Summer in the middle of winter

Read the first part of the story “It doesn’t matter, it feels like summer”- HERE

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The road had bleached, gray colors, I could barely separate the white line in the middle and the asphalt seemed to run together with the wheels, panting to exhaustion. The arrow on the speedometer was trembling over the steaming red area and it was probably frightened as much as me.
‘Can you, please, slow down! Id’ like to arrive to the airport on time, but alive! If possible!’
‘Evil doesn’t die that easily, honey!’
The wrinkles of anger on his face were a definite sign to keep quiet and abstain from smart comments, even if I had one ready. One thing that I didn’t know how to handle with Stefan was his bad temper, especially when I was the reason for his devilish behavior.

My first trip back to Bulgaria after two years in Greece, I had finally sorted out my residence papers and with that, the right to come and go out of the country whenever I liked. The time faraway from my family seemed like an eon from another universe. I couldn’t wait to see them and all my friends. The residence permit came unexpectedly a week before Christmas in 2003 and going home was scheduled at the very last moment. Stefan didn’t like the idea of me going alone to Bulgaria, he wanted to come with me, to meet my parents and then to introduce me to his parents who lived in a village near by. My confident and non-negotiable “No” didn’t blend nicely with his emotions. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t accept the fact that all I wanted was 10 days with my family. The week before my trip was a little nightmare, we spent every moment together arguing about silly things.

Asking him to drive me to the airport was not my first choice, but it was the only one since that day there was a strike of the public transport and a taxi from my place was a fortune. When we finally arrived and I sighed with relief, he stopped the car, dumped my suitcase out on the side walk and drove away, murmuring something with a rather nasty sound which I’m sure it wasn’t “good bye” or “have a nice trip”. I almost shouted after him “idiot”, but then I knew it wasn’t worth. I had 30 minutes to check in and I needed a moment to get rid off the unpleasant and awkward situation. I sat on top of the suitcase, searching for a cigarette, ignoring the looks of people who witnessed my little shame, when right behind me a voice made me feel like I am in a deja- vu scene.

‘Trouble in paradise, sunshine?’
‘Now that makes sense! Of course I am in trouble, it usually happens when you’re around!’
‘At least I didn’t find you walking to the airport. Having a ride for a change is a huge progress!’
And we both laughed and hugged, exchanging greetings.
‘What are you doing here?’, I asked him, noticing for a first time his green eyes, ordinary green, if it wasn’t for the sparkles of sweet danger, that made them glow.
‘My brother is flying to Thessaloniki for Christmas, I drove him here.’
”Aren’t you going home for Christmas too?’

‘Well, if you hadn’t left while I was still asleep that morning in Halkidiki, we could’ve had a coffee and a chat, and now you’d know that I was there only for the summer and that I live in Athens. You owe me an explanation and a name if I remember correct?’
The game of teasing, running away, the chase had this delightful taste with him and again I couldn’t resist…
‘It’s a long story, summer boy, and I am going to miss my plane, so maybe some other time.’
I walked towards the entrance of the departure hall, smiling, mostly inside my heart, on his reaction.
‘No, no, no! You can’t do that again! Wait! Give me at least your phone number, please!’
I stopped, worried, with a thought- ‘What if Fate doesn’t give me another chance to meet him? I’d sure regret it for life’. I turned around and I told him:
‘I’ll tell you what we’re going to do. Be here on the 2nd of January. My plane arrives from Bulgaria at 7.45 pm. And I’ll tell you my name.’
‘What you gonna do in Bulgaria?’, he was helpless in such a cute way, I could see all the questions on his face, but ‘Merry Christmas, summer boy!’, is all I said and I got lost in the crowd, happy, thrilled.

By the time 2nd of January came, I completely had out of my mind the little date I’ve arranged for my arrival back to Athens. Christmas at home, family, friends and moments by the fireplace with presents and wine made me forget Alex or I, on purpose, erased the thought, because I was afraid he will not come. Once the plane landed on “Elevterious Venizelou”/ the name of Athens airport/ and I collected my luggage, the first thing I did was to swap the Bulgarian with the Greek card on my mobile and to check my messages. None from Stefan, which was good, I wasn’t planning on calling him either. Plenty of wishes left on my voice mail- Happy New Year, all the best, may you find true love, let 2004 be your year … and as I was walking towards the exit, there he was, standing tall, handsome, made out of sunshine and smiles.

