March 4, 2012
The sun rays pierced her closed eyes; her throat was sore from screaming; her lower abdomen hurt. The whole episode came rushing to her mind, the moment she gained consciousness. Staggering as she stood up, she banged her fist on the wooden door, in a vain attempt to call for attention. Hunger pangs made her stomach churn. She gulped the last sip of water, from an abandoned steel glass, in the corner of the small and unkempt room. She could taste blood as she swallowed; the pain surfaced again, with twice the intensity, as she touched, with her finger-tips, the streaks of blood from her nose, which had dried against her skin.
“I’ll see you where I picked you up for the first time,” he said. The wait was finally over, and it had seemed like an eternity. It was worth it though; after two long years he had finally come around. She slipped into a pair of denims and slithered into a red kurta; he liked red. Tying her hair into a knot and winding a red stole around her neck, she rushed down the stairs. “Cathedral Cross?” she asked, as she hopped into a rickshaw.
The ensuing journey seemed longer than had the past two years. As the rickshaw took a left she saw the old house. “I want a house like that,” he had said. “I am old school in thought; minimal furniture, a wife, children and a BMW.” She smiled as she remembered the texture of his voice; baritone, but with excitement like that of a child. Finally, she was going to hear that voice again.
She jolted out of her reverie as the rickshaw hit the speed breaker on the road. The last time she had passed by that speed breaker, she had almost fallen off the bike. “I didn’t do that on purpose!” he had exclaimed. She hadn’t minded it anyway. “It’s okay,” she had said as she had adjusted herself on the back seat, holding him tight.
She had known even then that he had looked into the rearview mirror, of his dream machine, when for a moment she had closed her eyes and tried to breathe in the air around him. The odour of the breath lingered, in her memory, to this day; she felt her eyes brim as she recollected that moment so sacred, at least to her.
As she rickshaw raced, across the serpentine roads and lanes, to her destination, she looked intently at every detail outside; each detail brought back memories of the times that they had spent. Faster than fairies, faster than witches, Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches…And here is a mill, and there is a river; each a glimpse and gone forever. She read to herself, from the green poetry book that he had gifted to her.
She finished her poetry in time to reach the gate. She felt her heart beat frantically against her chest as she stepped out of the black and yellow beetle. He looked just the same; tall and dark; his boyish smile conjured a dimple on his left cheek. “Pachees rupaya madam,” said the man on the driver’s seat. She hunted for the change in her pocket and dumped them into his hands.
As she inched forward, she couldn’t help but wonder how strange it was, that one could travel the whole world for what one wanted, but those last few steps towards embracing one’s dream, were even more difficult than the first steps that one took as a baby.
It is true, when they say, that the most powerful way of expressing love is by touch. Only holding his hands would fill the gaps, not just those in between her fingers, but also in her life. No sooner than she had put forward her hand to hold his, she heard a car screeching past her. Distracting her, the white four-wheeler halted right next to her.
To be continued...
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