There’s a weekly market down the road where I spend my Sundays. I like to sit and watch the strangers pass me by, to revel in the realization that each one of them is living a life as vivid and as complex as mine. It is here where I meet the most extraordinary individuals, passersby who remain in my mind’s eye for months on end. I now present to you two of my most other-worldly experiences in that little corner of the world.
June 27, 2020
I rather enjoyed my trip to the market today. The bees had been buzzing pleasantly over the drooping daisies. The vendors’ calls had cut through the muggy air, promising juicy melons and mangoes.
She’d sashayed through the crowd, a straw-hat clutched in one arm, a melting popsicle in the other. Perhaps it was just my imagination, but she’d seemed to walk through the crowd rather than with it, ethereal.
She’d stopped under the shade of the colourful umbrellas, right across me. I’d seen a tattoo of a phoenix winding around her forearm, beak open in a silent cry.
As I was trying to work up the courage to initiate conversation, she leaned over to me and whispered, “Tell her Summer says ‘hi’”.
The strangest thing happened then! Fading, fading, fading — and then she was gone; before I could make heads or tails of her statement.
In her wake, the nostalgic smell of seawater had lingered. What a baffling encounter!
January 27, 2021
What a marvellous day!
It had been exceptionally chilly this evening, and business for the hot cider stalls had been booming. I’d been sharing a particularly amusing anecdote with the vendor when I’d seen her, the girl I’d seen last summer.
There’d been no mistaking that ragged straw hat, that gliding gait. I’d rushed over, a greeting on the tip of my tongue. Would she remember me?
She’d turned when I tapped her on the shoulder, and lo and behold! Where there had previously been light, now lingered flashing shadows. Not of the sinister kind, mind you — but just hints of darkness, accentuating her unearthly air.
The change had been subtle, like the contrast between dusk and dawn, yet so very visible.
She’d considered me quizzically for a second, then had seemed to reach a conclusion. “You’ve met her — you’ve met me before, have you not? Did she send me a message?”, she’d asked, quirking an eyebrow.
This had been a rather confusing turn of events. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t normal for people to refer to themselves in third person, even less so in company of almost complete strangers. However, in an attempt to re-establish some semblance of practicality to the situation, I’d dutifully repeated Summer’s message.
She’d chuckled. “Months to dream up a message to send across, and she blows her chance on a ‘hi’. Well, you can say ‘hi’ right back to her then!”
She’d started to turn away then, and I’d known she was going to disappear again, and disappear for months on end.
I’d asked her to stay, fascinated by the mystique surrounding her. She’d merely laughed and raised a hand in farewell, already starting to blur at the edges.
“The name’s Winter, by the way”, she’d tossed back at the last moment, an afterthought.
And even though Christmas has long since come and passed, even though the trees have been long since removed, the scent of fir needles had hung heavy in the air, fresh and sharp.
And so, once more, I was left with more questions than answers, standing star-struck in a crowd of strangers.
And after going through my experiences, is it really that hard to believe that I could have met some supernatural entity, someone not quite from this world? I like to believe that Summer and Winter were quite literally the seasons, methodically going round the planet to bring about changes. They must be like two sides of the same coin, so similar, yet doomed to be apart, exchanging words only through strangers’ mouths.
Isn’t it delightful to think of what may be waiting in the world around us, if only we opened our minds?
– Navya Saini, Delhi Public School, Noida2 Likes