The Sentence: Part 7

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Run back to me!

“Please come in, Maya,” I called aloud, swiveling in my chair to face the door.

Earlier that day, I had emailed her requesting for a meeting. She walked in, smiling but quiet. None of those exuberant greetings that I usually associated with her. As I gestured her to sit, she stood opposite me and looked straight into my eyes. For a fraction of a second. Then she turned away but I could see the shadow on her face now and the guarded look in her eyes. She knew what I was about to say.

Although I have never revealed this to anyone, I have always believed that Maya had an uncanny ability to tune into people’s feelings, even thoughts. She could read people. That day, I knew she had read my mind when her face took on an uncharacteristically unfriendly look. She stared at her painted nails as her fingers tapped ever so gently on the glass tabletop.

What would I not give to hold those hands!

However, I realised that she was impatient for me to start.

“Maya….” I cleared my voice. ” Maya… see there’s just a few things….” I couldn’t find the words and she was staring at her nails resolutely.

“Err…about this matter I heard making the rounds.. actually, I’ve noticed it too. Your….I mean you and the Italian Proff…”

She didn’t let me finish. She looked up at me with shy eyes, all smiles and ecstatic.

“Isn’t he wonderful?* she gushed.

*Am sure he is… but Maya this is an educational institution… Of course I understand. We are all adults here but Maya… I just…want you to be careful…” I blurted out after feeling tongue tied for so long.

Silence. Her face was turned to her right so I could see only a side view of her face. Her eyes seemed to be darting to the door every now and again…as if she would make an escape soon.

I have to do this, I thought. I was somewhat jealous but more than anything else, I was concerned. For her.

“Ok… here’s what I got to say. First of Maya, even though this is a university and the students are mostly adults… still,,,, I mean seeing you on his arm all the time… can be a bit…u know…”

“I don’t…..that’s not true!” Her voice was cold, defiant. “And not to be rude but Mr Sekhawat, my feelings are very personal to me…I really don’t….”

I held up my hand to pacify her and she stopped. I was silent as well, watching the corners of her petulant mouth. They started to twitch in an unbecoming sort of way and she hastily turned her face upwards to the ceiling to stop her tears from rolling down her cheeks.

The tears fell anyway. I sighed, my heart sinking. How could I make her understand!

Minutes passed and now that she made no effort to hide her tears from me, they fell faster. Maya rubbed her face with the palm of her hand, her eyes puffy and the tip of her nose pink. She was a picture of misery… endearing and heartbreaking at the same time. I pushed the box of tissues towards her.

At length, she seemed to calm down.
“Maya…” I ventured.
“I love him!” She blurted out and immediately blushed.

In spite of myself, I smiled. “And?”

I wanted her to keep talking, I wanted to know what was on her mind. I wanted her to stay as she was before… before the arrival of Anton. I wanted her to be out of harm’s way!

She looked up with questioning eyes.

“Maya, do you know if he loves you?” My tone was grave and she did not answer at once.

“Yes,” her voice was barely audible.

“You’re sure of that?” I asked, my temper rising. I could clearly see that this was one-sided. She wasn’t even sure of him!

Trust Maya to plunge headlong into something like this!

“Of course!” Maya replied forcefully, trying to bring on a semblance of a smile.

“He told you?” I pressed on and the gloom that immediately clouded fer face was the answer.

Leaning forward, I touching her fingers gently.

” I hope you really know what you’re doing, Maya!” I heard the desperation in my voice. Did she not hear it?

There was a loud knock on the door. She stood up, looking flustered.

“It takes a lifetime to know people, remember that!” I urged. She had almost reached the door. She paused, her eyes averted from me.

“Thank you… for caring,” she quipped in a small voice and her moist eyes smiled slightly as she looked into my eyes. For a moment she hesitated, as if debating whether to run back to me. Then she was gone.

I came to know the week after that she had moved in with Anton.

That night, I just could not sleep. Maya’s face etched with misery and those red, puffy eyes appeared time and again before my weary eyes.

I had failed to protect her!

