Titus

"Beautiful, is not he?"
Nikhil stated, murmuring,
After staring for long
At the painting mounted
On the wall of the gallery.

The late October evening
Had by that time crept in
In form of nostalgia,
Through the big glass door kept opened wide
To allow curious visitors like him,
To get into the exhibition cum sale.

He kept looking at the boy in the painting,
His lovely innocent eyes,
His hair partially visible under the hood,
The play of light and shade on his face
That had lent an orangy shade
On the canvas.

"I need to buy this painting"
Nikhil decided.
He walked to the enquiry counter.
A woman in mid thirties, there,
Flashed a generous smile,
Seeing in him perhaps a connoisseur.

'I have a wish to buy that painting...item number twenty eight'
Nikhil put forward his wish and also his card.

The late October evening
Had by that time settled within
The hall.
A group of young art lovers had made a boisterous entry,
Their animated discussion jarred the silence of the hall a bit.

"Thats like Rembrandt's Titus!"
Someone from the group exclaimed,
Walking to that item
Number twenty eight
Nikhil had chosen to buy.

Nikhil was growing impatient.
"Madam, can you tell me if I could buy that item
Twenty eight
This evening itself
And go home straight?"

The counter woman looked up.
She perhaps saw eagerness in his eyes.

'It is not the usual practice,
But if you insist...
Well, you can
Ring up the artist...'

A few minutes later, Nikhil was standing near
The fresco that waved softly in the wind,
Just outside the glass door of the gallery.

The street was full of cars and blowing horns and light beams.
A typical late October scene
Of the city.

'Hello,
I am Nikhil,
Madam,
Got your number
From the woman at the counter
Of gallery...'

Nikhil stated with breath bated.

'It is not for sale...'
The voice at the other end replied, cool.

'Not for sale?'

'No...'

The female voice affirmed.

'But, if I may, ask you the reason?'

Nikhil was curious.

'For it can never be sold to someone
Who had been so forgetful'
The artist replied in a huff, before hanging up,
Abruptly.

Nikhil stood there, dumbed.

He remembered one late October evening, some ten years back.
He recalled his first meeting
With Sree, the young graduate from Art College.
He remembered so many things.

The city, flew careless,
of his journey down the memory lane,
His act of sudden recall,
His late October evening,
His Sree painting him as a boy
As if he had been
The last surviving dream
Of her,
Like a Titus.

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