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Miriam

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She sat waiting for the call – she knew it would never come, but then for her, like for all of us, hope never dies. So she waited


She would ,occasionally bump into him at one of the restaurants  where she would go to with her colleagues , or while strolling the aisles of the department store

by the bus stop, while she waited for her bus for the ride home. She knew he worked in one of the offices nearby, how else could she explain the frequent bump ins

with him.  Hmmmm, that would mean I would bump into other folks too like him -no no it cannot be – or is it that she had a soft corner towards him.



Initially they both would look at one another as strangers are bound to do and just walk their way,

soon they acknowledged one another with nods and then smiles.  He would give her a broad smile while she would give one of a

quieter kind of smile. She would walk away and glance back hoping he was gazing after her, but it never happened. She was a bit 

hesitant to initiate a conversation.However, one day he stopped and said how long are we going to smile at one another 

and then walk away like mute people.  She again smiled and said nothing and as she walked away she turned around and glanced

 and he was there looking at her and smiling.


She could hold back no longer and turned around and went back and without believing she could do it, she extended her hand to him and said

“I am Miriam”. He smiled and extended his hand and said “I am Benny. Though that is not my real name.  Mine is one of those long names that never

seem to end – My father’s name, my house name and my village name and then my name – so I just snipped it to Benny.”She could not help but laugh.

Then she realized that her hand was still in his, and gently extracted it.  It was a warm hand and a gentle but firm grip.


“It was nice meeting you Benny, guess I have to go now. Have to catch the bus home else I have to wait another hour”, she said.  “It was a pleasure meeting 

you Miriam” he said.  “Too bad you have to leave now.  We could have carried on the conversation over a cup of tea or a soft drink or whatever you fancied, but then

somethings you cannot control, especially the commute”.  “Will see you another time”, he said and as she turned and went she could feel his eyes on her.


The next time they met they decided to try out the new snack bar that had opened up.  She had about an hour to kill before her bus came 

and she did not mi nd a conversation with him, though she never knew what in the world she would talk about.  She surprised herself again 

when she launched into a lengthy delightful conversation with him.  She talked about her family, where she was from, her likes, her fears etc.  

He patiently listened to her as she went on and on.  Then he said”Uh oh Miriam, is it not getting late for you. She looked at her watch and said

 “Gosh, I better hurry, else it is a loooooooong walk home.”  He paid the bill and would not let her pay or take her money.  He walked her to

 the bus stop and waited till her bus came and wished her good night before she boarded the bus.  She smiled at him from inside the bus 

and gave him a small wave. She could see him looking on till the he was a mere speck in the distance.


The met pretty often now, now that they knew each other. He worked about a block from where she worked and he sometimes drove in to work

 or rode with a colleague of his who lived near his place.  She sometimes wondered what he saw in her, she wanted to ask but did not have the 

courage to ask. Whenever he drove to work he would take her for dinner, and then drop her home.  She knew his drive back was long, 

but he would not let her worry about that.  She lived by herself in an efficiency apartment. She had never invited him to her home, after he dropped her.  

She still felt a bit insecure.


One evening after dinner he took her for a drive around the city and took her to the place where he stayed.  He showed her where he lived. 

 It was one of the finest areas in the city.  She knew the view from his place would be awesome – hills and greenery.  He never stopped

 there or asked her if she wanted to see his pad.  She was glad he did not.


One evening after he dropped her – she invited him to her apartment “Miriam!!!!!!”, she said to herself “I cannot believe you are doing this”!!! 

“Hush” she told herself “be quiet.”  He was impressed by her apartment.  He said how neat and clean she kept it and said it spoke a lot about her.

She gave herself a quiet smile.  She was happy he was happy.  “Aha, so you do drink?” he asked with a touch of humor.  “Of course, I do”, she replied

” though not much outside.  Generally a glass of wine or a cocktail”.  


“How about mixing me one” he asked.  “Sure”, she said and asked “Any preference?”.  “Nope, whatever catches your fancy”.  She made him a 

Bahama Breeze one of her favorites.  “To Us” she said and clinked the glasses.  “Mmmmm, that is an awesome concoction you made”, he said 

as he sipped.  “Oh no, it is not me – it is the internect – you could find any mix you want”.They just conversed about this and that.  Each time she 

was aching to ask what he found in her.  She never did.  “Oh my it is getting close to midnight and we both have to be at work tomorrow.  Besides

 you have to drive back home”, she said. 