I love airports, always have, always will. The chaos of people chasing time and destinations, checking-in, hand luggage, Swiss chocolates, the smell of Armani perfumes … Even the airplanes in the sky, the turbulence and the feeling of creeping ants on your back, I love it all, but that night, the moment I saw him waiting for me, it was like a summer, sapphires in the ocean’s waves, palm trees under the bliss of the sun, sea shells kissing the sand right in the middle of winter.

It’s funny how I remember every little detail, every moment together with him; his words, my words, expressions and emotions, places we went to, things we did, but I don’t remember how and when we decided to be just friends. Alex still says that I was the one to promote the idea, but I have no memories about it. Maybe no one had the courage to take the next step or whatever started after that night on the airport was much bigger and few hours lust in bed were not worth to destroy it. Because there was the lust, in his eyes, in my heart and in the air every time we’d be together. Sometimes it was unbearable/ to me at least/, but spending time together was an adventure, every day was unique and different. He would follow my ideas without second guessing and I loved his surprises. Pancakes at 3 am, calling in sick at work so we could have a coffee in the middle of nowhere, on the other end of town, riding 100 km with the bike just because we saw an advertisement of a restaurant in the newspaper. But most of all, it was the talking, the conversations that mattered; sharing our souls out, intimate thoughts that I’d never share with anybody else, even with my very close girlfriends, weaknesses that he would never admit as a man, I trusted him and I knew he trusted me back.

In the first week of June we planned a long weekend away again. A colleague of Alex had a family hotel near Lavrio/ a village 50 km away from Athens/, it was a place we’ve been before and we liked very much, and it wasn’t that faraway from Athens. I couldn’t leave with everyone on Thursday night, so I was supposed to take the bus on Friday after work. When I got there the first thing that I noticed was a girl called Afroditi. She wasn’t their colleague, just a date Alex had one night a month or so ago. I even remembered Alex calling me after the date, at 2 am, to tell me the evening was a total disaster. Seeing her there sent a nauseous impulse to my stomach. Ever since Alex and I found each other in Athens and became friends I’ve never seen him dating a woman twice; every time it was a different girl and on trips away for the weekend, with friends, I was the only one he’d bring and we’d stay in the same room. He’d flirt with some of the local girls, which was totally fine by me, because I was dating other men too, and sometimes he’d come back to the room later than me, but he’d always come back, wake me up and talk to me about everything.

Seeing him with the same girl a second time didn’t feel right at all, but he welcomed me more than happily when I arrived, the whole evening in the restaurant and after in the night club he was around me just like every other time so I didn’t ask him or tell him anything about Afroditi. But when he didn’t come back to our room all night, when at 7 am I was still awake and pretty upset, I got up, packed my bag, checked the transport to Athens on the reception desk and I left. At 8 am I was on the back seat of the bus, with sun-glasses to hide my tears. I remember thinking of the people who died on Titanic, steel and glass swallowed by the salty, icy monsters and the odor of fear and death. No hope! Just screams of agony! In an hour I was in Athens and the pathetic, tearful wave of emotions had transformed into a heavy self- criticism and I was mad at myself for crying about nonsense, for letting my guard down. I didn’t have the right to feel the way I felt, but sometimes it’s impossible to fit in a tortured soul a big heart and even bigger logic and to make them beat in harmony at the same time.

In September 2002 when I first met Alex and I woke up next to him, to find myself happy in his arms, thinking of waking him up with a kiss … I left only so one day I won’t find myself crying on the back seat of a half-broken bus. I promised myself that whatever the cost, I will not let him near me and there I was, holding the pieces of that promise. I was going home and I was convinced that I will manage to get over it. A few movies and a day in bed seemed like a good idea. I stopped by my neighbor to collect Jasmine/ the kitty that I had at that time/ and at the look of the little creature’s eyes I was already feeling better. I found TV series called “Spooks”/English series about MI5 officers/ to watch online and hugging Jasmine on the couch, in my pajamas, there was not a single thought about Alex left, just the sound of the rain starting to drip on the window glass. At some point I must’ve fallen asleep and when the door bell rang I heard Jasmine jumping on the floor, but the idea of getting up wasn’t accepted that well from my body, so I thought that I won’t open. No one knew that I am back and it was probably someone trying to sell saucepans. And the door bell rang again and again and on the end I got really annoyed and stormed out to see who the intruder was.