The Sentence: part 6

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A sprinkle of fairydust: Antonspeak

Believe it or not, I remember every detail of that evening when Maya approached me with tentative steps. I am not blind. I did notice she had been cosying up to me and I quite enjoyed that. Who wouldn’t? Maya was a lovely woman, intelligent, sensuous and seductive. She was a curious mix of shyness and brashness…  just how I like women to be.

I have no qualms admitting that I have been around several women and I know a thing or two about what turns them on. However, with Maya things were different. And it was intriguing… in the beginning. This woman wore her heart on her sleeve and was not bothered by it at all! Most people I have come across… and I speak for myself as well…. we have a difficult time acknowledging feelings for others….or putting them across in words! Not only was Maya very comfortable doing that, she put her feelings on display for the world to watch. May be, even learn. Maya was proud of the ‘love’ she felt towards me, exposing more than just her body. She bared her soul to me and…. and I probably took advantage of that.

Do not say I should have warned her. I did…. more than once! On different occasions. I can think of one such incident..

I was working on my laptop in the little cafe that was my favourite haunt on the University grounds. She must have tip-toed to my table. I looked up when I saw her silhouette looming over me.

“Hi there!” I smiled.

By then, she was already throwing herself at me quite unabashedly. Being older and more mature, I decided to keep it polite but not over-friendly.

She smiled a shy smile and gestured to the chair opposite me. I hesitated, I really wanted to continue whatever I was doing. However, she was waiting patiently so I decided to chat with her for a while. No point being unpleasant.

“Sure, why not!” I replied.

Maya heaved with relief and her eyes shone as excitedly as a truant child’s who has somehow escaped punishment. It made her so unbearably attractive and vulnerable at the same time! Maya wore her vulnerability like a badge of honour, as if counting on the world to do unto her as she did unto others. It was foolishness… utter foolishness!

I sighed softly. Maya started talking at once.

” Were you busy?” She asked, not really wanting to hear an honest answer so I kept quiet.

“Anton… I…. I just thought….. actually I like you a lot… I really don’t know why!” She paused. “I admire you for a number of reasons…” she let out a short, awkward laugh as I sipped my drink.

“Anton, do you think…. I mean, I believe I have fallen in love….”

This was going too far. I cleared my voice.

“Do you want a coffee?” My question took her by surprise. She shook her head in a no.

I had no intention of lying to her

“Look Maya, I know how you feel… though am not sure why….. or how! You don’t know me well enough to…”

“But that doesn’t mean…..” she interjected but I stopped her.

“Let me finish. See, I’m here for a few months…. may be six… or even less if my work is finished earlier. Much as I value my experience teaching here, I don’t think I am going to come back to this part of the world….. anytime soon.”

I stressed on ‘soon’ and Maya’s face fell. She was not much different from a twelve year old, I thought. I continued, somewhat brutally.

“You’re attractive, intelligent and kind and I appreciate your friendship. And that’s about it, Maya….”

As I spoke, I could see the anguish in her expression. For a moment, I enjoyed it. Maya was so raw with her emotions, so real…it was almost unrealistic.

I was not done yet. I needed to make it clearer to her.

“I don’t think I can give you the kind of affection you’re looking for Maya… you’re better off without me.” I finished resolutely.

As expected, the waterworks came. She turned her face away and I pretended not to notice. But I had noticed.

Sensing the manager’s eyes on us in the otherwise deserted cafe, I began packing up. Not that it bothered me but I was getting tired. I got up to leave.

“I have to go.See you later.” I told her and she nodded. I had barely stepped outside when she skipped over to me again.

“Anton…” I stared questioningly.

“My insides hurt. I think I might faint….” her voice was low but her eyes were twinkling mischievously.
I began to chuckle. She showed no signs of fainting whatsoever.
Instead, she was beaming at me.
“Is it okay if I just walk with you…in case I fall?” I nodded, laughing and her face cleared like the blue sky after a storm.

We walked side by side. She linked her fingers through mine and I felt a sudden thrill… a surge of something so strong that it surprised me.

