The evening sun has just touched the shades of pink.
Piesces of floating clouds sailing as a flight of pigeon dipped in white colour. A soft wind blowing with traces of warmth and also with a hint of cold. A chilled November night is approaching.
I swapped my jacket and zipped it.
In front, there lies four different roads, all sloping down the rocky path of the Amber fort. But all the roads appeared different to me. And slowly I realized the truth.
I have lost the road.
This is not the way by which I came to the fort. Though I came by walking along with others but now I must be in the wrong way.
I stood and thought for a moment.
A sharp wind swept me.
Temperatures dropping seriously.
I started walking the road that I am so long following.
I glanced at the watch.
No, the bus would not wait for me as already thirty minutes have passed than the scheduled time.
The road is sloping as like many roads to the fort. I calculated, the bus stop must be 4Kms from the fort gate.
So a long way to go.
But gradually I came to realize that this sloping road can end up anywhere else but not at the busstop, because what it looks, that I am gradually coming near to a village.
Straw thatched houses can be seen in the surroundings.
Though hardly any people around.
Must be all have gone for business near the market area and to the fort and would return at night once the tourist returns.
I thought about again turning back and go to the path through which I came but the idea seemed to be in vain because then also there is no assurance that I will be finding the right path.
Another chilled wind passed me.
November cold is really grasping.
At that moment I saw a group of local Rajasthani girls passing .They are wearing colourful Rajasthani dresses and holding some in their clothing bucket , it appeared that they sale these dresses with other utensils and jewelleries to the tourists.
I approached them at once and asked “ Bus stop ka rasta idhar hai keya?”(Where I can found the road to the bus stop?)
The group of girls stopped.
But no answer came.
I gain asked the same question.
Now a girl replied.
“Sab, ap galat raste pe aa gaye hai..Busstop us par hai..”
(The bus stop is on the other side)
I was about to turn back when that girl came forward and said, ‘Chaliye, main apko dikhata hoon!”
She took a totally different path and soon we again entered the fort from the back side.
A light blue shade of the crescent shaped moon slowly spreading through the evening as it is becoming ripe. Wind,with sharp teeth blowing at regular intervals.
We turned another lane of the fort.
Yes,now I can follow the map of the fort which I explored so long and which led me to miss the bus and lost the road.
There..just right is the Dewan –e-Aam..further left..the Ganesha Poll and straight from that within the royal palace chamber is the astounding Sheesh mahal.
The marble floors of the fort in this soft moonlight looking like a flowing river.
The girl went on.
I asked her, “How long will it take?”
“Aur dus-panra mins sab.”
She is walking fast. She is a young girl , hardly 20-22, her neglected strips of hair floating in wind over her forehead,her green skirt also sailing in wind and her yellowish rajasthani choli glittering sometimes in moonlight.
We passed the Sheelamata Temple.We again walked straight and then again left.
I can see over the sky the large walls of the fort over that in dark the towering shade of Aravalli range.I can also see the Maota lake far down and the whole Jaipur city below which looks like now in night as a strings of emeralds with a mesmerizing pink.
‘Beautiful’ I acclaimed almost in silence.
The girl went on.And then asked “Hamara sahar acha laga sab?”
“Khubsurat” I replied.
She went on walking.
She look like an open spirit of nature..simple..pure and in full flow.
Now we are sloping down, the narrow rocky road beside which the roadside stalls with various commodities can be seen.
We passed them.
Again we came to a bushy rocky path where the girl once stopped and said “ Sab zara samalke aaiye..aage rasta toota hai..”(Just careful the road is broken in front).
I stared at the girl. She looked really sincere as a guide.
Within five minutes I came to the bus stop. Though now almost 8.20 PM , no buses are available, though some arrangement can surely be done.
‘Bahaut Shukriya’ I turned to the girl and then took out my purse.
‘Nehi Babuji..mujhe kuch nehi chaihe..”She raised her hand in protest.
I looked at the girl. She may be right. Money can’t buy everything, now it appears almost like an insult.
“Shukrira” I once again uttered and then took out my mobile and clicked it for a snap.
‘Keya sab?’ The girl got amazed.
I said her in hindi that I want to remember the girl who has showed me the right way and then showed her the snap in my mobile.
At that moment, must be the moon reached her climax..
All clouds disappeared from sky..
The winds became tender..
The five hundred years old city of Amber became all quite for a moment..
I don’t know what exactly happened.
But I saw the girl before me..her eyelids trembling..so her lips..and her eyes holding an ocean of happiness and then for a moment she touched my palm and said, “Shukriya sab, shukriya!”
I got stunned for a moment.
Sometimes a moment can make you so special.
The girl was about to turn when I asked her once again her name.
The girl turned towards me and looked at my face.
And smiled again.
Just like the snap of the mobile.
And then said in a soft voice.. ‘Jhimli’!
And then turned back and went away.
I stood for a moment and then rented a jeep and came back to hotel.
The whole night I thought about the moment.
A snap,can appear such valuable to someone?
A snap can give such happiness to someone?
Next morning I came back to Amber fort again. I need to find the girl. Because I want to give her the print out of the snap.
A thing which she can only treasure.
This time I cautiously followed the road and came to the spot where I found the girl.
But the girl was not there.
The thatched houses were there.
I asked someone, even the security guards of the fort but no one can tell anything about her.
I waited till afternoon and then till evening.
But there was no trace.
Only when, I was about to comeback a shopkeeper asked me.. “Keya nam bataya apne?”
‘Ha, abhi pehchana lekin whoh to sab ek banjara thi, aaj hi nikal gayi aur koi jagah ke liye’(She is a nomads or a ‘Banjara’ and she today went out for some other place.)
I thanked the shopkeeper and then came back to Jaipur.
I never found her again.
I met numerous girl after that,came across much beautiful faces but none of them ever appeared to me such innocent such beautiful like that one face captured in my mobile in a moonlit night beneath the foothills of the old Amber Fort.
Thus sometimes when I am alone and when I feel like loosing the road to life or in a verge of loosing mood I slowly open my mobile and that snap.
The snap of a most beautiful girl.
With a lonely smile.