The sight of Alex, with leftovers of rain on his hair and jacket, standing by the door and his green eyes flashing with madness came on me as a cold shower and the waking up effect was shocking. I tried to close the door but he was already inside the flat and there was nothing I could do to push his robust body with muscles distributed amazingly evenly. I stood there, speechless…
‘Enlighten me, please, what the hell are you doing here? And why did I have to find out that you have left Lavrio from reception dude?’, his voice was like a thunder, all I thought was when the lightnings are going to join us.
‘Eirini called that Jasmine didn’t look well, I was worried and I came back.’
‘Oh, come on! The cat looks more than fine’, and to made me look like a very talented liar, Jasmine jumped perfectly happy back on the couch and started playing with one of the remote controls. Damn cat!
‘It’s you and me B., leave the lame excuses and spell out the real reason, why did you leave?’
The sounds of Titanic sinking under the frozen waters came again and I couldn’t breathe and the previous night when I was alone waiting for him came together with the sinking boat and I couldn’t hold my thoughts locked anymore and ocean of words just flew out.

‘Maybe because I am sick of watching you fooling around and making out with blonde, silicon Barbies who have not a single curve on their brains? Maybe because I didn’t sleep all night, hoping that you will come back. Or simply because I wanted to leave! Suit yourself and choose a reason!’
‘Come again?’, at that moment I was sure he will somehow take a gun out and shoot me, but instead he pushed me to the wall, caught my face with his hands and spoke again.
‘Look me in the eyes and tell me, who’s idea was to suggest, repeatedly, that you and I should be great as friends? Because it wasn’t me! And who started bringing dates here and there first? Tell me!!!’
I was scared of the tone of his voice, I knew he won’t get violent, but still, I could feel my legs trembling from all the adrenalin in the room. I got annoyed how he tried to control me with his male power and the last thing I was planning on is to give up easily on his words.
‘Oh, give me a break! There is a huge difference between my dates and your dates. I let them take me dancing, I have a drink or two with them. You! You skip everything that starts with “innocence” and finishes on “decency”; and you and your male ego go straight to the bold, night activities, only so you can kiss them “good-bye forever” an hour or two later and to never see them again. Have you ever thought how one of those women must feel on the next day? And why would you think that I would even consider of being one of them? So yes, friends is all you get! Now, why don’t you go back to Lavrio and continue having fun with Gwyneth Paltrow!’

And then there was a silence, sporadically interrupted by my heavy breathing; and Alex staring at me, outlandish sparks between his face and mine. It was probably only a moment made out of a few seconds that escaped out of the tension between our bodies, few seconds enough for both, mine and his brain, to synchronize. And then there was the kiss, the first kiss. Silver raindrops and shy moonlight, quietly pirouetting in on hot summer night …

TO BE CONTINUED …

"Heart in snow" by Amber Church

Visit Amber Church at “The Craft Project

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© 2012  Broken Sparkles

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Sapphire light

The lady in red is now a lady in blue, but she still smiles and dances, thinking of the man that took her breathe away…

***Any resemblance to actual persons and events is purely coincidental ***

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The humidity tonight drips in the shape of bitter-sweet giggles. It makes a festive entrance through the pale green curtains in my bedroom, leaves a click or a two, reminding me of a fractured glass and then heavily falls on my shoulders. I wish I could ignore the giggles, I wish it was only an innocent sound from the stars blinking in the dark, but no, it’s Fate laughing at me, again. For years now I have struggled to win the friendship of that lady, I try to offer her a gift worth enough to lead me to the right place, at the right time, but I have failed. Maybe I’ve been trying way too hard, maybe I’ve read the instructions to the door that leads to happiness wrong? Either way, here I am, again, questioning the origins of the silver light on the sky, analyzing my memories to find out how exactly I’ve managed to make the wrong choice.

