Raksha. This one name is the sole reason I still find life worth living. Raksha. The very name lifts up spirits, from the insides. I’ve seen many girls during my college days, some with a beautiful face and some with a beautiful heart. Indeed, beauty is one virtue every adolescent wants to possess. Be it be with him or within him. The first time I saw Raksha, I wanted her beauty to be with me. Raksha, the one word equivalent for beauty, beauty from the eyes of God.

                   I still remember that day as vividly as I’ve seen. January 27th, the day in winter on which I've had the eternal summer of my life. I was sipping steaming coffee from the paper cup, the sun snugly hid behind the clouds; the warmth of the chilling winter was never so comfortable. Sparrows and Mynah’s made the sky their playfield, zigzagging through the air for their early morning catch. Varun who sat beside me was now talking about the probability of a bird dropping falling into my cup. Stiff breeze wafted pass my face, producing a small, melodic sound in my ear. Strange as it might sound, I was also calculating the probability of a bird dropping landing into my cup. God might’ve got angry, as I was ignoring his most prized creations for the sake of the most trivial. He decided to put an end for my plight, that’s when I first saw Raksha. Raksha, she made the ground her canvas and transformed the dusty, barren land into the most beautiful painting ever.

                         Like a lead dancer in a dancing troupe, I could feel my retinas bring her image under the spotlight. I began to sense a distinct blur, with her image not losing focus. My heart throbbed abnormally and possibly she could hear it too. Those feet of hers! So beautiful yet so divine.  Casually entrapped between a pair of slippers their majestic movement resonated deep down in my chest. If I were given a chance, I’d live another life just for watching those feet. As someone said, a masterpiece ought to be analyzed from the bottom, I am that someone and Raksha the masterpiece. Women, the most efficient sensors on the face of the earth. Even the tiniest glance from the corner of an eye makes them turn. Raksha turned, shit! Did she see me?

Suddenly, the canteen was filled with an atmosphere of laughter and warmth. Did she see me? No, she saw the canteen behind. My mind became temporarily amnesiac the moment I saw her. Heaven, they say, is a place of unrestricted beauty and exceptional warmth. Am I in heaven? She came in, her face lit like an Angel and her grace authenticating it. I was transported to heaven, a heaven where Raksha was God.
“One Bournville please!”
The chitter chatter of the girls in the canteen made Raksha’s silence music to the ears, silence for once became the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard. Silence, the only sound inside my mind, it was so intense that I could hear my own heartbeat.
Tearing away the golden wrapper around the chocolate, she took a bite. Her tender lips moved forth as she savored the chocolate. I was losing myself to her. As she bent forward for another bite, locks of her hair fell forward on her face. Hair, those little curly ringlets of hair were so strong that I could feel them tugging my heart deeper into the realms of Raksha’s magic. A sudden impulse in my mind urged me to set her hair back to position. Raksha denied me that chance; she stroked her hair behind her ear, revealing another striking masterpiece of her profound body. Tiny little diamonds studded in her ear fought for recognition, but their charm was overshadowed by the beauty of her ears

