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Love Potion

Love Potion

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  15 Oct 2018 7:03 AM GMT

EasterineKire

“I don’t believe it works. I don't for a moment believe it,” Touzo was adamant. Pusa smiled slightly and said, “Don’t say that. You would believe if you heard what I went through.”

“I can only believe it if it actually happens to me,” said Touzo.

“Don't wish for it man, you don’t know how it is,” Pusa said with a sad smile.

“And you say you experienced it?” Touzo asked.

“Well I can only tell you my story.”

******

I was younger then, about twenty two. I had stopped at the new paan shop in our colony one night to buy a paan. But let me explain a bit more. I never felt comfortable around the girl in the shop. She would try to get familiar with me, while seeming very polite and deferential. She had oily hair and big teeth and was overweight. You know I don't like girls who are overweight. Anyway it was the first time I had bought a paan from her. In fact, it was the first time after school that I was going to eat a paan. She said she would make it a special one. I said she shouldn't bother but she ran into the back room and came back in seconds. I couldn't taste the difference, really. It was the usual greenpaan leaf folded in a triangle with betelnut and coconut and flavouring. I paid her and left.

But when I went to bed I slept very badly. I woke in the middle of the night sweating. I fell asleep but I dreamt that the girl was trying to pull me into her shop, and I was struggling hard but had become so weak that she easily overpowered me and I found myself inside the shop. I was trying to slip out again when I woke up. It was such an odd dream. I went to work but felt very tired all day. On my way to work I took a short cut which went by her shop. She smiled at me and waved, but I felt most strange when she did that. She suddenly seemed incredibly attractive to me. I blushed and went on my way.

The whole day I couldn't get my mind off her. Damn. I day-dreamed about declaring my love to her and asking for her hand in marriage. It was so ridiculous. Mother would freak out if she knew I had had such a thought. For one, the girl wasn't what you would call respectable. Her mother used to own a wine-shop some years ago and everyone knew that. Anyway, I was so consumed with love, or at least I thought it was love for this girl. As soon as work was over I ran home, but stopped by her shop. She was there waiting for me. She had this knowing smile on her face and I didn't know what to say. 'More paan?' she asked. And to my ears that day, her voice sounded like the sweetest song I had heard. I felt awkward in her presence. But she was very self assured as she prepared the green leaf and nuts. I even noticed she had a mole on her neck just below her chin. To me in the state of mind I was, it looked utterly adorable.

I don't remember what I said to her but when I passed her the payment, she looked quite insulted and would not take it. For the life of me I didn't want to do anything to displease her, so I withdrew the money. I should have gone on home but I was rooted to the spot. She didn't seem to find anything odd about that. It was as though she expected that behaviour from me. Nor could I think of things to say that might interest her.

“Nice sunset, huh?” I said lamely as the sun was going down.

“Yes you're right, it is very pretty.”

“Ah, But not as pretty as you,” I said and even as I said it, a part of my mind wondered when I had learnt to be so glib. She smiled at this and looked even more desirable than ever.

“You must be tired from all that work today. A pretty girl like you shouldn’t be working so hard,” That was me again. She smiled and said, “I’d go hungry if I didn’t work hard.” My heart melted within me.

“No, my dear, I won’t let you. Here, take this money and close the shop for the day,” I heard myself say as I passed three hundred rupees to her.

“No, I don’t want that,” she protested. I didn’t want to hurt her in any way so I spoke gently to her and explained it was a token of my affection for her. After much protesting she finally took the money. She slipped it under the cash box instead of with the rest of the sales money.

“You know, you are such a beautiful girl. I think you have such pretty hair.” I don't remember how long I stood there and kept complimenting her. I couldn't bear to leave. Finally she said, “I have to close shop now.”

“Already?” I asked, “What time is it?”

“It’s almost seven,” she replied.

“Couldn't you close a little later?” I was begging now.

“My mother will be waiting for me,” she said.

“See you tomorrow then.”

