Geeta entered the park through the west gate and followed the jogger's path that deviated to the right soon after the entrance. She was in an upbeat mood today. Her ad copy had been accepted by the client last evening, and a round of pats had done her back some good. She inhaled the fresh dawn air and almost smiled to herself. She had also decided to run an extra lap today. She wondered how humans adapted themselves to their surroundings. This was a city she hated four years ago when she landed here on a new assignment. She looked at the familiar faces and smiled. And now, it was all different. She was fiercely protective about the same city now and wouldn't leave for all the wealth in the world. Funny, she shook her head. She would've almost passed by the hunched figure sitting on the bench, had it not been for the distinct actions of his hands. She continued running and turned back. When she came around, she saw his fingers nervously running over the text of the book. And then it dawned on her. Obviously! How could he've seen her? He was reading in Braille. She hadn't seen him around earlier. Must be new to town. She stopped after her quota of rounds and sat beside him. He looked up toward her - through her. She smiled. If it were the movies, he'd have fluttered his eyelashes and asked, 'kaun hai?'. But not now. He just went back to his book, his fingers slowly moving over the pages.
"Oh, hello. I'm sorry, I was so involved in reading.. I.."
"It's ok." She smiled.
"What're you reading?"
"Oh, it's about Zen."
He smiled. "I'm Arun."
"New around here?" It amazed her how she'd so easily started a conversation with a blind person. She'd never done it before. But there was something about him...
They made small talk for a few more minutes before she rose. She had an early meeting to attend. She wanted to ask him if he needed help out of the park. But she knew how fiercely independent differently abled people were, so she let it be.
Arun was a nice guy with a great sense of humor. Jogging in the park was not just another morning routine for Geeta anymore. She looked forward to meeting him and talking with him. For more than a fortnight, the new routine was she finishing her jog, and then talking to Arun. Then they walked to the nearby tea-stall where he had his tea and cigarette, and then she walked him to the edge of the park, outside. She decided that it was time to call him home and bring him into her circle of friends and family.
"Geeta, it's fine, but..."
"Please Reena, you don't start that thing about him being blind etc." Reena was her close pal at office, who had started out with her around the same time in the city.
"I know, I know..but..hope you've thought about this, hmm?"
He wasn't there. Her first thought was, "I hope he's ok." And she now felt bad that she didn't know where he stayed. She'd told him almost everything about herself - where she lived, where her parents were, who her friends were, where she worked. And he'd never divulged anything more than his interests, not even his background. She suddenly realized she didn't even know if he lived in this city - he'd never mentioned it. Maybe his blindness had somehow stopped her from being more inquisitive than she'd normally be.
She finished her jog and waited on the bench for more than a half hour, but he didn't show up. She felt a pang of disappointment. She shook herself. "Relax Geeta, don't be so restless now."
He wasn't there the next day either. And the next, and the next. And the next. A month later, Geeta only turned to look at the bench while jogging, but was now sure that he'd gone. But she felt cheated. He could've at least come by to say bye. But then, well, he might've had his own reasons. She accepted his absence and carried on with life.
Sunday afternoons were the most boring, according to Geeta. As she flicked through the channels, her droopy eyes almost closing, the loud door-bell jolted her out of her senses. God, she must have that bell replaced, she muttered, dragging herself to the door.
He was looking different. And she realized he was not looking through her. He was looking at her. Into her eyes. It took her a moment to realize.
She gently pulled his hand and got him into the house, but his eyes won't leave hers.
"Yeah, that's right Geeta. I'm not blind now."
"Uh..." She didn't know how to react.
"I've come to invite you to premiere of my movie this evening."
"Yeah. I play the same character that you saw in the park all those days."
She sat down in disbelief.
"how was I?"
He smiled. "My acting. How was it?"
She didn't reply. She didn't know how to reply.
"We had to wrap up the shoot and the other post production work. So I couldn't come to the park. I wanted to surprise you by inviting you to the movie."
She just kept looking at him.
"It's my directorial debut. It's a small film, but...."
She was staring ahead.
"Look I'm sorry for all this...but...you'll come to the movie, won't you?"
He smiled that same innocent smile. She slowly smiled back.
"Of course, I'll come...you Oscar winner" She replied, hitting him gently on his shoulder.