Those ears, lips and hair behold,
Which have put my life on hold,
You’ve made a mighty man sway to the tune of beauty,
Welcome abroad, O! Queen of my heart”
God, the creator of the most clichéd thing on the face of the earth. The human mind. My mind was already singing duets while I was drooling like a hyena. Money, knowledge and luck. None of them even a bit close for winning over Raksha. Raksha, the apple of my eye, and the lone pearl in the azure skies.
                                         Testosterone powered male aggression has only one strength and weakness. Ironically, both of them are girls and girls alone.  The moment she entered the canteen, my insides started jumping out, my blood started boiling. Each and every cell in my body chanted only one name, Raksha. The turbulent insides and the exquisite outsides made me lurch forward. Hands inside my pocket and armed with a facial expression that could make even Jim Carrey go awry, I stylishly made my way up to the counter where Raksha was sitting. Style, that’s what the heroes in the movies have and that’s what I needed to have. I walked towards Raksha with my chest lifted high in the air and my spine super straight. I did a crossover between a catwalk and Kangaroo’s jump (That’s what Raksha felt, she was eyeing all the time, naughty girl) and the end result was outraging. Canteen floors by some secret norm always tend to have wet patches around, any unwarned walker could do somersaults without prior training. Well, somersaults were  never my forte, but unfortunately fate decided that I should meet Raksha only after doing one.
                                          For one second everything was fine, the canteen, Raksha and her bar of chocolate. The very next moment, a blinding white light, searing pain and the soot covered canteen ceiling. Something was wrong. I tried to get up, Fuck, I couldn’t. Tears in my eyes blurred my vision, and the canteen ceiling appeared as if it were falling down. Black laces of soot followed a helical path to come down and touch me. Wait, is it soot or, is it, is it hair? A moment later I could see two eyes trying to communicate with me. Raksha, the woman was talking sans the sound. Wait, I’m coming up. And then it happened.  The resurrection. My nerve cells responded quickly to Raksha’s touch, starting a chain of reactions deep within. But on the exterior I could sense only three changes. I moved my legs, acted sicker and opened my mouth, wider.

“Are you okay?”
Not in your hands baby.
I wish to be in your hands forever.

Just as I was about to act dead, intelligence dawned over my stupor. You’re a man stupid, you’re supposed to be strong, not a dud who loses his gas over a small little feat.
Fail. Epic fail. Within a few micro seconds my muscles flexed, heart stared beating faster. 

Get up. And I opened my eyes.
“I’m okay”
“You look groggy”
“It’s nothing actually, I ...”
“Can you stand up?”
“I guess I can, can you help?”
Taking the support of her hand, I stood up.
“Are you okay now?”
“I am fine I guess. Yes, I am fine”
“Thank God, the way you fell down was classic, why didn’t you bother to look down? You were running towards the counter like a famine struck lion, what’s up huh?”
I was running towards your counter lady.
“Thanks for your help, I’m Pawan”
“Raksha here”
We shook hands for the first time. The fall made me rise. Raksha, my guardian angel. I fell for you the first time I saw you baby. Literally and figuratively.

Minimalistic clothes, more sunscreen, lipstick, sweat, idyllic pep, ice cream, deodorant, more ice cream, beach and ice cream again. Summer. The most challenging time of the year. Summer. Sunshine, holidays, boredom and whatnot? Summer. This summer belonged to Raksha. That day in end of the month May on an uneventful, humid evening, Raksha and I planned for a walk along the beach. After we doled out a few random sentences, we got bored.
“Duh! Nothing’s interesting”
“Cheer up, anything’s interesting”
How? I looked around to find something worthwhile to talk about but all I could see were a couple of street dogs, a vendor selling shells and a few birds on their way back home. Nothing. I just now became a certified fool.
“Umm... There’s nothing!”
Raksha gave me an ‘I told you’ look.
“Let’s go for a walk, shall we”
“Accept that not everything’s interesting”
“I accept defeat, lady”
Smiling like a cherubic kid who’s got a pencil he wanted, Raksha oozed some life into me. Yet again, baby. We stood up and started walking down the road. We talked. We talked about everything under the sky. Rain, Metallica, mushrooms… you get the idea. As we walked further still, suddenly out of nowhere a new feeling hit me. Our old little darling cupid found his mark. Like an arrow ripping away my fingers, I could sense a little, tense electric shock at my fingertips.  I looked down at my hand, imagining it entangled between a barbed wire only to see a wonder. A quick glance and I knew it. As we were walking down a small attraction between our hands did the magic. Fingers fought for supremacy, locking their inconspicuous grooves with each other rejuvenating the sensory system. In a war of men one side wins, in a war of hearts both sides compromise. The fingers settled snugly between each other. Ah! Now we were walking hand in hand.

