Wednesday, March 31, 2010


She sat there, on the bed, slightly bent forward, with her rippling locks held in one hand, while the other cautiously guided a comb through them. The noon sun generously lent its crisp glow to her face. Beside her on the bed lay a copy of Lolita, splayed face down on the bed.

Will you stop writing and talk to me, she said. I've returned after so many days. Instead of talking to me, you are cooped up in your corner, writing God knows what abomination of melancholy again. It is another one of those, isn't it?

Sailesh lifted the makeshift stone paperweight and put it over an untidy sheaf of written-on paper. The fan, with its usual scratching din, lazily ruffled the stoic calm on his face. He turned to find her trying to look most indignant. The askew folds of a cream-beige sari refused to follow the curves of her breasts, making her look more faceted.

Yes, it is, he said without trying to look amused. How was your visit? I thought you would leave from there, off with your parents again, without coming back.

I would have but then I thought about poor you and came back. I cannot leave you for so long with you writing the way you do - who knows who else might fall for it, she teased. But now that I am here, you will stop, won't you? Why do you never write when I am around?

She stood at the window, looking out at nothing in particular. He studied her smooth silhouette, carved out of shadows, ensconced in the gentle hum of the refrigerator. Suddenly, he felt a need to reach out and touch her. Make sure that she was real.

Do I make you very sad, she asked in a languid voice.

He wrapped his arms around her and let his stubbled chin rest in the nook of her neck. A few truant strands of her hair tickled his nose.

No, it's not you, he said after thinking about it a moment. But you still have not told me about your trip. I'd rather hear about that.

About what? About how comfortable I was at home at not having to listen to do this and do that. About how addicted I am to being pampered silly. About how I wish we had a bathtub. You don't want to hear about all that, I know.

Sailesh could see a small black ant trying to crawl up the window sill where her hands rested. He could smell the scent of her skin. He remembered now what he had missed many a still night, lying quietly, alone on the bed.

Mrinalini suddenly turned around and hugged him, nuzzling her face in his shoulder. He felt off-balance in her embrace, as if he had phased out of reality.

I've missed you. She paused a bit, hoping he will say something. Haven't you too? Or were you too happy to be alone, writing?

I want you to be happy and so I give you my happiness. When you are not here, I give what is left to my writing. Rini, he raised her face up, cupping it gently in his palms, don't leave again, so soon.

Why don't you come with me? I'll ask Papa to book tickets for you too. We'll tour Europe together. I don't want to miss you so much and I want to go there. Why can't I have both?

He kissed her forehead. He heard the window of the apartment below close.

You should take that nap while there is still time. The flight back will be long.

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