The sequence of the previous day repeated. Someone knocked the invisible door. I let old man in. I saw the couples- in the cobble stone house. Inside of the house was big and magnificent. The couple sat on the bed, the man as dashing as ever looking into his wife’s eyes. The same deep eyes that conveyed love. The wife smiled shyly. Her blush obvious a reply to his look. He pulled his wife closer, and was about to place his lips on hers but the image changed into another.
There was chaos all over. The grey smoke, fire in the surrounding. People ran in fear. Some wounded, some bleeding, some dead on the street. I stood as the dread unfolded on the paths that once looked beautiful. It looked like the entire village was on fire.
I saw the couple fighting the men in black with their swords. The men in black outnumbered the couples. I folded my hands into fist. I hoped others I saw in my other dreams would come to help. But they did not.
The wife and the husband were separated in the middle of the fight. The wife was like lioness in her move quick and strong. The husband held two swords one in each hand. He was like a thunderstorm in the middle of black clouds.
I looked at them unable to do anything. I was helpless. I realised I was just a watcher, someone who did not belong there but was able to sneak like the air- unseen and obscure.
One of the men in black attacked the wife from behind slashing her back, a long cut on her back in red appeared. For a second she gasped in pain. The next moment she recovered, turned and cut the neck of the Blackman behind. She fought in pain. Furious were her eyes, swift were her hands at blowing the sword.
I watched in silence and in realisation. The couple fought every one of them, wounding and killing them. Wife turned to look at her husband, he smiled. In the burning city behind, it was not a happy ending and I knew it. The story my granny recited to me every night was unfolding in my dreams.
He came to her, side hugged her and was shocked to see his hands covered in his wife’s blood. He was about tell something but she pushed him on the ground and tried to bend herself. It was late. The arrow hit her from back to abdomen. The expression of the husband was sadder than the death. I felt the pain, I felt the loss. She smiled – a sad smile of saying a good bye to a loved one.
She turned quickly and took her sword from the waist band and hit the second arrow that was cutting the air and moving towards her husband. The arrow took a complete turn and flew across the burning city, passing through the remaining of the houses, half burnt trees and plants, finally slashing the head of a massive man who stood in shock as he watched the arrow he left coming directly towards him. The arrow hit the man’s head before falling from the other side. And his massive frame fell on the ground.
The husband had not seen this coming. He rose up to his feet to support his wife whose eyes were half close and breath slow and in gasps.
The tears flowed his cheeks on to her cheeks. His hand trembling he touched her cheeks. It was clear he could not believe his loved one was breathing her last.
“No.no Lavanya…” he said still not expecting the reality.
“Anike…” she stopped difficult to say anymore.
“I can’t live in a world where you are not there” aniketha said his voice firm and determined.
“no. don’t do that. LIVE” Lavanya spoke gathering all her remaining energy.
“I will join you soon” the earth under me shook. The whole land of burnt and ash seemed to reciprocate to aniketha’s pain.
Lavanya held his hand and slipped into the longest slumber. He slowly kept her motionless body on the ground and rose to his feet and walked.
I did not know where aniketha was going to. But I did not want him to die. I definitely would die myself to save him. I ran behind him calling out his name. He didn’t turn. I did not care if I was just a silent watcher of all that happened in front of my own eyes. At that time my only intention was to fulfil Lavanya’s wish, for her husband to live, for my aniketha to live. I ran faster calling him…
“Megha, Megha… get up” a pair of hands trying to wake me up forcefully.
“Megha, look at me, open your eyes.” the voice said shaking me.
I opened my eyes to the dim light of the hostel room. I got holding my head. My face was wet with tears and wet. I was sweating in the shivering cold of a rainy day, still tears running down.
“What happened?” Sahana was worried. Her hair was a mess, her dress shrunken.
I shook my head. My tears had stopped. Sahana’s eyes were wide open with anxiety.
“Worst night mare” I told stretching my hands to take the water bottle from the table beside.
“Why were you screaming Advaith’s name?” she asked puzzled.
“It’s… I saw something bad” I blurted out.
She ran her fingers through her messy hair. “I really don’t like you being close to him” after a moment.
I never have openly discussed about me and Advaith to her before. But she knew that I liked him and maybe she even knows it’s more than that. She had never said a word against it. Today seemed different.
My mind felt dizzy. I felt the heat of enlightenment passing through each and every cell of my body. I had just seen the death of my own self in the past life and my Advaith’s mourning for me.
I did not hear anything Sahana said after that. Everything around me felt heavy. I had been dreaming about me and Advaith all these days. But they weren’t just dreams. They were the truths. I had loved him then and now.
I remembered my past life. My life as a warrior, a fighter, a lover…I wondered if Advaith knows this-our past together.
I was ready by nine o clock. Advaith was just in time near the hostel as he promised. Tears swelled at the sight of him, Tears of finding my love of lives-then and now. Tall, mat of soft hair, deep brown eyes and the same intensity of his look, his smile, clear voice, I was lost in the beauty of him.
