in my mind. Suddenly, the summer morning breeze becomes intensely musical as I play it on Youtube and then there is this wonderful onslaught of memories. I am reminded of my adolescent days when I first heard this gorgeous word- ‘Rendezvous’. The dictionary defines it as a ‘meeting’. Those days, I was really mesmerized by this show anchored by the lady in white who encouraged her guests to speak their hearts out. No matter how elitist it had been, today when I still watch those episodes, it makes me ponder over the fascinating stories that are kept secured in the warm shelves of our lives. Coming back to the word Rendezvous- perhaps, it is not just a meeting, a private chat between two people. There is a lot more to it.
This entire Sunday morning, I’ve been thinking of how difficult it is for us to know those who we never knew before. For instance, when I sit next to a co-passenger, I am tempted to speculate about him/her, that stranger with whom I would have to spend a few crucial hours of my life between the excitement of departure and the anticipation of arrival. And how lovely it is, if we strike up a conversation. At times, I am fortunate enough to meet students of my age who go on to talk about careers and their crisis in life. I still remember some of the candid moments. I had met this person who was in his sixties and had come to Delhi for some official work. He was devastated to see how pathetic and irresponsible the people at government offices were. His son had settled in Bangalore and so our grandpa had to handle things on his own. He didn’t speak much during the two hours in the flight, a few crunch of cookies fell on his neat shirt and dhoti , he was like a hermit happy to have met a student. I just kept thinking about his life, those shades of experience that shaped his wisdom and perhaps, about all those tales of sorrow were left unsaid.
I had met another wonderful person on a flight journey few years back and I will cherish that rendezvous. He narrated how he had nearly escaped from the jaws of death the previous night when he was on a severely turbulent Air-Egypt flight. He was the sole supporter of his family, his father was no more and being the eldest, it was all his responsibility. Survival was his necessity, death can never be an option for him. During the journey we spoke about life and death, about hope and faith, about belief and skepticism. When we landed in Guwahati, as a token of farewell, he handed me a 1 Dinar note! What an unusual gift, isn’t it? A foreign currency note! He wanted that to be an inspiration, he wished me to be diligent, to be responsible and to be brave! It was my best rendezvous ever! Not because I got a gift, but because I was able to connect to a stranger. An absolute stranger who had a close encounter with the possibility of death. And someone who got a second chance. Perhaps, his gesture is rich and meaningful in yet another sense. I see his gift as an offering to the unknown and supreme power, the power that sustained his faith in that moment of crisis. There is mysticism when two people connect, not just with words, but with gestures and feelings. A perfect rendezvous happens when one is able to read the unspoken thoughts of the other.
Once on the Rajdhani express, I had met an astrologer. He was a retired army officer who was drawn to the puzzles of destiny. Astrology- he loved the games of the predictable and the unpredictable. During that full day return trip to Guwahati (Assam), he counseled me about the virtues of ‘Karma’. Your Karma (actions) become the stars. Think positive and keep doing good. At one moment, I offered him my hand as I was really curious to know my destiny. The train had gathered speed, the sunbeams fell on the lush green fields, his eyes were fixed on my palms, on the graphs, lines and texture imprinted on it, and suddenly he grew silent. He stated at the cow grazing at a distance. I looked at him and smiled- he just replied “Good, just believe in Karma”. What did he foresee? What was that prediction? Was it prosperity? Was it disaster? Perhaps, I will never have that answer. Yet that rendezvous taught me something special. Just accept life as it comes to you, play its games joyfully, destiny will take care of you, it will sweeten your joys and perhaps balm your wounds.
I once took this pre-paid cab from the Delhi Airport to reach my college campus. That one day, I had a deep rendezvous with the cab driver who shared with me the story of his love marriage. He suddenly asks- “Aapki shaadi ho gayi? Aap love marriage karoge ya arranged marriage?” (Are you married? Do you prefer a love or an arranged marriage?) Such a heartwarming question!I had to think of an answer keeping all my philosophy and cynicism suspended for a brief while- “Love marriage accha hoga” (Love marriage would be better). It was the beauty of a moment and I will cherish it forever. On the way, he spoke about his struggles, about his devout and loving wife and about his hopes and ambition. Like an elderly brother, he spoke which would translate as “Take your studies seriously, Be a good professor some day. And be careful when you fall in love. Some girls can’t be trusted.” For some reason. my feminist bent of mind forgave his bit of misogyny because somewhere I had discovered one extraordinary guardian in this otherwise bewildering city of strangers. It was almost evening when we reached , I paid him some twenty bucks extra as a token of gratitude- perhaps he deserved a lot more which money could never express- and soon the car vanished.
On a typical summer afternoon, as I was returning from Kamla Nagar- a shopping hub for students in North Campus- the rickshaw puller asked me “Kaunse College main hain aap?” (In which college are you studying now?) He smiled “Accha hain” (that’s good) when I replied St. Stephen’s. Then he says again- “itna padaai karoge, to shaadi kab hogi?” (if you study that long, when will you marry? I just laughed- “Pata nahin” (I just don’t know). I will never know indeed! How magical! In that heart of summer, a person who carries me to a place with a sweat laden body becomes a guide and a friend. Will I ever find such a genuine person again? Perhaps, in moments when I feel betrayed, such are the faces that offer immense comfort!!
Rendezvous! As I told you, how difficult it is for us to know someone who we never knew before. How difficult it is to have a rendezvous with a stranger! But yet, how equally impossible it becomes for us to know the ones we had always known! Often, we fail to read the stories of the ones we thought we knew best! Once my grandmother was narrating her childhood memories- how she was fascinated by the bicycle and how her mother (my great-grandmother) would scold her to keep her away from “manly” things! One afternoon, my grandma confessed how she was the topper of her classes with the highest score in Mathematics yet her love for algebra was cut short by her marriage after the high school. In my rendezvous with my grandma, I learned the true feminist stories. the stories of silence and the stories of her voice.
Likewise, in a special rendezvous, my mother revealed her childhood fear of spider. At the age of six, she once saw the shadow of a spider inside a large Gothic room, and thought it was a mini-tiger! She instantly ran away screaming! Or that one rendezvous, when one my favourite teacher spoke about his love for Hindustani music and how his passions shifted from rock music to the nuances of Hindustani Rasika and Raga.
Oh, how many of such rendezvous! I am sure there are more and will further excavate them deeper from the pockets of my memory! And dear readers, this is my rendezvous. My phrases, verses, and words are my confessions. Through them, I speak to you! Through them, you shall see my soul! Let’s keep this rendezvous going! You all are special to me and my heartfelt gratitude for those endless rendezvous I had so far!
(Painting- Terrace Rendezvous)