Reluctantly I walked away from the shop and made my way home. My mother wondered what had made me so late. I said I had gone to a restaurant with a friend.

“Eat some food, Pusa, we couldn’t wait for you,” said Mother. I couldn't swallow a morsel of food. I was so desperately in love with the girl. What was her name? I tried hard to remember. Rino? Reno? Never mind, I thought, I would call her Rino, it sounded right to me.

Mother stared at me thoughtfully and said, “How odd you look, you are not running a fever, are you? Your face is so flushed.” Mother's attentiveness suddenly irritated me and I protested that nothing was the matter with me and I went to my room quickly. I didn't sleep much. I lay and thought and thought of the girl. How beautiful she was. How could I marry her as soon as possible? That was all I wanted.

In the morning I dressed eagerly and went out. I stopped by the shop but she was not there. It was her mother sitting and looking after the sales. So I quickly bought a packet of cigarettes and went to work. I didn't get much work done. Every few seconds, I found my mind wandering and conjuring up her face. After work I was at the shop again, but she was not there. From a distance, I saw her mother's large shape at the window so I went home directly. I planned to slip back after dinner.

Mother thought I was beginning to look ill. But I managed to brush her off and made an effort to eat the food she had piled on my plate.

The next day she was missing again. Oh I could not bear it. I was so restless at work. I spilled an ink-pot all over one of the files. Luckily there was another copy so we could get rid of the one I had damaged.

“What's wrong with you?”My Boss asked, “You're so nervous and jittery. Something wrong?”

I denied it and said I had not slept well. She sent me home half an hour early. I made a beeline for the paan shop. I was in luck, she was sitting there tidying the shelf.

“Where were you yesterday?” I demanded.

“Why?” She asked.

“I never saw you. Do you know how many times I came by to see if you had returned? Your mother was here the whole day.” She laughed at that and asked if I came for thepaan or to see her. “Don't laugh,” I burst out seizing her hand, “I love you, I can't live without you, I must marry you.”

She gave me a queer look and then said, “Your mother won't agree to it.”

“It's my decision. I will marry whom I will.”

“Are you sure about that?”She asked.

“Very sure.”

“Alright,We will marry then,” she said.

Standing outside the little shop, I tried to embrace her through the window. It was quite awkward because the window was quite narrow. But I managed to get an arm round her for a while. She smiled at me in the old familiar way. But now it no longer annoyed me. I was that much in love with her.

I didn't go home after she closed the shop. We were together for a long time in which space I held her tightly to me and made her promise never to leave me. After that we were inseparable. If I couldn't sleep at night, I would walk down to the shop and run my hands along its walls and windows. How do I describe it? She was a fever in my blood, I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, I was simply obsessed with the thought of her and lived to be with her again. She was just as eager to see me.

Around that time I began to urinate blood. So the doctor took a sample for analysis. I didn't think it might be anything serious but I suddenly got a call at work. It was the hospital. They wanted me to come in that afternoon. My boss granted me leave from work and I went to the hospital. I was ushered in to the Doctor's office immediately.

“We found something in your urine sample which is quite worrying,” the doctor said, “A poisonous substance that is the cause of your bleeding. Do you remember if you ate anything unusual in the past weeks? Has there been any change in your diet?” I thought hard but couldn't remember. I usually ate at home though I had not been eating well at all these days.

“Sorry doctor,” I said, “I can’t remember anything unusual that I might have eaten. I did begin to eat paan again after a long break. But that couldn't be it.”

“Hmm, very interesting, paan did you say?” asked the doctor, “I have had another patient with exactly the same symptoms as you do. That was a year ago. He had some trouble after eating paan at a shop in town. Well he had personal problems too, you know, girl trouble, but the paan he ate had some highly toxic substance which caused bleeding. I would like to analyse this paan you have been eating. Think you could bring me a sample?” I agreed to it. he peered at me and then said, “'Do you realise you have lost a lot of weight too?”

