Note: Me is having nothing up my mind these days. Being totally vetti over the weekend, me tried to attempt the week’s prompt at Writer’s Island. This week’s prompt is ‘torrid’. This is what came to mind on thinking (????) about the word:
He sat in the verandah and looked out at the huge black clouds that had been looming in the sky since afternoon, threatening to burst open and flood the world at any moment. Lightning had been brightening the otherwise dark sky every now and then. A light wind had been blowing since morning. Speechless, he looked at the beauty of nature. It was almost…….. poetic. He would most definitely have written something, something ……. intense, had it been like before. Had his life never changed. Had his muse not deserted him. A sigh escaped him, unknown.
His mind wandered back to those days when his friends used to envy him for his creativity. Scribbling had always been his passion since he was a kid. My! The number of poems and short stories he had penned down! Though he had been a student of Accountancy, creativity had been in his blood. He would win all the creative writing contests he would take part in. Gradually, over time, he had developed a unique style of his own, his brand. ‘Pulitzer,’ his colleagues used to say jokingly, “your wife would be very lucky. You will win her over with your poetry.” And he would just smile and say nothing.
Today, as he sat and gazed at what was probably going to be the first shower of the season, those beautiful memories seemed to be from another age altogether. It seemed to him that aeons had passed since he had penned down something. How much time had it been? He mulled it over. Probably about six months. Not that he hadn’t tried. He had tried a number of times to put down his feelings in words, but the words just didn’t flow naturally as they used to before. Whatever he had penned down seemed so artificial, forced, that he hadn’t liked it at all. It seemed like an over extended writer’s block. Finally, after several such unsuccessful attempts, he had stopped trying.
He came back to the present with a huge rumble of lightning in the sky, which seemed to be just what the clouds were waiting for. The sky opened up. It began pouring. He watched as the water seeped through the earth, which had been parched for months on end. The dry earth which had cracked with the hot sun shining for endless summer days now seemed sated, fulfilled, replenished. Was it his imagination or did the plants around his bungalow seem to be dancing with joy in the rain, greener, lusher than he had ever seen them before? He watched the people on the road rush to find shelter from the cats-and-dogs-rain under the nearest roof or tree. Ah! Relief from the sweltering heat at last!
The ringing of the doorbell brought him out of his admiration of nature and his contemplation. He looked at his watch. 3.30 P.M. Were his parents back early from the Nichyathartham? Couldn’t be. The muhurtham began only at 5 P.M.
Then who could it be? He ambled up from the cane chair in which he had been sitting, setting aside ‘The Argumentative Indian’ that he had been trying to read, unsuccessfully, and rushed to see who was being so impatient. The doorbell had already rung thrice. He began to ask ‘Yes?’ as soon as he opened the door, but the visitor standing at his doorstep left him speechless. Both – he and the visitor – stared at each other for several minutes, wordlessly.
It was she who broke the ice. As always. He had always been the reserved one.
‘Are you going to let me in or not?,’ she asked. It was then that it struck him. What was she doing here? She had left him months ago, walked out of his life, forever. Not heeding any of his requests, his pleas. Not even having consideration for his parents’ feelings, if not his. Throwing his love flat on his face. Why was she here now? Why had she chosen this rainy afternoon of all days?
He moved aside, still saying nothing. She entered the house, seeming completely at ease, at least on the exterior. ‘How could she look so calm, so unruffled? How can she be so composed when there is a storm brewing inside me?,’ he asked himself, resisting the temptation to put before her the countless questions that arose in his mind.
‘How are you, Sathya?,’ she asked.
Why is she making small talk? Why doesn’t she just come out with the reason for being here? Ignoring the questions in his head, he replied, ‘I am fine.’ Just as fine as I can be without you in my life any more, he almost said out aloud.
‘How have you been faring?’
‘I am doing OK,’ she said, in a tone that did not sound so convincing any more. ‘Where are Uncle and Aunty?’
‘They have gone to Kalpana Aunty’s son’s engagement.’ In the hope that they might find a suitable girl for me, a girl I would like. A girl I would not refuse to see disinterestedly, as I have all the others they have shown me snaps of till now. He brushed the errant thoughts aside.
‘Sit, Shyama. Can I get you something? A glass of water?’