I can’t remember when Sean joined the company. I’ve been passing by his office twice a day, Monday to Friday, on the way to the coffee shop, but I can’t recall for how long. The black, italic letters, neatly written on the silver-like door sign, saying – Sean Al-Fareed, IT consultant – are certainly registered in my mind, but I never really thought about why the name was Irish and the surname Arabic, I never made the effort to see if Sean was as unique as his family name suggested / Fareed- unique/.

At first I was way too busy to fight the leftovers of past demons and affairs; I was hurt, scared and hardly paying attention to my own reflection in the mirror, I didn’t have the mind to notice the sapphire color in Sean’s eyes, his smooth, dark skin. And after that, I was consumed in a new relationship which had the absolute, genuine approval of my parents. I wasn’t crazy about the man I was living with, but according to our mothers we were made for each other. My mom couldn’t wait to see me a bride next to the young, promising cardiologist. For her, being a doctor’s wife was most prestigious and if the doctor was a bit boring, it didn’t matter. His mother couldn’t wait for a grand-child: she thought I was ideal to be a mother, ideal to take care of her precious son and if I wasn’t a stunning beauty, that didn’t matter either. Our fathers cared only about the grand wedding they would give us, offering the finest whiskey and the sweetest wine.

Living a life based on the dreams of my parents, there was no time to apprehend Sean’s secret glances at me, there was no place in my every day routine to detect that we shared the same taste for music and novels, that he, the stranger with the strange name knew more about me than the man my parents hoped to be my husband soon. I remember once Sean asked me out for a drink to thank me for a translation I did for him, but again, I was way too absorbed in my own, supposedly perfect life to observe that there was much more to the invitation than a drink. I even remember on one of my birthdays the white roses he gave me, but my mind for some reason didn’t mark the fact that he was the only one who knew my favorite flowers.

It was a month ago on Friday, at lunch break, almost the whole staff had gathered in the coffee shop and were discussing what we would do for the pre-summer party that we organize every year and a few colleagues brought back memories from previous years. I was sitting next to Sean, eating a strawberry yogurt, when I heard his voice, low, but somehow trembling with excitement, approaching the crowd. “I really liked the costume party two years ago, it was fun. Maybe we could do something similar?” The rest seemed to like the idea and loud, approving sounds filled the air. The girls immediately spoke of shops for the best costumes and the boys giggled with lust, probably imagining daring outfits in see-through materials. Not that enthusiastic, I murmured that I would wear the same dress of a Mexican woman I had worn before and then it was when I understood how blind I was all this time, when Sean said, ” You were the most beautiful woman in that red dress and the golden mask on your face, hiding your eyes, so mysterious, enchanting. I was counting the seconds to midnight to see it off and to check if there was the same glow in your eyes as the one in your smile.”

If the express train had run over me I’d probably have felt less shocked? My mind had never worked with such a speed. Thinking, thinking and again thinking, how he remembered such details? I’m sure my cardiologist wouldn’t remember what I wore yesterday, not to talk about if he ever paid attention to any kind of glow streaming out of my soul or body. I slowly moved my eyes away from the empty yogurt pot to his face, but not so slowly that I didn’t notice he was biting his lips, obviously regretting for the words that had slipped out. The sapphires on his face stared at me and warmth flooded my veins, unexplainable, yet mesmerizing.
“How do you remember all this?”

He hesitated at first, I could see he wasn’t sure what to answer, but then he spoke and his firm voice made it all clear, so very clear about how blind I was.
“It was the week when I joined the company and at the party was the first time I saw you. That day will always stay with me, no matter what!” He placed his coffee cup on the table and left the shop. He didn’t say another word, he didn’t turn around, he just left and his shadow carried away tons of unanswered questions.

