The Sentence: Part 4


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.


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