“Yes indeed” and as he took the glass to the sink.  She told him not to worry but leave it there and she would wash it later.  AS he stepped out the 

door and  as she was about to wish  him good night  – he leaned forward and gave her a gentle peck on her cheek. She was startled and gave a gasp, 

and shut the door soon.  Leaned back against it, her chest heaving. She must have stood for sometime like that and then she straightened up and 

felt terrible about shutting the door in his face.  She gently opened the door and there he was standing outside smiling at her.

“Are you not going to wish me good night?” he asked softly.  She smile when she heard this and said “No, just come on in”  


She woke up in the morning happier than she ever was.  She could not belive it happened and thought it was a dream.  It was no dream.  

There he was next to her sleeping with a smile.  She gently woke him up.  “You are going to be late to work Ben”.  “You have to drive home 

and then change and get to work no?, I am sorry for pulling you in last night, should have let you get back to your house?” 


“No Miriam, don’t worry about it, I can alway work late into the evening  and my boss does not mind if I am late once in a while”.  He quickly got 

dressed, said ” catch up with you later”, gave her a kiss and left. She walked over to the bathroom sink and stared into the mirrow “Miriam”, 

she asked herself “Do you know what you are getting into?” “You sure you want this?”  Again she told herself “Shhhhhhhh, I know what I am doing”.


The next time it was at his house.  “Tch, Tch Tch”, she said “Your house needs a clean up” and she proceeded to clean up his apartment.

 “Is this what you do when you go to someone’s place?”, he asked with a smile.  “Only those who I care about”, she said. He dropped her

 at her place, early in the morning so she could get ready for work.  He offered to wait till she showered and dressed and then drop her at work. 

 She would have none of that and told him he better get home and get ready for his work or he will be late again.


She confided to her close friend about Benny and she asked  “Miriam, he seems to be a nice guy, but are you sure you want to go on with it.” 

 ” I feel he is not the one for you “.  “No Rachna, I do think he is the right person for me.  He cares about me, like I do about him and 

I know he loves me”.”Has he told you he loves you, Miriam?”.  “Not in words Rachna, not in words.  I can tell by his look and his care that he does love me”.  

“Miriam, hope you are not upset at me.  I just told you what I thought.  You are my best friend and do not want to see you hurt in anyway 

and if he truly loves you then go ahead.  As long as you are happy, I will be too”, Rachna told Miriam.


“One of these days I am going to take you to my hometown to see my parents”, Benny told her.  “No Benny, I don’ think that is a good idea. 

 They would not like the idea of you seeing me.We have nothing in common”.”We do Miriam, we do” Benny comforted her.  “I wish I could meet

 your parents, but I know I cannot.  But I do know that they are watching over us and blessing us Miriam”, he said. She burst into tears and hugged

him and said”Benny I love you”.He caressed her hair and held her close and said “So do I Miriam”.


She had lived a lonely life, had no family to speak of and no siblings, but did have friends.  Now that Benny came into her life she finally found

 a sense of being.Finally there was a purpose in her life she felt.


Benny called one evening and told her he had to rush to his hometown.  His mother was admitted to the hospital and he sounded broken. 

 “Miriam, I do not know what to do.  My mom is my life and he started sobbing over the phone.”  She said “hush Benny, don’t worry, it might

 be just a minor illness and nothing serious to worry about.  God will be with you?”.  “Miriam, can you come with me?”, he asked.   “Benny, 

you know what my answer will be, besides it is time for you to be with your mother and I will only be a hinderance to you. Go and come back safe”. 

 Benny sounded relieved and said “Miriam dear, I feel a bit better, I will call you when I reach there. Love you”.  “Love you too Benny”, she said.


She woke up with a jolt, hearing the phone ring.  She answered with excitement in her voice.  To her disappointment it was someone who dialed an incorrect 

number.


