Pallavi always avoided taking cabs after office. Her house was on the other side, in New Jersey, and she used to ferry across the East River to Manhattan every morning. She worked as an attorney with one of the biggest firms in the downtown, and had earned herself some name in all these 20 years she was with the firm. Twenty years!! It has been a long journey since she first came to the US with her husband and a baby girl, knowing little what lay in store for them. It was just the beckoning of a better life that brought them here. And mostly at the insistence of Akaash, who was a successful doctor and yet had given up on the ways of the society they called their own.

In the beginning weeks, she felt the drowsiness of the long lazy days, with no one around to talk to and practically nothing much to do. Every one seemed busy or too snobbish to talk to a strange, brown-skinned family that had come into their neighborhood. Slowly she had started hunting for jobs, and landed up with a call from her present employer. That was it, and she never looked back. She was busy with her job, and with every passing day saw her baby girl grow up into a young, delectable lady. Akaash stayed away from home, most time of the year. He was trying to setup something of his own. The days crawled into months and years and slowly she realized the sense of loneliness creeping into the cracks of what she knew as her home.

She was walking down the street running parallel to the East River, and the cool breeze woke her up from the reverie. It was seven in the evening and people around were returning home. “Americans are a strange lot”, She thought. “Their life and times are measured by the dollars they earn. Professional, yes, but strangely disconnected. They are here and now, but you can't touch them.” Walking down these streets she had always felt that gazes of her fellow passers-by bore through her, never stopping to acknowledge the existence they just casually trespassed.

On the way, she stopped at the Frankie’s to buy some rolls. She was starving after a particularly long day, and had skipped her lunch to cover up some details on a case. It was an interesting one; this Mr. Sloan, who had solicited her opinion on a matter related to a legal issue, was a man of excellent reputation. Suave, sophisticated, rich and elegant. And he was living a double life with another woman for past five year. And his wife was unaware of this alternate arrangement. Every month, Mr. Sloane would be away from his home on the excuse of a business trip and would spend time with this woman. And this woman, one Ms. Margaret, was ignorant of Sloan’s married life. And now this man wanted to keep away some of his wealth and properties for Margaret for her upkeep. And all these must be carried out in absolute secrecy to allow this man to continue living his ways. In due course of discussion, Pallavi suddenly felt like asking this man as to why he carried out such a dual life. Was he not happy with his wife? Was he in love with this woman, but didn’t have the balls to tell his wife? Was he in love with both the women? Or was it some weird college-boy fantasy that he was trying to live? Could you really, possibly love two women at the same time, sharing your life, your soul, and your body? Then she was reminded of a poet who once said, “I have never been aware before how many faces there are. There are quantities of human faces, but there are many more faces, for each person has several.”

She looked up at the harbor down south and felt an invisible weight settling over her frame. She has known this since the day Akaash went away. Disappeared. Her passion for work only went overboard to counter the void that he left behind. Humans have always unsettled her beyond a point. She has always felt incapacitated when trying to define the bonds that ties up human souls. Akangsha, her daughter, aroused in her this same strange and absurd feeling. At times when she would get back home late, she would tip-toe down to Akangsha’s room, and sit by her bed watching her lost behind those beautiful dreaming eyes. Her eyes were a lot like her own – big, sharp, and sexy. And there she would find a stranger lying in the skin of her baby. Bemused, she would softly get up and leave.

It was this ‘disconnect’ what Camus calls “The Absurd, which visited her so often these days. It would strike her at hours when she were busy arguing her case in court; or creep in slowly when she is signing the check for her luncheon; or amidst the sudden deep and loud horns of the ships or ferries pulling their anchors for some distant land. “Where do they go, all these vessels? Did Akaash went aboard one of them, and lost his way home? Oh silly me! How could he lose his way back?! He is a grown up man. But then where did he go? Was it some woman, then? Like this Mr. Sloan? I have never known him to be interested in any woman but me!! Or, was he just plain bored with me and this life? Wonder what happens to men with the passage of time. “

“’More belongs to marriage than four legs in a bed’. I guess we failed to find that ‘more’. And perhaps he is out there somewhere in this world trying to find meaning to his life he spent with me by being away from me. But I wonder why. The moment you realize that between the closest human beings there is an infinite distance, and it is humanly possible for us to live and love our lives across this impossible divide, you stop looking for meanings.” She still remembers the day when he proposed her for marriage. He was a charmer. And yes, she was more than willing to marry him. “When love caresses your heart, everything seems magnificent and humanly achievable. Anything. And everything. Days feel like being in cocoon: warm, moist, and tangible.”

Slowly the horizons descended into darkness, and the Manhattan skyline became lit with dots of light. There was a loud horn and one of the ferries set on. “It’s time then, isn’t it?” A smile spread out on her wan lips. She must have been sitting there for an hour now, by the East River side, on one of the benches. “Yes, it’s time now and Akangsha might be home.” She thought. She has always wanted to write something. But she never ventured beyond some mundane entries in her journals. But something in that sound of that horn and ferry vanishing into the horizon compelled her to speak. To write. To allow her plugged emotions to spill out on the pages of human history. It may not make sense. But she was beyond care. She just wished to let words seep through her being and walk away – Into the past or, into the future. Wherever. Whatever.

When she reached home, Jenny, her housemaid told her that Akangsha isn’t home yet. She went to her study, closed the door behind her, and opened her laptop. With fingers poised on the keypad, she stared into the screen for a long time, and then slowly and gradually allowed her fingers to dance. When they stopped, she found a quote from an ancient text from a Greek poem typed across the white screen: “O my soul, do not aspire to immortal life, but exhaust the limits of the possible”.

And thus began a journey into the future.

Into the unknown where even “The Absurd” becomes poetry.

Yes, and after all what is life if it cannot be lived in poetry.

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