“Sweetheart, wake up.”
Hmm… That’s a sweet voice. Devil’s voice? But wasn’t it my Khaki Pants who came to rescue me? Was it all my imagination? But my aching body tells me it is not. Yesterday. What is it called, selective amnesia? I think I am suffering from that illness. There is no yesterday for me in my life. Only day before yesterday and today. The inbetween can go to hell. Did I die?
“No baby, you didn’t. You are very much alive and kicking.”
Nopes. I am definitely dead. There is no one who talks to me like this.
“Yes, there is. Me. I am here.”
Inside my head yes, but outside…
“Glad to hear that I have a place inside your head too. But, I am also very much a part of your life outside your head. At least I am going to be.”
No. You are a dream. I made you up. Like all these past months when I took you everywhere with me, when I saw you in every face I met.
“Sweetheart, why don’t you open your eyes and see for yourself whether you made me up or not?”
Have I been talking aloud again? I am afraid to open my eyes. The world inside my head is better. Safer. I don’t want to see what is outside. It hurts. It hurts everywhere.
“Indira, please, look at me, let me see you.”
It is him. My Khaki Pants. After so many months. I hate that he had to find me like that. But I am grateful that he found me last night. Tears leak from my eyes. No. This better be a dream because this dream is really too good to be true and my reality sucks. He is sweet and full of care. I don’t want to open my eyes at all, lest it turns out to be an illusion, wishful thinking. I don’t want to know what happened yesterday night and what will happen today. I whimper at the soft voice crooning in my ears, in my head. Only if he was real. I don’t want to face the world alone. I don’t want to answer the questions alone. I don’t want to talk about it at all. I want it all to disappear, wiped clean from my mind.
The voice is coming from outside my head. Oh my god. This is a real voice from the real world. I snap open my eyes, only to be sucked into another pair of soft golden brown eyes. I am lying down on a bed and he is seated on a nearby chair, leaning by my right side, resting on his elbow, half on the bed and half on the pillow. He is so close that I can see the pores on his nose, his big forehead, the mole on his lips, his mustache, the cleft in his chin, the faint dark circles around his eyes. I remember thinking of him as a quarter of a God. Maybe he has gained a fraction more on that aspect this time. Definite brownie points. And his eyes. They say brown eyes are actually blue eyes with more melanin in them. I like this brown shade of blue. A lot.
“Is that what you have named me? Not very creative you know…”
“You are real. You found me.”
“Yes and yes. I told you to watch out for me.”
“You kept me waiting too long.”
“About that honey, I am sorry. I was not in the city. I am so sorry that I couldn’t come to find you sooner.”
“Easy for you to say and let it go. You have no idea how much I searched for you.” He looks hurt and distant at my words. But as I watch, a wave of tenderness wash it away as soon as it surfaced and he came close. Closer than close. Did our nose touch each other’s?
“Did you now…? I’ll make it up to you. I promise.”
“When? After another three months?”
“Boy, the lady has a temper! Remind me why I am not surprised.”
Of course he wouldn’t be. Because the first time met him, I lashed at him even more severely. Is this man really for real? Is he here to stay? I don’t want to think of yesterday. I want to think that it never happened. By some stroke of luck and a jump cut later, I have landed in the arms of my mystery man. That’s all that matters to me now. I close my eyes again.
“Sweetheart, Indira, open your eyes.”
“Don’t call me things like that. Don’t talk to me like that. Don’t…”
I can’t take it. The way he talks to me makes me ache. Why does it make me sad and helpless? Didn’t I want him to come and find me? Didn’t I dream of him calling me all those endearments and more? But the way he found me yesterday in that unfortunate moment… Did I faint in his arms? What happened to Ralph? How I reached there in the first place… Now I have to explain. Now I have to tell him who when and why. Didn’t I always know that Khaki Pants deserved a better woman than me? Why is it hurting me now? I feel more helpless tears escaping my closed eyes. This is what I am reduced to now. Pathetic. Pattheettiicc. That pathetic!
“You don’t like it?”
I like it too much. Too much raised to the power of N.
“Thank god that you haven’t gotten over your habit of talking aloud,” Khaki Pant chuckles between his words.
My eyes flew open at his words. How can he laugh when I am in such a crisis? How much have I been talking aloud? I have to bite my tongue and lips not to speak aloud anymore.
He holds me by my chin and drags his thumbs over my lips and pries it open. I should be scared of him. After the physical assault of yesterday night, I should be wary of every finger that is not mine. But with this man, it seems I have neither any bell nor brakes. It’s one fearless downhill ride from steep slope where I am sure he will be there to break the fall and cushion me in his strength and warmth. It is even more strange that I should feel all this with someone with whom I have not spent more than a few hours. I don’t know his last name. I don’t know anything about him. Staring into his eyes, the details seem inconsequential. All that matters is that the feeling is mutual. The distance and time hasn’t diminished his attraction to me. No other woman has swooped down on him and claimed him. He is mine. For now.
We are still lying down close. We have been talking in whispers. Both not wanting to break the bubble we are in. I think this moment is called forever. However, like all eternal moments, a knock on the door bursts our cute little bubble and Khaki Pants moves away from me.
“No. Don’t go… Not yet…” I beg shamelessly.
He picks my hands and brings them to his cheeks, all the while his golden brown wolf eyes pierce me. They silently promise that I have nothing to worry, that this time he is not going anywhere. It must have lasted mere seconds, but I guess, it was another forever moment for me. I was liking this forever thing. Khaki Pants went out of the room and for the first time since I opened my eyes for the day, I try to take in my surroundings.
Unlike the heroines of books and movies, I am not disoriented. I do not have trouble recollecting what happened yesterday night. I remember it only too clearly. That is precisely why I am not talking about it or asking questions. There are some answers that does not bring peace to the confusions in your mind. I am not ready to face the past yet.
I look around and I find that I am in some sort of consulting room. It does not appear to be a hospital. The bed I am lying down is actually a couch that works like a bed too. There is a curtain that separates the room from whatever is on the other side. Before I decide whether to lie down more or go exploring the damages I endured, Khaki Pants enters with another man. He is the cop from yesterday.
Khaki Pants came over and sat beside me on the couch/bed.
“Indira, do you remember him?”
“Yes.” But I don’t want to.
“Good. He is Circle Inspector Kiran Vashisht, my friend and this area falls under his jurisdiction. So, you know why he is here.”
“I do.” But I don’t want to talk about it.
Kiran is young, has a friendly air, and the wisdom from not-so-good experiences give him a tougher appearance. “Hi Indira. I hope you are alright now. Ralph has been detained and is proving to be a very tough accused. I need you tell me how….”
I have thought about it but never in my wildest dreams did I think that I will say it aloud. But it was a clear decision for me, one that I unconsciously and sub-consciously made, a very long time back.
“I don’t want to file a case.”
That was a booming incredulous dual WHAT from Khaki Pants and Kiran.
Yup. You heard it right. I do not want to file a police case against Ralph on yesterday’s assault.