Shiven sat in his rocking chair, reading the newspaper in the hall. He could hear the fisherwomen coming one by one and calling out the price of their fish. A few women gathered around the fisherwomen and started bargaining. Children called out to each other and surrounding the fisherwomen ,pleaded them to remove the lid of the lower most basket, in which they kept crabs. Now and then the fisherwomen agreed and playfully threw a crab out of the basket. A few of the kids shrieked while some dared to touch the crab. Sometimes the fisherwomen would just shoo away the kids and they would return home crestfallen.
The roar of the grinder and whistles of the pressure cooker from the kitchen buzzed around the house. At his foot , his daughter sat. She was busily drawing and coloring with her crayons spread all over the floor. Sometimes she bent so low that her nose touched the paper and sometimes she would stretch out on the floor and then again roll over her stomach and keep coloring.
He looked down and tried to steal a view of her drawing. Alert as she was, she quickly pulled away her drawing sheet and tried hiding all of it with her miniature palms. She looked up annoyingly, "Dadddddy!!! I said don't see till I complete!!" she screamed at him. He smiled back at her. She was just four year old and yet she bossed him like his mother!!
"Ok ok baby.. Daddy won't look." He ruffled her hair and went back to his newspaper.
His wife Meera was still busy cooking. It was strange how they had spent most of their marriage in silence. He was comfortable sharing trivialities with her of everyday life but the idle sundays built an awkward wall between them. He just could not pour out his innermost feelings to her. During the initial days of marriage, they would spend the sunday either going for movie or visiting relatives or going in group picnic.. He had tried opening up with her but somehow it never happened.. Only after their daughter Tamanna was born, they could talk more and it mostly revolved around Tamanna.
"Daddy look what I made." she shook him out of his thoughts excitedly.
He looked at her painting and a wave of nostalgia hit him.. A pain surged through his heart..
"You know daddy why I like it? Water surrounds it and yet it is untouched by water! Isn't that amazing?"
He was stunned by the maturity in the tone of his four year old... It was as if Sara was talking through his daughter. His Sara... His heart ached with a pain he thought would fade with time.. He was scared that her face will get washed from his memories.. How wrong he had been.. After all these years, her face was still etched in his memory.. Her voice still vibrated in his eardrums.. Her touch still lingered on his skin...
"You know why I like lotus ? It is born from slush and surrounded by water.. It gets tossed about by the waves and yet blossoms with love.. Raises above all and remains untouched.. "
He had looked at her with admiration as she mouthed these words. She had the most pure soul he had ever known.. She was his lotus.. Completely untouched by the maimed souls that were all around her..
His body felt paralyzed by the sheer pain that raced his being.. Sara.. Sara.. A volcano of emotions that was suppressed for years threatened to erupt and destroy him.. He struggled for breath.. How he had underestimated the magnitude of his pain that had not washed over in so many years...
He walked over to the balcony of his room... Looked over the peaceful town of Mangalore.. Where he had scurried to shy away from those memories of Mumbai... The skies, which were clear a few minutes back ,now were crowded with dark clouds and it started raining.. He wished the rains drenched his soul and washed away his pain.. The rains did not create even a ripple in the town. He envied the people in the houses he could see. They would be lazing in their sheets and having a late brunch.. Watch cricket and then sleep more.. Evenings the men would gather to have a drink and share the local political tidbits while the women fried trays and trays of fish and laughed and talked.. He envied that they were not restless like him.. They were not scared of exposing the raw wound in their heart.. That they would sleep peacefully as early as 9.30 pm and start the next day as early as 5.30 am with a satisfied smile over their faces..
Rains.. his thoughts travelled to another time.. Sara loved the rain... Sara loved everything nature had to offer.. She was a blissful soul, content with life..
His heart burnt when he pictured the first time her soft velvety voice had said...
There was an urgency in that tone.. He had looked around to see her.. She was drenched.. Water dripping from her beautiful face and narrowing down her chin...
Before he could look at her more intently she had broken his trance and said..
"I need your help.. Please.. It's urgent.."
(to be continued)