Right now his hands were merely holding a book. The long fingers were taking their time flipping through each page. Anyone who saw the man would say that he took the job of flipping each page seriously and also enjoyed the sensation of the paper touching his fingertips. He grazed his hand from left to right at the top of the page he had finished reading. He then carefully picked the top right corner of the page with his thumb and the index finger. In a fluid movement, his hold travelled to the bottom of the page and he turned the page.
The gaps between his fingers were deep just like the deep valleys of the Greater Himalayas, where the young rivers flow at great speed. I had been looking at him for a long time now. Oblivious to the fact that the other travellers could see me staring at him, I took the liberty of staring at him for a few more seconds.
Then suddenly embarrassed by what I was doing and in an attempt to seem a bit less weird I blurted out loud, “Are you reading about the great mountains of the Himalayas?”
He made a quick attempt to hide a scowl, which had emerged on its own account as if he was rudely woken from a dream filled sleep. Trying to figure out where he was, and as if waking up after a night long sleep, he mumbled. Just as he finished saying, “Yes. Reading,” a puzzled look on his face revealed that he realised just at that moment that the pretty lady’s question had more to it than he had answered.
It was his turn to be embarrassed. He looked down at his book just to break the gaze that had held him longer than what was the custom in these situations. He lifted his gaze again to find that the lady was no longer interested in him and was intently looking outside the window as the lush green hills passed by. He looked at her hands. She had thin, shapely arms, delicate, soft palms and beautiful fingers. Her nails were coloured in a light shade of pink, which he imagined matched the colour of her cheeks, when she blushed. She wore only a thin gold band on the index finger of her right hand. There was no engagement ring or a wedding band to be seen. This detail made him smile. The smile lingered for a bit longer than necessary.
She held a light blue coloured handkerchief between her fingers. She was tapping a tune with her fingers. He noticed that her grip on the piece of cloth tightened every time the bus hit a rough patch. He wanted to know how her hands would feel in his, when they went to a park to photograph flowers together in the spring. He wondered if they would go red under the strong summer sun, or would the tips turn blue in the extreme winter. At that exact moment, their gaze met once again. Without losing a moment, he said, “I am reading about the Valley of Flowers in the Himalayas.”
She smiled. A beautiful smile and he knew just then that he had found what he was looking for.
P.S: To overcome a writer's block, I attempted this writing exercise. Please see and try it. It is fun. Click here.