It had been a rough day and she thought a little fresh air might work some magic on her stiffened nerves. She took a walk by the lake adjacent to her house. The road looked deserted, the sun was just beginning to sink behind a line of tall palm trees and it was still warm. After walking for half the length of the lake, she sat down on one of the benches facing the lake. The graceful currents, the slow dance of the waves, a few swans paddling away in pairs, the sunset, the cool breeze—how everything around her contradicted her mood and thoughts!
Suddenly, a voice startled her, “May I sit here? The rest of the benches are occupied.” She leaned back and looked on either side, people had indeed filled up the place. She smiled hesitantly. “Thank you”, he said and sat down next to her. He placed a bag in between them and pulled out a sketchbook, a few charcoal pencils, and got busy with copying the scenery onto his book. A little curious, she tried to steal a few glances of how the picture was shaping up. She could only see a few lines and curves. Something seemed quite familiar about him. Something about his voice, his posture, his bag, his fingers, she was not sure. She cleared her throat to get his attention and when he didn’t seem to notice it she asked, “Have I seen you somewhere?” He looked up from his sketchbook and said, “Have you?” It amused her. What? She didn’t know. She forgot that the question was shot back at her and kept looking at him because in her mind she wanted to place him, to remember a forgotten acquaintance. She suddenly snapped out of that thought and noticed that he had gone back to his sketching. Embarrassed, she quietly got up and started walking back home. On her way she kept thinking about what happened those few seconds. What was it that caught her interest? Should she have introduced herself? May be she could have played curious and asked about his interest in sketching? She should have simply asked him his name—it would have been easier to recollect. No? Just when she was about to reach home, she saw his smile flash in her mind. That’s it. It’s the smile. How could anyone miss that kind of smile—a smile that carried pride in one’s work? May be she’ll go back the next day and if she’s lucky enough she’ll see him again and get introduced to him, to someone who radiated the same pride just like her.