Fragnance of the past

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
A love story told through the eyes of a young girl and an old man.

Submitted: March 28, 2014

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Submitted: March 28, 2014

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A A A


The early morning sun filtered in through the large bay-window, casting the spotlight on the dancing dust particles. An annoying, yet familiar sound seeped in through the floorboards disturbing the morning peace. It drilled through her blanket with ease to echo in her ears. But today she was determined, she held her eyes shut as she tried to fake the sleep, already lost to the piercing noise from the kitchen. Even the pillow pulled over her head offered zero resistance as yet again the very punctual mixer grinder successfully completed its stand-in job of waking her up. Her toes curl up as her arms stretch out drawing an arc over her head. A wide yawn escapes her open mouth as she sits up trying to shake away the effects of last night's sleep. Stretching out again, a smile slowly dawns on her face as she starts with her favourite routine of the day. Her lean hands, slide under her mattress to pull out this small, fat, leather-clad diary. Kissing it good morning she opens it up.

***

My old trembling hands gently invade the space beneath my mattress as my fingers move with the dexterity of the hairy metatarsals of a tarantula on the hunt. Triumphant, my thin bony fingers clothed by wrinkled layers of flesh and tufts of white hair, pulls out this small fat leather-bound note. The bright red colour once it had been has lost its youth; the leather has peeled off in most of the places and with the lines that have formed along the spine of the book, the plain hard cover once it was is now the picture of an ageing tree. I slowly thump through the pages as I bring it close to my nose to take in the unique smell it held. My face blooms into a toothless smile, my eyes flutter close as my mind picks up that extremely familiar smell to flood me with the river of emotions, memories. For a moment I am that teenage boy in love again... a mosquito buzzes in my ear to pull me out of my trance and I swat it away in displeasure. My eyelids gently open… my old eyes are staring confused at this small, tattered old book in my hand. Not giving it another glance I throw it aside like yesterday’s newspaper. A jug of water is brought crashing down beside me. I shout out annoyed at the loud sound as I pull up my knees along with the blanket, up to my chin and rock myself muttering “LOUD LOUD LOUD LOUD!!” Disturbed, I turn my head to give a scrunched-up angry face to the broken jug. There, lying drenched wet is a red leather-bound notebook among the broken pieces of glass. I stare at it for a second… and the next moment I am on the floor sitting in a puddle of water, my hands feverously trying to snatch at the notebook among the broken pieces of glass. I yelp in pain as a shard nip my hand. Nursing my hurt hand I look down worried, unable to rescue it from the water attacking it from all sides.

***

With a pen in her right and the diary on the other, her eyes are dreamy as they stare out through the window. The early rays of the sun warming her cold naked skin, the chirping of the birds ringing in her ears; this is the only time of the day her heart fills up with joy and that’s when she pours it into her dear little diary. Someone grabs her by the arm to harshly drag her back to reality as her diary’s snatched away from her. Fearing the worst her face is an expression of horror, her eyes clouding up. A smile suddenly breaks out brightly behind her clouded wet eyes as she looks up into her mother’s face. Snatching it back from her, she hugs her tightly exclaiming ‘Maaaaa... you scared me!!’ ‘One of these days it's going to be your father and that will be the end of your diary and your day dreaming’ she retorts grimly as she pushes her daughter off to send her giggling, running to the bathroom.

***

A loud scream arises from my throat as I watch my little book sinking like The Titanic. Someone rushes in to stand transfixed at the doorway, a second later two hands slide under my armpits to pull me up. Outraged at the notion of being pulled away from my little red book I cry out aloud struggling as my hands flay outward trying to reach out to my drowning possession. The force pulling me away is too powerful and I finally give in bawling like a new born baby, just when my extended fingertips manage to lift the book off from the water, making a smile break out brightly behind my clouded wet eyes. I giggle to myself with joy as I adoringly caress it. Those hands push me down onto my bed, as they make me lie down, covering me with a blanket. Exhausted, I tightly hold onto my little bundle of joy as my eyelids close down against my will, shutting out the world around me. *** It was just two in the afternoon, but the sun was long lost beneath angry clouds. It was going to rain, she could feel it and she hated the rain . It made her nostalgic and that was the last thing she needed right now. There sitting alone in her room, by the window, with a gentle breeze playing against her braids, all she could think of was about him and him alone. Today made it nine months since she had seen him, since she had seen anyone other than her immediate family. She had been dragged home from college, one fine morning by her father and since then she had not seen past these gates. She blamed herself for it though, leaving that letter lying around like that. Her father had thrashed her terribly, she could still feel the bruises; maybe that’s why she remembered every single word of it so clearly. Besides, every night she cried herself to sleep repeating them over and over again in her mind. It’s what kept her going, especially past that particular night when he had come waltzing into their home, asking for her hand. The only reason her father had not killed him was because she had fallen at her father’s feet begging and crying and had promised that she would never see him again. But after all these months she awoke every morning with a smile on her face, thinking of him. It was the one thing that would never change whatever happened, this one thing she was sure of. The breeze had picked up in pace and as the first drops of rain caressed her cheeks, she burst out into tears as if she had just been waiting for the invitation. Three more months and that was it. The only reason she had not been married off till now was thanks to her horoscope which instructed that her marriage only take place after she had turned 21, but that was just three months away. Her father had started the search for a prospective son-in-law long back and according to her mother he already had met with a few of the families. The thought of being wedded to someone else when her heart lay with another, brought more tears streaming down her face, matching the intensity of the rain outside. Her hands clutched down on her heart as she took a silent vow that if nothing would turn out her way, then…

