Her eyes were a soft hazel colour. His eyes were a dark bottle green. Her hair was as yellow as the rising sun. His was greying prematurely. They saw each other three times before they were to properly speak to each other.
The first was across a library – a public library for neither of them were in school nor university. Jenny loved the smell of libraries ever since her father took her to her first one when she was but a child. She also appreciated the smell of a freshly printed book, waiting to be bought off the shelves of a bookstore, as any sane book lover would. But the smell of books that have gone through several personal libraries and gained that unique smell that makes up libraries. Whispers flitting through the shelves as people struggle to maintain their voices in conversation with strangers. Books have a way of connecting people like no other inanimate object. Edison was searching through the news archives for his parents’ wedding announcement for their 50th wedding anniversary. He wanted to build a frame especially for this occasion because the one that they had framed when they got married was burnt down in a fire. They crossed each other near the magazine stand. He was looking down at his phone and caught the scent of mango and vanilla – her perfume. That pulled his gaze upwards and at that exact moment as well, she bumped her head into his chest. They weren’t exactly of the same height – Jenny and Edison. 2 pairs of eyes locked and a hint of red creeped up Jenny’s cheeks.
The second time they saw each other was in a completely different setting. Jenny was celebrating her promotion at work while Edison was celebrating the dawn of the weekend – as most people do. The scene was at the new hip club, The Insomniac’s Pill, that had opened 2 weeks before this second chance meeting. Jenny was already 5 drinks down (her personal favourite – JD and coke) while Edison was taking his chances with the cocktail of the night – coconut water with vodka and chilli. Surprisingly, he was able to keep it down by doing several deep breathing rounds. He was standing at the bar and waiting for his drink to be given to him. He had lost count of how many he had already consumed and was waiting for the moment when his brain caught up with his stomach and put an end to it all. Doing one of his deep breathing rounds, he took a giant whiff of a spicy scent and just got a glimpse of blonde locks before passing out. He managed to hit his forehead on the glass platform of the bar but not hit anything else on his way down to the greasy club floor. The first thing that Jenny noticed about the man who had suddenly slumped next to her was his startling grey hair. She bent down to see if he was alright and realised that his face was wrinkle-free. Her mental capacities were working well enough that she could make out that he was simply unconscious. The manager suddenly appeared next to her while the grey haired man fluttered his eyelids, lying on her lap. He smiled at her, a sweet smile with a hint of a dimple beneath his contrasting black beard before vomiting onto the floor.
The third time they saw each other was at the finish line of the New York Half Marathon. He was a volunteer at the medical tent while she was running the marathon as part of her ‘Things to do on the Bucket List’. Jenny was a track athlete back in high school but that was 10 years ago. She would visit the gym regularly and kept herself in good shape considering her rather hectic working schedule and the fact that she needed to have a giant tub of cheese popcorn every time she went for a movie (which was every Saturday morning). Edison always had a secret ambition to become a nurse but after the fire, his parents had to put their savings into buying another house which meant medical school was out of the picture. He reconciled himself with the decision by taking local paramedic classes and becoming certified as a first aid respondent for marathons and other such big events. One could almost call him a freelance nurse – which is exactly what his sister calls him every chance she gets. He never understood the fascination of becoming a doctor and always put up with his friends teasing him about it. But that never put him off from learning everything he could about nursing – except that he never studied to become a proper nurse. All the runners of the Half Marathon were expected to get a proper medical check-up done – heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle reaction – at the end of the marathon. As Jenny was waiting in line, the grey hair that was imprinted in her memory from 3 months ago moved into her eye line. She didn’t realise it at that time, but she was about to meet her soulmate. But she had no clue. She ended up in front of his table and held her wrist out for him to take her pulse. He took a deep breath and his olfactory senses were hit with a mixture of sweat and orange juice. He wrinkled his nose and bent down to wrap her arm in the blood pressure cuff when his face was brushed by her hair and his mind was hit with a flood of memories. He looked up and cracked his neck but shrugged the pain away as he realised that the angelic beauty standing in front of him was someone that he had met before. If only he could remember where he had met her but was interrupted by the pressure reading beeping. He turned around to put his equipment back and was about to ask her a question as he turned back around when he saw an empty chair in front of him. He sighed as he stood up to stretch his full frame, thinking it would be futile in finding her in the melee that was presented before him.