I loved Maya’s innocence and simplicity. I loved how comfortable she was in her own skin and how wonderful she made me feel about myself…like she had just sprinkled some fairydust on me.. Except, I did not love her the way she wanted me to. And that was that.

Within a week after this, Maya was in my bed. She made love to me but I simply sought gratification. She gave and I took… and I didn’t bother to conceal my intention throughout the night. She was too enamoured with me to see the difference anyway.

Afterwards, she clung to me, calling my name. She often told me she loved the sound of my name.

“Call me by my name, Anton! Please!”
Maya whispered in my ears. I was already half asleep and I mumbled something, pulling her warm body closer to mine.

Her name…. yes, I  googled it a few days back.

‘Maya’ means ‘illusion’ in certain Indian languages. But, in Amharic, ‘Maya’ is a lens that helps you see further.

Which of these was the Maya I knew? Or was she both?

 

THE SENTENCE: PART 5

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You left too soon… 

“He’s here!” she squealed, and burst into a giggle.

“Who is?” I asked absent-mindedly, worried that the food that we ordered would not be enough for the large number of guests trooping in, students and faculty alike, not to mention the other staff. Maya tugged at my ornate shawl again.

“Nafisa! See, he just arrived! Oh my! He is gorgeous!” she said in a hushed whisper.

I shook my head from side to side, realising that she was talking about the Italian Professor from the Math Department. It was quite silly, I thought. Maya had been gushing about him relentlessly for the past few days whenever she and I had some alone time at the staff room or got the time to grab lunch together. Our Departments being different, we did not get much time together at the University but usually caught up later at the YWCA where we were both staying. Maya and I had joined the University on the very same day and took an instant liking to each other during the orientation. Though she was a bit like a child in her understanding of the world and could be quite obstinate when it came to selecting a cuisine on our Sunday afternoon luncheons, I liked her simplicity and honesty in everything.

“Maya! Stop it!” I scolded gently as she tugged my red shawl again, making it fall to the floor. “Look, can you help me with decorating the….”

“Nafisa, let’s go say hello?” she implored, like a school girl with a huge grin plastered across her face. She was not listening to a word I was saying. Clicking my tongue, I turned away impatiently. Maya could really be annoying at times.

As if that would stop her. She skipped along, like a child on Christmas morning. I wanted to remind her to act her age but I had too many worries at that moment. None the less, I was upset with her. I really needed her help and that stupid infatuation of hers could wait!

Maya was gone for the next hour or so and when I saw her again, she was almost stuck to him like glue, much to my consternation True, he was quite pleasing to look at and talk to, judging by the throng of people around him. Or maybe they were just being polite but did she have to make her fandom so obvious?

From a distance, I could see him strolling around, exchanging pleasantries and asking questions about the decor with a feigned, polite interest. However, Maya hardly gave the others a chance to talk, her face stretched in a gloating smile. As I turned around, fuming, I noticed the Dean’s eyes on them, watching intently. Soon, it became evident to me that most people had their eyes on her that evening. She looked resplendent but she was spoiling it all by her immature behaviour.

I came face-to-face with them during dinner. Them. Yes, because she was still next to him with her continuous, excited prattle. When she noticed my disapproving expression, she immediately pulled me by the arm, making me spill some of my drink on my outfit.
“Oops, sorry!” Maya laughed, not looking sorry at all. “Anton, this is my best friend and colleague, Nafisa. She teaches Chemistry.” She squeezed my shoulder, holding me in an iron grip.

Anton?! Too friendly, too soon…. I thought.

“How do you do?” I greeted him and he did the same, smiling. For a brief second, his eyes locked with mine and I saw a shadow flit across. I don’t know what it was but I felt that most of his pleasant demeanour was probably not real. I do not know why, but at that moment I decided that I did not like him. Why did he have to come here!

That night, Maya knocked a couple of times on my door at the hostel. I had slipped away right after dinner and didn’t stop to ask Maya if she wanted to accompany me. Obviously, she didn’t!

“Nafisa! You asleep?” She asked, in a low voice. It was close to midnight and I didn’t bother to get up. I was quite upset, as it was.

