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It was an unusual monsoon evening in the city of dreams. Not for today, the evening’s moisture-laden winds or the unruly chaos of people crowding the shore. Instead, what blew across the sands was a slightly dry, yet cool and strong breeze. The sea of humanity had somehow taken a backseat to the “real” sea. The only thing that remained unchanged was the molten orange of the setting sun, melancholic yet fulfilled, inching towards its home somewhere on the horizon. “This does not feel like the seashore I know. This seems…different.”, he spoke to himself as he let the waves brush against his trousers. It was some time before he realised that he had forgotten to take off his shoes and had effectively, messed them up. “Let it be, I needed a new pair anyway, good riddance!” was how he consoled himself.

After he had made a couple of rounds from one end of the beach to another, the shoes started growing heavier in his hands. Putting them on was out of the question as it would mean feet polished to a sore red by the sand. Reminding himself to wear floaters the next time, he decided to make a final detour to his favourite end of the beach. It was the end where the sun used to shine the brightest in the day, and the mellowest in the evening. The longer stay of the sunshine did mean extra crowds, but today that was not the case, and he felt happy about it. On a day where he needed some “me time”, this was a more than welcome occurrence.

As he slowed down for the final lap, some distance away from him, he noticed her sitting alone on the sands. She sat a bit away from the waves, far enough to keep her dry, yet close enough to feel their splash. He would have dismissed her as yet another sea-lover or lost soul if something had not caught his attention. Her eyes had something bewitchingly different about them. In his lifetime, he had seen (and gazed into) a fair share of eyes – some of them deep and inviting, some others cunning and shifty, and yet others lively and innocent. Hers were something else altogether, though he could not really tell what it was about them that had him hooked. To get a closer look, he sat a few feet away and gazed at her, pretending all the while to look around the beach. Her eyes not only reflected the liquid brightness of the setting sun, but also seemed to shine with an intensity usually found in someone who had their entire life planned and were raring to go get it. At the same time, they had a certain far away, lost quality which mellowed the intensity and made her look more inviting than intimidating. “Awesome sunset today, no? I just love it.” – he spoke out loudly to no one in particular, hoping that she will hear it and respond. She noticed, but didn’t say anything, but simply smiled at him and nodded in approval.

“I have not seen you much around here. Do you come here regularly?” – he tried to keep the conversation going. “No, I do come here regularly. You have noticed me for the first time though, haven’t you?”, she said with a slight smile. “Umm…yes. I wonder how I missed out all this while?” was all he could muster.
“Oh, it happens. We do not notice something until the time is really right. Anyway, you enjoy the sunset, I have to go.” Saying so, she stood up and turned away.
“What if I don’t want you to go?” – he blurted out without knowing how or where those words came from. The moment he said that, he wished time had an Undo option. Unfortunately, it did not, and all he could do was look at her and see how she reacted.

“Do you really want me to stay?”
“Yes, I do.”

It felt like a entire age had passed by while they looked at each other – he in anticipation, she in what seemed to be trepidation.

“Okay! Chalo…”, saying so, she stretched out her hand.

As they walked along the beach, hand in hand, the waves brushing his feet felt cooler, the orange along the horizon, warmer.