The phone is ringing incessantly. Strange! I know I always turn the ringer off whenever I am at home. So, how come it is ringing today.
I lift the receiver – no one there on the other end. I return to bed.
Again the phone rings. No, I am not going to pick it up this time. Just let it ring. Suddenly I remember…. It could be her! I dash but by then the phone has stopped ringing. I check the ringer. Yes, it is off! I stare down at the instrument. " C’mon, ring!" I say in my mind. I turn to go and there it rings again. I pick up the line and say, " I know who you are. It’s decided we are meeting tomorrow at break of dawn. Be there!"
She comes as promised. We stare at each other. Thirty-five years have passed. No photographs were exchanged. We probably could not have imagined how we looked after all these years. In the last one year we have only spoken over email – I in India, she in America. She’s been married for twenty-six years. Her eldest son is twenty-four. It’s a bold step she is taking to complete an unfinished cycle – both of us together must come a full circle after what we started thirty-five years ago in school.
Although we are now walking side by side, in my mind I am trying to visualize her as I remember her thirty-five years ago. We dare not look at each other… too many emotions lurk just behind our eyes. What if they spill over and we lose control?
The rustic hut we have booked in the God forsaken place is about to lose its virginity. We open the door aware we are adults and we don’t wish to waste any time – We have confirmed over email in the last one yar that this is what we want to do.
The door closes behind us. We are left with each other. No excuses! No nature to distract us – just she and I. Suddenly we are both scared. We both open our mouths to say something – both together! Then we stop.
" Let’s call for a cup of tea," I say breaking the electric atmosphere.
When she picks the cup to her lips to drink her tea, I wish I were the cup! I stare as she sips knowing all the time that she is aware and very conscious of me. My soul is standing at the very opening of my eyes – she can see everything!
I rise and look the other way. I know she has come and stood behind me. I look up at the skies " Oh God! Not any closer or I will die". I turn to face her. She wraps her arms around my neck. Our lips are so close to each other, you couldn’t have passed a pin between them! My eyes are closed so I don’t know how hers are…. There is a knock at the door.
Instantly we are apart. I breathe.
She has gone to open the door. I slip into the bathroom. I tear my clothes and stand naked under the shower for what seemed to be forever. I am now in control of my emotions. They have cooled under the flowing cold water. I wrap a towel around me and peep out. She is lying on the bed a white sheet covering her body. Her clothes are lying scattered on the sofa. I look at the contours of her body over the sheet. How well my palms knew them thirty-five years ago?
I go and sit next to her on the bed. She is looking at me steadily. I map her face with my finger and gently open her mouth with my thumb. My finger touches her tongue.
How can we express ourselves? There is such a cascade of emotions…both our eyes are wet.
I place my hand on her heart. Whose heart is beating faster I don’t know – hers or mine but this is not the moment I decide. We must start when the fever on our brows is cooler. For a long time we remain like that, our hearts beating as one. Then the fire mellows down. Over the white sheet, my hands travel…. Softly messaging her back, her lower back, my fingers work diligently at the nape of her neck. Relaxing her is relaxing myself.
I lower my body next to hers. We turn to face each other. Her golden hair suggestively covers her face partially – no, I want to see her face completely. For thirty-five years I have been looking for her face in this heap of papers lying strewn all across my study. Her eyes are the same as I remember – sparkling brown. She is in a state of let go…all I have to do is move closer to her. Instead, I draw her closer to me and lift her face one last time to my lips….
I feel someone shaking me. My eyes open. My partner is sitting up.
" Wake up" she says, " you are dreaming"
" Am I?" I ask myself " So real"?
" Wake up, you are dreaming" my partner says again.
The morning coffee is thick with the aroma of freshly brewed filter coffee. It is addictive. My partner and I sip our morning coffee together as we do everyday, savouring every moment of it. She clears her throat and puts down her coffee glass. " Who is Meenakshi?" he asks in a matter-of-fact way. " You have been calling her name the whole night."
Although I can feel going red behind the ears, I am calm.
" Isn’t that another name for goddess Durga?"
I turn to the Bhagavad Gita and begin to read from it as we always do straight after the morning coffee. Today we are at Chapter II; Verses 62 – 67
" The man dwelling on sense- objects
Develops attachment for them
From attachment springs up desire
And from unfulfilled desire ensues anger" – (62)
" As the wind carrying away
A boat upon the waters, even so
Of the senses moving among sense objects,
The one to which the mind is joined
Takes away his discrimination" – (67)