The Come Back – Chapter 20

by Anita Menon

Colours speak all languages.

Colours have the power to possess you.

I know that colours and I are one, but I am not a painter. I am a writer.

She scribbled.

Then with great anguish, she crumpled the hand written piece and dropped it into the waste paper basket at the foot of the table. She lazily glanced at the huge  Mahogany book shelf at the other end of the room. It was stacked with books; old and new. Some of them were her father’s, the respected Dr. Iyer and some were the ones that she had bought over years to seek refuge  and inspiration. Interspersed with other famous novelists works were some of her own. In the course of 20 years she had come a long way. She was a successful novelist and children’s book writer. She had  15 best-selling novels and several short stories to her credit. But it did not mean anything unless she could get her true story out, she self-confessed every day. Her phone began to ring and that startled her out of her thoughts.

” Hello.” She said.

” Hello Maya, hope you are having a good morning. Just a small reminder that the publishing house has pre- poned the release of your next book by 2 weeks. I hope you are on top of your game. It means you have only 2 months and a little more to go. ”

It was her agent, Lakshmi calling as usual to get her out of her unnecessary musings and get working. She needed Lakshmi and Lakshmi needed her. Both of them had started their literary careers together and grew together in the business from strength to strength. She knew Lakshmi would never abandon her even if her books did not do well sometimes. Lakshmi was hardworking, ambitious and extremely aggressive when it came to negotiating advances and royalties with publishing houses. Maya never bothered with such trivialities and focused only on her work, which was writing. In these 20 odd years Lakshmi was possibly the only person who was close to being a friend.

” Yes, they’d emailed me too. I haven’t replied to them yet but I am ahead of my schedule so there isn’t anything to worry about.” Their conversation was always impersonal because Maya felt uncomfortable if Lakshmi got too personal about her life. Maya’s terse replies were just enough for Lakshmi to catch the bait. So their relationship was largely based on mutual trust and respect for each other.  Maya almost never stepped out of her home, so Lakshmi made it a point to visit her once every 10 days or so to see if she needed anything.

“Oh alright! That is wonderful to hear. I might drop by one of these days to take you out on a stroll or something, if you would like that. “, Lakshmi spoke.

” Oh my! A stroll! I don’t think that would be necessary. I will send you some parts of the book that I have already finished to get your opinion on the flow of the story.”,  Maya replied.

“Oh Ok. That would be lovely. Thank you. Have a wonderful day, dear.” Lakshmi sounded defeated.

Maya shrugged and got back to her work. 6 hours of writing later, her cook and housekeeper, announced that her lunch was laid on the table.

She tapped her pen on her note pad several times and looked down at the crumpled pieces of papers which were the story of her life.  Through the creases in the paper, she saw the letters shine at her in different colours. But today they weren’t making any sense. Colours usually guided her and even without thinking, words flowed like colours from a painter’s brush. But sometimes, she knew, the colours were all mixed up and that made the words all jumbled up. There was no reasoning as to why it happened. It just did. When there was no pattern in colours, it clearly meant there will be no flow in her words. Her current manuscript shone brightly in beautiful patterns of colours like that in the rainbow. Intricate designs formed in the paragraphs.Punctuation and the cursive bent of all the letters all symmetrical and just in the right colour. Anything could be any color at any time depending on what colour everything else was at the time. It wasn’t that complicated really.

She shrugged again and drew a long breath to relax her body that grew so tense when she wrote. She drew back her chair and headed towards the dining room to finish of the chore that was eating. If it were not the question of sustenance, she would have never stepped out of her study, from among her books and her world full of colourful characters.

Just then she saw an email icon pop up on her desktop computer that was on the table next to her writing-table. She almost ignored it and walked until the door of her study. But something told her the email was important. Probably the terracotta red that it was. She went back and pushed the mouse to open the email. It was from Nicole.

Nicole was the only person she had kept in touch from her previous life. A life that was so full of confusing colours. She quickly opened to read it.

It read,

” Hello Maya,

Hope you are in the best of spirits. It has been long that I haven’t heard from you. So I thought it would be wise to write this email to check how you were getting on with your life.

I know you do not like the small talk and the pleasantries but I do not know else to convey the real intent of this email. “

Maya stopped reading and felt her pulse racing. Nicole never exchanged pleasantries and for her to start off her email like that meant something uncomfortable was on its way for her. Curiosity got better of her and she continued reading.

” It so happens that James’s friend,  Dr. Abelhammer got in touch with me. He wanted me to convey to you that James is in a critical condition and may have very limited time. He wishes to see you before his illness gets better of him.  Under such circumstances, I had no choice but to write to you this uncomfortable email about considering James’s request.

Please do let me know whatever your response is to this email soon, so that I can call Dr. Abelhammer and put the matter to rest.

Yours Sincerely,


A series of thoughts whizzed past Maya’s head, making her dizzy and little faint. She sat down on her chair, with her hand on her forehead, trying to think clearly.  She thought she had forgotten that life and moved on. Apparently, it was just a folly on her part to think so.

The rest of the day was a blur. Maya couldn’t eat, write or even think. By nightfall, she had made her decision.

She brought herself in front of her computer and tapped at the keyboard.

” Dear Nicole,

Please do let Dr. Abelhammer know that I am on my way to London.”

Many Thanks,



Thank you everybody for your patience. It has been very difficult for me to write this chapter. I spent my vacation thinking about chapters that will follow. But the break also ensured that my thoughts were all over the place. I hope you all enjoy reading this and are as intrigued by it as I am right now.