That night I saw Sean in my dreams. The surreal collision of tenderness, his lips searing my lips and the hazy icon of my curls in the palms of his hands woke me up with an abysmal sigh. I sat down in bed trembling from the outburst of passion in the dream. I realized that I wouldn’t be able to live with the man sleeping next to me. I realized that he would never manage to shake my feelings in a way a silly dream did, even if I let him enormously close to me. For a first time I didn’t seek the warmth of the body beside me, but I sneaked out of the dark green satin and spent the night on the sheet-less bed in the guest room next door. Wide awake, inhaling drops of air one at the time, I was praying to somehow get rid of the anxiety caused by the physical longing and the emotional need to be with Sean.

No one was happy with my decision to end the engagement with the doctor. Actually, there was a furious, thunderous taste in the atmosphere shortly after I announced the verdict of my personal judge – Mr. Heart. What I heard … all of them begging me to think it over, oh, I’d probably live to see the day to sip slowly and enunciate the regret and the shame, I’d probably be conscious enough again to savor the joy of “I told you so!” expressions of sort,  but at that moment I didn’t care. I wanted the weekend to be over, to go back to work and see Sean.

When Monday came, unusual clumsiness had taken over my behavior and it didn’t let go of me the whole week. I was afraid that if I talked to him I’d show him how much I needed him. The complete ignorance that I had over his personality suddenly turned into sensitive, silent acknowledgment about anything connected to him. Not only would I read his name on the door, but I would be aware of little details surrounding him.

Of course now, because I wanted to spend every minute looking at him and be breathless every time he’d sit next to me at coffee break, that vicious creature Fate made sure he had most of his work assignments outside of the office. Pathetic me spent five days on the edge of plain, confidence- eating madness. The only good thing was that the office party was in a few days. I turned the whole town up-side-down to find a dress matching the color of his eyes. I found the golden set, bracelet and necklace / a present from my mother for my 18th birthday/ that I have never worn up to now because I wasn’t into jewelry, but since Sean told me how he loved the golden mask on my face, I couldn’t skip that little detail. I wanted him to see nothing and nobody else but me at that party. And he did! I’m sure he had eyes only for me!

I was standing next to the buffet with the drinks, chatting with few of the girls, when Sean entered the front door. He stood there, tall and divine, scanned the room and in a second his eyes locked with mine. The space and the people between us didn’t blur the astonishment he adopted, looking at me. I could feel the sapphire light drinking in the shape of my face, barely touching my lips, slipping on my naked shoulders to caress each part of my silk dress and to end blissfully on the velvet of my elegant shoes, after a long glimpse at the delicate, sun-tanned skin of my legs. With each step he took toward me, my heart was raising the number and the sound of its beats. When he was finally next to me, greeting me, I could only think that it was a crime for a man like him to walk around freely, that there should be a limit to how handsome someone can be.

Not long after, somewhere in the conversation he dropped a question about my fiancé, where he was, why I was alone. Without a qualm, I answered that I no longer had a fiancé. He smiled at me and said he was sorry to hear so and I was sure I saw a black cloud crossing the calm blue of his eyes. Was he really sorry? Did I misunderstand his intentions towards me? Did I really feel the fondness when he gazed at me? I was confused and I didn’t know if I wanted to find out the truth. He was right next to me, so close that I could touch the fragrance of his body and yet, the black clouds took him miles away. I needed a minute out, I had to breathe fresh air or I would’ve crumbled to pieces on the marble floor. On the balcony the late night breeze refreshed my thoughts until I could inhale again a large amount of air without the urge to cry. I was ready to go back inside but turning around I saw him in front of me and I froze, with my back pressed to the wall.

“Did I upset you, asking you about your fiancé? I’m sorry if I have!”
“No, Sean! You haven’t! I assure you I am not upset because of my ex- fiancé or because of your question.”