That, however, was my first meeting with Maya’s so-called ‘one, true love.’ Much as it enrages me, I cannot deny Maya’s undying faith in the power of her love. She believed he would come back to her someday. See where it led her!

It was I who had discovered her dead body that was just beginning to decompose. After almost two days…or three… I can’t remember clearly. I don’t want to! It hurts like someone stabbing me in my gut! Poor Maya, she was trusting to the point of being naïve. Too many times, too many times I had warned her to be cautious around him.

I still dream of Maya…often. Of those happy times spent here. Before he had arrived. In my dreams, she is always laughing and chattering incessantly, just like she did when she was alive. I want to ask her why she hasn’t strangled him yet.

 

The Sentence: Part 4

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I remember we met… Antonspeak 

My beach holiday with Rebekah was amazing. For once, I had let my guard down and enjoyed the warm sunshine reflecting on the frothy waves.  I would sit for hours at a stretch, staring at the waves embrace the shore and then retreat hastily, just like a playful child whose hapless mother is trying to drag him to kindergarten on a busy Monday morning. In fact, I would do that exact same thing as a child.

My mother never tires of talking about how I made it very difficult for her to get to work in the mornings because I would stop to admire every dirt-smeared stone or a crawling bug on the way. I chuckle when I think how exasperating it must have been for my mum.

“Wait till you have kids of your own!”

My mum will always say, with a frown when she catches me laughing at her stories.

Little does she know that having kids is not on my list. I don’t think I can stand them! They are just too noisy, messy and too much of a bother! I am perfectly happy being kid-free. True, I do have to spend time around pesky children at times when I visit my old friends in different cities. It’s always good to catch up and I usually pretend I am thrilled to see their kids but that’s far from the truth. I know it just makes the parents happy, so why not?

Just last month, when I was away for a week visiting one of my friends from school, his daughters insisted I watch ‘Frozen’ with them! I was bored at their place and his wife’s cooking was tasteless, so I agreed to the movie and the day out. I could sleep in the movies, I thought. Contrary to what I thought, I was quite engrossed in the movie. It was a fun experience.

But that’s about how far I can stretch myself…. a day out with kids of friends or  neighbours, ones I just cannot avoid. I have no intention of having my own and I know that at some point, I will have to talk Rebekah out of this. Rebekah. She adores kids. I know she wants children of her own but I do not. And that’s that. I’d rather invest my time in my research than take some obnoxious three-year old on a piggyback ride. What a waste of one’s time!

Talking of kids, I have had some experiences with Maya which would best be forgotten.  Maya was not only child-like but also very childish in her attitudes and behavior. What do they say? Yes, seeing the world with rose-tinted glasses. She did just that. None was evil, none malicious, no one meant her any harm.

That is all fine, living in your own Utopia but when you try to drag others into your world, that’s when the problem arises. She refused to understand that people are essentially different, as are their tastes, likes and dislikes, dreams and aspirations. I did not wish to hurt Maya. In fact, I actually liked her quite a bit… in the beginning. She changed all that, with her nagging behaviour, unceasing complaints and her foolish notions of what love should be like.

It got so unbearable that I pretty much fled the place, I admit, before my duration of stay was officially over. I had to leave my work incomplete and earned a bad name for it.

“Anton, I love you!”

“I love you so much, Anton!” Her words were like a constant replay from a broken recorder.

Those words had started to annoy me, scare me, haunt me!

Love is understanding the other person’s needs, not expecting them to gel into the mental picture you have of them. What Maya thought love to be had nothing to do with love at all! It was an all-consuming, highly destructive, incurable obsession.  She was obsessed with me!

Had I got a whiff of that earlier, I would not have entertained her the very first time, when she requested me to participate in an event she was organizing. It was one of their celebration days, a holiday in their calendar. I remember the day, a Friday. My classes were  all done and since I had nothing to do at home, I decided to stay for a bit longer and finish pending work. I was distracted by the noise of shuffling feet right outside my door. For about five minutes. Thinking it must be a student trying to hand in a late assignment, I walked to the door, quietly turned the handle and pulled the door ajar.

