The sky is winter white. The horizon gleams with a thin streak of grey clouds. The grass below us is wet with the first few drops of the summer rain. A slight northern wind caresses our skin, whispering strange dreams. Against the backdrop of mesmerizing beauty, somewhere behind us, crickets chirp to some unheard tune and the poor little pigeon, flaps its wings and flies off to find some food for her kids. The few stale drops of rain trickle down the calloused branches and seep into the thirsty ground.
He tugs at my shirt and his eyes burn into mine as I look up at him. His dark pupils gleam with curiosity as he studies me.
“What are you thinking?” he asks.
Shaking my head, I push myself up and stand beside him. His fingers intertwine with mine and he pulls me lightly, urging me to take quicker steps.
The circus is here in the town, again. He wants to go to the circus. He had once told me that he held a special liking for the circus. And I had never bothered to ask him why.
As we walk on the bare grass, its tips pressing against the bare soles of our feet and flicking drops of water, he tells me that the smells will entice me. He tells me that the place will feel warmer and so better than that under the blue, infinite sky. I don’t believe him.
He tells me that the faint aromas of cotton candy and apples will tease my senses to no end, until I join them. Then, as I will walk to the stall, the magnificent smells will couple with those of the wet asphalt and lift me up to the clouds. He tells me that that is happiness. Absolute perfection.
As the noises become closer, his steps become more frantic. He pushes past the hordes of people, dreams glistening in his radiant blue eyes that have never failed to amaze me. They hold a sincerity, so profound that I can feel myself live the stories that his eyes hold.
He begs me to join him on the Ferris wheel. Amidst the howling chaos around me, I hear him tell me that the sunset from veranda will make my life perfect – that the streaks of orange and purple merging into the abyss of blue will enthrall me.
I watch him with awe, demanding to know how he knows so much about circuses when he had never visited one.
I’m afraid of clowns, but I don’t tell him so. My heart sinks when the acrobats defy gravity. And I am afraid of the fire that the ringmaster holds. I want to stand up and walk away quietly, slipping from his hold. I want to hide somewhere – far away from the world where no one will ever find me again.
“What are you thinking?” he asks, yet again, his lips parting slightly.
Before I can answer, he turns back to the stage.
The circus is over; now he wants me join him on the Ferris wheel. Grumbling, I follow him to the stands.
We are ushered into a cheap, gold painted cabin that sways to the slightest wind.
The clouds are gone. The sun is peeking out from its golden robe, spreading warmth all around. Though the darkness is descending, the sun stays there, perhaps, determined to present me a sunset.
Resting my elbows against the window, I lean out and watch the Ferris wheel slowly picking up speed. We are leaving the ground, floating up with the clouds. The sun spreads its arms, waiting to embrace us in its golden light.
From up there, the people look so tiny. I’m not afraid of them anymore. The lights that flicker on the street below, seem like iridescent orbs and fireflies. I glare back at the mocking swirls of colour, wondering how a sunset can bestow so much beauty all around me. The sunrises are supposed to be the ones filled with hopes; the sunset carries a plethora of hopes as well. The radiant glow sings the legacy of the sun. I find myself being lifted higher up to a world unlike others. It feels like I’m sitting on a cloud. It feels like I’ve finally found my place in the world – here. It feels like everything I have never ever felt until now.
This is the world I had dreamed of when I had been a kid – where sunsets don’t bring pain; where one can stand on the sidewalks and watch the world go by; where one can see the silhouette of the cityscape against the backdrop of fiery red.
“What are you thinking about?” he demands this time, his gaze not leaving mine. He raises his thick eyebrows and clasps my hand, begging me to tell him.
I don’t admit anything aloud.
As I stare into the distance, watching the daylight linger and a hundred possibilities emerge, I say, “Nothing.”