The Traveling Portrait

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Photo of The Traveling Portrait by Kunal Chakraborty
Photo of The Traveling Portrait by Kunal Chakraborty

I was drawn towards her. Or rather the moment. The decisive moment you mean? That famed phrase? Immortalized by one of the masters himself? Probably yes. In a somewhat unobtrusive manner.

We – meaning I along with a group of friends – were in a shop in a village after coming down from the small hamlet Rishyap in north West Bengal.  It was cold and we felt the need of buying stuffs to keep us warm. We were heading towards Zuluk in east Sikkim where the mercury was further down. It was a pretty morning otherwise. Not pretty in a sense different from the other mornings. Just that we could catch a glimpse of the ever elusive Kanchendzonga in the morning. From amongst the cloud – and haze – and fog – and mist. But since then it all went haywire and delay became the order. And almost everyone resorted to it. I, having planned the trip myself, was getting the most impatient of all. We had to get our permits cleared for entering Sikkim and there’s a stipulated time for it.

There was senseless roaming on the street, careless chit-chat all around. And to top it all, my mobile phone fell on the ground from my hand. A dull thud it was. The screen – fancied to have the strength of a Gorilla – gave in. I never whined for a moment. Neither did I brood over the impending  expenditure to follow. Instead , I walked down the street silently. It was not a senseless roaming. I went into the shop where my friends were present to buy myself a pair of gloves.

And then it happened. Right across the street – that was being used by the local children as a badminton court – was a car standing. From the front seat, beside that of the driver, a face came into prominence. Pristine could be the right word to describe it. Untainted. Sublime. I took out my broken mobile phone and made a move towards her. A sense of urgency pushed me – lest the car is driven away.

And then she looked at me. I could feel a bond growing between us. I smiled at her. But there was no smile back. Not that I expected one. I felt like drowning – quite happily on the contrary – in a pool formed by those seemingly perplexed eyes – eyes that contained a thousand questions.

The camera in my mobile was on. I went near her. She didn’t turn her eyes away. I raised my mobile and smiled once again. There was no smile back. Not that I wanted one. But this time, she raised her little hand and put it under her chin. “Is that for me?” I clicked. The sound of the shutter got subdued by the roar of the engine. The car made it’s way up the hill. She looked away and was gone.

I looked back at my mobile screen and smiled. There was no smile back. She arrested me with her look once….

….and I arrested her forever.

This post was originally published on Kunal Chakraborty's website

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