He was returning my stare. Only if he knew. Only if he had not engaged with some other girl…
I got into the car next to him. I was controlling the play of emotions on my skin. And my eyes were still struggling to send back the tears. He hadn’t spoken a word yet as if sensing the difference. We drove in silence. The quietness was beginning to grow when he finally broke it after some minutes.
“Megha is there something bothering you?”
“Yes, there is a lot Advaith” I thought but I said “nothing.”
“Your eyes are swollen, did you cry?” he asked his eyes on the road and his face gave away no emotions.
I knew my eyes were swollen from god knows how many hours of crying in sleep.
“Still care to know?” I asked. I wanted him to know all that I knew, but if he didn’t then I did not want to pull him into something that logic had no explanation of.
“You want me to kiss you again to prove that?” he said seriously. He was not certainly joking.
“Is kissing your way of proving something?” I asked.
He did not reply to that. We stopped at a nearby village and walked to the oldest of the well according to an inhabitant of the village. They said the well belongs to the early 18th century. We took the water sample from there in a glass ware designed for collecting such samples. Then we went to the nearby lakes and the ponds.
We had our brunch and started to the next place in the car. While we worked we spoke formally. It felt usual like the way we conversed in the college- about something lightly.
He had on the GPS to locate our next place – a municipal water treatment plant in the city. I looked outside the window unable to meet his eyes whenever he looked at me. There seemed a millions of questions in my head. Did my grandmother knew about me? Does my father know? Who was the old man that invaded my dreams? Was he real? Does a place like where the cobblestone house really exist? Does Advaith have any idea about all this? The old man had said I was one of them, what did he mean? And then I remembered these incidents- how did Advaith was there when something was about to happen? How he and Sahana knew I was in staff room in danger that they both had come running? How could I throw a grown up man? At that thought I shivered.
All the thoughts seemed connected. But how they were connected was yet to be answered.
“I have never kissed anyone before” Advaith told cutting my thoughts. I turned to look at him.
“You are engaged…” I told.
He smiled. He took my right hand in his left. His right hand on the steering. “Kind of yes. But you are the only girl I touched that way” he said confessing. His eyes true and his tone sweet. “And I still want to.”
I forgot all the question and confusion my mind had.is not that happened always? I forget everything when I am with him. I looked at our hands on the seat beside me. “I want to hold your hands like this always” I thought.
“You look more beautiful when you blush” he said.
The rest of our journey to the treatment plant was in silence. A silence filled with unspoken words.
It was past noon when we finished the things there and had a past lunch time snacks. Only a last place was remaining. It was a 2 hours journey provided the road was good. I offered to drive the car and he readily agreed.
He sat relaxed. I was happy he could rest.
“When did you learn driving?” he asked starting up a conversation.
“When I was 13 years” I said as a matter of truth.
“That’s too early” he said with a note of appreciation.
“It was not so exciting as it is now” sitting next to you is I thought.
“Then how was it” he was curious.
“I had been very stubborn about learning to drive. Because… because I thought if I hit the car and get injured dad would come to see me.” I tried to hide the bitterness in my voice.
He did not ask me why. But he continued. “You still are stubborn” that killing look he gave, I forgot I was the one driving.
“When did you start reading books?”
“When I was 6. Reading was an escape” I said remembering my first fairy tale book. I still had them in my room in the estate house.
He asked about me and my childhood not making me feel bad about it. I answered happily. I had never felt relief thinking about my lonely childhood.
“So you had crushes on fictional characters?” he chuckled cutely. “Who was the first one in the list?”
“My first crush was Aniketha, the hero of the story my grandmother always narrated” I said hoping to see if he did remember anything at all.
He said nothing. I drove on into the woods following the GPS. I wanted him to react. Any reaction. But I did not see one.
I pulled the car to a stop after a few minutes. From there the path was narrow and a huge car like Advaith’s would not possibly move. We took our bags and headed towards the sound of the flowing river on the hill. It was evening and we had to hurry soon.
The evening breeze hustled in the green of the woods, soft on skin. The drizzles of the rain sprinkled making my hair stand straight in cold. It felt like a different world there in between the green. The rest of the journey had been a normal rainy day with little fall in temperature but the river nearby made the weather somewhat cooler than rest of the town.
He seemed to sense my tiny invisible reaction to the weather and took off the hoodie he was wearing offering it to me.
“You don’t have to” I said. He still had not confirmed anything about us. We had not yet defined whatever the little romance we had shared. And he had not spoken of what he wanted out of this. I was not sure he knew who he was or even if he did, he still wanted me like he did before.
“You are cold” he said holding the hoodie to me.
“Is this just a friendly gesture?” I asked rising my eyebrows. His eyes said it meant more than that. My heart said his heart is in sync with mine. I did not need words to prove he liked me yet he confused me about his mysterious ways.
“What do you think?” he asked.
“Hmmm… well. I don’t know if I should tell this as you are engaged to someone already. But I feel …different about you, like…like…” I stood processing what to tell him exactly. I knew I wanted to say I love him. Love him no matter if he did not love me back, love him even if all the dreams I was having are nothing but a bunch of insane sensation.