3 chance meetings – 3 encounters that fate/destiny/the cherubic baby that hovers around with heart shaped pointy arrows had set up. They didn’t even know each other’s names and yet the last time they both met, they felt invisible strings pulling them together.
It was the 30th of March, 2015 – what Jenny and Edison both knew as their birthdays. Both were born at 1:30pm – Jenny on a Monday in 1987 and Edison on a Sunday in 1986 and were celebrating their respective birthdays in two different restaurants across town. But that was the day they were to speak to each other for the first time in their entire lives.
28 year old Jenny was diagnosed as ‘dumb’ or having no speech at the age of 2. Her parents weren’t worried when her twin brother began speaking at 9 months but when Jenny began making noises only at the age of 2, her mother’s friend suggested that the family visit a child therapist. It was on that day that they discovered that Jenny’s voice box had a genetic defect and was essentially unworkable for the rest of her life.
29 year old Edison was diagnosed as ‘dumb’ or having no speech at the age of 2. His parents were well aware of the possibility of having a ‘dumb’ child because his father’s sisters were both ‘dumb’. They used to take him for regular medical check-ups because they were thoroughly paranoid parents – the kind who looked up symptoms of a cold on the internet and realised that their child had meningitis. The doctor confirmed their suspicions but unsurprisingly his parents were prepared for the verdict.
Both children led rather regular and normal lives – as much as two children who couldn’t form words even though they had perfectly intelligent minds and good sense. Edison was taught sign language in the same class as his parents and sister – his aunts ran a special learning centre for the deaf and dumb. Jenny was admitted into a regular school where the teachers were as kind with her as her parents. Her infectious smile and bouncy blonde curls made her a favourite amongst the students and soon everyone in the school learnt sign language – taught by Edison’s aunts.
College was a different scenario because it was about living in the real world. Jenny had never lived away from her parents but she had her twin brother to integrate her better into the world of hormonal 20 somethings. Edison was all alone. It wasn’t smooth sailing for either of them but they got a taste of what the world is really like when all you can say is “Ah”. Interestingly, when they did have sex (with separate people), it didn’t involve much of words. And as they had learnt earlier, there was a lot that could be done with fingers and hands.
28 year old Jenny was standing outside a cupcake shop at 1:30am on the 1st of April, 2015. Her brain was fuzzy after downing a bottle of champagne. She might have been drooling on the window glass at rows and rows of marzipan decorated cupcakes.
29 year old Edison was standing outside the same cupcake shop at 1:30am on the 1st of April, 2015. His brain was relatively clear despite having finished an entire bottle of champagne. He was drooling on the window glass at the freshly baked cupcakes that were being taken out of the oven.
Both of them made their way towards the door and promptly got stuck. Being a gentleman, Edison opened the door for Jenny who blushed and shook her head, motioning him to go first since he was being so kind. It took them 5 minutes of standing out in the cold before the lady at the counter exclaimed “Honey, why don’t you both come inside? Was wondering how long it would take for you both to decide to come in!” They both slinked in with the aura of a child who broke their mother’s favourite china set. The lady, now significantly engrossed in her kneading, lifted her head up to point at the display case and said “You children make a wonderful couple. Why don’t you go and pick yourselves out something nice to eat and let it be on the house?”
Jenny and Edison looked at each other properly for the first time. She registered his grey hair and smiled as she remembered the times that she had seen him but not really looked at him. This made her blush which reminded Edison of the encounter that they had in the library. They both smiled widely as it dawned upon them that they had met several (only 3 but who’s counting?) times earlier. Having settled down with a cupcake each, Edison pulled out his notebook which he used to tell people that he couldn’t speak. At the same time, Jenny pulled out her notebook, also used for the same purpose. They both laughed at each other, silent noises to the lady behind the counter who understood that both were dumb. “Well they certainly found love in a hopeless place!” She murmured as she made a mental note to tell her husband, who would be fast asleep right now, the rickety fan adding to the noise in the apartment above.
They talked about their families and their difficulties in school and college. They compared stories about both sets of parents being worried when they moved to the city. The conversation was effortless and as the sun began to change the colours in the sky, they had already exchanged numbers.
The path that lay ahead of them was unblemished, like the sea shore that’s just been kissed by the waves. But this was just the beginning.