She was worried about Benny, she prayed that his mother was fine.  Anyway it was getting late at night and she had to get to work the next day so she went to her bed.  In her mind she imagined Benny lying next to her. His comforting voice played in her mind.  She drifted off to sleep thinking of his warmth.

She never did receive a call from him the next day or the next.  She called his mobile and it went to his answering machine which said the message box was full and could not leave a message. She texted him – no response. It went on for a couple of days and there was no response.  She had this sinking feeling in her that it was over.  


It was a year now since she last heard from Benny, she did not see him in the restaurant or anywhere.  Rachna would ask her all the time if she ever heard from Benny. MIriam was thankful that she had a friend like Rachna – cause she never told her “I told you so”.  She had confided to Rachna everything that happened between her and Benny including the nights she spent with him.  Rachna never criticized her, all she said was “It is part of life and part of what two people who love each other do”. To her Benny was someone from her past now.  The feelings she had in him was gone.  And she never blamed him.  She knew that part of her knew it would never last.


One evening she answered the doorbell and found Benny outside.  “May I come in”, he asked.  She said “Ofcourse, I never turn away people I know”.

She asked him if he wanted her to make a drink for him and he said no.  Just a glass of water would do.  She asked him to sit and got him the glass of water.  She sat next to him and said “Now tell me Benny, whether I am wrong in my guess.  It is just a guess but it is a guess?”  

It was as if Benny read her mind “Yes Miriam, it is true”.  ” I had to tell you a lie that my mother was ill.  I was asked to come home by my parents.  

They wanted me to marry my father’s friend’s daughter.  I tried to resist, but they said they made a commitment and asked me not to let them down.


I could not bring myself to tell you that so I made a show of that. What I did was wrong and it took me a year to get the courage to come to you and tell you the truth.  I know what I did was wrong and I expect no forgiveness from you, but forgive my wife if you could and my parents – cause it is I who is to blame.


“Benny, Benny, I knew we were not meant to be and remember how I resisted meeting your parents.  They would have never accepted me.  

I am not angry with you or upset with you.  Enjoy your life with you wife and god bless you.  Now go before I break down.”


After he left, Miriam looked at the mirror, laughed to herself and said “How will his parents ever accept a woman 15 years older than him.






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Janaki

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The scene that unfolded below, as the bus reached the crest
of the hill, was something that never ceased to fill me with a feeling that I
simply cannot describe – it is a feeling that has to be experienced and it
happened every time I came.

 

The morning sunlight that blanketed the village in a soft
light and the smoke slowly rising into the still air, through the thatched
roofs  of the simple mud  dwellings lent an almost surreal look.

 

My eyes went to one hut in particular, and every time I saw
the hut, my eyes misted over, and the familiar tug of the heart occurred.  It was her house and I could never forget her
– my Janaki

 

…………….

 

 

“Oye Kuttappo…….po-po-po-po” the call would
echo – My uncle would shout from the verandah of our Tharavadu   and his voice would waft across the fields
and the echo slowly fading – and then in a few moments the reply would waft
across the fields “Oyeeeee”  
In a matter of  minutes he would
be there in our yard. He would unwarp the towel he wrapped around his head and
hold it in his hands and would stand with his hands folded – he would never
enter the tharavad – he would stand on one side -  I learned about the caste divide that ran
rampant and still does – from Kuttappan – or rather from the way he conducted
himself in our tharavad.

 

 

One morning my uncle called out  as usual and there was no  call back – so he told me “Eda mone go
over to Kuttappan’s house and see if he is there?  I looked at my uncle with some hesitation and
he said “no no you go I wont tell Amma”. Amma was my grandmother who
frowned on anyone going to places “tharavadi people should not go”.  My uncle cared less. For him a person was a
person.

 

I could not cut through the thicket that stood between
Kuttappan’s home and our tharavad,  since
we had the fear of being bitten by snakes and of  thorny bushes ripping our skins put on to us
by the elders, so I had to meander through the paddy fields and around  the thickets to reach his home.

 

I loved walking through the narrow sand bars  that divided the fields into squares,
rectangles,. The sights and the smells were wonderful – fresh smell of the
paddies, the water in the fields and the little fish that swam in the water
amongst the paddy stalks. Occasionally I would see a water snake gliding
through the waters. Most of all I loved the breeze that seemed to blow all the
time – that made the paddy stalks sway and 
made a soft whooshing  sound,  and then the feeling as the breeze washed
over me.

