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?