She froze, her right hand suspended in mid-air. I realized that she was just about to knock at the very same moment. For a minute or so, I just stared, though it was rude. She was quite a vision dressed in a scarlet and gold sari that perfectly complimented her earthy skin tone. Tiny gold trinkets hung around her neck and clung to her ears. My eyes took in the red and golden bracelets that adorned her wrist as she fixed her hair with one hand. She looked exotic and the effect it had on me took me by surprise. She smiled and raised her hand again to shade her eyes from the glare of the afternoon sun. Her palms were decorated with bright red, intricate designs.The bracelets clinked musically, jolting me back to my senses. I smiled back.

“Err… Hello…” I uttered, racking my brains for her name, vaguely aware that I had seen her before. I have never been good at remembering names.

“Maya,” she supplied confidently, “We met at the Dean’s office.” I nodded.

“Of course, so nice to see you again, ” I said with gusto and then added, “You look very… festive. Is there some kind of celebration today?”

Her eyes lit up at once.

“We do!  We… The Fine Arts and Humanities Dept. got together to celebrate Diwali at the campus this evening. It starts in about two hours at the auditorium. Right next to the Convention Hall. We sent a generic email to all Departments but since you’re our guest and new to the place….”

She paused, I guessed for dramatic effect and to catch her breath.

Maya continued, “I thought of inviting you personally. Please do join us.”

I noticed how comfortable in her little speech she was, as if she knew exactly how she would string each word. Yet, it did not seem rehearsed.

“Thank you for the invite. I will just finish something and join you.” I answered politely.

“Great!”  She turned to go and, in her rush, immediately stumbled on the long folds of her saree. As a reflex, my arm shot out to prevent her fall and brushed against her slender arm.

She had already steadied herself.

“High heels are not a good match with saris,” she laughed, trying to regain her composure and I agreed.

However, I was watching her face. A reddish tinge had risen to her cheek bones and was spreading fast on the oval face. This is the second time I had seen her blush.

Did I have something to do with it? I remember wondering.

 

The Sentence: part 3

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   The one who was 

Drip-drip. pitter-patter, drip-drip, pitter-patter. The sound of falling rain on the roof of the building creates such a soothing rhythm. It’s lulling me to sleep. I could have left for my quarters and the comfort of my bed hours ago but I decided to stay back. The university is going to celebrate its Centenary next year and as the Dean, I have a lot to take care of. However, I just cannot focus. Here, I am now, at my office, sitting at my table and staring at the computer screen. The bluish light begins to hurt my eyes. I turn it off and saunter over to the lone window behind my table.

As I stare at the falling rain, my eyes fill with tears. I am only aware of it when I feel the wetness on my cheeks. Instead of brushing them away, I let them fall. The tears are a tribute to the one I loved, the girl who loved to watch the rain. For hours. She is no more. Maya.

When I first met Maya after her preliminary interview, I had noticed the magic in her easy, effortless smile. As she shook hands with me, the touch of her hand on mine was a soft, warm sensation and made me break out into a boyish grin. I was surprised. I am not one to smile easily. Especially, when I am about to interview a hopeful applicant. Usually, it’s a curt nod in my nod… may be just a hint of a smile I am quite against becoming too pally with the people who work under me. In fact, I am known as a stern task-master among the staff. It’s not that I am not fair or unreasonable, But it is a veneer that I have to don and it is appropriate to my status and position at the University.

Maya came in like a whirlwind, like a gushing river in the monsoon, eager to overflow its banks and sweep everything away in its path. She was almost half my age but that did not stop me from falling in love with her, her entire being, the sensuous woman that she was. She was not a breathtaking beauty, but her smile was benign. She had a certain generosity in her which is hard to come by in today’s world, a kindness that emanates from empathy and a willingness to forgive the entire world for its sins.

