I looked into his eye. My own eye. I was up next. RJ was speaking about his play and what it was all about. I had to do the same. I could hear him articulate what was the underlying idea and why he thought this story should be told. I closed my eyes, inhaled. Diaphragmatic breathing, a technique every actor practices. “It improves the throw of your voice,” Nilabh sir had told us several times
With my eyes closed I turned away from the mirror, RJ was still answering the questions that the guys from the theatre company that organized the event asked. The thought of speaking into a camera kept haunting me. Performing on stage is fine, but camera! A bloody camera which could zoom into and focus on the single hair that stuck out of my nose. My body shivered in a strange way. I slowly opened my eyes. She stood there, right in front of me. Her bosom rose and fell with a deteriorating frequency as she caught hold her breath.
“Narmada, you are in the frame, back off.” I had heard someone shouting when I was looking in the mirror. She was forced back into the green room by her colleagues. Maybe she had just climbed the rather steep flight of stairs to the floor of the stage and before she could catch her breath she was shoved away from the stage and into the greeo room.
I had talked to her once, with regards to the availability of the light arrangement during the competition. And the moment she picked up the phone and greeted me, I knew hers was the most alluring voice I had ever heard. I wanted to tell this to her on the phone, but couldn’t. There she was, standing in front of me. Just the two of us in the green room, that was painted black so that no lights bounced back on stage when an act was going on. Only one tungsten bulb did lit the room. The light was just enough for her to see me. She turned her gaze towards me and saw me looking at her. She was wearing a very basic outfit. Black denim and a green spaghetti top. Climate in Pune during the monsoons is very pleasant, eliminating any need of warm clothing. The top hugged her body, accentuating it. She looked into my eyes for a moment and turned away.
I cursed myself, mentally, and turned away from her. I looked up in the mirror and found her looking at me. I felt a sudden urge to tell her that she had a beautiful voice and that she, indeed, was beautiful. I could hear the intensity of my breathing rise. Out gaze met in the mirror. She shifted her weight such that her hips slanted at bit. I so wanted to turn away and speak to her, but I knew that a video was being shot and any noise will ruin the take. I had to get closer.
She turned towards the stage again. RJ kept on blabbering and I had long stopped paying attention to that. A cold fire rose through my spine. The more I looked towards her the more it grew. Narmada, it said that the river Narmada is an eternal virgin. No one can and no one will ever conquer her. It flows through the rocky terrain of central India and thus has been given the name Rewa, the one who leaps. The movement of her hand to tuck a fluttering lock of her hair brought me back from the plateaus of central India to the green room, where she and I were alone.
An unknown force pulled me towards her. I slowly walked, unconsciously. She kept looking at me. Her eyes blinked in quick succession and for a moment she looked towards the floor. And when she looked back up I was still moving towards her. I could see the fright in her eyes, but that didn’t deter me. She straightened up as I reached close to her, close enough to feel her intense breath on my neck. She kept looking in my eyes, perhaps with an anticipation. I was resolute to tell her what I had wanted to since I first heard her voice. I leaned towards her. Her lips trembled. I could feel my heart pounding at a never before rate. My lips parted but I could hardly speak. Everything seemed to be slow, like a marble dropped in a pot of honey. She closed her eyes and before I could say something, her lips touched my lips. What followed was something that could never be done with a predetermination. I felt the metallic tinge of a chewing gum that she would have had earlier in the day as my tongue moved over hers. Her tooth lingered a while over my lips, nibbling and biting. I felt dizzy, maybe because of the camera fright that I had in back of my mind.
Her hand slowly made its way through the back of my hair. She kneaded my hair as her tongue investigated the insides of my mouth. I took a sigh and gave in to the indulgent pleasure. She came closer. Her body now touched mine and I could feel her thumping heart, beating in unison with mine. I hugged her with all my remaining strength and she leaned all her weight on me. I was floating in a sea of cotton balls. Everything around me was as soft and as brilliant as cotton. Suddenly weightlessness took over and I was falling down a never ending abyss.
“You are up next,” She spoke to me. I opened my eyes. She was still standing at the gate of the green room looking at me. I was trembling, thanks to the unexpected daydream I had. I turned towards her. She had the same look in her eyes. As I walked towards her, she backed off a bit. Her eyes looked down towards the floor for a moment and then turned towards me. I was now standing close to her, close enough to feel her intense breath on my neck…