Written by Lekha Dey
I live alone. In the two-story house under the moonlight. Silver beams, like liquid dreams, flood the balcony, bathe the window sills and wash the bed spreads. They remain unruffled.
The man I married left me four years ago. Because he saw the entity standing at the end of the road, beyond the bed spreads, beyond the window sills, beyond the balcony.
The silhouetted figure, shadowy, as though not really there. Yet those darkened eyes, unmistakable. The silvery-gray mist.
Four years ago, for days, at night, I had heard the distant sound of flute. The shrill whistle of the nocturnal birds had stopped abruptly. The dull hooting of owls in the trees lining the lake below the balcony had gone silent.
I went to the window and looked out. That piercing glance. Drawn, I could not turn away.
“What is it?” My husband said. He half turned from the silken silver pillows.
I turned from the vision – wrested, wrung – and looked back at him. My eyes far away.
And then, the inevitable, “Who is it?”
He pushed bed sheets aside, stepped off the edge of the chestnut wood, and strode towards the window. Pushed me aside to get a better look.
There was nothing. Only a gust of wild wind sweeping through the leaves, rustling and rippling the silver waters of the pond.
The shrill night birds began to scream. The wise owls stayed quiet.
He looked at me accusingly at breakfast.
“What?” I said. He usually made the eggs. I made the coffee and the toast. I buttered the bread.
We both brought home the beacon.
I was the unambitious “copy corrector” as I like to call it, at the local newspaper. He the ambitious “marketing manager” as he likes to call it at the international multinational company.
I was twenty-seven. He was twenty-four. That was ten years ago. We met when I stood under the waterfall of a vacation. He said he penned down his first poem ever seeing me.
It went something like this:
There she stood/
Under a fountain in a wood/
Oh if she would (love me, that is)/
It would be so good/.
At the holiday resort we sat at the same table for the evening meal. The fruity drink was sweet, local wine. The fish dish was from the salty sea.
“Is anyone sitting here?” He said, coming over.
There were three more chairs at the round table. But I sat alone. I was alone. He was alone.
Thick, black, silken hair slicked back. Sad eyes as though resigned to life. Gaunt, haunted features.
“No, no. Please do have a seat,” I said.
He recommended the orange-pineapple, “delicious” alcohol.
The sea prawns.
“How long have you been here?” I had asked.
“In this hotel?” He had asked back.
“Nearly a week now. I am here to convince the seaside people to use our brand.”
“Brand of what?”
“Oh, that’s irrelevant.”
“What do you mean?” I prodded.
“Um…I’ll tell you later.”
“What do you mean, ‘later’?”
“Maybe we will meet again. How long are you here?”
“I came this morning and I will leave tomorrow afternoon. I will take the train back.”
“Why are you here?” He asked.
“To get away from the city, of course. Why do people come to seaside resorts?”
“I saw you at the waterfall in the woods.”
“I wrote a poem.”
“You did WHAT?”
“I wrote a poem. The diary is in my room. Should I get it?”
“Yes, yes. Please do. Can’t wait.”
I sipped the orange-pineapple nectar. I felt the warmth.
He rushed back, his face flushed.
Incredulous, I looked at him. The inside of me bursting into peals of delighted laughter.
He looked at me between sentences…for approval.
“It’s the best poem I have ever heard…” I said.
Intoxicating lines from Keats floated past dizzily: “Oh…for a draught of vintage…”
“Really?” he said.
“Yes…best poem I have ever heard written about me.”
“Oh.” He smiled.
“So what do you sell?”
Now, the laughter could no longer be contained. It burst forth…in a heady mix of fruity, frothy drinks… the happy chatter of guests and hosts…and the sound of sad, silent sea waves rushing in from far, far away to crash at hour feet.
And only I could hear a distant rumble of thunder.
(To be continued…)
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