They were climbing the steps one by one leading up to the peak of Shimla pahari. He frowned as he looked down, the cars and Suzuki pickups appeared to be crawling on the curvy road. He glanced around, there was a huge hill covered with cedar trees on his left and they were the only insane as he put, to go up via stairs. At that moment he felt like a remote control doll that was acting on her orders. They took three day vacation on her insistence. She chose Abbotabad and it was her rather silly idea to go up through the stairs.
“So that’s what we’ve come here for?”
She stopped, turned around, totally ignoring his sarcasm.
“Just relax!” She was smiling. His cheeks had turned red with exertion.
“Do you need some water?”
He refused. She sipped from the bottle; completely engulfed in thoughts while he was observing a small drop of water that parted from her lips and was now dangling from her chin. He wiped it off gently with his thumb. She smiled. He had always loved this subtlety between them. She wasn’t a conundrum; the password to her heart was easy to decipher still not everything was fine between them these days.
“Why? Why do we always argue?” He thought but had no answer.
They started again in silence contemplating on their lives, issues and surroundings. A little while later they reached the top. The sight of the walking, smiling people enchanted him. The happiness he felt was like he opened the door to secret garden. They walked to the nearby bench.
“At times it’s fun struggling for something.” She said sitting. “I had come here fourteen years ago with my cousins. I was mad on Safdar when he took that path. But by the time we reached up I can’t explain how I felt. It was like you come across a forgotten five hundred rupees note in your favorite book after a long time. The ambiance, cousins, the time we spent everything was unforgettable. So I wanted to relive those memories with the person I love the most.
Does she really love me that much, he thought. She had called me pig the other day. Well, I guess I provoked her when I called her a bitch. She wanted to be a mother. I thought to take some more time. Don’t know who’s wrong?
“Where have you lost?”
“Hmm… nothing let’s walk.”
They walked on the paved path apparently together but lost in their own worlds. A sight of the man roasting corns under the tree caught her attention. She went close, he followed. Upon seeing her evident excitement he quipped, “Seems you have come across your old lover.”
“Goodness! Your humor stinks at times.”
In the cool weather of Abbotabad eating sweet corn with red chilies and lemon felt like heaven. They took a walk around and sat down on the bench in the far off corner. An odd silence had descended. Then she said, “You know when I think of you, I think of the color red, of love and new… life.”
He remained quiet. Is she trying to broach that topic again? New life! What’s an issue I just asked for a year then we’ll have kids as well. Can’t she wait a bit? I shouldn’t talk or else we’ll end up having an argument when everything is going so well.
She kept talking about her childhood, her previous visits to Abbotabad, her cousins but he was noticing something else. In the distance a family was enjoying tea and playing with their small child. He felt strange sort of connection between the couple. They were so together and the only thing that seemed to have bonded them was a child.
We are missing that bonding that a kid creates between the spouses. Why did I ask for time? Perhaps, I am not ready yet. What a lame excuse! Kids are so adorable.
“Kids are so adorable!” He said aloud.
“I am sorry… for causing all the distress. I have no problem. It’s all about making up your mind.”
“Are you serious?”
“I don’t say things I don’t mean.”
He felt quite bad for being unreasonably obstinate. He looked at her face glowing with joy.
The sun was going down – all the hues of nature had been blended into one color – the color red.