Maya did not belong to this world, she belonged in a world which would understand her gentleness, her talent at touching hearts and turning complete strangers into friends. When she came into my life, she seemed very carefree, happy-go-lucky… like  a pretty, little bird that has just been given the permission to fly out of its nest and explore the endless, blue sky. She had just begun to spread her wings, ready to take flight, when the unthinkable happened. I remember warning her a couple of times that she shared too much of her soul with others. She was too much of a giver. Maya would just laugh it off. She probably believed she was on a mission to heal the damaged on this earth. And see where it led her to! She had to pay for her folly with her life, a budding, vibrant life of which she had just seen twenty-six years! His betrayal killed her, an unworthy person who neither deserved her heart nor her compassion.

Maya loved a man who would not love her back, ever. People here say she died of a broken heart but I call it a murder. Her foolish love for Anton murdered her and we were all witness to that!

As I said, I loved Maya, in spite of our age difference, the positions we held at the University, in spite of the fact that she looked up to me as a mentor, a father figure. After my divorce five years back, I took up this role and have always been comfortable living my life in comfortable seclusion, immersing myself in my books and enjoying the company of my beloved German shepherd, Buzzo. I did not really crave for human company. Maya changed all that.

The rain outside does not show any signs of abating. Restless, I pour a cup of cold water down my throat. It does not help! A scream is building up inside my chest, yearning to get out. I clench my fists as my mind takes me back to the morning when, sitting at this very same table, I was glancing through the email I had received from the Italian Professor. I liked his profile immediately, His credentials and accolades hinted that he was an ambitious achiever. I had no hesitation in inviting him over for a few months.

He seemed to be a gentleman with a pleasant disposition, much younger than I was and spoke with a heavy accent. I remember welcoming him and showing him around the first time we met. I was quite impressed by all the background information he had gathered and the research he had done prior to joining us. I sensed a spark in him which, coupled with his sense of humour must have made him quite irresistible…. to Maya, at least.

It was a classic case of opposites attract. Maya, a young, exuberant assistant lecturer who loved Literature and Art. She loved to lose herself in the pages of the books that she read and always tried to seek others who would participate alongside her in her magical journeys. She believed in people and in their words. Foolish, really.

I could see that they had befriended each other in a matter of days. Most of the staff members were all praise for the foreigner, about how polite and helpful he was and lauded his vast reserves of knowledge in not only Mathematics and the Sciences but also Literature and world cultures. He was reticent about his personal affairs but not unfriendly, quiet but not unpleasant.

Thinking back, this might be the very place where they had first seen each other. My office. As Anton sat before me, discussing about how he would like to conduct a seminar about the logical properties of random graphs, I suddenly recalled that he had received the Young Researcher Award at his university last year and questioned him about it. I noticed he loved to talk about himself, though he tried his best not to sound pompous. As his boastfulness was effectively masked by his witty repertoire, I was quite happy listening to him. However, with my worldly knowledge and experience, I knew that I would not trust him with a lot.

Anyway, as I listened and nodded, I heard two loud knocks on the polished wood of my door and, before I could reply, Maya barged in.  All other staff members including the senior most would have thought twice before doing this but not Maya. Maya had somehow seen through my stern facade and established that she would remain her exuberant, playful self with me. May be she knew I would let her.

So in dashed Maya, beaming as usual. I brought on a severe look and shook my head from side to side in disapproval, but my eyes were indulgent and Maya saw through it at once.

“Mr Shekhawat, you know what I was thinking… about independent scholarly work to support….”

I raised my right hand in a mock serious manner, asking her to stop and gestured towards the foreigner.

“This is Professor Antonio Palazzolli from Italy,” I said with a tiny smile, “he has joined the Math Dept. as visiting Faculty and will be staying and working at our University for a few months…”

Maya stopped short and turned to face the Professor. He stood up politely.

“Professor, this is Maya, from the Department of English. A promising, young associate lecturer.” I smiled at Maya but she was not looking at me.

Anton moved up a few paces and extended his hand. “Nice meeting you,” he greeted with a smile and a slight tilt of his head.

I expected her to reciprocate but she seemed to be at a sudden loss for words which was not like her at all. He was still standing with his hand extended when she suddenly blurted out in a voice which was unnecessarily loud, “I so hate Math!”

Taken aback, I was about to chide Maya gently for her uncharacteristic rudeness when Anton gave a solemn nod.

