‘The ultimate dream has so much of desperation, that it scares us to actually touch it. Imagine that that little child you had been nurturing for an eternity but never allowed to grow; dies…What would you do then? Where would you fall?’
Chapter 1: Stranger of the trip:
“Give me another, Mark”. By now he must have known why I came to the bar every day, the past week. He came with his special Sundae; dark chocolate melted over some rum laced vanilla ice cream.
My trip was about to end and hunger was at its peak, I had never been good at sobering up, hence the rum. It made the breeze flow a little longer.
She was sitting diagonally across my table. I noticed her for no one else sat inside the pub in the afternoon. They’d prefer their beer in the sun, with the slight breeze flowing. I on the other hand, sat just beside the glass entrance. Somehow the chilly wind never appealed to me.
She was wearing something local; I never have the right vocabulary to describe clothes; something similar to harem pants and a long cream shirt with a brown sleeveless jacket above. She was playing with her jug of beer. She perpetually kept her eyes down, engrossed in the drink which she hadn’t touched past four minutes. Her dark brown hair seemed golden in the bright sunshine coming through the huge windows.
She finally looked up and found me staring at her.
“What are you staring at?” She had a middle-eastern accent, the one you know you’d find alluring, tone regardless.
I was still staring shamelessly, the wonders of green. I finally whispered looking blankly at her, “You have green eyes”
She didn’t understand.
I smiled and with an expression of exaggerated ecstasy I said again, “You have green eyes.”
She gave me a disgusted look and did not bother a reply.
She was looking at her mug, now conscious of the fact that I was staring.
I went back to my Sundae and did not say anything for a while.
Still busy with my sweet delight, I tried again, this time granting her the void of my gaze.
“I am sorry, I’m awkward. They say it’s a condition,” I chuckled. “Let me start again; hey I am Adriaan, and am on a weeklong vacation here, that ends today.”
I knew she softened, maybe even muffled a smile, but who would blame her for still maintaining the quiet. So I continued; “It’s a strange place isn’t it. People drink in the evening, fish in the morning and are swooning to colloquial blues by the night. No corporates, no big cars and yet a prosperous happy place. (I paused for a second) Is it too different from where you want to run to?”
She had to look up now; looked straight at me, I knew the questions so I explained.
“Everyone wants to challenge monotony. Your face wasn’t born here, and you are wearing a perturbed expression and I am sure I haven’t caused it so early. You are wearing local so I presume you had settled, still your solitude and Mark’s strange greeting to you suggests your first time here.” I questioned the impulsion of her predicament.
She looked at me blankly, not a hint of surprise or confusion. Finally she composed a reply, “You are wrong in thinking it as an impulsion. Inebriants are not the only source to enable contemplation; it’s merely an alibi today to refrain from it.”
“Do not say you are another one of those women who is looking for freedom from their moribund life”
“Freedom is too clichéd for a woman, sir. I was born in this place to seek it, I come here (raises her mug) to challenge it now. ”
“You were born here…” I whispered to myself. “So do you wish to go back? (I paused) I am sorry my alibi makes me bolder.”
I was hoping she’d explain but she seemed too lost. I never understand what to make of mono syllabic answers. They seem so stupid yet so apt for someone like me; kept me in confusion. I am used to studying situations. I knew she wanted me to back off, but I gave another try anyway.
“Can I dare to ask about the fairy tale you wish for, lady?”
“I do not hope for fairy tales.” She chugged the last two sips and left in haste.
I sat there for a while. People oft say that women prefer being called beautiful rather than pretty. I could never comprehend the difference; however this one seemed she could be called beautiful. The elusion of a vulnerable woman is what seduces a man. I had met a lot of women who pined for freedom from their husbands, family or their very existence, but they never knew what they’d do if they ever got it; similar to dogs chasing cars. This one however seemed different. She seemed to have a dream and dreams are what I look for.
I went to the river side that evening. I never had trouble understanding the nature. So much plan and so much predictability; it enabled my thoughts to rest. I prayed. I do that every time I wish to chase a dream. It was my last day there and I yearned for what I came. I decided I’d pursue.
I went back to the city with some hope.
The town’s evening spot was a lover’s paradise; sunset and the birds. The matches felt as if they were exclusive on that busy cliff. It reminded me of what we called the ‘suicide point’ in our college. I’d often go there alone. I’d carefully go down a little from the cliff and sit there for hours, studying whatever I could. She was there sitting on the cliff overlooking the river. There were couples, but she was not noticing them. I went closer, I had to.
“It would be an honour if you had a drink with me, it is my last day here and I want it to end with something beautiful.”
Cliché sometimes works on foreign lands. She smiled and I took out the wine I had brought. We talked for a while. I finally asked her.
“If there was one thing that you’d die doing what would it be?” I asked.
“I’d love to paint every part of the world, the mountains, the deserts, and the glaciers, everything virgin”
I smiled and we continued our talk. She had been living with her uncle and aunt. She wasn’t very close to them and lived like a paying guest. I didn’t feel the compassion one should; probably just because it meant I could spend more time with her.
It was now time to leave. She had beautiful earrings, not very big, seemed like small roses. I went forward to touch them, my ring finger lingering softly under her lobe. She twitched a little. I asked her to come with me.
“Why” she rustled.
I whispered, loud enough for her to hear and left, “Because love is too ironic a word for someone who doesn’t believe in fairy tales”