I did not know how long I stood there on the edge of the river bank, gazing at his eyes, the deep brown eyes I wanted to dive in and find myself. I know that was not a girl’s thing to stare at a man. But love knows no gender! “Like…” I struggled on.
He bent a little, took my face in his palms “it’s very simple, Megha” he said returning my gaze. I bit my lip. “I love you” he said finally. Its only when he wiped my cheeks I had realised I had been crying. Probably the whole time I stood looking at him.
He had tears in his eyes too that reflected mine. “Look at that”
I saw the rain bow up in the sky in the light rain fell in tiny droplets, the sun heading west. The birds flying home. It was a fairy tale moment of my life.
The rain busted out along with the lightening. I spread my arms to hug the rain fallen on me. He took me in arms rising me in the air.
“There are a hundred trillion cells in the human body, and every single one of the cells of my body loves you. We shed cells, and grow new ones, and my new cells love you more than the old ones, which is why I love you more everyday than I did the day before. Its science. And when I die and they burn my body and I become ashes that mix with the air, and part of the ground and trees and the stars, everyone who breaths that air or sees the flowers that grow out of the ground or looks up at the stars will remember you and love you, because I love you that much” I remembered Clary’s words from Mortal instrument series.
The soft music played inside the warmth of the car. Water still dripping from my loose hairs, I struggled to sit without wetting the seat than it already was. It was getting dark. I knew we had to hurry up. Students were not allowed to go in or come out of the hostel after 8:00 pm and I had nowhere else to go. Not that I could not call up my father’s employees but I did not want to. It was 7:10 pm.
I had almost forgotten that I had a phone until Advaith spoke
“Your friend is worried for you, why don’t you message her or something?”
“Sahana?” she knew I would be with him. “Why did you think that?” I asked.
“Because she had called me earlier to check on you”
“Why? Why will she call you?” I took out my phone from the bag in the back seat. There were 6 missed calls from her. I hoped she is okay, Sahana rarely calls me. We are always together most of the time. Be it in class or hostel or during vacations. Rarely I go out on my own to the town.
“She thinks I am some kind of dangerous to you” he laughed softly. Then suddenly he became serious, with hints of sorrows in his eyes. “She is not completely wrong though”
I dint know if he talked about how Sahana sounded rude the other day but I wanted him to know it was not because she thinks he was dangerous.
“It was not like that. It’s because she thought I was worried because of…”
“Me” he said. “Yeah, that’s one of the reasons” he looked thoughtful.
I wanted to ask what the other reasons were, but Advaith suddenly pushed the accelerator and the car roared to full speed. I saw in the rear mirror, another car following us with the same speed. I had not noticed it before. I had no idea what was happening. So, there we were racing on the road, in the darkness of the street.
Advaith had stopped the car by the road, in an open space. It was overhang of the hill. I could see the town lighted below. Cool breeze, the colourful lights and the star above made it a perfect night. Two guys got down from the car. They were huge figures. We got on to our feet.
Advaith’s muscles tightened, like getting ready for a battle.
“What were you doing there in the river side?” one of them asked. It was clear he was not even ready to listen to the answer for the question he asked. He came forward. Surprisingly I was not afraid at all. Should not a heroin be afraid and worried and then her hero fights the villain to save her? But I was not. Was that because I was with Advaith?
He put his heavy arms on Advaith’s.
“Is the water you took, for testing?” the other fellow walked. “Who are you guys?” he was loud and scary.
“Who sent you” he shouted. “Open your mouth”
“No one” Advaith told. But the other man had lifted his hand to hit Advaith. Advaith stood without moving, the worry lines on his forehead becoming prominent.
The other man came pulling me to his car with a crooked smile on his huge face.
“Let her go.” Advaith told and the man who held him punched his face.
Till then I was there at the scene like a silent audience being dragged. I was not afraid, not worried but I was angry, angry that the man dared to hurt my lover. I pulled my hands from the massive man’s grip with a shake of my hand.
The time moved slowly, like I how I had felt as Lavanya, fighting her battle. Advaith had a look of disbelief which only became more intense when I hit the man on his face and he went flying to a few feet distance. I was shocked myself. The other man looked like he had no idea what else to do. I stared at the person on the ground whining in pain.
“Run!” Advaith said and dragged me along with him. It was when I reached the edge of the hill I realised there was no path to run anymore.
I stopped not wanting to suicide, so did he.
We heard a car approaching behind us and the voices of men shouting at us to stop.
“You trust me?” he asked.
“With my life” I replied. He smiled before tightening his grip on my waist. And there we were jumping off the hill…
It was more like just jumping. We were flying. Flying through the cold air, in the background of the city lights, under the stars… I looked at Advaith. His neck level hair lifted by the moving wind, his deep eyes looking at me curiously…in the dim light of the moon I was staring at Aniketha…
‘How could he fly without wings?’ I remembered the little me…
He can. It’s possible even without the wings…
Advaith had his hands around my waist. I recognised our college campus from the above. We crossed the small pond near the campus, the city market and the central park. I loved the liberty of the sky. I loved the feeling it offered.
“Remember anything?” I couldn’t read his expressions in the dark when he said that. But there was no need. I knew what he meant.