***

When I woke up, my hands were still clutched down on my only worldly possession. That’s when this old lady entered, as if she got notifications regarding my sleep-wake cycle, mouthing a good morning and a wide smile. I stare back blankly, never remembering to have seen her before. When the awkward moment, that of a stranger looking at you like he/she has known you for decades came to a close; the room started buzzing with activity. She was making my bed, helping me to the bathroom, sticking this electronic brush in my mouth that whirled and whirled around exploring every nook and cranny of my almost vacant mouth cavity and then tucking me into fresh warm clothes. And still my hands were clutched around my little hard-bound note when finally she left, leaving me standing in front of the mirror staring at myself. Through the glass stared back this very old man, bony as a herring covered all over with wrinkled flesh and stooping almost to a bent C wearing a pair of striped pyjamas. He puts up his hand against the mirror as mine too meets the cold surface of the long pane of glass. He was one sad man I could say, his dark disturbed eyes shouted it out even when his lips were pulled up into an arrogant smirk suggesting that he didn't approve of it. His other hand lying lifeless at his side brings up this book it held, extending it to me and mine's there to collect it with eagerness. I gently open it and stooping even further, bend to press my lips against it. A drop of tear reaches the destination before my lips do and as they press down on a small photograph stuck on the first page, the smell of roses fill my nostrils. When I stretch back up to look into the mirror, its earlier resident has been replaced by this very young man, but one of great resemblance. The boy's in his early twenties, dashing as ever with jet black hair combed all the way back gleaming with oil, a face chiselled to perfection with a razor sharp jaw line, but it was his eyes that caught my attention, they held this raw power that could captivate you and just wouldn't let go until they had consumed your very soul. And I too was a puppet caught in his enchanting spell as he slowly cut of each string one by one, and when the final snip came it echoed in my eardrums, as I fell into his deep bottomless, dark eyes.

***

His deep dark eyes (the devil’s eyes she mischievously called them) enchanted her even when they looked up through the gleaming layer of emulsion on the photograph. She had picked it off his purse without his knowledge, and now it held its permanent post along with a photo of herself, above the little pressed rose petals on the front page of her diary. She clearly remembered the first time she had seen those dark, captivating eyes. The intensity with which they stared at her, from across the classroom, left her thumping heart in a standstill. And this torture had continued on for a month before he had walked up to her with a neat folded sheet of paper in his hand. Then without another word he had taken her hands in his, to place it in them and with his eyes deep in hers had said the following words. ‘My heart, now it belongs to you. Take care of it.’ And with a wink of his eyes he had simply walked off. Flushed a deep red, her trembling hands had gently opened it. Tears rolled down her cheek as she looked at it now. A beautiful sketch of herself gazed back at her shyly, with a gentle blush on her cheeks. As she looked down at herself, the way his eyes saw her, a slow warmth crept up her body to enclose her heart. And all she just wanted was to stay like that forever. That’s when, as if her thoughts were being directly voiced into her father’s ears, he called out to her, replacing the warmth in her veins with ice-cold fear. Half an hour later she came running up the stairs, to stand breathless against her room’s closed door. Slowly her face bloomed into this wild grin, and a minute and a half later, there she was jumping up and down on her bed, clamping down on her mouth, holding in the screams of joy. When finally she fell out of breath, hugging her pillow, her lips muttered a silent prayer in gratitude. Her head hung just off the edge of the bed as her hair almost touched the floor. She still couldn’t believe her luck. Her mind got carried away yet again as she pictured herself at the church, with him beside her. A week after his proposal she had gone up to him, with her eyes glued to her feet and with a nod of her head she had muttered two words ‘Mine too.’ And the very same day they had gone to this old church by their college and had sworn with the gods watching down on them that they would be together forever. That’s where they would meet she decided as she sits up suddenly, realizing she has urgent work to be taken care of.