He moved closer to me, an inch away, a gasp apart. I closed my eyes and imagined what it would be like to hear the buttons of his shirt falling to the ground. If he only knew how much I adore shirts with buttons, his blue shirts that smelled like the ocean at night in the summer! One of his hands leaned trembling on my back, the other was tracing the contours of my lips and I heard him whisper, I heard his voice- a love lullaby: “It’s so wrong to want you! It’s dangerous to love you …”

And there was no more than an inch and a gasp to keep us apart, his lips tasted mine at first carefully, with a gentle kiss and when my hands locked on his arms, the kindness was replaced by eagerness, fierce …

And then his phone rang and he pushed me away. Cold fingers squeezed my heart. Have I told you that ever since then I hate any kind of mobile devices that finds you unprepared to deal with whatever will follow next?  Well, If I haven’t, now I have … I heard him speaking Arabic, apart from the yes and no answers he gave to the person on the other side of the wire, I couldn’t understand anything else, I couldn’t concentrate enough to make words out of his speech. The conversation ended and he stood there, tall and divine, looking at me through the black clouds in his sapphire eyes. “That was my fiancée, I’m sorry, I … I shouldn’t have come close to you, please forgive me!”

Fiancée? What was he talking about? I wanted to scream! No! Better! I wanted to set the whole place on fire; the flames might erase the words that I just heard. But, no, I am a lady and I took a deep breath and I spoke quietly and politely, like every lady does: “I didn’t know you had a fiancée, If I knew I wouldn’t be here right now, believe me.”

He sat on the floor and sighed heavily, looked down at the ground with shame and regret and spoke: “I didn’t have a fiancée a week ago. I didn’t want to have a fiancée. For two years I’ve been trying to get to you, trying to make you notice me and when I gave up because I couldn’t take the longing anymore, when I decided to make my father’s wish come true and to marry a girl from my country, you come here with all the charm a woman could possibly carry and you tell me that there is no longer a boyfriend on the picture? Why? Why now? I have already given my word! I can’t take it back!”

I wanted to set the whole town on fire, together with my luck and that traitor Mrs. Fate! Would it fix things though, I wondered? No! We don’t burn Fate and we don’t make into ashes her wicked sense of humor. We walk out like ladies. I walked out like a lady, saying absolutely nothing, with my chin up; I didn’t let a single tear to escape either! I didn’t turn back to see him looking after me with the eyes of a ghost and a sapphire light fading completely away. But I knew when I left, his shadow left together with me.

I haven’t been to work for the past 10 days, I called in sick. I’ve switched my mobile off three days ago; I can’t stand the sound of ringing and the name Sean on the screen. I haven’t thought about if I’ll ever call him back, I don’t have the courage to think, not yet. But I’m thinking of leaving Greece as soon as I find a new country convenient to live in. Or maybe I won’t move at all, after all it’s not a big deal that I have fallen crazy in love with a man that I can’t have. It’s only a scar, a tiny line, spreading petite, insignificant fire that the first snowflakes will touch with a kiss and ire. It’s only a scar, nothingness left because of the sapphire light in his eyes …

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© 2011  Broken Sparkles

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Hyderabad

The airport in Hyderabad was a huge building, organized beyond my expectations. The cold draft  from the air-conditioning system wouldn’t give a hint that outside was a hot summer. I was waiting for my luggage to appear, thinking how to make possible a short trip to Arga and Taj Mahal in between the conference and the meetings in “MotoSound” that I came for. It would’ve been a shame to come all the way to India and to not see the marble mausoleum built from the Mogul emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife.

The purple suitcase, with my initials on, appeared and I headed towards the exit gate. On the other side, in the waiting hall I saw a girl and a boy holding a card-board with “MotoSound” sign and I figured, they were the welcome people. Going close to them, I saw the name tag on the girl’s clothes and I recognized her- Sabeena Malor, I was communicating with her all this time via e-mails. I had no idea she was so young, she looked no more than 20 years old, so cute in her dark blue, office dress. I don’t know why I expected to see her in colorful saree and a scarf tied elegantly into her shiny, black hair. I smiled and said:

— Hi, I’m Erica Lazaridi from “Motosound” Athens.
–Welcome to Hyderabad Ms. Lazaridi, the car is waiting for us.

The boy took my suitcase and walked after Sabeena and me. I didn’t need a second look at young Mr. Neel Gadha to notice the butterflies floating around, every time he looked at Sabeena. I hoped she knew that too. There was no better gift for the eyes than the sight of these two love souls. In the car I was half absorbed by the Charminar and the Golconda fort, passing on the way, while Sabeena informed me about the conference scheduled for the next day in the afternoon and the meetings for the day after that. I had almost 24 hours free. She offered kindly assistance for entertainment, but I said I will relax tonight and get ready with my notes and maybe tomorrow we can do something together, she and Neel can show me the town around.

