“We have a bad habit of finding beauty in wrong places,” she said.
I turned and looked at her. She was lying on the grass, an old tweed hat covering her face.
“Aren’t you going to ask what do I mean?”, the voice came from under the hat.
“What do you mean?”, I asked as I was expected to.
She smiled and removed the hat from her face.
“We humans are so confused and lost. We find things when we don’t need them and we don’t find things when we really need them. And when we don’t get those things, we blame the universe. We are so confused that…that we don’t know where to look for what and most of the times we just end up looking for things in the wrong place!” she said as she got up and sat cross legged.
Taking out a small packet from her jacket, she rolled out a worn out box of cigarettes and a faded green lighter on the grass.
Puffing out clouds of smoke, she closed her eyes and continued.
“We look for beautiful things in wrong places.”
Even while doing something which my drunk self would also not approve of, I found her beautiful. The cigarette between her fingers looked like a fragrance candle instead of the smoke emitting pencil! I could not take my eyes off her.
“You know, last week when we bunked school and went to old Jone’s cemetery, stupid Jay said that the cemetery looks beautiful. I was like…really!? You find a cemetery beautiful? What next..death being your favourite thing to do, huh!? Weirdo!” , she smirked.
I did not say anything. Her words left or for that matter anyone else, only two options; one, to say something equally stupendous in return or two, to just babble on. And I could not or did not want to do, either of the two. Other boys at school, unlike me, chose to babble on in front of her and I seriously doubted that they ever spoke sense. Taking pride in my choice to remain silent, I looked at the view, thanking the universe and all the stars that had conspired to book me an evening with the woman I loved.
“Jimmy you really are a silent stereo, aren’t you?!” she said and put on her hat again.
“You know you should speak more. Say, scream, sing…just leave your print out in the world man!” she said as she fiddled with the damp cigarette box.
I looked at her and smiled.
“Maybe I don’t really have anything worth speaking, you know. There’s an old Chinese proverb which says that, ‘Don’t speak unless you can improve the silence!’ and I intend on obeying it to the fullest!” I laughed as I finally spoke.
“Ughh Jimmy! Now you speak and you just remind me that I haven’t completed my language assignment. I hate you!” she rolled her eyes.
She did not say anything next for a long time and continued staring at the view. Surprised to not have heard anything in her passionate voice, I looked at her. She looked lost. She did not notice my eyes on her. After a few seconds, she started humming a song. As the sun bade goodbye to our town and darkened the sky, I realized I loved executing the Chinese proverb of silence when I was with her.
It must have been close to 10 when her cellphone buzzed. We both got up and brushed ourselves.
“Can’t really afford to mess up the uniform, can we?” she said as she dusted her hat and got busy with her phone, texting someone.
I smiled and nodded.
We walked back to the town from the cliff top together. She was saying something about the language assignment but I could not listen as I was playing her words from back in the evening in my head again and again. I realised that she was right. We really do search and find beauty in the most odd places indeed. Like I found beauty in her cigarette, her old tweed hat, faded lighter and the wrong lyrics of the Deep Purple song she had hummed confidently.