It still looked the same as it did a year ago. The waves still shimmered as the sun lingered clumsily on the greying sky. There were the usual sounds - a melancholic overlap of laughter, conversations, some hawkers and, most soothing of all, the gushing waves. And then, there were silhouettes- few young, few old, some lovingly coupled and some miserably lonely -lonely, like her. She longed to step into this withdrawing day and become a faceless counter, a shadow on this beach. Disappear away- like him.
Here she was, after a year of inconsolable sobbing, denial of his absence and accepting the unfair life. Her life, at the this moment, was defined by the profile of woman- hands folded, neatly resting above closely drawn knees, the outline of her face looking at the beach. Her hair flowing freely and her mind knotted with thoughts and memories-just another silhouette with a story. It was here that she had found him, a few years ago. From a blurred black image of a stranger, he had moved into her life - filling it with all colours of joy she could have imagined. She held back tears that threatened to break into an outpour of everything she had deeply shut. An unbearable pain rushed through her body. A boulder of grief shattered her like it had happen just yesterday. Destiny had wiped him out of her life cruelly. The dreams they had built together like gleeful children, collapsed overnight. She felt a stab as she watched the kids build sand castles,” Don’t, it won’t stay.” She wanted to warn.
It was then that her thoughts were suddenly interrupted. She felt the eyes of a stranger glance upon her. She fidgeted uneasily embarrassed about being caught in a private movement. She stared blankly at the beach still cautions of the man, trying hard not to look at him. She felt weak, vulnerable and strangely exposed. But he stood there adamant, his eyes still caught on her. She emptied the sand from her sandals and in one hurried movement got up and started to walk away. He followed. Her heart paced and her feet dug deep into sand as she ran, slowly, awkwardly, not wanting to give away her fear. For a minute she contemplated about stopping and confronting him. But then she heard him call her, “ Please, wait! Wait.. a minute. I need to thank you.”
She stopped and turned to find the middle aged man run towards her. She saw his face now, he looked dignified and there was genuine look which kept her from running away. Catching breath while puffing and panting he spoke,“ I am sorry, You don’t know me. I.. I wanted to give you this.” She took the photograph from him with trembling hands. He continued,“ I had clicked this about a year ago. I have been trying to find you both since then. I am a photographer. And this photograph has become one of my most appreciated works. I wanted to thank you and gift you this. I bring it with me everyday. And finally, I saw you now. I wasn’t sure at first. But then..” he stopped as he saw her cry with joy and pain, her eyes never moved from the photograph. She looked at it dearly and clung to it like a scared child to a mother. Unsure what to say he finally said,” I am sorry.. I didn’t mean to”
Without a word she hugged him with the deepest sense of gratitude, her gentle sobs with a dash of laugh confused him. He let her hold him not knowing what to do. She loosed the embrace and spoke hugging the photograph close to her heart, “ This.. this is the biggest joy that I have felt in my life THANK YOU. I have no words to express how grateful I am. He died the night this photograph was taken. This was our last moment together”. The man was so moved he only managed to mumble in a muffled voice,” I am so sorry to hear about that.” They, two strangers, now connected by a mutual grief sat down and wept- two black contours on the magnificent beach.
Later that week she got the photograph beautifully framed. It was a silhouette of a couple, him and her holding hands and walking, with him leading her and guiding her as the sun silently withdrew throwing a golden light on the beach-the photographer had put up an apt caption,” I will walk you through darkness-forever.” She had found her strength to live by.