 

 

Kuttappan’s dwelling was a small hut  thatched  with palm leaves, and walls  covered with thick dried mud and tiny windows
with bars of wood. There was the smoke that made its way through the thatched
roof, and rose up and vanished into branches of the trees that hung over the
hut.  The front yard was neatly swept and
the hut though tiny had a snug look about it.

 

 

It was very quiet there. 
Occasionally the quiet would be punctuated by the clucks of the few hens
and the master rooster pecking away on the sandy soil for some  grubs. Standing out the hut I hesitatingly
called out “Kuttappan Chetta”, “Kuttappan Chetta”.  “Acchan is not here” said a voice
behind me wrapped in laughter.  I jumped
with a start and turned around.  There
she stood – a thin towel wrapped around her head, bright eyes, smooth ebony
skin, laughing away.  I stared at her and
she asked in rather nice way “What? have you never seen a girl
before?”

 

I kind of swallowed and said “um um no no no it is not
that, it was so quiet and never expected anyone come quietly behind me and then
talk”, I said.  She laughed again and I
looked at her in a quizzical way  and she
asked  “Why did you address my Achan
as Kuttappan Chettan?” “You are from the Tharavadu and every one from
there calls him by his name?”

 

 “Cause he is
older to me and  that is why”, I
replied.

 

 “Achan is not
here”, she said.  He said he was not
feeling well and has gone to  see the
vaidyan (the local doctor) “, she said and added “When he comes I
will ask him to come to the Tharavaadu” . 
” No, no”, I said  “Let
him take rest, I will let them know”. 
She looked at me as if I said something out of the norm.

 

 “That is not what
everyone tells us when we tell them anything about Achan.  They say tell him to come when he
returns” .  “Anyway I will tell
him that you came from the Tharavaadu” and she slowly turned to enter her
hut.  “What is your name”?  I asked. 
“Janaki” she said but u can call me Janu just like everyone
else does” and she went inside laughing and saying” cannot believe you
called Achan, chettan”

 

 

It was not that I had not seen her before, I had seen her on
a few occasions walking with Kuttappan in the distance, not seen her close
though, and I had never spoken with her till today and never knew her name
either.  Her laughter and her smiling
face I liked.

 

I did not see much of Janaki after that morning, but then
whenever I got to see her either near her house or walking down the paddy
fields she would pass me by without looking at me with her head bowed down and
the moment she passed me by, would softly mutter “Kuttappan Chettan”
and burst into peals of laughter and run. 
I would look after her and smile. 
Now she would do so only if was alone or with my favorite cousin to whom
I told about what happened that morning. 

She was the sweetest of my cousins and we hid nothing from
one another.  Besides Janaki knew my
cousin very well and would always call her chechi.

 

My vacations were spent in my village  and each 
time I saw her,  Janu was
blossoming into a beautiful young girl. 
Every time she saw me she would not say anything – till she crossed my
path and then the familiar “Kuttappan Chetta” would fall on my ears
followed by her wonderful laughter.

 

One morning as I was walking down the paddy field path, she
was there and as usual the moment she crossed me  heard her familiar “Kuttappan
Chetta” and then after a few moments I heard a splash and a squeal – I
looked back and there she was amongst the paddy in the water on her back.  I walked quickly and reached out my hand for
her to hold and raise herself up – there was a brief hesitation and then she
reached out and held my hand  – her hand
felt soft in mine and so tender and warm. 

 

 

I pulled her up and asked her what happened.  She seemed a bit shy and said that after
calling out “Kuttappan Chetta”, she would always walk  looking back to see if  I would turn and look back..  Today, she said,  she just missed her footing and that was
that.  This was the first time I had been
this close to her, cause when I pulled her up and out of the water she was so
very close to me that our bodies were nearly touching.Even after a dip in the
holy waters of the paddy field there was that earthy fragrance about her.

