Guwahati,

Fiction

Rendezvous with Rain

 

 

Tara sees rain in the distance, skeins that sometimes look like long white fingers parting the shadows in the clouds. She sees opulence in their motions, and some energy seems to surround her with the sound of the approaching shower. A few flashes of light light up her backyard for a moment: She thinks she is seeing something move or someone is arriving in a zigzag manner, as if the person doesn't know where he is going. 

It could be the scarecrow: It is an old-fashioned piece of tattered shirt hanging upon a thick bamboo pole that sways often with the wind to keep the birds at bay from pecking at the seeds. Though it has no reason to walk with the wind, it cannot. Her eyes scan the area which is not in darkness because of the next flash of lightning. A new flash, jagged and sharp crisscrosses across the dark thick sky that make her blink her eyes twice. She sees a man lying spread-eagled on the wet grass; his clothes too are torn just like the scarecrow on the pole, only he is breathing. There is no movement and no other sign of any one being with him. She calls out to the servants and together they carry him inside to a room upstairs. 

The climb shakes her badly and more so when she sees a black strip of blood clotting near his right temple. What has led him in this storm to arrive at her doorstep? He is not awake to answer her query. He seems to be from another reserve of world from where he has been running too long. She touches his hands, and suddenly they grip her fiercely as if he would not let her go away. This catches her in the center-piece of a passion: She wants suddenly to share what is going on inside his head, all the agitations that are making him a shapeless man of flesh whose will cannot yield easily. ''Maya?'' Suddenly the man mutters in his sleep. The word assures her that he should pull out of danger that brought him here. Nothing will be dim lit from now on.

The sad note in his voice traipses with the rhythm of rain rising to a crescendo. ''Maya?'' He says again more softly: The word carries the entire weight of a meaning upon her, and she wants to make a slow inspection of that name to know more about him than decipher the name of the woman he is calling; a small shadow of doubt creeps into her like a slow slithering worm, however it doesn't make her happy, somewhat. It seems ambiguous when measured with the happiness that she has found simply by looking at him. He has a firm serious mouth that would not say a nonsense thing even in deep sleep. She believes that she should see a solemn pity in his eyes when he would know what she is feeling so suddenly for him without quite knowing him. 

Could love happen so quickly, would it require more than this short meeting? Yes, she is going to ask him too many questions when he opens his eyes finally. She wants to look into the prism of his eyes to delve into the whiteness of his soul: It cannot be dim lit, somehow she is sure of it and if it isn't, she would do anything to fill it up with all the things that should keep him happy and hoping.

Tara sits down beside him feeling a little wary, a little shy too to look straight at his closed eyes though she looks at the rest of him like a proprietor who must keep a vigil across the entire estate. 

She has in the meantime measured him thoroughly in her own grid and given him the top grades though when he awakes, she may need to make some minor adjustments of her feelings to fit into the square of his own central grid. He drops his head more into the crevice of the pillow where his head is resting; it looks as if he is praying and then there is only the sound of the wind threshing against the windowpane. His eyes open, look at her though they do not quite see her: He is looking for someone else who he knows is following him. A lassitude comes over her in his inability to see her: The room is not dark, there is some diffused light in the area where he is lying; he should have seen her very clearly though he probably does see the blue veins near her throat and her forehead where a few stray strands of hair are already trying to twine and throw too many questions at him.

Tara holds a glass of wine to his lips: He looks for a truth in the depth of this bowl of purple color to retrieve the debris of things that he has left behind in the far away night. He cannot make his lips reach the rim of this wine bowl. This makes him smile suddenly, strange that he should look for a past in the most unexpected place. 'Is something the matter with me?' His thoughts wander questioning here and there. He looks at her again; Tara takes both his hands in a tight clasp; he is bewildered at this slow gentle caress from her hands: He sees a trace of a compassion growing in her eyes, and he thinks, 'She is sorry for me' and just then he sees a different dimension to this whole situation: He is the canvas of gilt where she would put her own colors of faith and make him a loyal partner to her plan to win him. She has almost achieved this with her warm caresses. He tells himself to be wary of this woman. And then he sees her get up to move towards the door. He is sorry to see her go. And just as the door closes behind her, he goes back to the middle of other thoughts though in truth, he wants to turn away from them. He doesn't wish to see what a coward he has been lately. Those thoughts are crowding near the doorway though he cannot quite see them clearly. 

"'What do you want?" He asks in a feeble voice. He sees a hint of a glint of something vile in some eyes. Blood is pounding inside his ears; he knows that he must run. He recalls how he had been running several yards and then stopped to look back leaning against the trunk of a tree when everything  behind him looked narrow and tapering towards an end like he is looking at it through a tiny pinhole. Everything then became indistinct and vague. His legs had buckled and with it his breath came out in short gasps; he had tried to catch something, it slipped out of him, and then he was lying down oblivious to what was happening to him. He feels very sad knowing that he doesn't have much to tell her. He is so transparent like a new slate of papery glass with no chalk marks on it though she may disbelieve every word that is trying to come out of his lips. He feels a little happy thinking how he has fooled her so far. His confidence again buckles under the weight of rainwater that slowly gathers outside.