“Oh, I often get that from beautiful women,” he chuckled pleasantly.

I noticed his amused eyes were still on Maya. I also noticed the faint blush creeping up her neck.

 

The Sentence:Part 2

 

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Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush on Pexels.com

 

Antonspeak 

It is midnight. I have slept for less than an hour. I had just come to bed after working through a very difficult formula and I remember how proud I was of myself! And with a good reason, too. This had been bothering me for the last couple of days and I could finally nail the mind-boggling question. No one in my Department has been able to solve it, yet! Smiling and smug, I tried to wake up Rebekah but she is sleeping like a log. She usually leaves for work early, (yes, seven thirty in the morning is pretty early for me) which means I will get to share the news only when I see her after work. She’ll be glad, she does dote on me, after all!

To say that Rebekah is beautiful would be an understatement. Her looks are extraordinarily attractive, to be honest. A perfect body, coupled with ravishing Middle Eastern facial features; she would be a prize catch for any man any day! And yet, here she is, for me, laying on my bed, her hair framing her oval face, her porcelain skin so delicate!  She is a trophy to be shown-off, put on display, polished and show-cased. I am quite happy doing that.

It’s also very interesting, the way Rebekah and I got together. But that can wait. I need to sleep. My eyelids are heavy, I spent too many hours grinding my brain for the answer to that formula.

But I was sleeping! What made me wake up so suddenly? It was a strange sensation… not a dream, really… but strange! It was like a voice… a hushed, almost inaudible voice. What was it saying? I can’t recall but I think I heard my name… twice. I know that voice very well.. I recognized it at once.

Darn that email! I am not going to lie, I was stunned after I read it…I mean, who would have.. I never would have believed….Maya is…… was so young! And darn that Dean! Why did he have to send an email to me? Like I was responsible or something… It’s been almost a year that I have been gone from there. That is a phase of my life that’s over, That quaint, old-world town where life revolves around one University… the one I was a guest lecturer at, the people who belonged to another world, another culture but still they did their best to accept me as their own, that tiny, old house I had rented which overlooked the sea… and Maya.

It’s like  a chapter of a book that I have already read and moved on to the next, with no wish to re-read or recall any part of it.

I touch Rebekah’s bare shoulders. She shivers a little, my hands are cold. She smiles in her sleep, she knows it’s me. I love to stare at her sleeping form, so supple, so alluring.
Something stirs inside me and I feel the urge to wake her up, with a kiss. I know she would be happy to oblige, to satisfy my needs even though she needs her sleep, She adores me no end.  That is what she is here for, isn’t she? But I drop the idea, I am too tired as it is.

And she is brilliant too, brilliant in every other way. She is just thirty but when I look at all that she has accomplished by now, am quite awed. Not that I have told her though, she hears enough praise for her beauty without me having to add to it. What’s the best part is that she gives me everything I need from her without any hesitation.

I like this girl, not just because of her looks and intelligence, I admire her spirit and independent streak. She is quite the diva and her eyes are so deep, it seems you can almost look down into her soul….

Soul…. ‘Soul mates’ ‘together for all eternity!’ All that useless ramble. And she was into it, too deeply into it. Maya was the most unrealistic, impractical person I have ever known! It got unbearable, so unbearable that…

Anyway, she is dead and gone. May her soul (it’s her favorite word) rest in peace. I need to rest too or I would have a hard time focusing on all my colleague’s jealous faces tomorrow. I just hope no one else was able to solve it tonight, as I did. I can’t help but smile..

Maya had a lovely smile, filled with wonder, almost child- like.

///////////////////////////////

She is at it again. ‘Love’, ‘soul connection!’ Dear Lord! She gets so annoying at times! Besides, I was working for this very important seminar I have to speak at, next month! She does not even understand the gravity of the situation! Too immature…. Young, yes, but too immature!

Her arms wrap around my neck and she pulls me towards her a little. My head jerks back slightly and I sigh resignedly but I smile as I look up into that smiling face. I plan to finish as much as I can at the University, there’s not much hope of getting it done with her around.

