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Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Magnolias Still Bloom – Chapter VI

Like I said before, she was stubborn. The most stubborn woman I have ever known.

 

I love her, I love her so much…

 

… and I wish things had turned out differently. I wish she’d told me everything – all her emotions, all urges, every single thing before that horrible phone call shattered everything.

 

But she never told me anything. I still wonder what else she managed to hide away from me. That day, when I went to meet her, little did I know that the sands of time were fast running out.

 

She quickly hung up the phone, as I arrived, and smiled, “That was just my doc. He called to confirm today’s appointment, you know. I’ll get ready and go. Why don’t you run over to the cafe, and fetch us both some breakfast? I’ll see you later.”

 

I had agreed, albeit reluctantly. But, I should’ve known that she was lying. I had been so smitten by love that I had never known that she was growing paler, thinner and weaker, day by day.

 

I should have noticed. But in my eyes, she was beautiful. And perfect. She was my world. And in my eyes, my world was perfect. And flourishing. Also, my world was lovely, and hard to get.

 

Imagine! She had been playing hard to get for almost two years now. And I’d never slackened in my pursuit of her. Perhaps, the ‘happyness of pursuit’ was keeping me going.

 

I believed it completely. I believed my fantasy. She just wasn’t ready to accept the idea of a relationship, because she felt stifled by one. Simple!

 

“Are you better today? I asked her, sitting by her side on the bed with the blue bedspread. “Can I get you anything?”

 

She smiled weakly, held my hand and whispered, “You’re spoiling me silly! It’s just a cold. Don’t be so good to me, ok?” I didn’t reply. I just held her hand, soaking in her essence. “Do you think you can be up and about tomorrow? Spring is here, and the cherries are blossoming.”

 

She played with my fingers – the old piggy game.

 

This little piggy went to market.
This little piggy stayed at home.
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy cried "Wee! Wee! Wee!" all the way home.

 

We’d laughed so much every time she’d screw her eyes shut, and make piteous '”Wee wee wee” noises. And of course, whenever I’d tried doing the same in my baritone, she’d laugh so hard till she could barely breathe.

 

“You know, I prefer the magnolias. They are so pure, so white.” she whispered.

 

“Fine then, we’ll go see the magnolias. And I’ll read you a few lines from old Willy.”

 

“Ok, I’ll get better for you and the magnolias,” she said softly, before breaking into a series of hacking coughs that made me wince. I took her in my arms and patted her back to ease her coughing. Smoothing her hair, I said, “Just relax, you shouldn’t exert yourself.”

 

She smiled. That special smile which was reserved only for me. “… I never meant to,” she whispered to herself.

 

“Never meant to what?” I asked, wondering if the medicines were making her delusional. “Nothing, you sleep. I’ll be fine. We don’t want you falling sick, do we?”

 

Reluctantly I complied, promising to return the next day.

 

I came back next morning and stood outside the door to her little cottage, waiting to be allowed in. It was a routine. I’d knock, she’d open the door, and then the hours would pass by in a flash. She’d laugh at my renditions of ‘poetry’, shake her head at my craziness and get me some tea. Once I jokingly asked her, “I hope you’re not falling in love with old Willy; you seem to like his writing so much.”

 

She had cocked her head, and said, “Well… you never know…”

 

I had chased her around her little lawn for fifteen minutes till both of us had collapsed – laughing and panting to catch our breath.

 

Still, the routine was anything but mundane. Just the thought of her was reason enough to begin a new day with a smile. She was the one who kept my life from plunging back into the depths of despair and madness.

 

I frowned as I knocked again – how come she was sleeping late today?

 

I saw her neighbour walk to his front door, laden with grocery bags. He stopped when he saw me, “She’s not at home. She had to be taken to the hospital last night. She’s probably still there.”

 

I stood rooted to the spot, watching the burly man hug his family, as he went in to the warmth of his home. She wasn’t home, to open the door and let me in with a smile. Somewhere deep inside me, I felt a part of the world I had built over the last two years crack.

 

Everything was a haze, as I got into my spanking new Toyota Prius (that she had me replace my Hummer H2 with) and sped all the way to the hospital. The magnolias I had got for her lay forgotten at her doorstep.

13 comments:

Mukund said...

I am waiting for the next post... felt bad for our hero though...

Anu said...

Glad I bumped my way into here.

Brilliant! Read all 5 in a go! :)

Can hardly for the next.... Keep 'em coming... A breath of fresh air!

Aquarius said...

Nice ,reminds me a bit of Mills and boon romance :)

Sumit said...

@Mukund... I'll probably write the next tomorrow. :)

@Anu... thanks for bumping in. I hope you'll return more often.

@Aquarius... now I don't know whether that's a compliment or not, because I've always made fun of that genre. (though I've never read it, of course)

Kadambari said...

Aww! Don't let her get blood cancer! Nooo! Or any other scary incurable thing! :(

Kadambari said...

Hey! On a second note.. This reminds me of Erich Segal's Love Story! And I cried so much while reading that one!

Kaddu said...

Yeah me too! Segal's Love Story! :-( And this one is going to end like that too! Knew it was just too good to be true! Men like that anyways don't exist in real life! But, I hate stories without happy endings! I'm already so sad! And angry too! And I'll probably hate u too, for months to come, if you kill the girl! :-(

Sumit said...

Well, men like that do exist in real life. (I hate to advertise myself ladies, but then facts are facts.) :D

I actually conceptualised the story about 4-5 years back, when I hadn't read Love Story or seen Sweet November. But, I never got round to writing it, once I had experienced both of these, because of the obvious similarities. :(

Subhalakshmi said...

hmmm.. I waited.. n waited for you to acknowledge where u lifted this story from.. but I guess I'd have to concede you are writing this.. I really like this story.. Its awesome:)

Choco said...

Wow... Was I gone so long?
Lovely story Sumit. You have a real talent. I am hooked.

PS: I do not like love stories but liked this one. But some part of me was hoping something horrible will happen in the next line like the guy killing her or something....Sorry bout tht :|

A journey called Life said...

each chapter better the previous one.. i like the way the story is shaping up, only i hope (like how kadambari says- please dont get her some things shez going to die of..

Saurabh said...

hi sumit, the story is beautifully shaping up. there is a kind of "softness" in the pace which is wonderful. i also try to write fiction, but am poor at arriving this beauty in pace which your work posseses. i'd take a few tips from u someday, ok?

Sumit said...

@Subbu.. thanks for being so kind. :D

@Choco... thanks! (For all you know, he might kill her still)

@Journey... I'll keep that in mind.

@Saurabh... thanks a ton, man! I'm just an amateur, but probably, writing more often helps in improving a bit. Why don't you do that, and get stuff critiqued by others? :)