It was an extremely windy and gloomy day, with no hope to have a glimpse of the sun in the sky; but Emma walked through that foot bridge above those always busy roads lined with rickety bikes and cars and tried saving her face from those gusts of wind that slapped unlimitedly on her face every now and then. As usual, she was dressed in her favorite color black and was carrying her now almost-old and out-of-fashion bag, from which after every few steps she took out something or other while walking. Emma was almost running short of time, as she had to report at her office at exactly nine ‘o’clock; hence, she was walking at the speed of lightening. She earnestly wanted to halt to breathe in fresh air to recover from this nauseating feeling of ‘monotony’ that had like an undiscovered disease seeped into her till-now-undisturbed life and had created unimaginable havoc. Emma had to yet unfathom the reasons behind her almost ravaged mind, where dreams and desires like unguided ships sailed through those rough water and weather. She had almost entered the building of her office, where a score of men was busy in chatting and new cars rushed one after another towards the basement to grab the limited parking space. Veena, who often smiled at Emma while crossing past her cabin, waved at her while rushing her old second-hand car towards the basement; but Emma, who was absolutely lost in the maze-like situation enveloping her peaceful life, paid no attention and like an arrogant and self-obsessed person moved ahead.
Burdened with monotonous and robotic works, she detested going to that place, where people simpered and like a snake hidden beneath dried leaves were ready to bite the gullible. Those elaborate lunch breaks with those ungentle, misogynist men were almost killing her mind and life. Sometimes she walked across that alley completely walled up with glass panes and mostly she stared into that mirror in that small washroom to reflect upon her life and where was it heading towards. She tried spicing up her life by getting a new hair cut – strands of hair now covered her prominent forehead – and purchasing new clothes from that shop across the street. Often she strongly desired for a tumbler of wine to forget those excruciatingly painful moments spent at the office.
Emma was not able to recover from the guilt factor that had like a thief had stolen her peace and sleep. She was one of the craziest and spirited women that this world had ever witnessed. She always followed her heart like a true devotee, but something new and absolutely disturbing was happening in her life, which challenged her principle of following one’s heart. She loved Harrison for his creativity, which was as unbounded as the universe. She had fallen head over heels in his love, and nothing seemed to be capable to challenge their commitment. But someone had discreetly intruded into her dreams and desires, and a sea of feelings surged in her till now unraveled heart. She wasn’t sure whether this entire feeling could be merely ruled out as ‘infatuation’ or was it an invitation to an entire new world of romance.
Emma felt that she and Harrison were destined to be together, but doubts such as “Were they meant to be together? How did they meet?” always surged in ever-critical minds of people, especially when they witnessed them together, as they were strikingly different. Emma was as effervescent as the crystal-clear, blue lake that floated silently at the back of St John mansion. She loved birds skimming on the polished surface of the lake; multi-colored butterflies and dragonflies kissing soft, velvety petals of newly bloomed flowers; those glittering stars embedded carefully in the sky; those snow-capped aging, but tough, mountains; innocuous eyes of her pets; music naturally composed by the crickets, frogs and other night wanderers; gleaming sun and undiscovered places and so on. She was completely full of life and wanted to cherish each and every moment of her short, but sweet, journey. Emma was unbelievingly untouched by evil desires that often doomed a person and consciously made efforts to live her life on her own terms. She often wanted to chase those colorful kites that floated like a snake in air and grab those kites that got entangled in between the boughs of those meditative trees or were left uncared for near a heap of pebbles and rocks. And, once she had collected those kites, she decorated them in her collection of souvenirs, to retrace her past, which loses its glimmer with time, in those fading days. This way Emma remained knotted to her past, as the future scared her, especially when those beautiful memories were getting fossilized with time, which was turning out to be an unbearable and unendurable feeling for her.
On the other hand, Harrison was as restless as that rough wind that sweeps everything around it in one blow. He was a dreamer too, but a restless dreamer would be the right attribute that can define his roughness. Harrison, who never shied in calling a spade a spade, was a ruthless lover, who had charmed Emma by his unbounded passion and no cosmetic gifts and promises. As promised by him, he gave her love envied by many and attention that can make any woman weak in knees. And, Emma admiringly and affectionately called him as a ‘spiritual wanderer’, who reminded her of a renouncer residing in a dense forest, as he was as pure as an undiscovered source of water and as honest as the nature. He never promised her of materialistic blings that other men shower unwillingly on their women. She trusted him as she trusted the God, but she also often desired that Harrison should take her out to a jazzy restaurant and buy her diamonds like other women, especially when other women colleagues at her office recounted the details of presents and gifts given to them by their men. When Veena recounted the details of that fancy hotel, where she and her partner had gone for celebrating their first marriage anniversary, Emma secretly wondered whether Harrison would do the same.
Sometimes like a bird she would whisper in Harrison’s ears her secret desires, especially spending some not-so-routine kind of moments at a sea-facing open restaurant, where she can bury her feet in the soft sand and wash them with the retreating soft waves. She wanted to hold his hands and sleep like a baby till dusk had spread its wings in the sky or lie in a hammock and swing the body lost in the daily chores of activities had recovered its energy. But Harrison, who was a passionate painter said earnestly, “Let my painting be sold darling, then I shall take you to one of those magnificent hotels with glittering spaces, where jazz and blues are played day in and day out and a series of fountains decorate the entire path to the hotel. There we can sleep in a bamboo hut and bask under the rising sun. I would love to see the light and shadow effect of the sun on your face. But I don’t want to ever change and chase money, and I want to be the slave of art and truth than of material desires that have drowned everybody.” Harrison continued, “Remember that sea-facing room, designed in wood, where rays of sun entered through those gaps left behind and innumerable pillows covered in sand-colored covers covered the room. I want to spend some time with you there, distant from daily chores.”
