Meera, feverish and cold, lay in the bed hallucinating, uttering words that surged and fell, indistinguishable; the hours were blurred; faces that peered to check on her were yet another blur on the blurred film that everything seemed to her. Difficulty raising herself, her strength failing her, she listens to indistinct muttering, the sounds of muffled gasps; there was someone walking across the room, someone pacing. On the verge of losing herself, helping hands, gentle, prop her, lift her, and gather around her shoulder. The warmth of a touch from a time that used to be! Was she dreaming, was it all real?
Nakul? She whispered. I am right here. I am right here Meera. The voice an echo from the past, locked away in distant memories.
Meera had walked into and through the rain, rudderless, purposeless, under a canopy of rain trees, leaves closed in prayer, the water dripping off the slippery branches and twigs. Orange-red Gold Mohur flowers upon the wet tarred roads bled their vibrant colours onto the dullness. And on an isolated green wooden bench Meera sat, too cold to think, too shaken to assimilate, too muddled to understand. Her hot tears merged with the cold rain water that ran amok like a thousand streams upon her ashen face. The little one, shuddering with what she had heard her father say, lay still; she wanted to kick with all her might, raise her fists and protest. Oh it cannot be true, her father certainly wished to see her! Delusional she pondered. Was the world sans any happiness? The flowers her mother spoke of, purple, pink, yellow, seasons her mother described to her, memories the little one was privy to, music she spoke of, smells she sighed at, the warm ginger tea, the tangy candy, the gooey mud pies, was all of that shrouded in perpetual sorrow? The little one knew she was safe within her mother. Must she leave her nest of happiness and step into a world that felt morose and strange to her little mind. Oh, but she wished to see her mother, her father, see them together, huddle between their warmth, their faint happy smells lulling her to sleep! And while her little mind baffled at the barrage of questions Meera, staring into the oblivion, gazing at purple streaks of lightning, and listening to the sound of sky shattering, wept.
The chill has shaken her, had pronounced her doctor and prescribing tests upon tests, cheerfully smiled at Meera. The child is safe, she smiled at Nakul. But Meera needs you for her, for your child. Nakul gravely nodded, holding back the dam of tears that would burst upon any minute, and smiled at Meera, gripping her cold hands in his warm hands, sheltering her.
Three weeks had gone by. There were neighbours in the house, friends pouring in, cousins streaming in and out but she felt barely alive. In the musty September afternoon, Meera, a morose continuum of the overpowering gloom outside, sat shrouded in invisible threads of grey upon the cane chair in the balcony. Yet in the greyness the Devil’s vine was aglow with green fervour and new seedlings shook gently in the balmy wind where the withered Gladioli stalks used to be. Did Nakul plant them? The Bougainvillea vine shone brilliantly and suddenly hopeful, Meera noticed a faint orange glow in the grey sky. The clouds were parting while a mellow sunshine refracted into prismatic colours from the edges of the grey clouds. A rainbow began taking shape!
Drawing her shawl closer, she caressed the little one. You’d be in my arms sooner than you know, my love. And I’ll protect you from all harm, all sorrow. Imagining the bundle of joy upon her arms soon, Meera’s heart sang a tune, the hum burst forth into her lips and she smiled, dimpling with subtle joy.
Nakul, at the edge of the balcony, with two cups of tea, watched Meera smile, and silently promised to himself. And I will protect you both from all harm, all sorrow. I promise.
Here’s your tea, he chimed as he sat in the erstwhile empty cane chair beside Meera, reaching for her hands, caressing them. Just like old times, he claimed. Like old times, echoed Meera. And the little one jumped joyously!
This post has been long due for I have been straddling between a happier ending or a melancholic one, quite a reflection of my mind. I am uncertain if this is the end, if yes than I end the story here. If not, I shall continue to end it sooner. Do let me know!
And here are the links to the previous parts,