As the raindrops fell – one two three… infinity – the woman looked out of the window and she drifted back to the past, a past that had been filled with the magic of childhood.
How the little girls in their white soft muslin chemises would prance in the rain on the roof and laugh for sheer joy! They would be drenched. She really enjoyed it. The water would pelt her face and run down in small rivulets from her shock of curly hair… the smell of the wet Earth… a lingering fantasy for a lost world.
The lost world that would never disappear from between the pages of the thick hardbound Complete Works of Shakespeare she had bought with her first salary and carried everywhere with her. It rested on top of her book shelf wherever she went … with all those flowers she had picked from her parent’s garden – roses and tiny jasmines like pressed stars, tucked securely within the pages of the book. They caressed her fingertips with the brittleness and delicacy of an age spent away from the nurturing plant. Her hands lingered between the pages. The flowers and the leaves were now of an indeterminate age where freshness, to live or to die did not really matter. Her hands picked up the delicately veined skeleton leaf of an old peepul tree she had sat under with the boy who faded out of her life like a memory…
They had sat and talked about a life they could have had as the Delhi winters wove sunshine into her hair. She remembered the feeling of thrill as his voice drifted to her ears, but the words muted themselves… silenced by thirty years of hectic over-paced life where she moved like a whirlwind from role to role till Bollywood was her only reality.
What had he said that she felt he loved her?
Rain always made her misty-eyed. She needed one more drink. How the cigarette and the alcohol lulled her, calmed her senses.
She turned on the stereo. Her favourite Bach started to play…
As she slowly sipped a Cinzano, she moved to her balcony and listened to the rhythm of the rain against the backdrop of Bach. It was a strange mix, but she liked it. It heightened the silence of the night, the madness of the storm as the lightning streaked across the sky, searing it, tearing it into two.
She felt the waves beckon her.
She walked out of her balcony towards her private beach. Her thin white muslin dress was drenched within minutes by the pelting rain. It clung to her shapely figure. Her thick curly hair that fell between her waist and shoulder gathered the rain and stuck to her forehead creating small rivulets that ran into her face, just as it had when she danced in the rain in her chemise as a child.
Her drink was spoilt by the rain. She threw the glass away. And then walked with unsteady feet towards the sea.
She wanted to be a part of the elements, maybe a mermaid on a distant rock… and she would sing, sing like the heroine in La La Land – how she loved those songs – and the boy, the boy from the past – not the others who had flitted in and out of the glamorous part of her life. Not the men with bow ties who had escorted her to premieres and brought her back drunk with success and of habit and put her to sleep… they bored her with their adulation, ardour, or, was it lust, and slimy lips…
Oh! How she longed for him with his pure heart and bass voice which always rang through her spine and caught her somewhere near her throat. She had always wanted to touch him…and then, she moved on … and he, what happened to him? She did not know…
But now she longed for him… the way she had longed to be an actress and the way she longed to be a mermaid and part of the sea.
The water was now up to her shoulders.
The rain beat harder and harder as the waves took her into their folds.
She woke up a mermaid singing on a rock and her prince came on a sailing ship from beyond the sparkling sun and picked her up…
About the Author
Mitali Chakravarty’s poetry has been published online and as part of two anthologies, In Reverie (2016) and An Anthology of Indian Poetry in English (1984). Some of her poetry has recently been translated into German. Mitali herself translates from Bengali and Hindi to English. She has published a humorous book of essays on living in China where she spent eight years, In the Land of Dragons (2014). She had numerous bylines in The Times of India, The Hindustan Times and The Statesman in the 1980s up to 1992 and more recently online on Kitaab.org, Countercurrent, Modern Literature, Words and Worlds and The Daily Star (Bangladesh). This April, she joined kitaab.org as the editor. She blogs at 432m.wordpress.com.