As she sat down on the sofa in the drawing room, he noticed the tension on her face. He sensed the undercurrents beneath her seemingly cool exterior.
‘No, thanks, Sathya. I don’t want anything. I came here because………. Because I wanted to…….talk to you. Do you have some free time?’
How can I ever not have time for you? True, I have not always given you the time you rightly deserve, but right from college when we were friends, to when our relationship matured to something more, you have always been my first priority. You and my parents. Why did you do that, Shyama? Why did you leave me? Didn’t you trust me? How could you not understand me?
‘Sathya?,’ her voice brought him out of his misery.
‘Sorry. Yeah, sure. I have some free time. Tell me.’
I am curious to know why you are here. You never even responded to my calls or my mother’s after you left that day. You just said it was over between us, because you could not take it any more. You never explained where and how did I go wrong. You took my life, my muse, my everything with you. I never recovered from that day.
‘Sathya, I know you must be wondering why I have come here today,’ Shyama said, reflecting his own thoughts. ‘I came to say………… I am sorry……… I am really very, very sorry for what I did. I know it is a big thing to ask, but can you please forgive me?’ Her voice was all broken now, and he could hear the pain and regret in it.
‘Why, Shyama? Why did you do that?’ Finally, he asked her the question he had been asking himself for the last 6 months. ‘We were so perfect for each other. We had something really special between us. My parents had begun to consider you as their daughter-in-law. Then why? What went wrong?’
‘I didn’t want to end up like my mother, Sathya. I know I am not doing a good job of explaining myself, but I had to do it. I HAD to come here today to ask for forgiveness.’
Then it all came out. He became a non-judgemental, patient listener while she poured out her heart. From her parents’ affair at their workplace, their brief courtship, their marriage and then their passion – which had flown out of the window a couple of years after the marriage. Their strained relationship. Her father devoting more and more time to his work. Her memories of her mother crying by herself in a corner. She and her brother feeling helpless, being able to do nothing to bring her out of her misery. Her father’s affair with his secretary. Her mother quietly bearing the pain of it all. Her mother keeping mum in spite of her knowledge of the liaison. The subsequent divorce. A family drifting apart. The feelings of insecurity and bitterness. The feeling of growing up without a father. The scars that she had always carried on her soul.
‘I began to see glimpses of my father in you, Sathya, as you became more and more immersed in your career. I didn’t want our kids to grow up like my brother and I did. I know now I should have talked to you about it, but I just assumed that all men are the same. I realize now that it was unfair to you. I am very, very sorry. Can you please forgive me?’
He was flabbergasted. He had known of her parents’ divorced status, but the ordeal she had been through struck him hard. He had not been expecting this.
‘Why didn’t you talk to me about this, Shyama?’
‘I thought you would never understand. Somewhere down the line, I understood how wrong I had been. Amma tried her best to explain, but I always turned a deaf ear to her. I guess I had to realize for myself. Do you remember that book of poems you had gifted me once, long ago? All written by you. I read through them again and it opened my eyes. It struck me that you could never be like my dad. Both of you are completely different personalities. He is too insensitive and self-centred. I have been trying to build up my courage to come here since months, but could do it only today.’
‘Shyama, I would never, ever have behaved like that. You are priceless for me, though I have never said these words to you.’
With that, the tears that had been threatening to flow all along now fell freely down both their cheeks. There was no need for any words as he opened his arms to her and she came into them. Forgiveness had been granted. The months apart melted, as if they never were at all. Love had won once more.
As he hugged the love of his life close to his heart, it happened. All of a sudden. Without warning. His muse came back to him.
‘Waiting forever for you have I been,
With my parched soul,
My gaze affixed on your path;
Come to me
Like the rain comes to the earth,
Come, let me fill up my soul
Yes, the torrid earth of his heart had indeed been sated by the torrential rain today.
Outside, the rain beat against the walls of the bungalow. The greedy earth soaked up the rain as if she would never see it again another day.
‘I am so sorry for what I did, Sathya. I don’t know what I would have done without you. There has not been a single day when I have not missed you. Will you be able to love me again the same way?,’ Shyama asked.
‘I never stopped loving you, Shyama,’ Sathya said, holding her hands and looking into her teary eyes with his own tear-filled eyes.
A couple of hours later, Sathya’s parents welcomed their daughter-in-law back home.