 

 

We just stood there for a moment and then she started
laughing – and said she felt so silly after taking the fall in the water. She
looked so beautiful, wet hair, water streaming from her wet hair over her face,
and at that moment I felt the first tug in my heart.  I said to myself “Oh my I am falling in
love with her”.  I just gazed at
her.  She stopped her laughter when she
saw the look in my eyes,  she slowly
removed her hand from mine – it appeared to me rather reluctanlty- and walked
away.  I stood looking after her but she
did not turn back and look.

 

 

 

I told my cousin what happened and she did not say anything,
but had a worried look on her face.  She
asked me “Are you serious? rushing into something without thinking clear
is not what I would like you to do, but then you are nineteen and you know
better”.  I did not see Janaki for
the next few days .  One evening as I was
returning to the tharavaadu from the temple, I heard a soft voice behind me
“Kuttappan Chetta”.  My joy
knew no bounds and I turned back.  There
she stood with a smile on her face.  She
said she was in the temple and after praying 
and was talking with the temple workers when she saw me leaving the
temple and decided to come behind me. 
Her smile then faded and she wore a serious look .

 

“Don’t ask me why I did what I did just now to come
behind me,  since I know it is not
right”.  As we walked slowly back
she told me “I am not as educated as all of you.  Never been beyond he sixth class – callings
at home put a stop to my 

schooling, but I can see in someone’s eyes when they have
feelings for someone.  I saw that in your
eyes when you pulled me out of the paddy field. 
I don’t think it is right.  You
are from the Tharavaad and I am just one of those who are considered
untouchable and it is simply not right for us.” “I have feelings for
you but they will just be that and let us not start something that will only end
in hurt”. Her voice cracked as she said that and her eyes misted.  ” I am going now” she said and
walked away.  She did not look back.

 

I had a feeling that everyone in the Tharavad knew what was
going on – but no one approached me on that or asked me.

 

Whenever we met our conversations were brief and basic.
Feelings that lay buried deep lay where they were. . She never again said
“Kuttappan Chetta” when she passed me by – maybe she just wanted it
to die away so that she would not hurt and I did not blame her. The holidays
were over and I was back home, did not get to see Janaki before I left nor got
to tell her goodbye till my next visit. 
It bothered me that I could not do so but then in a way I felt was
better.

 

I received a letter from my cousin saying that Janaki married
a relative of hers and moved to Chennai and before she left she talked to my
cousin and told her everything – about her feelings for me and my feelings for
her . It was best  it stay that way.  My heart ached, but then thought that
whatever happened did happen for the best both for her and me.

 

My studies over, got a job and move far from home which made
it hard for me to go back home or to my village every year – in addition the
nature of the work was such that getting a few days  off was a luxury. So whenever I got time off
it was to my parents that I went to most of the time. My cousin and I
corresponded very frequently, I asked her once about Janaki, but when she
replied she had a simple message “It is time you forgot her”. After
than I never enquired about Janaki nor did my cousin mention her at
all………….

 

 

……….The bus stopped with a jolt and I was came out of
my journey down memory lane.  After a
seven year gap I was back in my village. It was for my niece’s wedding and my
consign made it clear that there was no excuse for me not showing up, cause to
me you are the brother I never had, and it is true for me she was the sister I
never had, and I did feel so very guilty of not going to see her during my fews
breaks from work.  Nothing had changed in
the village – I noticed that while on the bus and while alighting and walking
to the Tharavad.  

 

It was wonderful to be back in the village. The sights, the
sounds and the smell. Thoughts of Janaki flooded my mind, of her voice, of her
laughter of our conversations but then I pushed them away.

 

 The wedding was
wonderful.  I looked around at the guests
gathered and my heart skipped a beat. 
There she was standing in the crowd trying to make herself inconspicuous
- and our eyes met.  She looked my way in
the moment I turned to talk to one of my relatives and looked back, she was
gone. I looked every where in vain it was as if I just had a vision and nothing
else. 

 

I wanted so much to run out of the wedding hall and look for
her. My eyes fell of my cousin, who knew what had happened.  She simply shook her head ‘No’

 

Two days before I was to leave, I was walking down the paddy
field late one evening when I saw her walking slowly towards me, she hesitated
for a moment as she reached close 
but  then  walked past me as if I was a total stranger.

I just walked on.

