The Come Back – Chapter 34

by Anita Menon

” So you found me.” , said a shrill voice,  slightly quivering from the cold mist that had enveloped the park at dusk.

The leaves, golden, brown and different shades of rust, rustled in the wind, trying their bid to hold on to their guardian trees, struggling uselessly.  The park was desolate and the mist providing the illusion of being something out of a horror movie. The gray cobbled path told no stories of the feet that passed that way because they hadn’t in a long time. The park was a space lost to the world; untended and forgotten for years. It was locked away with a signage of a building contractor that informed the passerby about a mega project that was about to start.  But for people who wanted to be in such a Godforsaken place, there was always a way to jump their way around into the locked park. The grass was growing wild and the trees became the host to the most beautiful birds. But today was a grim day, the one where nature announces that it is autumn but the rest of the world isn’t quite ready for it. The squirrels, as large as raccoons, scampered to find the last of the nuts before they rotted away in the frequent drizzle. It was damp, dark and just right for someone who wanted to be in a place that wasn’t with the world right now.

It was the park with the fountain that changed Ash’s life, many years ago. It was in shambles and one couldn’t decipher what the original structure would have looked like even if one wanted to imagine it.

“Ash, what are you doing here? I had such trouble finding my way around into this hell. I even cut my knee and my dress is all dirty and mucky from dirt!!”, complained Anna.

Ash looked over her shoulder from the wooden bench where she was seated with one hand in her jacket and the other smoking to keep the chill at bay. A thick stole covered her neck but her cheeks and her nose were red from the chill. Her hair, seemed matted and unruly, like she hadn’t seen a bath in days. Her face looked withdrawn with cheekbones poking out and dark circles around her eyes spoke of sleepless nights.

“How did you know I was here?”, Ash asked her sister.

” I went to your tattoo parlour and found it was locked. I asked a few people around and they mentioned seeing you around this park. I assumed it must the same park.. eeer.. eeeeeermmm..  I tried calling you, texting you and leaving you voice messages. But you don’t care a damn do you?”, shouted Anna. She was surprised by the strong emotions pouring out of her on her sister. Days of suppressed feelings suddenly found a vent and flowed out in the form of angry words.

“Anna. Calm down. I did not mean to not be in touch. I needed some time out to think about what we need to do next. I needed to get away. After Papa’s service and wake, there was void, a huge one and I couldn’t think, speak or hear anything clearly. I needed this. Hope you understand.” replied Ash calmly, betraying the turmoil inside her heart that had eaten away into her very being.  She couldn’t go back to her Papa’s home because Maya was haunting the place day and night. She was to be around for some therapy sessions. Ash couldn’t go back to her parlour as she couldn’t focus on her work and was turning all the clients away. She was worried about Anna and angry even when she found out that Anna was putting up with Richard in a hotel room. That is when she decided she wouldn’t do anything to connect with Anna.

But now that Anna was here, looking at her, made Ash realize that something was different, something had changed. For the better. Ash smiled to see her sister beaming with a rare confidence. Ash got up and walked to her and hugged Anna. Both the sisters cried silently into each other as the rain started to drizzle again.

The squirrels and the birds made their way to their safe abodes as the sisters walked out of the park. They decided, now that they were together, they could go back home. To their Papa’s home.

They took the a bus ride home, hoping against hope that they wouldn’t bump into Maya. They prayed that she should be with her therapist so that they can relax and lounge carelessly at home. As expected, Mrs. P was already at the door, ready to welcome the sisters with extended arms. Warm soup, freshly baked bread and roast chicken awaited them after they had cleaned up and changed into their night-dress and pyjamas. They sat around the  table keeping an eye on the clock over the mantle in the dining room. Anytime now, Mrs. P , motioned that Maya might enter the house. They nervously finished their food and said their good nights to Mrs. P and made their way to their respective rooms.

After a while Ash heard a soft tap on her door and Anna’s inquisitive face peeped in. Ash shifted her comforter out a bit and made space for Anna to settle in with her. Anna had brought a cup of hot chocolate with her which both the sisters sipped, turn by turn. The warm liquid, helped relax every fiber of their body and Anna rested her head on her sister’s shoulder. Ash grew more comfortable with her sister with each passing second and felt good about being so close to her.

“What do we do? Shall we stay here? Shall I return to the University? What are you going to do? Do you know how much Papa left us? Did you know that he left the house to all three of us!”, spoke Anna, altogether and breathless by the end of it. Then she took another sip of the hot beverage and returned to being in a calm state, waiting for Ash’s response. Ash kept her waiting for sometime.

“We need to find some answers for own sake, Anna. We deserve to be told why our lives were messed with. Maya has to tell us why she left us and how her appearance in our lives right now is going to effect us in the future.” , announced Ash.  Then she took her turn to sip from the cup.

She knew, tomorrow would be a day of answers.