“See for yourself! I always knew this was true…” Gushing, she thrusts her phone under my nose. I have no choice  but to look at it. I read the heading: ‘Twin Flames and their Destinies.’ I have no clue what it’s about, but looking at the dancing light in her eyes, I know she is bursting to tell me.

“What is this?” My voice is laced with bitterness, I just want to get on with my project.

“You and I! Twin flames….. How can you not remember? I told you about this article last week….” Her nostrils flare a bit. “You always forget all that I say!” She accuses, drawing away and stomping over to the open window. It’s still quite early and the light outside seems soft, cleansed. The gentle breeze is playing through her locks now, just as its playing among the thick, green foliage of the tress outside. I can hear the soft murmur of the leaves.

I am ready with a biting retort but decide it’s not necessary. Instead, I walk over to her and press my body against hers. I feel the tremor that I cause in her. Her breathing is faster, I can tell. I grin as I thrust my face in her inky black, shoulder length hair. She smells of wild flowers, a bit floral, a bit mysterious…

“Maya?” I whisper, breathing on her collar bone. It causes a tingle and from experience, I know most women love it. Maya is no different. She giggles like a little girl, all traces of anger gone in a moment. This is something that I really love about her, the sound of her laughter…. It’s almost musical. She turns to face me.

“Do you love me?” She asks, for the umpteenth time. The look in her eyes intensifies. I turn away, flustered.

“Say you love me, Anton!” Her petulant lips add to her exaggerated frown. Everything about her is so dramatic, it’s almost comical. I choose to remain silent, knowing what is about to come next. And I am right. In a few seconds, those black eyes fill with tears and the tip of her nose turns reddish. Such an adorable picture of innocent anger. I open my arms and she nestles her head on my chest. Sometimes I wonder whether this woman’s brain is any different from a thirteen year old’s.

“I hate you!” She whispers in mock ferocity.

I nod silently as she gazes up, her eyes smiling now,  eager, hungry. Her lips upturned. Her lips are always a soft shade of pink. I can see the colour rising to her cheekbones. I wink knowingly as she draws closer, her eyes still open, still staring, brimming with trust, staring at my face. I want her to close her eyes! Her eyes are transforming…. into the eyes of a… a dead body. It’s a horrible stare, still, unblinking! I hate those eyes!

/////////////////

The next thing I know is I am soaking with sweat My t-shirt is clinging to my torso and I am heaving. I can hear Rebekah’s anxious voice, she is asking if I am alright. I don’t know, my mind is disoriented. I do not feel strong enough to move my limbs. What happened?

I was in that cottage, with Maya. It was a dream. I can now see Rebekah running out of the room and returning with a bottle of water. The bottle is chilled and the tiny droplets are clinging to the sides for dear life. Just how I like it. Rebekah does not like chilled water. She gets a throat infection immediately.

I never noticed if Maya drank chilled water.

Hell, what am I thinking! She is dead! DEAD!

I pull Rebekah into a fierce embrace. She is frightened, her heart is racing but she comforts me just like my mom would, perhaps. I notice that Rebekah’ s fingernails are painted dark brown or black. I can’t tell in the low light. I hate black. Black, to me, is the colour of mourning.

Is Maya’s family still mourning her loss? The email did not mention..

(To be continued)

The Supply

IMG-20191116-WA0010Amidst the din of the city that
Never seemed to sleep at night
There walked a silent maiden fair
One who rarely saw daylight.
‘Nightqueen’ they mocked her for she was a creature of the night.

As her tired body climbed the steps
Nearing her shabby, run-down lair
Timid, scared, her eyes did dart
On hearing footsteps.. that unnerving stare.
Touched by fingers icy cold, gasping, her throat she bared.

A night owl screeched, as if to warn
‘Now run!’ She thought, ‘its worth a try!’
“Too late!” He sneered, “Now you’re mine!”
Once more, she raised a feeble cry
Nail-sharp, his teeth claimed their supply.

A bright sun rose in a bloody pool
Nipping breezes started to pry
Through the single window that
Opened partly, peering at the sky
Nothing but his marks remained on his mangled, dead supply.

IMG-20191119-WA0007