 

 “Kuttappan
Chetta” a soft voice came from behind. I turned around and there she stood
- laughing – the same laughter, and she looked more beautiful than before.  Without even thinking I hugged her – for a
moment I felt her resist but then she yielded hugged me and there were tears in
her eyes.  After a few moments she pulled
away and then without a word turned and walked away – I stood there looking at
her as she slowly disappeared into the distance and fading light never once looking
back.. 

 

I never saw her again 
- but I knew in our hearts our love for one another lives.. There was
one other thing – for as long as I knew her I never heard her once call me by
my name.

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Fall

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Photograph

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Passage of Summer

Summer passed, and soon the fall made its way across the spectrum of seasons.


Thoughts of a wonderful summer gone by was a memory that would remain with him, never covered in fog, but always as bright as the light of a summer’s day.


He could still see her footprints on the sands, in his mind’s eye, her laughter still echoed and her voice.  Would he see her again?  He never knew, but then again he would love to see her again and relive the brief summer she spent.  Would she want to see him again?  That was a question for which he had no answer.


She has a life to live and she had her commitments and it would be selfish for him to want her to be back.  Then, again, we are only human and given to selfish needs sometimes.


He saw her the first time as he walked down his regular path at the beach.  He would come there every summer, just to soak in the beauty of the landscape and the ocean. He had no family to speak of so nothing tied him anywhere. In a way a blessing, his friends would tell him it was time for him to settle, but then he never wanted to impose on anyone.


She was standing there staring in the distant horizon not moving, just seeming to enjoy the breeze and the waves.  It was a beautiful silhouette of her.  As he passed by her,  he could not help but ask her “It is beautiful is it not?” She did not respond, but just gazed straight ahead.  He shrugged his shoulder’s and walked on, thinking to himself “She must think I am one of those who hits on a single woman.”.

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Then her voice floated to him from behind “It is really
beautiful, why don’t you pause and drink in that beauty?”  Her voice had a lilting softness and he
stopped.

Then turned and looked at the sea.  “Yes, It is really beautiful, and I see it every day as I
walk”.

 

“You can come closer to me and stand, I don’t bite”, she
said and laughed – like her voice a laughter that simply wrapped him.  “If you stand far away and talk to me,
your voice will be carried by the wind somewhere and I would never come to hear
of it, so it is better you were closer”, she said.  He could not help but laugh.  She too joined him and they both laughed. 

 

“Beautiful”, he said.

 

 “What?”,
“Who?”she asked.

 

“The ocean”, he replied

 

She did not say anything.  They  both stood
by the shore and gazed at the ocean.

 

“Are you from here?”, she asked. 

 

“No, I am about 
300 miles from home”, he said.

 

“Does 300 miles have a name?” she asked, again her laughter
just lit up.

 

“Los Angeles”, he said, and added “And You”

 

“Can’t you take a guess?”, it should not be too hard”, she
replied.

 

“My home country”? 
he asked

 

“But ofcourse”? 
“you should not even ask” she said again wrapping him in her laughter.

 

“No but you could be from the neighboring country or from
anywhere, that is why I kind of asked?, But then how did you know where I was
from when I said Home Country”? He asked with a puzzled look.

 

“ I just know”, she said simply, still her gaze focused on
the ocean.

 

“I am Nirmal”, he said.  She did not say anything.  Just nodded her head and kept looking ahead.  He stood there for some more time,
enjoying the quiet moment.

Then he said, “I have to go and take care of some errands”.

 

“Okay”she said and as he walked the familiar voice came
floating through the air.

 

“Nirmala” and he just stopped – looked at her as if she was
teasing him and she laughed and said “What? Cannot a person have a name like
yours with an extra letter of the alphabet at the end”.

 

“Goodnight”, he said and moved on.  He could sense her eyes on him, but did not turn back.

 

As he walked towards the street from the beach, he said
“Darn it, I never asked where is staying or what is she here for or
anything.  Maybe if she is there
tomorrow, I will ask her”

 

He did not see her 
the next day or the day after. 

 

Walking down the street from his room at the Inn, again he
heard her voice floating from behind “Where goes you the one without the A at
the end of his name?”

 

He laughed and stopped and turned and there she was, her
signature laughter already wrapping him. 
“ No where in particular”, he said.

