Life and other things

Creative Writing

A Hot and tropical afternoon.

The sun was beating down relentlessly almost burning holes in the roof, part of which was covered with a corrugated tin sheet. It was meant to protect the flat roof from the vagaries of the Indian weather. Though it is considered a tropical country,( and doesn’t that word conjure up a picture of something quite lovely and sexy.) It is anything but, at times. The rainy weather deposits gallons of water everywhere in minutes and the heat can almost melt the metal structures. And in some parts the cold can descend suddenly and without warning, a tropical country is never the right place for a cold spell. The houses are built to cope with the heat, with their open plan, huge windows and high ceilings. Cold can simply become very un-comfortable.

Just like my mood, I readily admit, which was at times dark and menacing and sometime it as fierce as to burn holes in my own psyche. I admit that I am at a age which can be difficult anyway, adolescence, full of self doubts high ideals and futile pursuits. Falling in and out of love and hating everything when it happens.

We lived in a large house, large enough to accommodate our family of grand parents, young aunts and servants. My parents were young, carefree and sociable. Carefree, the kind of freedom that comes by having your parents being in the background to watch over you and catch you if you stumble. But you are still free to enjoy life and be yourself.  Sounds almost impossible now, but it was the norm in the Asian society of a certain era.

It was no use staying in and suffering the heat. There was no breeze and the dress I was wearing was stuck to my back and my throat was beginning to feel very dry and prickly. The thought of a cool and refreshing drink, the juice of raw mangoes, which have been roasted and then their pulp mixed with sugar and water, strained and turned into a very refreshing drink was what I craved.

I licked my parched lips, and could taste that refreshing liquid slipping through my parched throat. Ah bliss… I closed my eyes and tried to imagine the taste and the refreshing aroma and slowly proceeded towards the dining room. Hoping the servant has remembered to put it in the fridge.

It was the time of the day when the cook and the other servants have closed up the kitchen and have gone up to their quarters in the back of the house, to lie down on their bare string beds. The house was silent with shutters down and all the adults were having their afternoon nap. In mid summer this time of the day was simply hell on earth. Dusty, scorching and almost hazy with glare and shimmer of the beating sun. Even the birds stop flying and shelter among the trees, their beaks open and panting.

I crept up to the dining room, which was dark as the shutters were down and a ceiling fan revolved, slowly as if it could not gather up enough energy to revolve any faster. A tired and sluggish movement adding to the feeling of lethargy all around.

The dining room was a large room, with very big table and a dozen chairs around it. It had a plastic cloth over it that was very practical, as all the spills could be just wiped off.  The dark gave a very unclear glimpse of some large pictures, which adorned the walls. I glanced reverentially at the portraits of my great grand fathers.

Moving towards the fridge I heard a sound, which stopped me in my tracks. Turning around I could see a movement under the table. A black shape moved and then was still. By now my eyes have adjusted to the dark in the room and I could see feet and then a sudden scramble of bodies.

My first thought was that it was a burglar, there have been reports of break ins in the neighbourhood. Though I was scared but thought I will be brave and challenge the intruder.

“Who is there? I swallowed hard.

“Shhhh!  A voice commanded. “Be quite and go back to your bedroom”.

I could recognise that voice, it was one of my young aunt.

“Auntie what are you doing here”? I was curious.

“Ah am just having a little chat with a friend of mine, it is cooler here; but you are not to mention this to anyone, did you hear no one’. Aunt Razia pleaded.

“ Oh , who is your friend’? I was nothing if not persistent and nosy!

“Never you mind and just go back to your room.

Razia was now peering out from under the table, leaning on her elbows.Her face was flushed and a couple of hair strands were sticking to her forehead. Her lips looked red and almost swollen,I just gazed at her, fascinated.

I turned to go, but could not resist a peep under the table. A tall and well-built figure was outlined under some sheets but I could not see the face or any other detail. Though I knew for sure that it was not one of her girl friends. The sheet was pulled right over  and nothing was visible.

I walked back slowly, puzzled, confused and a bit excited. Up until then I have never seen a man and a woman together in such a position. Though I have saved up and bought a couple of romantic novels. Sold on the roadside by second hand dealers. They have to be smuggled and read under the bed covers by torchlight.

The characters in those novels exchanged kisses, held hands and whispered sweet nothings. I could not imagine the scenario!  Never having witnessed it or even heard about it.

I briskly walked back to my room, my thirst forgotten and my pulses racing. So that is what happened when a man and a woman became “friends” I thought.

Throwing myself on the bed I shut my eyes and tried to imagine what it must be like to have a secret lover, someone you could steal glances, snatch kisses and get your heart pounding every time he you held his gaze. My heart was pounding in my ears and I was breathing rather rapidly.I touched my own lips with my fingers, they felt dry and indifferent. I shut my eyes and tried to visualise Razia’s lips which looked moist and as if they have been bitten.

Now that age of innocence is a distant memory, my life is almost spent but the memory of that encounter is still with me, when I realised that hot afternoon is not just for hiding from the heat, but a hot afternoon could be turned into a sizzling encounter even in a cool room.

How tropical is that!

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