The Come Back- Chapter 15

by Anita Menon

Back home, the Professor definitely felt more comfortable. To be able to read a newspaper for a few minutes a day was a luxury that he couldn’t afford in the hospital with all the tubes wired into him. Maya was always on his mind like those days when he was so hopelessly in love with her. In between, he had erased every bit of emotion he had for her to be able to lead a normal life. He’d succeeded to a great extent only to understand now that it was such a waste of time. Maya would always be there in his heart, mind and soul. She was a part of his life and his very being. Trying to erase her memory was just an attempt to assuage the hurt. It took his fatal disease to make him realize he was such a fool. Nothing stopped him from going back to her all those years. He should have. Why didn’t he? Ego, it was not; just a deep wound caused by her betrayal and her insensitivity.  It took him years to even come in terms with what had happened. But now, lying in his bed, looking out at the gray clouds gathering in the sky, it dawned to him. He finally understood why she did what she did. How couldn’t he have seen it before? He was blinded by his anger and the injustice of it all.

Step by step, he retraced and could clearly see the day he brought Maya home to his one room apartment.

“Blasphemy!” that is what they would say, she muttered talking about her miffed relatives. She giggled like a school girl who had just broken all the school rules. But he did notice a rebellious gleam in her eyes as if moving in with him was the most natural thing to do for a conservative Tamilian Brahmin girl. Her relatives tracked down his home and came to take her away. But she didn’t budge, threatened to call the Police and only then they backed off shouting profanities at him. He watched from a distance because she was very clear about him not interfering in this matter. He loved how she could be vulnerable in one moment and so powerful when the circumstances demanded. She was extremely organized; every book, cloth, household thing in place; that he found it difficult to sometimes work his way around his own home. But accepted it all because he was crazy about her and didn’t care about anything else. In his insanity, he completely missed noticing the little details that he could clearly see now after 25 years. Maya spent all her time in the house and had little interest in stepping outside. Their relationship was a strange one, probably because there was no name, that he could give it. They were friends and they were lovers, but her sudden detachment made him wonder whether they were on the same page. Her father, Dr. Iyer had ensured that his daughter would never have to ponder about what she would do for living and left her a sizable inheritance. So she was financially well put together but didn’t show the slightest interest in money matters. James, on the other hand, felt responsible for her and worked very hard to see that she didn’t have to spend any money from her father’s legacy. He moved them to a new larger house, his present home in a matter of few months. Maya walked from one room to another, inspecting each room as she passed, especially corners. She settled for one corner of the room which was in the study and turned around to see James. She ran to him and said,

“That’s where I’ll write everyday. Thank you, James.”

Getting an emotion like that out of her, was  the biggest highlight of his life. That evening, she agreed to go out with him for dinner at a beautiful restaurant and conversation flowed like there was no tomorrow. Food was  the biggest cause of rift he realized over time but the love they shared compensated for the non compliance at the dining table. She was a pure vegetarian and wouldn’t even tolerate eggs while he had to have his meat for every single meal. Over months, he gave up meat for all the meals he had at home and didn’t miss a thing. He professed his love for her everyday but she wouldn’t really respond to his proclamations. When asked, she would say,

“I am in a happy place, is all I can tell you , James. I feel the sun shining down on me and everything is yellow. Yellow is a happy color.”

It was weird when she put it like that and weirder when she wore clothes in colors that depicted her mood. She was weird in more ways than he could count, but that was what made her so alluring and luminous. In her study, she would disappear for hours, writing ferociously, for hours, skipping her meals. Once he brought her a snack because she seemed to have forgotten to have lunch during one such writing bouts. She looked at him sharply like he had committed some unpardonable crime but then she mellowed. In a slow realization, she understood how much he cared for him and reciprocated with affection of equal measure.

Even after a year of living together she was as much of a mystery as the first time he had set his eyes on her. He informed his mother about the new development in life after an entire year of living together with Maya. His mother disapproved of the whole idea of living together and pushed him to propose marriage to her. He knew he had to broach this subject sometime or the other and he did on a wonderful summer evening. They were out in their garden watching the sprinklers watering the lawn, the sky was pink indicating rains next day. He held her hand close to his heart, got down on his knees  and asked her. Taken aback by the sudden question, she withdrew her hand from his and turned to walk back into the house. He got up, stunned by her reaction because he was sure she would agree. Wondering, how he could have got it wrong, he went in after her and found her in the study. When he saw her standing, vulnerable and child like, he couldn’t bring himself to question her about her intentions. He went up to her, hugged her tight and asked for no  explanations. The subject of marriage was never brought up ever again.