It was late in the evening. Everyone was watching some show on the television. She sat in the corner and was doing embroidery on a comforter. All was quiet except for the white noise of the television which was dulled by her senses. She just didn’t care to watch the tube or sit and stare at it for hours.
The ringing phone jerked her out of her hypnotized movements of her hands doing the embroidery. She picked up the phone.
Hello, may I speak to Arundhati?
This is Arundhati?
And suddenly the voice became a person. She recognized him. Twenty seven years slipped by. He was standing in front of her, telling her he wanted to take her for a ride on his motor bike.
He was not handsome in the text book image. He was wiry, a natural athlete, and he held her heart within his own. He literally kissed the ground she walked on, unaware that he was doing it. When they went on a date, he would bring a bag of rose petals and shower them over her head. How she had laughed. When she tried to avoid stepping on those flowers and petals, he said, “those petals would complain if your feet didn’t touch them. Honor them, my love, by walking on them.” Such insane love, so pure and so humble.
Hello are you there Arundhati?
Yes, I am here.
The voice was the same. She had let it hang by the tip of the waxing moon for so many decades. It resonated in the chambers of her heart for so long. And now, when everything was way past, and dust had settled on the passions of youth, that same voice echoed and reverberated.
I am in your country, and not too far from you. Will it be possible to see you?
She looked around her. The children were sprawled in the great room, her husband absorbed in the movie on the tube. She ached to see him. She knew that she was beholden to someone else. How acutely aware she was of that. But she wanted her children to meet him. She wanted him to see them.
Yes. Sure, it will be a pleasure to have you here and meet my family.
Have you changed a lot Arundhati? My hair has gone gray, but I still hold your picture in my eyes. You will see that when you see me.
How long had it been?
How long did he keep talking on the phone? She was visualizing the walks along the beach, prayers whispered to let wishes come true as the waves touched the ankles. Silly prattle of this and that while they sat in a small café at the end of campus, laughing, talking, listening to old Indian music, and laughing some more.
Do you remember me Arundhati?
Did you miss me when you left the subcontinent?
Do you still miss me?
What a silly question that is! How could she voice her thoughts and her desires that were imprisoned in her being. The flames of devotion and longing that had gnawed relentlessly for so many years, and which she had tried to dowse year after year, were now trying to wake up, stretching out of their slumber, feeling something, wanting something.
She saw her husband standing in front of her, his hand extended, saying, “let’s call it a night!”
Yes~~ she said to both of them, while a single tear escaped through the dam she had built around her languished eyes and lonely soul; she told him she would call him back and allowed herself to listen to the voice of reason and pulled herself out of her chair.
ZSA March 2016.