“I've not been eating well,” I confessed.

“Any reason for that?”

“I have been this way since, well since I fell in love.”

“Oh ha ha, it is that is it? You're lovesick. But you have to get back to your old eating habits. I am concerned about the bleeding. Can you get the sample in as soon as possible?”

I wondered if I should tell Rino about it but became so absorbed in her that I forgot. As I was about to leave she made me my paan. Afterwards when I was about to put it into my mouth, I remembered the sample the doctor wanted. I was supposed to get the sample in before work. Realizing it would be quite rushed in the morning, I refrained from eating it and decided to take it to the doctor. I didn’t think he’d find anything unusual in it. Mother was very worried when she got to know. To quieten her I gave her the task of taking the sample down to the doctor when I was at work. She would get out of my hair if she were made to feel useful.

While at work, the doctor called me to the hospital again. “It is something in the paan but we are not sure what. Our tests are not so clear, so I am calling in a herbal practitioner. It seems to be some strange herb that we have isolated but are unable to identify.” I was shocked at this. I ran back to Rino and told her about it. She turned very pale and started to shout, “There's nothing in the paan, There's nothing!You have to believe me!”

“Well even if there is, I am sure it's not your fault,” I said, trying to reassure her.

Her reaction surprised me. I had expected her to feel sympathetic and surprised but she was very angry. Angry at me for giving them the sample. Anyway to cut a long story short, the herbal guy said it was the same plant out of which love potion was made. He also confirmed that I was being given a very potent mixture of love potion. But the dose was so high it was poisoning my system and causing the bleeding. I was shocked by the results. Mother took things in hand and called in my uncles. They forbade me to see Rino again. I was so angry I told them I was going to marry her.

“Marry? Are you talking of marriage? I think you should come to your senses first before you think of marriage,” said Dad's older brother.

“Well I love her and she loves me and I will not let any of you oppose our marriage.” They all looked shocked. At the same time, I did not miss the knowing looks they gave one another.

When they stopped me from going to her that night, I was so angry. But I could not disobey them as they had the right to restrain me. I tried climbing out the window but gave up because it was too dangerously high to jump out. My whole body was protesting the separation from her. I stood at the window and shouted her name. But there was no light in the shop.

In the meantime, they had gotten the herbal man to mix up the cure and they were ready with it the next day. In the morning my uncles were all gathered at the kitchen. Mother gave me tea. A cup with some strange looking liquid stood on the table.

“Drink that!” ordered the oldest of my uncles.

“What is it?” I asked sullenly.

“It is to stop the bleeding.”

“I don't want to drink it. I don't know where it has come from.”

“It's herbal, it won't harm you. Come on, Pusa, drink it. We can't leave unless you drink it.” There was no way out of it. They had already spent a night and a day with us. I was obligated to do as they instructed. So I drank the strange liquid. It tasted a little bitter.

“Wash it down with tea,” said Mother as she poured more tea into my cup. The liquid made my tongue feel thick in my mouth and I felt very tired in my thighs and lower limbs.

“I must lay down again,” I said. But I collapsed into the sofa, unable to get to my room. Then I fell into a deep sleep.

When I woke I didn't feel any different than before I had gone to sleep. Mother was in the house. She saw me stir and said, “Rest some more Pusa, I have told your boss that you are unwell and can’t come to work.” I turned over and fell asleep again. The next time I woke it was dark outside.

“How do you feel?” asked Mother.

“Extremely tired, but hungry too.” She quickly brought me a bowl of chicken broth. I ate it greedily. It was like I hadn’t eaten in months. When I finished I lay back on the sofa again.

“Do you know you were very badly poisoned?” I shook my head but could not speak. It was such a shock to me.

“The doctor has given some medicine and you are to take it for a week,” she continued. “It is to flush out all the toxic in your system. The herbal medicine has done the same thing too, but you know that herbal medicines have spiritual properties as well. You have been cured of the effects of the love potion now.”

