The Come Back – Chapter 13

by Anita Menon

They say dreams are born from  the strongest desires hidden away in the deepest recesses of the brain. At times you feel, that dreams emulate real life and sometimes it seems that real life emulates dreams. Both of them are so hopelessly intertwined that it becomes difficult to decipher which is the origin. Dreams can make you laugh, cry and even plead. Dreams work in mystical ways and hold out a beacon that lights up the road to the future. They explain themselves to only those who are keen and accept them without trying hard to understand their message.

Professor Reed, in his hospital suite was hoping against hope for certain things to happen. He loved the fact that his illness had brought his hostile daughters together on a mission. Their  love was keeping him alive. Well, there was one  more thing that was keeping him well and sane. His dreams had been long giving him cues about what his future held for him. He didn’t feel the necessity to struggle and make sense of them but let them fall one by one like leaves of autumn, that look beautiful in their vivid colors, lying on the ground.

He drifted back to a time in his past, when he had been away for work to Sweden. He spent twenty restless days out of London and not a minute passed when he did not think about her. He missed her terribly but to phone her home could mean trouble. He also did not want to come across being desperate so he decided to be patient. He strolled the local markets of Stockholm and bought beautiful woollen stoles for her. He had never shopped for anybody in his life other than for himself and his mother. He didn’t really feel confident about his choice and asked the sales lady whether the color would look good on somebody with dark olive skin. The sales lady gave him a knowing smile and packed it up for him in beautiful wrapping with ribbons. He began to grow concerned about whether he looked so lovelorn that he had people smiling their sympathetic smiles at him. At night, when he slept, he dreamt of weddings, bells and flowers. He felt weird, since he never had such dreams before. This whole romantic demeanor that he sported, these days, was out of his natural element. He felt awkward and couldn’t eat or sleep.  Love made him do silly things like going all silent on his lecture day until his students asked him to snap out. However, he loved the feeling of being in love. He couldn’t wait to come back and see her.

So the day he reached London, he made his way straight to her home, but found the door open with loads of strangers standing around the garden and inside the house. They all looked up at him quizzically, since his hands bore beautifully wrapped packages. He entered bravely, ignoring the stares, to try and understand what was going on. He saw her sitting on the floor of their dining area, propped up against one of the walls. Her eyes were sore and red from crying. He looked around for Professor Iyer but couldn’t see him. He dared to go up to her and sat down facing her. A lot of murmuring sounded around them but he chose to ignore and took her hands in his. She quickly put her arms around him and cried aloud to the dismay of others standing around them. She got up and he got up with her. One of the gentleman standing on the side, came forward and asked her something in their language of which James didn’t understand a word. Then some women came forward and took her by her hand, trying to lead her to another room. She shook them off and took James’s hand. They went to her room and closed the door behind them. Several uncivilized attempts were made to knock on the door and open it but she did not budge. When the cacophony died down, she seemed to relax a bit and started her monologue.

“Amma passed away, first due to pneumonia and then a week later Appa died too. He died of a heart attack.”  Tears began to stream down steadily but she held her composure nevertheless.

” Appa couldn”t bear the fact that Amma wasn’t with him anymore and he had a stroke which was fatal. All these people are my relatives who have travelled from India and wish to take me with them. I am all alone in this world now. I hardly know these people who claim to be relatives and my well-wishers. They desire to get me married to some stranger when they take me back to India, so that I am not a burden on them anymore. I do not want to go back. London is my home, I grew up here and I cannot fathom my life anywhere else”

James took her hand in his and looked at her solemnly. But there was a resolve in his eyes and he knew he had to take this chance.

“Maya, would you like to come away with me? ”

She looked at him, in disbelief but then she hugged him tight.