Saturday, November 6, 2010

La Belle et la BĂȘte

A Halloween night was not the best of times to give up the familiar confines of Hard Rock Cafe and end up venturing to some upstart lounge bar called Enter The Dragon in Koregaon Park, he decided over a sip of Jack Daniels. Of course, the fact that Celine Deon was trying to be haunting while singing 'Beauty and the Beast' might have had something to do with it. But in his heart he knew he would have enjoyed it, had he been with Pragya.

He kept thinking of their times together. Those knotted fingers, not ready to leave each others' comfort even when an upright septuagenarian of the society would clear his throat loudly every time he passed by on his evening walk. Those stolen kisses, that seemed to start for a moment and lingered on forever.. It was kind of funny thinking of those times in this environment- the romantic images providing a stark contrast in his mind to the visual inputs he was receiving at the moment, surrounded by devils, vampires, death eaters and what not!!

"Pragya!" He called out as a silken touch on the back of his neck brought him out of his trance like state.

"Oops! I am so sorry"
This was a woman in a black, off shoulder gown who was dressed up as a vampire.

"It's ok" He muttered as she floated away towards the bar.

This girl was interesting, he thought. She was not really a mirror cracking beauty, though she had an exquisiteness in features few others could have hoped to match. Her cheekbones were the defining feature of her face, or were they? The blue of her eyes stood out in contrast to her fair to a fault complexion. But there was something that struck a jarring note. Her face seemed pale, almost chalk white. But what was the point thinking about her, and he returned to his drink.

"Would you mind terribly if I shared the table with you?" Again the same girl. "There is no table which is vacant, and since you seem to be alone....." She trailed off.

"It would be a pleasure" He somehow stammered.

Now that he had an opportunity to study her, he tried to take her details in without ending up ogling at her. His attention was drawn to the ring on the middle finger of her left hand. The ring was made of silver, perhaps. But it was not the material which fascinated him. He was hooked up by the design on the ring. It was small, yet intricately carved. It could not have been a demonic beast, could it??

"Umm... I am Bella" She was saying.

"Oh! Hi, I am Vivek."

"So you are not really deaf. I have told you my name four times in the last ten minutes..."

How did I end up in this place, he was thinking. As he lay between the sheets after a night of passion, their bodies pressing together, he could really not recollect what led to what and they ended up at her place. What he did recollect, though, was an array of figurines of beasts of all kinds of ferocity in the hall, in the living room and here in the bedroom too..

Now, she was asleep, and he could study her at length. But still, he was fascinated by the beauty of the ring... He took her palm in his hands. It seemed so delicate, so... fragile. He looked at the ring, and the beast in the ring seemed to be looking back at him... It gave him an awkward feeling. Pragya's face flashed in his mind. But he willed those thoughts away.

The ring seemed to glide down her finger as he tried to take it off. She seemed to be waking up. On an impulse, he decided to put it on, knowing it would never fit him. Why, his little finger would be larger than Bella's thumb! But the ring fit, snug!

Bella turned towards him, and gave him a kiss on the forehead. Strangely, the kiss seemed to leave a cold sensation. He tried to speak, but could not.

"Vivek. That is your name, right? I think you would fit well on my V shelf. As such, there are only three of them there."

He could not move, he could not say anything. He seemed to be losing all his senses.

"Thanks a lot for one more year of youth, sweetheart. And you were not too bad in the bed, either!"