 

“Then why don’t you give this girl far away from home some
company that she is longing for?” she asked.

 

“But ofcourse”, he said.  “Any where special?”

 

“How can you ask a person who has never been here that question?”.  You should know better, you I know come
here pretty often don’t you?”  she
answered with a question.

 

“How in the world did you know I come here often?” he asked
and then said “Forget it”, “Not going to ask you how”?

 

“By the way”, she said rather offhandedly “Don’t you dare
laugh at my nose, some folks have given it the name of an Indian snack”.  He looked quizzically at her and said
“all I see is a lovely nose with a lovely litte pin, which complements you so
well, and I love the way it glints, besides I have a weakness for a lady with a
nose ring”.  She just smile and did not respond.


He then said “There is a lighthouse a couple of miles away
up the rise, how about a walk there?”

“Oh my how wonderful”, she said.  “You have company”she said.  As they started walking she asked, “Are we friends or
strangers?”.  “Friends”, he replied
“Why?” he asked.  “Well Nirmal you
walk as if  you are a typical last
century Indian husband, you walking in the front and me following you”?.

 

“Shucks”, he said, “ I am sorry, not used to walking much
with anyone so just took off of my own”, he said and slowed down and they
walked side by side.  She kept up a
constant conversation, and filling the air with her laughter which he loved
just as much her voice.  She never
seemed to be short of any topic and it was such a wonderful fill in for the
void that he had.

 

He asked her what made her come here from so far away.

 “I work in the  tourism industry back in India and I
was asked by a documentary film maker to scout some beautiful spots over seas
for promoting tourism.  Plus it is
a wonderful vacation form me – away from every one – just me, myself.

 

“What about you?” she asked.  He said that he worked for an advertising company as a
copywriter and he would come here every year, cause he was so much in love with
the place.  “ 

 

They turned a corner up the cliff and she caught her breath
and let out a squeal of joy.  “This
is simply incredible, so beautiful,” she said  as she saw the lighthouse and the view of the ocean from
there.

 

He never ceased to be amazed at the view from here.

 

“ You have to come at night here”, it is a sight you will
never remove from your mind he told her. 

 

He told himself that 
“she looks like a little girl on a visit to the candy shop for the first
time of her life”  He was simply
engulfed in her happiness and joy.

 

“Nirmal, please, can we come here tonight”, she said. 

 

I  have some
work that I have to complete, I will finish that and try to get out as soon as
I can from my room in the evening and we will comes here.  “Wonderful she said”.

 

That evening he went to the place she stayed and she was
waiting for him.  “You better bring
a jacket with you “.  “No , Nirmal”,
I am perfectly fine she said.  “you
sure”?, he asked.  “But Ofcourse”,
she replied.

 

He told her as they reached the curve in the hill “Close
your eyes”.  She did and he guided
her holding her elbow and then he whispered to her “Nirmala”.  She opened her eyes and gasped.   It was as if heaven came down to
earth.  The sky was filled with
stars, moonlight reflecting of the waters of the sea, and the dark silhouette
of the light house and she echoed the words “if there is a paradise on earth……”.

 

They stood for a long time lost in their thoughts, gazing at
the spectacle – and he did not want to say anything worried that the moment he
opened his mouth the spell would break.

 

He slowly walked away a little distance and let her drink in
the beauty of the night and was lost in his own thoughts.  “Why did you walk away from me?” her
question woke him up from his thoughts. 
“I just wanted you to be one with the beauty of the moment”.  “Is it wrong for you to stand next to
me “, she asked.  “No I just wanted
you to have that moment to yourself”.  “Did not mean to offend you “.  She just stared at the sky.


http://datastore.rediff.com/h5000-w5000/thumb/675E635964726270695F6A64/v9xqdp5pzjs4ly0i.D.0.couple.jpg


He noticed that she was shivering a little in the night wind and he
removed his jacket and put it around her.  She walked quietly by  his side.

 

“Walk with me on the beach” she said and they walked the
empty beach, under the canopy of the stars and lulled by the soft sounds of the
surf.  It was such a wonderful
moment.  They then stopped and
looked out into the sea,  they had
taken there footwear off and they enjoyed the cold water caressing their
feet.  She slowly put her arm
through his and just stood there. 
He felt a closeness to her that he had never felt towards anyone.