He throws aside the blanket; he thinks he hears the slow buzz of something moving beside him. He wants to snap at the mosquitoes, he is unable to do this. His hands refuse to obey him. His arms and legs no more belong to him. He closes his eyes and tries to think of something, only a pale road floats before him, a few faces are dotted in its creases. He lunges forward but misses as his arms and legs flay wildly, he cannot see where he is going except that there is a puddle of cool water all around him, and he is again sinking.

Before the fall, there is the withdrawn hiss of a whisper, chiffon netting, and the crisscross of feelings growing turning all asunder. He should soon be moving ahead, and his feet must crunch to surrender willingly to quick speed. Would then the lineaments of guilt be reflected on his face? So far he has lived with the odour of it that is now mere echoes in him.

He is again nestling within the newness of things and their silent splendor, and he knows it would be here that he should regain his grace before the arrival of furies that try to ruin him: He is in the vicious whorl of a nightmare; and he wants that someone should release him from its terrible grip. He tries to remember the name of his God, which God, his thoughts wander over the faces of several idols, all are in disarray, the wind or something resembling a gust of wind whisks these images out of his brain and soon the one with a belly and the trunk of an elephant is finally lost in the shadows behind the windowsill, like someone has just jumped out to be with the rain clamoring outside to howl at the night and this suddenly curdles his blood. 

His knuckles show white in the fleeting light, his breath smelling foul like his acerbic tongue has slaked in lye. His hands slowly come together to fold and then part as if afraid to touch one with the other. This is a mere sundry enterprise and the words emerging from his mouth are by and large incoherent or a mere mutter. His eyes continue to search, right and left trying to look far away and his feet feel that they are in a pair of cemented trousers. He is more or less close to being dead, altogether. He mutters, "s-h-r-e-e-e-t," the word shit is disfigured inanely inside his garrulous throat: His words are all in tatters, chained within a loop. They wriggle to be free. He needs a hammer or a stick to bring them out of this mess. And then his towering words would turn humble; every line would become the line of mother earth saturated with rain; a proud edifice of messages without a show of orgy or a sense of novelty. 

He is at ease now; he must not peck at his thoughts with a toothpick or shove them under a monotonous yawn. He cannot allow it. He cannot sulk at them for departing from him too soon. He cannot chew or spit them out. The door yawns opening its wide mouth to swallow him in. His whole body is lifted like one lump of jellied fish. His own yawn is one long monotone. And then he looks for his name: Does it begin with the letter K? Maybe. Who cares? A new vocabulary in his school primer crowds upon him. 'Come' is now such a lovely word, and it gives him a new direction. Each thought takes him towards a curve, and his head is thrown back to watch the rise and fall where a shoulder nestles his tender flesh. He is suddenly feeling so fresh, vigilant waiting for an appointment. There is a rounded head, his words collide against the wisps of a woman's hair, and her lips are looking luscious like red plum. Is he trespassing too much already? A white sheet gives him lots of space to sleep. His sharp derision suddenly goes limp; a challenge could give the woman some offence. Some feet shuffle to leave, as malevolent feet always do at the hour of departure. He is not foolhardy; he is still trying to patch up two disparate but delinked feelings to make him look good and healthy. 'And by the way what is my name?' He mutters with inane strength searching for a word: He must remember to ask this woman the meaning of his name. 

Meanwhile, Tara comes to sit and hold his hands: She begins to tell him about many other beautiful things, how she has metamorphosed from the five-year old girl who crumbled poppy seeds in the palm of her hand in the hope that someday they may turn into full red petals. It never happens though this doesn't keep her from sowing more seeds in her little garden waiting for a beautiful thing to emerge with the fall of autumn leaves. And when she has seen him lying in a pool of blood, she has seen only the red color and believes that her waiting for a beautiful thing is over. Her seed has ripened into the shape of a man. Or so she wants to believe. The soft fall of her words slowly lull him to sleep where he sees only a face draped in green and it is surrounded by a blaze of fire and soon after he sees nothing.

That night Tara feels the beginning of a new attitude towards this man. She makes up her mind just then to remake her life with him. Her conscience, she is aware, is also by her side, it too confirms the wisdom of her thinking. A thought then crosses her mind, 'Would I soon look like a freshly-plowed field and feel different from being just a piece of virgin piece of land?' As she sits musing over her new situation, she hears a loud chorus of applause rising toward her from the four walls of her room: She looks at the large photograph of all her ancestors, they seem to be smiling down at her. Quietly they too approve of her decision.