***

I was falling, falling and falling but like everything else it did come to an end. The darkness around me slowly evaporated to make space, as things started taking shape around me. It looked like a frame picked out from an old film tape. The sky was a deep grey, filled with dark clouds hefty enough to come pouring down, any moment. A very old church, small yet one which evokes the religious in a person, loomed in the background. At the extreme corner, an old ambassador engine roared to life as it chucked smoke out of its windpipe, thick as the dark clouds above. And I was the object bang-right there in the middle, in mid-air with my right arm extended, trying to imitate superman over a puddle of dirty rain-water. I look at my reflection and I see the dashing young man in his twenties. Then as if the director had called for ‘Action!!’ everything suddenly took to motion. But it was like someone had fiddled with the frame-rate ratio, everything seemed to move in slow-motion. It was like being stuck in thin air devoid of gravity. My eyes were glued to the rear wind shield of the ambassador that had just kicked into action. Two round eyes filled with fear stared back at me through the thick pane of glass. Her screaming eyes reflected in mine as I watched her fruitless attempts, her thin lean hands thrashing down, trying to break down the single thick pane of glass that separated us. With each passing second, that wretched car was taking her away from me. My body tensed up as I tried to push through the air somehow, to reach by her side. The more force my body exerted the more useless I felt. A slow cry of anguish rose in my throat, realizing I am just a helpless onlooker. Then in a single moment everything’s back to normal. One second am still stuck, the next am headlong plummeting into the dirty puddle of water. As my face hits the surface, the dirty-brown water splashes into my eyes, blinding me. And when am able to look up again, there’s no car, there’s no her. She is gone… My hands sink into the muddy puddle as I slowly lift myself up. The scream of anguish finally leaves my throat as my head falls back to stare up into the clouds above me, them reflecting my anger as they collide together producing a loud thunderous clap. It takes me a moment to recollect all of what has happened in the past 24 hours. Yesterday evening had been the most wonderful in a very long time. I had been up in my room doing nothing but staring at blank walls when I had received the letter. My fingers had opened it with a tremble when I had come to know that it was from her. It said just two lines. At our church. Tomorrow evening, 4’o clock. I had spent the next hour jumping up and down on my bed and doing all the dance jigs I knew. And then I had gone running to mom, giving her a wild kiss and a hug as I shouted all kinds of gibberish at the top of my voice. But she had sent me running back to my room with a careful smack on my behind, warning me that I was getting too excited. And she had been absolutely right I realize now, with a heavy heart. For a year I had taken up the role of a heart broken lover, and finally I had got my reward or at least that’s what I had thought, until an hour back. But it had all been just false hope. When I had got here, ready to even run off with her if required, the sight that greeted me was of her dad dragging her into the backseat of that wretched car. I had run towards her my arms extended and that’s when as if to end it all on a sarcastic note, I had tripped over something to go plummeting, headlong into a dirty puddle of water. ‘Why give me such hope and then shatter it likewise’, I wanted to shout out to the gods as I slowly clambered up to make my way up the steps to the church. By the time I had reached the top, the heavy clouds were already shedding their weight as a small drizzle had started. There was this strong wind blowing and the tiny drops of water lashed across my body as I climbed the final steps to stand there at the top staring at the huge oak doors. I stood there for a moment, summing it all up. That’s when this strong wind blew into my face forcing my eyes shut, and when I could slowly open them in small slits something hit against my feet. On looking down through them small slits, was this small fat book lying open, with its pages fluttering in the wind. Something of an alarm switched on in my brain when I recognized the very neat ant like letters stacked together page after page. My knees felt week and I slowly gave in falling to the ground. Someone seemed to be fiddling with the frame rate ratio as yet again time slowed down. I gently picked it up. The book was small, hard-bound in red leather, resembled a diary. I opened it to the first page, then to the second and then to the third, and all I could do was stare open mouthed as tears washed down my dirty face. I riffled through the pages till the very end and then burst out into tears. It was like holding her thudding heart in my bare hands, I slowly raise it to my lips and just hold it there as my fingers clutch down on it shivering, trembling. That feeling when you realize how much, much more a person loves you, than you ever did, it can be a bit too much to handle, that too when you know that it’s all simply hopeless and that it’ll just sum up to nothing in the end. She had filled every page of that fat little book with a letter for each day that we had been apart. More than three hundred such of them, and here I was complaining that she had never replied to my one and only love letter. The magnitude of it all just topples over me, the size of a huge mountain as I become one emotional wreck. I just can’t stop crying and the heavens join me as the slight drizzle transforms into this raucous rain drenching me,as if cleansing my dirty clothes and my tired soul. My hands involuntarily pick up the book to carefully place it in my shirt pocket. The significance of my actions hit me so hard that I bawl out her name, my face turned up to the heavens, the cry reverberating all along the church. Finally we were together, as our hearts lay against each other on my chest.

***

She never heard his cries that day, but after all these years she listens to them every day, every wretched day. It wrenches her heart out as his cries echo in her old ears. She can no longer take it and she laboriously pulls herself upright to gently bobble her tired old body as quickly as possible to the shut door. She gently rests her face against it as she gently strokes the door trying in vain to calm him down. She knows that if she goes in there now, it won’t be of any help and that it might as well result in the opposite. Tears roll down her face as his heart wrenching cries increase in intensity with every passing moment. She doesn’t know how much longer she can take this, every day for the past year she has seen and heard the worst. And to think it’s her diary, in which she had poured out her heart for him, which has become the reason behind his pain. ‘Wretched book!!’ she shouts out. On hearing herself call the single element that had brought them together ‘Wretched’, she bursts out crying. “Wretched is this disease!!” she shouts out to herself as she slides down to the floor listening to the endless cries of the Alzheimer’s patient on the other side of the door, her husband who doesn't even recognize her anymore, who lives in the past now, still enacting the role of the heart broken lover.

THE END.

P.S. : Appuppa, in your memory.

As always thanks for the inspiration brodah!

And this one's for you my cute friend. ;)


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