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Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Magnolias Still Bloom - Chapter II

Author's note: Read Chapter I here.

I cannot exist without you - I am forgetful of everything but seeing you again - My life seems to stop there - I see no further. You have absorb'd me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I were dissolving... I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion - i have shudder'd at it - I shudder no more - I could be martyr'd for my Religion - love is my religion - I could die for that - I could die for you. My creed is love and you are its only tenet - You have ravish'd me away by a power I cannot resist. --- John Keats

Now came the next big question. Who exactly was she? I mean, you can't just ask somebody you've met twice, her family name and antecedents, can you? And especially someone like me, who is renowned for a subtle approach, just doesn't do things this way. That's not my style at all...
"Are you a she-devil come to lure us mortals towards sin? Or are you an international spy working undercover?" I asked her once.

"Naah! Ok, I guess there's no point hiding it any more," she said. It seemed some mountain gorillas decided to do a war dance at that very moment inside my heart. "I'm just an employee of the tax department, trying to snoop on you and find out how much black money you have," she said with that killer smile.

And then, it became a game. Daily, she would allow me one guess at her identity.

"Are you a mermaid cursed by her stepmother to live with mortals on land?"
"Nope, I'm an alien from the planet Zupton, trying to get spare parts for her crashed spacecraft."
"Are you a princess from a faraway kingdom, looking for her frog prince?"
"Maybe, but so far, I've only met toads!!"

So, our verbal parleys continued for may days. Though I didn't manage to find out who she was, our acquaintance blossomed into a beautiful friendship. And as my guesses grew wilder in their fantasy, her laughter at my imagination grew merrier. Once or twice, I tried pestering her to tell me who she was, but she would promptly change the topic. Meanwhile, summer turned to autumn, and autumn turned to winter.

On Christmas Eve, I found her waiting for me on the bench, on our bench, with a small package in her hand. She handed it to me, and with a twinkle in her eye, said, "When you open this, you'll find out my identity."

With nervously fumbling fingers, I opened the package. Her quiet, mischievous smile turned into gales of laughter, as I moronically stared at the Enigma CD in my hand, a perplexed frown on my face.

"An enigma," she whispered, "that's what I am. I cherish your friendship, and let it remain this way, please....." Saying so, she turned away, but not before I saw the glint of unshed tears in her eyes. It was probably my imagination, or was it??

I took out a neatly wrapped package from the pocket of my parka, and gave it to her. She smiled at me, and tore the wrapping open, like a little kid, and then, jumped in surprise on hearing, "I love you." It was one of those toys that say funny stuff when touched. "It is lovely," she said, "Thank you, and Merry Christmas." I smiled at her as she walked away, "Merry Christmas to you too. I'm glad you like it."

That evening, I was trying to sneak a CD player I had borrowed from a friend, into my room, when I was accosted by a feisty young girl. Eyes blazing, she said, "So, where do you think you're slinking off to, dear boy?"

"Eh..uh...nowhere. What makes you think I am 'slinking away'? I am walking in a perfectly dignified manner, like any young man of my age ought to walk."

"Shush! What's that you're carrying?"

"I am...uh...just in the mood for some nice music. So, I borrowed this player from Andy."

"Ha!! You and music....nonsense! I know you've hated always music of any kind. You claimed once that if you had a time machine, you'd go back in time and poison Bach, and strangle Beethoven and Mozart et al. I don't know if you remember, but your protests against my taking violin lessons are still echoing around the house."

"Well, people change! And.... I am no exception."

"Hmph! Go, suit yourself. But, I really do think there's something amiss, and you're hiding something from me."

Ever since she was a baby, April was the most adorable child ever. However, her habit of acting like a little Sherlock Holmes has always been a tad bothersome. So,I decided to take the prudent course of action. I decided to ignore her. As I climbed up the stairs, she called after me, "Is this change brought about by the girl in the park?"

I stopped dead in my tracks, and my ears pricked up instantly. "How do you know....ahem...I mean..what are you talking about?"

"Ok, whatever, go enjoy your music. I'll find out, what's cooking."

"Dearest, it's time you were off to sleep. Or you'll be late again in the morning."

"Okie, good night, and sweet dreams," she winked mischievously at me.

If you had an eight-year old sister, who always acts too big for her boots, you wouldn't be smiling or grinning at my plight. Anyway, I went back downstairs, to check if April was nicely tucked in, and came back to listen to the CD.

I've listened to that CD innumerable times. It no longer plays, for it's surface is marked with scratches and abrasions. Still, each note of that soulful music is etched clearly in my memory. Indelibly...

I listened to it, not because I love or even like music. I listened to it, because it had come from her, the girl I was slowly falling in love with.

The girl whose name I didn't know... the girl who could've been an escaped convict for all I knew... or cared.

Once, losing my patience with her, I had held her firmly by the shoulders, and almost begged, "Who really are you? Tell me... please!"

She had smiled, knocking me breathless, and said, "The girl in the corner of your mind." Then, she had just gotten up, and walked off, leaving behind a whiff of her enticing cologne.

If only, she knew that she took up my entire mind...

If only, I'd known her name...


Ankit said...

Good going so far, but don't tell me this is going the 'How I met your Mother' way. The readers never get to find out!

Sumit said...

No bro, the readers will find out what happens for sure. I normally like leaving endings open, but not this time... :)

Nikita said...

mummy!! x-(

Aquarius said...

building the suspense...thats a good tactic :)

Sumit said...

Nikita, ab kya ho gaya? x-(

Aquarius, thanks! :)

Kadambari said...

Hey.. The next post.. Quick! :P

Piggy Little said...

u r marvellous. why dont u do it full time- writing short stories??? i SO identify with the feeling ....of this story. and i love it..its left an absolute indelible mark on my heart.


Sumit said...

@Kaddu... coming soon...

@Neha... thanks a ton! Even though it is fiction, I identify with parts of it. I'm hoping to post the third part tonight, hopefully you'll like it too. :)

Mukund said...

DUDE... @#@%^%$&*%*(&^ and @#$&%%(^
too good... dying to read more of it...

Tangerine said...

next chapter pliz...

BrownPhantom said...

Guesses at the identity were cool :)..And can we have the next chapter a little earlier please :).

Sumit said...

Mukund - thanks! :D

Tang - purely on you demand... :)

Phantom - thanks! (I guess that was my crazy humour peeking out.) Btw, next chapter posted.

Kaddu said...

Wait let me read the 3rd part... it's already out! :-D