Emma knew Harrison’s dreams and desires and just wished the clock-like-life to end soon. The jazzy restaurants with brightly-colored walls were beginning to fascinate her. She wanted to drown her anger over unchanging life in a glass of red wine and cruise around in a luxurious ship called Utopia. She detested such strong feelings surging in her mind and wanted to get back to her old lifestyle, before desires had killed her beautiful relationship with Harrison. But such desires were renewed whenever her friends spoke about things that kept their lives super-exciting and adventurous. Petite Emma, who always tied her hair at little above level than other women, often sat on those lip-shaped sofas kept in the porch of her aquarium-like office to reflect upon unheralded conflicting thoughts burgeoning in her mind. Images of Harrison emerged in her mind and she immediately locked up those troublesome thoughts in an unimaginable and untraceable corner of her mind. Sometimes she walked in her high heels in the porch, which was being curiously noticed by some of the peeping Toms of the office, who were always braced up to create a new rumour for the office, over which the entire staff can vociferously laugh upon.
Can troubles be kept aside when such conflicting feeling rise in a person’s mind? Of course, the answer is absolutely ‘no’. And, Emma was completely unaware that she is going to fall into something that is destined to change her life and relationships, particularly with Harrison. Emma continued to regularly wrestle with such feelings; meanwhile, whenever she returned home with tired mind and body, Harrison kissed her lips parched due to nippy weather and make tea for her, which were steadily turning uninteresting and unimpressive for her. She looked into the oval-shaped mirror kept in her room and looked for almost half-an-hour, as if she was under the effect of a hallucinogenic drug. When she recovered, she started removing her ear rings and other jewels and started a silent conversation with her soul. The first question that popped up in her mind was, “Is it evil to desire?” Her alter ego sitting in a cross-legged posture declines to answer the question but said, “To desire is to live and to live we need to continue to desire. This philosophy is experiential in nature, so cannot be declined as a whim of an immature person. None of us are sure about good and bad things, so one has to try thing that are abhorred and are highlighted as potentially dangerous. So, a young and beautiful person like you should not fall in the trap of differentiating good from bad, rather follow one’s desires. Go and chase what you till now feared to chase and silently watched others waltzing with life.”
This soliloquy was broken by Harrison’s entrance, who was wondering what had kept Emma busy for so long, as she always rushed to sit by his side and touch his rough face. She would laugh at his sweet talks and say innumerable times that she loves him a lot. Emma was unable to hide her discomfort on being watched by Harrison and just smiled to say that she was absolutely alright and she loves him even more than him. Harrison had never noticed Emma so distracted and lost, he grabbed her and twirled her to his side and affectionately queried, “What makes you so distracted? Is something bothering you; if yes, then I implore you to unravel your soul before me. I am not sure whether it’s just me or even you have lately felt the widening gap emerging between us. You seem so distracted from me and our small world. Remember those days when we hided beneath those heavy quilts and whispered in each other’s ears; aren’t you missing those days?” Droplets of tears tumbled down their cheeks and they hugged each other to only cry out loudly. She had just slipped into her silky nightgown, which was simmering in the reflection of the light. She rested her head on Harrison’s shoulder and wept profusely, as she was tired of such extremely exhaustive feelings surging in her mind. Few strands of hair beautifully rested on her kohl-lined eyes, which she with her slender fingers kept removing and her petal-shaped lips were swollen due to constant biting; but Emma still looked like the goddess of beauty. Emma showered a volley of kisses on Harrison’s barren shoulders and neck and hugged him like never before and pleaded, “I am so sorry for making you sad. Come, let’s go and sleep and forget everything, tomorrow I will take a leave and when we can have a hearty breakfast and then walk in that garden next to St John mansion.” Harrison loved her and can never see her crying. That night he cooked her s special dinner and kept looking at her during the entire time they sat together. But Emma wasn’t sure that she had been able to remove those conflicting ideas that kept surging in her mind. She was also not sure whether her commitment towards Harrison was long-lasting also or not, but she was sure about her deep love for him, which can never end even with her death. But what was bewildering her was her constant fear of losing Harrison. She seemed to have sensed about changes that are going to redefine her life and relationships.
That night she wasn’t able to sleep. She kept twisting and turning in her bed and it seemed she hasn’t slept since ages. She loved him and never wanted to lose his faith and affection in life. She woke up in the middle of the night, when except the barkings of street dogs and fast-paced footsteps of thieves no other sound is audible, and looked at him, who had buried himself in a multi-colored blanket. She kissed his small, but beautiful and soft, forehead and reached out for him. She longingly looked at him and made a promise to never allow herself from falling into a ditch, from where she will never be able to even see him. She knew numerous people, who found falling in the ditch of affairs adventurous, but were never able to rescue themselves from the injuries and bruises got during the falling. She went out and stared into the pitch-dark sky, which looked so gloomy with no dazzling stars and moon to serenade. She just saw his face and prayed God for guiding her through such uncontrollable upheavals of emotions. She cried profusely before retreating back to her bed and smiled after looking at his sleeping face, which was extremely calm.