She was mute when we first met, and she remained that way till the end. It was weird, living with her day in and day out, in silence. Knowing, yet not saying, hearing yet not listening, giving yet not taking. It used to go on the same way, every day. I used to sit with her from morning till night, braiding her hair, painting her face, applying the liner to her eyes. Right from the start, she had been a joy to watch- a perfect poise of beauty and grace, as they say. The on-lookers would sometimes settle their wandering eyelids on her and lose themselves in her. This made me jealous, yes extremely jealous, but at the same time I knew she was such kind of a beauty that needed appreciation.
It so happened once that a group of foreign photographers, chanced their way into my humble abode. From the point they arrived to the point they left, they all enquired about her. How did she turn out so pretty? I looked at my hands and smiled. In time I realised, it was not pious to have her seen by everybody and more so, a voice in me said to me that our days of togetherness had been numbered. Thus, I sealed her from the world outside and kept her only for me. It is weird how longing can change feelings and shape them to think about the changes in the world. Time was moving rapidly, and soon, days of her performance would appear. I would have to take her and let people admire her for what she was.
Time is such a prick that some-how, he made me turn his pages and arrive at the start of her exhibition. So, once the call came from the people with money and all of the deal was set, something in me sprouted. It wanted to ask her, “Do you want to leave without me?”, but I knew that like a daughter having all the motherly attributes, she would just have the perfect smile on her face which would somehow nudge a sense of security through my form and I would happily let her go. Although the action-reaction sequence followed the same pattern as I had mentioned above, yet I could not go to the extent to let her go alone. So, I went with her to the dress rehearsal and then stayed with her for the full length of her performance. I used to perfect her eyes, jewellery and all the other mortal accessories to my finest expertise every day, throughout that period. All of that gave me immense pleasure and satisfaction. With the tide comes the ebb, so with pleasure, it would come too– this is I knew. But when it would, that I didn’t. Soon, the ‘when’ was answered and I could not bear myself to watch her anymore.
They lifted her on trucks to the shore. Lifted her and then thrust her into the river. Hundreds gathered to watch the massacre but no one cried. It was weird to see her vanish into muddy water and still not utter a word. I walked back from the scene with my kerchief pressed tightly across my cheeks.
I did not want my sense of sadness to appear as a contagion in this jubilance. It was true, she had gone and I had to wait, wait for time to take me back to her again. “Chand Paul & Sons- the Idol Maker from centuries”, it read from a distance, the self-publicized hoarding on my house. At last I had reached home but alas! She was not there anymore.
Photography By: Zubair Alam