By: Somrita Urni Ganguly
He sat next to her, a wall,
No, no, she convinced herself –
A wall is not necessarily an obstacle;
A wall is also about rootedness, about support.
There is hope for her still.
So she sat under the coy moon,
That shone bright on her maidenly bashfulness.
She sat thinking of the firmness of that jaw
And how the week-old stubble would feel against her breath
If she were to dare to move that close to him.
She strained to hear his heart beat.
Did it beat for her? Did it beat at all?
She imagined him bathing in the scarlet of her blushing cheeks,
And blushed some more.
But soon it was time to leave.
Her lips parted to whisper a silent prayer,
Willing with all the strength of her thundering heart,
And unspoken words, to make him stay;
To stand on her toes, to reach up to his chiseled shoulders;
To be crushed against that hard chest;
And hope to break through this iron exterior;
To touch him where he was soft —
Where everybody is soft —
To touch the softness of his tousled hair and quiet heart;
That heart – that dark, brooding thing,
Which he so fiercely protected now
Against the crowding memories of a hurt past.
That heart she wished to touch;
Wished to touch the tender flesh, drink in the musky smell, taste the raw blood.
And be one with him;
The thought brightened her up.
Like cherry blossoms in springtime.
Like vermillion on a newlywed bride.
Like keys of an unused Italian piano under the fingers of a forgotten musician.
But then he stood up to leave.
She wanted to stretch her arms out to him,
Like the wispy branches of the shadowy pines,
Stretching out endlessly to reach the salt smelling moon —
That passive moon, frigidly illuminating the sighing waves every night.
She wanted to reach out for his firm fingers,
Like the virgin ivy,
Crawling up against a decayed, abandoned wall.
Oh how she would cling on to this wall!
Hold on to it for her life,
And for his sustenance;
Hold on even as nations crumble,
Histories get rewritten.
She sat there, looking up at his tall frame,
Silhouetted against the blinding silver of the moonshine,
Waiting for him to extend his unfamiliar hand to her.
Does he feel nothing? Nothing for her?
Does his heart not scream out in rage at anything?
Does his soul not bleed pure passion for anyone?
Does his body not desire the melting fire of her womb?
He only cast an awkward glance at her;
The indifference in his eyes, a blow to her feverish love; a betrayal.
The glance cleaved the rustling ivy from its ruined wall;
And it fell limp, murmuring soundlessly, on the damp earth beneath.
The author is presently a Research Scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.