Hotel Viceroy, architectural masterpiece, with view the Buddha statue in the Hussain Sagar Lake, couldn’t be a better choice to stay at. Sabeena and Neel helped with checking-in and then I was left alone in the luxury room. The hot bath was what I needed after the flight. Once in comfortable clothes, sitting on the four poster bed with a folder of papers it felt nice, almost, if it wasn’t for the boring details about codes and mobile programs. The time was passing by so slowly, I was tired, but it was early to sleep.

The twilight looked so innocent from the window, pretty colors holding the rhythm of someone’s first love and as the curtains moved with the breeze coming from the open balcony, the smell of turmeric and coriander intruded the fragrance of  the wealthy hotel room. There was this sudden urge to go out and find where the scent was coming from. I slipped into a white sundress and Jipsin sandals and left the techno world on the papers behind.

“Dakshin” was the name of the little restaurant where the smell was coming from, right under the balcony of the hotel room. I went straight to it and sat on one of the outside tables surrounded by white bougainvillea plants. A waiter, with guffy expression on the face, speaking broken English came right away and started advertising the famous Indian dishes. The way he was talking, sweet, with enthusiasm, I bet no client could leave unsatisfied. On the end he convinced me that the best I can order is a curry chicken with jasmine rice and ” sambar” lentil gravy, not that spicy for me.

I was enjoying the dinner, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of the shop on the opposite side. Engraved in golden colors the name “Pothys” was like a happy sun, inviting you to go closer and get lost in the silk and cotton sarees. I didn’t finish the whole meal, I had to go and see that shop, I paid the bill and wished Munna, the waiter, a pleasant evening and promised him I will be back tomorrow to try the Roti bread and the Masala tea.

Blind from the colors and the materials of the nine yard dresses, I crossed the street without looking around. One moment I was euphorically walking to reach “Pothys” and next moment the sound of screeching wheels broke the air in a very ugly way and I felt heaviness pushing me down, hands and arms trying to protect me and the asphalt injuring my back. The fall to the ground was vicious. I lost orientation, the pain made me absorb all the voices of concerned people around.

When I managed to concentrate and ignore the spasms,  I opened my eyes to see what the weight on top of me was. At first I saw his face and the honey eyes, looming with fear. Then it was the voice- calm, deep Bel Canto voice, not in a harmony at all with the anxiety he was still holding me with.

— I saved you, this time I saved you. – his lips kept on repeating and his unusually cold fingers touched the skin of my face like butterflies touching the blush of rose petals. He helped me to stand up and I heard him telling the people around to move away, that I’m ok. The driver of the car asked tons of times for forgiveness, I assured him that everything is alright, it wasn’t his fault and on the end he left relieved.

My savior wouldn’t let go off me, we sat on a bench near and the reflection of Hussain Sagar Lake lighted his face in such a beautiful way. I was still shaking from the accident but in his company my trembling legs and hands didn’t seem to matter. I leaned on his arm, rejecting my heartbeat, listening to him lecturing me about crossing roads carefully, about being alert in foreign countries where everything is unknown and unpredictable. The sound of Vivaldi’s Winter was coming from somewhere and I couldn’t help it but close my eyes and combine the music with the presence of the man sitting next to me. He covered my back with his leader jacket and I wondered if he hears the cold violins too. Moments later when I regained my normal breathing and I wasn’t feeling dizzy anymore, I looked at him and I spoke:

–I believe, measuring the streets of Hyderabad and saving silly foreigners fond of car wheels is not exactly your full-time job, is it?
— No, it’s not – he chuckled- but I’m glad I was on this street tonight.
— What can I do to thank you?
— Just stay out of troubles, I might not be around next time. Now, if you’re feeling better, I’ll walk you to your hotel.
— Will I see you again?
— Maybe, in your dreams!- he turned his face away, but I saw the sadness there. Strange.
— How about tomorrow, for real?- I hoped he’ll say yes.
— I’m afraid it’s time for me to go, to be finally where I’m supposed to be.
— Where is that? I might be able to join you.
— I’m sure you wouldn’t like the place where I’m going to. Ok, let’s take you to the hotel.

