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The girl in red apron - contd

by Suyash Saxena
(Delhi, India)

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Three years have passed since then. Andrei has since been grappling with enigmas that that moment had given him. The flower has been treasured the way the memories of the girl in red apron have been cherished. In these three years he has been to Austerlitz several times searching for the girl in the red apron. He spent days looking for her but all in vain. His wounds have healed but the one who provided him the balm is gone. He sits by his window with the image of the girl in red apron before his eyes. Just like this day, every dusk would carry him back to her.

Grown habitual of searching for her, he sets out for Austerlitz once again. He reaches the battle field. He sees those meadows. He sees those flowers. He sees that medical camp now ruined with time. All is so familiar to him. But the difference this time was that he found his young lady, dressed in a red apron, filling her basket with flowers. From inside the dilapidated structure that was once the medical camp, he gazed at her. She was just the same- delicate, gentle with blushing cheeks and curly hair. Andrei lost his speech. His eyes were blurred with tears. He had found what he had been looking for all these years.

He attempted to reach out to her but couldn’t. He was reluctant even to inch closer. He realized that his object was elusive. Was the girl in the red apron his destination? He found it difficult to convince himself of that. What was that he was looking for all these years?

Perhaps
his object is lost. Perhaps there has been no object. His search has been aimless- for something abstract. He may never know. But as he stands before the girl who changed his life, he is now sure of one thing. It is not her who he was searching for. She was there, right before him. The flowers, the grass, the medical camp- all were there as before. But his destination still eluded him. What were missing? Perhaps those abstract feelings. Those abstract emotions had conjured up during that particular moment when they parted. Those emotions were intertwined with the moment that passed. The moment just slipped and what he was left with was the reminiscence of those feelings. It was the overwhelming nostalgia not of the girl in the red apron but of those feelings that impelled his search. Andrei soon realised this.

He kept gazing at the girl in the red apron as she kept collecting flowers. Soon her basket got filled. It was dusk by then. The sun was again setting, just like that day. The girl began to leave. He did not make any effort to stop her. He couldn’t. Nothing impelled him to do so. The entire bliss was in those emotions. What he had longed to attain all through those three years were those abstract emotions that the brief association with the girl had aroused in him. The moment that sifted from between his fingers of his hands that he had raised to make the parting gesture, had made all the difference. In that perpetual moment she had given him everything that he has ever lost. Life is none but one such moment.

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