“Mother, are you saying that Rino gave me love potion?”

“Yes, of course Pusa, You don't know how strangely you have been acting this past month. When she is out of her sight, you prance around impatiently like a caged tiger. Your behaviour was entirely unnatural. I have heard you sneak off at night to be with her. In the few hours that you spent at home you were irritable and angry with everyone around you. We would have agreed to let you marry her. But not this way. This is wrong and entirely despicable.Are you aware you have not been home properly the past month? You come home only to change your clothes and are off again. You were so short with all of us. You hated me being around you and avoided me as much as you could. How you have lost weight from all the lack of sleep and nutrition. It is alright to be in love, Pusa, but not like this. How do you feel now?”

“Very tired and spent. As though my insides had been flushed out.”

“The doctor said you would have died in another week. Isn't that terrible? To cheat a man into loving you in such a way that his health was put at risk?”

I was utterly shocked at this. Tomorrow I would go to her and confront her, I thought. My feelings for her were confused. I felt I still loved and desired her. But when my thoughts settled on her, the old Rino came into my mind, the one whose familiar ways I used to dislike. The woman I had loved so passionately in the past weeks could no longer be conjured up by me. I would have to see her tomorrow and find out. I fell asleep again.

In the morning I drank my tea and hobbled around the house, still feeling weak but needing to get to the shop as soon as possible. I made my way there but it was closed. I pounded on the window but no one came. I decided to go into the house downstairs that she shared with her mother.

It was a dingy two-room affair.

“RinoRino!” I called out. I heard the sound of shuffling feet.

“Rino!” I called again. The shuffling feet came closer and someone opened the door a little.

“Is Rino there?” I asked the woman at the door. She had a puffy face and was trying to pull a robe around her overweight self.

“I am Rino, Pusa, can't you recognise me?” she asked. I was shocked. This was nothing like the girl to whom I had declared undying love a few weeks ago. I noticed the mole on her neck that I had so adored. Two hairs sprouted from it and I wondered how I had ever found it worthy of adoration. Could this really be the girl I had been so obsessed with? So absorbed to the point of being bled to death? I felt angry at the remembrance of what her love potion had nearly brought me to.

“Why did you do that? You said you loved me, why did you have to use the potion and nearly kill me?” Her face collapsed. She was sobbing and looked even more ugly, if that was possible.

“You would never have loved me if I didn't use that, you would never, never have thought to marry me.” I looked away and saw some packed boxes in the corner.

“Are you leaving?” I asked.

“Yes, my mother has gone to get a taxi.” I felt sorry for her then. But I realized too that if she stayed on, the police would very likely arrest her.

“Don’t do that again to another man, Rino, maybe you will find someone who can love you for yourself,” I said.

“Forgive me, forgive me,” she sobbed. She was still sobbing as I left her.”

*****

“What a fantastic story!” said Touzo. “Tell me, Pusa, did you ever see her again?

“No I did not.”

“Did you tell others about it then?”

“No I did not, I felt sorry for her.”

“Sorry! After she almost killed you?”

“But she did it for love, you see? She didn't know it was poisoning me.”

“Still, a poison that was slowly killing her lover? And I suppose she needed to daily dose you to keep you in love with her.”

“Unfortunately she would have had to do that.”

“Have you told your wife about it, Pusa?”

“Yes, to my great distress I have.”

“Why? What happened?”

“Well, she gets it into her head every once a month that she wants me to love her the way I loved Rino. That is not possible. You probably know that, Touzo, I was not loving Rino naturally but being made to love her by the help of an aphrodisiac, I suppose you would call it that. It was a love potion that took over my natural senses and made me desire an entirely unattractive woman. When my wife gets that notion into her head, she is the most unreasonable person. Nothing I do will persuade her that I love her and only her. I wish there was something I could do to make her forget that I ever told her about that incident.”

“Maybe there is a potion to make a person forget, want me to make inquiries?”

“Ha, no more potions for me ever again.”

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