He stood up and pulled me with him, not giving me the chance to answer back and try one more time to convince him that we should meet again. Few steps and we were to the hotel doors. He hugged me, tight, desperately and whispered in my ear:

— Stay safe. And remember, there is always someone looking out for you, even if this someone doesn’t know how to show it or doesn’t have the right words, beautiful enough to say it!

Why did I feel that I lost him long before I met him? He came closer to me, his face leaned dangerously near to my face. I closed my eyes to stop the leaking salty drops, his lips touched mine and when I looked at him again, I saw him walking away into the lights of the night. Back in the room I noticed that he forgot his jacket. I searched the pockets to see if I could find something and yes, there was! A wallet. Inside the wallet was his ID. He never told me his name, neither did I ask about it. It felt good to see his honey eyes looking at me from the picture on the ID. His name was Sid, Siddharth Sharma. And there was his address too. The idea of finding him in the morning with the excuse to give him back the jacket gave me the motivation to go and sleep and to wake up as fast as I could.

In the morning the first thing that I did was to call Sabeena. I showed her the ID and asked her to take me to the address given there. What a surprise to find out that the address was not faraway, a house on the other side of the saree shop that I liked last night. We knocked on the door and I prayed when it opens to see his face, I wanted Sid to be the one to open the door. But no, it was a woman, in her mid sixties, with extremely tired and sad look. She didn’t speak English so I asked Sabeena to say we are here to see Sid Sharma and to give him back the jacket and I took the jacket out of my bag.

As soon as Sabeena spoke to her the woman stared at us in shock, the words of the Urdu-Hindi language flowed like bullets from a gun. For some reason the woman was angry, upset, hurt. A girl, with the same honey eyes like Siddharth’s came out too, puzzled by our presence, she mingled in the conversation with Sabeena and the old lady. I stood, holding dearly the jacket, not knowing or understanding what was going on, waiting for someone to enlighten me. The honey eyed girl took the crying woman inside and came back when Sabeena asked me:

— Where did you find that jacket?- the way she asked made me think before I answer.
— I just wanted to give it back. I thought with the wallet inside, he might need it- and I pointed at the ID.

The honey eyed girl closed the door behind her back, took a deep breath and spoke:

— Siddharth is my brother, was my brother. Today is one year since he died, we are just about to go to a temple near by and do a “shraadh” to honor his memory.
— Dead? How come? How did he died? One year? It’s impossible!

The two girls were surprised to see me so distressed with what I’ve heard. And how could I explain why was I? I, myself, was sure there was something wrong with me, probably the hit from the accident made me hallucinate, there was no other explanation. I handed the jacket to Sid’s sister and told Sabeena that we should leave, but then … I couldn’t just leave, there had to be some logical explanation to all this, to how I got the jacket in the first place. I stopped Sabeena and asked the girl:

— How did your brother died, tell me about him, please!

At first she hesitated, but then she invited us in. Sitting in a their living room, Sabeena and I listened to the story. Sid was a very shy guy, smart, handsome, but not that good when it comes to communication with other people. He was in love with a girl called Indira, the girl was the owner of the saree shop “Pythos”. He could’ve find a descent job anywhere, he had a master degree in electronics and computers, but he wanted to be close to her, to see her everyday. He was a waiter in the “Dakshin” restaurant, hoping that one day he will have enough courage to reveal his love to Indira. Last year, on this day, there was a car that lost control near the saree shop, Indira was out on the pavement. When Sid saw the car heading towards her, he ran from the restaurant to try and save her, but he couldn’t. They were both hit badly and died hours later. His last words were: ” I couldn’t save her, please, let me have a chance to save her”.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I don’t know if the story is any good, but thanks to Sonam, Olivia and Lingam for the help with the information on India.

And thanks to my silent muse …  There is always a second chance, for all of us!

Buddha statue - Hussain Sagar lake, image courtesy http://www.desicolours.com

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© 2011  Broken Sparkles

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