The Come Back – Chapter 33

by Anita Menon

Anna was sleeping on her stomach, with chin propped up on her hands to support her head. White, cool cotton sheets covered her. Inspite of a turned up thermostat the chill in the room made the tips of her fingers go red. The hair follicles on her hands that weren’t covered by the white sheets, rose in perfect uniformity. But it wasn’t from the chill but from a mouth nibbling at her toes at the opposite end of the bed. It was one of those expensive suites in a hotel room. Bungled up white sheets lay all around the room, trays of half eaten meals and glasses of sipped champagne crowded themselves on any table, chair, dresser, there was. Richard and Anna had already spent a day and a half in the hotel room together with Richard taking a few hours break in between to attend his hospital duties. Anna stayed in the hotel, not knowing where else she could go. After her Papa’s death, their home didn’t seem the same anymore. She even asked Mrs. P to go home for a couple of days till they all could figure out what they wanted to do with their lives. Since Maya was still staying there, Mrs. P politely refused to concede to Anna’s request. Anna couldn’t believe that the biggest anchor of her life had chosen to dislodge and move away into the endless seas. The finality of it hadn’t registered in her mind yet and all she could do was to escape somewhere else. She couldn’t go to Richard’s home, because his wife was in town. Instead Richard booked a hotel and since then had been spending some intimate time to together. For Anna, it was a way to keep her mind off the current state of affairs and for Richard, a welcome change from his routine.

“This can’t go on forever, Richard!” , exclaimed Anna, suddenly without a prior warning.

Richard recoiled a little and temporarily felt out of breath, both from the activity he was so engrossed in and from the sudden announcement from Anna.

“I could do something else, if this doesn’t feel good, mon cherie!”,  he replied and then laughed good-naturedly.

Anna picked on some fine lines under his eyes and his forehead. He looked old and worn out for some reason. She broke her stare-spell and spoke,

“I meant, I cannot hide in this hotel room forever. I need to figure out what I have to do.  Ash is back at her tattoo parlour and I haven’t heard from her since. She refuses to pick up her phone or meet me. It feels weird to go and live in a house where a woman who claims to be our mother has taken abode.  When Papa was alive, we found some common purpose to be together in the same space. Now with him gone, it feels like the glue that bound us together has dried and like pages of a book we seem to be flying all over the place. Future seems, uncertain and I am scared. I want some answers, I want to ask some questions, I want to know what life would mean for me from now on.”

Richard only looked a little annoyed and confused. Here he was trying his best to get something done whichwas so pleasurable that such vain thoughts shouldn’t have flitted into Anna’s mind in the first place. Plainly, this girl didn’t know how to enjoy her life. He got up and with him dragged the sheet off Anna. Anna turned around surprised at the sudden reaction from Richard. She felt the chill get into every nook and cranny of her body in a fraction of a second. She grappled for her sheet and covered herself instantly. Richard made his way to the bath and soon Anna heard the bath running. She pulled her sheet together to join him but stopped right at the door. She could see his head rest against the bath while his entire body immersed in the clear water with only his toes peeping out. She also spotted the large chunk of his wedding ring on his finger and felt a sudden flash of anger.

She stayed that the door observing him for a few seconds more and felt a wave of helplessness. She really did not have anybody to call her own after Papa’s death. Ash was so flippant in her attitude towards her. It was like Ash’s grief was greater than her own. It was so ridiculously unfair. The therapist was on vacation and she had nobody to talk to. Richard was so self absorbed and didn’t seem to show any empathy at all. Moreover, from the looks of it, he wasn’t going to leave his wife ever. What was she thinking! Ash was right all along, she was in bad company. This relationship was heading for doom right from the start. She had to get out of it at the first opportunity.

Anna went back to her bed, scavenged for her clothes that were strewn all around the room, kept her share of the bill amount on the table next to the bed, stuffed her belongings in her large purple bag, combed her hair in a futile attempt to make sense of the unruly mess and then quietly stepped out of the room. She felt free and took quick steps towards the elevator. She pressed for ground floor and by the time she reached the reception, there was a smile on her face and steely determination in her eyes.