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Friday, May 22, 2009

The Magnolias Still Bloom – Chapter III

Author’s Note: Read Chapter I here and Chapter II here.

It is love, not reason, that is stronger than death. – Thomas Mann


A white blanket of snow had buried the world overnight. It seemed as if it had buried all my happiness too. Overnight, my colourful and happy world had been turned into a cold, white and unfriendly place. Children frolicked about, making snowmen of various shapes and sizes, and engaging in mock snowball wars. So much joy around! It was unfair, when I harboured so much sadness within.


I sat forlorn… on the park bench with peeling red paint. It had been exactly a month. After a prolonged battle with a congenital heart deformity, little April had finally given up. My only anchor in the turbulent sea of life had been severed. Unable to bear the pain, I had shut myself off from the world. I had been unable to attend business meetings, unable to run the company that I founded almost brick-by-brick, unable to meet anyone, and had just disappeared to my log cabin in the woods. What would I want all those millions for any more? What would I do in the city, with all those reporters hounding me, and wanting to know how it feels to lose a sister? Bah! How would they know!


Of course, I had known that she only had a few months to live. Still, that didn’t make the pain any less bearable. I wanted to ask God, if there was one, why he was being so unjust. Filled with rage and bitterness at having what I loved most snatched away from me, I sat there, in a world carved with white…


It was snowing even now, with the cold flakes landing on my exposed head and shoulders, and the frigid air biting my flesh viciously.


The sound of footfalls on the snow broke me out of my reverie, and I tried to blink the persistent tears out of my eyes. I turned, on hearing Her call my name softly. And found myself drowning into two deep blue eyes that radiated concern. I felt the warmth of her little gloved hand through the cold, and instantly felt better.


She sat down beside me, cupping my face in her hands. “It’s not right, what you are doing to yourself. Would April have wanted you to grieve like this? Wouldn’t she be up there somewhere, looking at you so sad, and feeling miserable herself?”


I cried into her shoulder, like I had never cried before.


But, hearing her voice did make me feel better. The pain that had been eating away at me for a month wouldn’t ease completely so soon, but yes, she was right. I needed to pull life back on track. That’s what April would have wanted. I needed to pick up the broken threads, and weave them together again.


“This is not the weather to sit outside like a broody hen. Let’s get your insides warmed up with some hot tea.”


I followed her, like a lost puppy, as she led me by the hand, towards a little yellow house, reassuringly holding my hand all the while. I couldn’t resist commenting, “Hey, are the alligators off today?”


“Huh… what alligators?”


“Oh, I remember reading in fairy tales that beautiful princesses live in castles that have deep moats infested with vicious alligators.”


“Well… I am the sole denizen of this humble castle. Though, keeping in view some nasty young men that I know, an alligator or two may not be such a bad idea.”


“Fair maiden, this knight shall slay even the most fierce of dragons to find favour with thee.. ACCHOOO!!”


This sent her into a fit of giggles. She said, “OK, brave knight, let’s get you inside, before you’re vanquished by a teeny-weeny virus.”


In the comfortable warmth of her house, I quietly watched her bustling about, as she made tea. And in some obscure corner of my mind, a thought suddenly germinated. I wondered if I’d ever see her making tea in my own kitchen. I wondered if I’d ever grow old with her. Maybe, we would sit on our rocking chairs, hand-in-hand, and watch the sun set below the horizon. I prayed, probably for the first time in my life. I fervently wished for my wish to come true.


Her approach derailed my train of thought. “So what are you dreaming of? With that goofy grin across your face.”




“Shut up and eat this,” she commanded.


I looked at a cake sinfully coated with dark chocolate. “Must I?”


She waved the plate tantalisingly in front of my nose, and smiled, “You know you want to.”


She could read my mind… the she-devil!!


I gave in, succumbing to temptation. After all, there’s only so much a man can take. She watched me, amused at my clumsy manoeuvres, trying to eat. Then, she conspiratorially leaned towards me, and said the very words that I had been longing for…


“I’ve got more in the refrigerator…”


Those words did it.


I leaned forward, my lips found hers, and I had an epiphany. I should have done this earlier.


She tasted of chocolate cake, Pepsodent and tea… she tasted of warmth, comfort, and love.


Suddenly, she drew away, and the moment of bliss ended. Without looking at me, she whispered, “We shouldn’t be doing this. Somehow, it’s not right.”


“Whyever not?” I asked, wanting more of her.


“Well, you don’t even know my name!”


“As Keats said, what’s in a name? A rose by any other name, or something, right?


That cracked her up, “That was Shakespeare, you muddle-head!”


“Whatever! It’s the thought that counts. At least, I’ve managed to make you aware of my keen interest in literature,” I countered.


This ludicrous claim sent her into a fit of giggles, and she said, “I could be a convict on the run, or a lab experiment gone wrong, or an escapee from a lunatic asylum, for all you know.”


“Sounds interesting to me…”


She looked away, fidgeting nervously, “I-I c-co-could be…”


She didn’t finish what she said, because at that moment, I kissed her.


This time, she kissed me back.


And I felt reality melting away.


Sukhjot said...

Amazing.... simply amazing...
Waiting for the next chapter sirji....

Mukund said...

very touching(please don't think too much).... :)
"She tasted of chocolate cake, Pepsodent and tea… "-well done(was a bit gross though)...
Your hero is not that big a dud after all

Aquarius said...

Sumit....cmon the susupense is killing....Jaldi jaldi likho :) next part

Sumit said...

@Sukhjot... good to see you here. :)

@Mukund... That's one of my favourite parts of the chapter, actually. Too bad you found it gross!

And calling the hero a dud? OMG! Especially after my confessing that the guy's awesome personality is modelled after mine.

@Aquarius... working on it this very moment. :)

Mukund said...

Hey thats sort of a compliment...
Think about it, your hero is the chupa rustum types ehh...
no ofence though...

Sumit said...

Hehe... okies... 'chupa rustam' sounds good :D

Kaddu said...

Killing April seemed to be inspired from Cheeni Kum! I do wish she has a greater role to play in the story! :-(
Third part over - and still no clue about the dame's identity! Sighhhh! Ok... on with the next in the series... see you again in 2 mins!

Kaddu said...

Typo: *had a greater role...

Sumit said...

Not even seen Cheeni Kum x-(

I wish April had a larger part to play too, but probably it would've taken away from the mysterious girl. :)

Abk said...

why do i feel like that its kind of becoming obvious? the story line, that is..