The Come Back – Chapter 18
by Anita Menon
Sometimes when we look back into our past we are astounded at the starkness of a situation, which we had missed in spite of the innumerable signs. Signs stare at us in our faces, spending every breathing moment with us, joking, laughing and being angry but it is easy to miss them completely. Why is it so difficult to decipher the codes of this language? Well, it is because, like now, we are busy living our lives in the past and the future. It takes so little to pay ‘conscious attention’ like the Great Buddha preached and live in the present.
Professor Reed had been on a soul-searching mission every single moment. He meandered aimlessly, making mental notes of so many signs that he had so clearly missed in the past. This awakening in him happened like a lightning that lights up the horizon and from then on he saw every single sign as clear as the day that follows a stormy night. He made several phone calls to his friends and doctors to seek their help in his all important mission. Each of his comrades, were surprised out of their skins at the mention of such a task that they were asked to aid, but agreed nevertheless. The Professor beseeched his friends to not waste a moment as he was unsure of how much longer he was going to live.
The strongest train of thought that opened doors to these extreme revelations originated from the time when he and Maya had the roughest of days understanding each other. She tested his patience with her silence and his impatience seemed to annoy her. They had been living together for more than a year but the rift between them seemed to widen with each passing day. He made ardent efforts to understand what transpired behind the closed doors of her sharp mind, but came back with little. His patience ran out and he let issues lay like unopened letters from ex lovers. Maya withdrew into her corner, furiously writing and sometimes staring blankly into space until one day when she burst out of the study with the brightest of smiles on her face.
” I have finished my novel, James”, she announced. James almost choked on his morning toast to see a wide-eyed, happy Maya and finally understood that she was engrossed in her writing spells. She pushed a pile of papers towards him and eyed him with anticipation. He put his half eaten toast down and wiped his hands clean before handling the pile. Pages and pages of words that did not make any sense to him because he was blinded by the rage of how she had treated him all these days. He had felt like a prisoner whose air supply had been cut off and had been condemned to death. But it didn’t seem to affect Maya in anyway.
“I would like you to proof read my work and then put in a word to your publisher for me.'”. she spoke after failing to get a response from him. There was not a tinge of awkwardness in her asking nor an inkling of remorse about her attitude in the past days. This enraged him further and he got up leaving his breakfast unfinished. A confused Maya followed him as he made his way out of the dining room to the porch where the Taxi was waiting for him.
” So you won’t read it, I see.” , she spoke without emotion.
” WHAT DO YOU SUPPOSE I SHOULD DO? TRY TO PLEASE YOU LIKE A DOG? YOUR WRITING IS NOT WORTH PUBLISHING AND IT IS BOUND TO BE REJECTED WHETHER I PUT IN A WORD OR NOT.” he shouted at her with all his might.
Maya recoiled in anguish at his raised voice and looked positively hurt from the venom that spurted out without provocation.
She turned back and went in while James entered the taxi, still shaking from his uncalculated outburst.
That evening when he came back late from work, he found her sitting at the dining table waiting for him. His heart melted at the sight of the frail form bent in concentration trying to plate something that looked like a pie. He grabbed her from behind and held her tight. They stood still in that passionate embrace that had eluded them for months. She turned around and kissed him deep. Overwhelmed and exhausted the only thing to do for them was to cherish each other, compensating for lost time. In the bedroom, Maya who hadn’t uttered a word so far sat in an embrace while James realized how much he had missed this. He trailed his fingers to where her anklets lay almost entwining her ankles like a rose creeper. The sweet sound made him go insane he confessed. The admission seemed to have a profound effect on her and he found her resolve melting. She let go and the night was the most memorable night that he would remember for a long time to come.
In that happy bubble, what he failed to observe the morning after, was how Maya’s corner disappeared from the study and he never saw those sheaves of paper again. In his joy of finally having ‘won’ her, he didn’t miss the reticent Maya. He didn’t miss her bent form writing her little worlds away on pieces of paper. Now on his deathbed he realized with deep melancholy that he missed knowing who she really was and cared for.
He knew one thing that he wasn’t going to leave this world without a closure on this. It was during one such phone call to a friend to ask about Maya’s whereabouts that Ash had burst into the scene. She was emotional about the Professor mentioning Maya’s name and demanded an explanation. He had been observing Ash for all the days that she was staying with him and realized how deeply all the signs were connected. He understood her anger and responded to it with silence. Only after a lot of imploring, he explained to her that before he departed, he had to get some answers and with that her anger seemed to subside.
Luckily, he had a breakthrough this morning and it seemed his goal might just be in sight. His pulse quickened at this thought and scenes from his past helped him pass time before she came back.