The sun didn't feel like setting. I waited in a comfortable seated position on a black leather chair. The television was on a monologue trip - not too loud, but clear. I kept glancing at my phone, noting every minute that passed by - a very everyday 17:30 routine I carried on for every afternoon I knew I was home earlier than him. I could hear the beach converse with the pier, I could hear the people greeting their beers with love, I could hear the rumble of a skateboard on the pavement, I could hear the majestic gulls gossiping, but I couldn't hear him slap his pockets for his keys, nor the slight squeak of the door behind him. This is the kind of silence I disliked, but secretly enjoyed.
I had been pampered, protected, taken over and loved by him. He was my tent and fire on a night in the grasslands with drizzles. For every moment that I can track back in time, the upper hand was mine, but for the majority of times with him, I was slammed back down to become the little naive kitten - almost always shy, careless and stupid - only with him was I ready to go back to my candy store dreams.
I knew he wasn't going to be late, I knew he would come back knackered and I could replay and picture that content smile when he knew he was home. My mind would play movies, short clips, and scene after scene - how I would peep out of this chair look at his tired smile and jump onto him as I would onto my cushions - this would run in loop like an old Mysore movie tent house. A man he was, in every clichéd and stereotyped novel sense.
I was in a surreal world of reality and no concept of time. These thoughts flooded my mind like the fresh smell of jasmine and holy ash on a not so warm Sunday morning, in a typical south Indian home. It felt like the short naps my short Saturdays were filled with on my mother's lap. This wasn't home but a feeling of it; a strong one.
Lost in this parallel space, I was deaf, blind and dumb to the 'real' events, handicapped in one sense. The warm and familiar smell engulfed my dreams suddenly; I couldn't tell when and where this suddenly kidnapped me. Two rugged palms held my waist, and a head plonked on my lap and I almost jumped out of my real and unreal world, but felt the anchor pin me down. For a brief second, that almost felt like a movie pause of a whole minute, I wondered if I had gone that mad, that these hallucinations were so real that I could actually feel the chilly palms of this man on me!
I woke up, to a man, the man on my lap – shoes still on and yawns that he shared with my lap, of a newborn puppy. He mumbled something, sounded like a 7 year old boy with the head heavy as a 24 year old. I couldn’t sort the confusion, my mind in a quandary, not knowing what to pay attention to, the mumbles that I was supposed to decode? The mother like feeling I had towards this child? Or still be baffled by what had gotten into my boy?
His built, almost butter sculpted body squirmed. He goo-goo-ed and gaa-gaa-ed warm words that sounded like the first words a dolphin would utter – a higher frequency and a language that didn’t sound alien but not so familiar. He whimpered, caressed and loved me with words that seemed to come out of the first beautiful squeeze of a new pillow.
He crawled into my lap, closed his eyes, folded his knees; smiled like he had just taken a pee after a long night of drinking. I stroked his hair as the 7 year old spoke to me, told me about his day, as a child who finished his first day at school would do when he got back home. His retorts, comments, opinions came flying out, like the first set of crackers I would hear on a Diwali morning; almost faint yet in heavy excitement, beautiful and yet boyishly overdone! He finished and I sat looking at his eyes gloat about his achievements for the day, he caught me looking, and this time I didn’t shy away; but he did!
The Man! My Man! Just did what? This should have been my thoughts; but I hate to disagree. No guards were up, as a child falls with no thoughts of the falling itself; he fell, fell into me. His fears and responsibilities where what I thought made him who he was, and drove me to almost putting him on that pedestal that I could see from miles away; but in a sudden twist of faith, my fears of him not being that figure in my life vanished. He was just like me, human, filled with extreme emotions, naive and naked.
Overwhelmed my eyes swelled, with a clear image of my thoughts for him to see.
The kitten came back to life, the 7 year old vanished. The game of hide and seek began.
He carried me into the room and laid me down. He laughed and didn’t giggle; the smile became the one that belonged to that figure. He lit me a cigarette, and we lay there, sprawled on a squeaky bed and conversations continued – the roles she played before were back on the silver screen of their lives, the figure was back on the pedestal.
The cigarette and her smoke laughed and gossiped of the last sixteen minutes that had passed, as my lips narrated the story and the incidents passed on like a Chinese whisper in a crowded market.
p.s.: again for another section of my creative writing course - "innocence"