I envied those who walked hand in hand,
Those sweet nothing’s, and the spirit of love,
Here I am becoming a slave of my own envy,
O! Raksha, what have you done, baby?”

Plip, plop. Plip, plop.  Cool breeze, rubber soles, plain faces and dazzled spirits. Rain. Where ever it comes from, it sure is heaven. That night in mid July, my heart got washed away in another kind of rain. Tears. The most potent weapon on the earth. Tears of a woman. The same tears which washed away civilizations from the face of the earth. Plip, plop. Tiny white pearls of water flowed down through her cheek. Plip, plop. I’m a big flop. Raksha cried. I cried. There are two defeats that a man can never accept. One is in the land of the enemy and the other in the hands of his lady. Raksha cried, I hugged her, but she wouldn’t stop. Defeat. And I never wanted to lose again.

  Winter. The season of endless cold and eternal warmth. I sat on a bench opposite to the beach recollecting the events from the past few months. Every single moment had Raksha written all over it. I am in love. My heart got charred for storing the love for Raksha. I couldn’t handle it anymore, I had to share. On one fine, sunny day in October, I called up Raksha and told her, I love you, baby. Cut. I didn’t hear from her for the next one month. I called her but she didn’t answer. I went to her house but in vain. Raksha, you can start ignoring me baby, but you can’t stop thinking about me. I cried, I cried like a baby. I cried again and again. I prayed, I fasted, I started punishing myself for letting out the devil of love into the angel’s heart. Raksha, please! After a month and two days I got a call from her, asking me to come to the sunset bench, our regular hangout. Here I am, sitting on the bench waiting for Raksha from two hours, two hours before the rendezvous. Raksha, please tell me that you love me, please! The sun started sinking into the sea, and thereby painting the horizon ember red. Any moment now. And she came in just as I thought.

“Hello, Raksha”, a tiny wayward tear rolled down my cheek.
“Are you crying?”
“No… no, I… I… it’s just the sunlight, tha… that’s it”
“You’re lying, did you miss me?”
“I… I…” I couldn’t take it anymore, I’ve reached my saturation point, and I burst open.
“I missed you Raksha, I really missed you” I hugged her and cried. I’ve never cried like that before, never. I could hear Raksha crying too and for a moment I stopped crying.
“Why are you crying?” I asked, holding back my tears.
“I am s..sorry, Pawan, I missed you too” That moment I felt like a child. I hugged Raksha tightly and let open my emotions again.
“But, why did you start ignoring me?”
“I’m a girl remember? And I… I was surprised”
The silent sunrays danced around us in perfect synchronization, the golden sand radiated the energy of our love. Romantic. I stroked her hair and she looked up. Her teary eyes had the warmth of the summers.
“You have a beautiful nose”
“So? Is only my nose beautiful? Am I not?”
You are, baby.

“I guess only your nose is beautiful, but a little less than the girl who has it”
She smiled. I leaned forward and forward to give her a kiss on her forehead. She shook her head away. I felt awkward. But the very next minute, I was enchanted. My heart dropped into the zero gravity zone, I could feel my blood draining away, I could sense myself detaching from the surroundings.  There was a current flowing between us, even on a chilly winter evening I could feel the heat. Raksha, what have you done? With our lips interlocked and our hearts united, I experienced nirvana. I could taste her sweet lipstick, I wonder how I taste. The world started spinning back and my heart pumped out the vacuum. The sun, our silent spectator smiled back and took his holy dip in the water. For minute I felt light, lighter than a bubble, I was floating. Is this heaven.

“Are you okay?”
“I am!”
“I love you”
I touched those exalted lips,
High with hopes and brim with love,
I looked and looked into your deep eyes,
Only to see myself up above and high”

That day, on the 25th of November, I made a vow. Raksha, you’re the first person I’ve ever kissed and I promise you’ll be the last”. Did she read my mind? Maybe. Coz’ she smiled. I love you, baby.