 

“And now, will the gentleman take this lady for dinner”, she
said and then broke the spell with her laughter, he found so endearing.

 

They walked to a small restaurant by the beach and enjoyed a
course of steak and fresh catch of the sea and washed it down with some
wonderful wine.  She as always
carried on the conversation and he just was wrapped in her voice.  Dinner was over and she was a bit
tipsy.

 

“Now will the gentleman find a place for the lady to dance?”
she asked.  “I know I am a bit
tipsy but I can dance a tune or two”, she said.

 

There was a dance studio near where she lived and they
played some soft music.  He used to
go there, but never danced, just sat enjoyed a wine and spent time chatting
with the bar tender and the DJ.

 

As they walked in 
soft beautiful music washed over them, she smiled and as he stood there
she asked”Are you not going to ask the lady for a dance?”. 

 

“Me?”, he asked? 
“yes you , you idiot Nirmal, who do you think I will dance with?  The DJ?”.  Mind you, don’t step on my foot though” she said

 

They danced for quite some time and then had a little bit
more wine – it was heady.

 

It was a wonderful evening and she said, “Nirmal, I think I
better go back to my room or I will be drunk out of my mind, and she laughed.
“But before that let us take one last walk down the beach?”

 

“One last walk?”he asked.

 

“Yes dear.  I
have to leave tomorrow afternoon. 
I got a call earlier this evening that I have to return since they need
me at home base urgently and I did not want to tell you that earlier and spoil
the evening” 

 

It was like a jolt for him.  The few days he had known her it was wonderful.  It was full of laughter and
smiles.  He however, did not
display his emotion. “What you are sad?” she asked.  “No, No” he lied. 
“I will miss the laughter” he said “And”, she asked.

“Your voice”, he said “And”, she asked again “ and before he
could reply –DJ announced that it was closing time and he would play the last
song for the night.

 

“One more dance”, he asked her.  “Sure” she said as “long as it it not the DJ” and they
laughed. 

 

He walked her to her hotel and said he would walk her to her
room.  She  said that she was fine and could go by
herself and he said no way, she was a bit tipsy and needed some assistance,
said if he did not let her go by herself then she would not go to her toom. 

 

“I will tie you up and carry you to your room and put you in
bed to make sure you are safe and sound asleep”, he told her.

 

“Ha, ha ha,”, she laughed.  That would never work. “I will tie you up”in my room and go
to your room and sleep”. 

 

“I have hidden the key 
and you will never find it”, so what will you do, he asked her.  “Well  I know what to do”, she said.

 

“What will you do”, 
he asked?  “Throw me down
the window?”,

 

“nope”, she said

 

“Throw me in the corridor”

“nope”, she said “one more chance”

 

“Throw me on the floor”

“all chances over”, she said.

“I t will remain a suspense”, and then she said good night
and gave him a hug and walked inside her hotel.

 

He stood looking at her  as she walked into the hotel and disappeared from view.

 

He smiled, shook his head, and walked to his inn.

 

He woke up to a knocking on his door.  He looked at the clock and said”Oh my
god! I over slept”.  He rushed and
opened the door rubbing his sleep from his eyes.  There stood the hotel boy who said “Sir, a lady left this
package for you”.

 

“Thank you “ he said and closed the door, rushed to the bed
and opened the package.

 

There was a little box and he opened it and there was a
beautiful silver bracelet with a little banyan leaf.  There was a note along with the bracelet in the box.

 

“Dear Nirmal – Words cannot say how much it meant to me the
moments we spent.  It will always
be in my memory.  I hope you liked
the little gift I left for you. 
The banyan leaf is something I cherish, cause the one I love is always
depicted on a banyan leaf.  His name
is Kannan”.  I know it is a small
gift, it cannot compensate for he wonderful gift you gave me of your company”

 

My flight was early in the morning and not in the afternoon.
I did not want to wake you up to say good bye, besides I don’t believe in
goodbyes.  So you still have not
figured out what I said – it will always be a suspense – ha ha ha” 

 

Love and Hugs

 

   

                                                  

 

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