It is now precisely a week since he had last seen her and he was growing impatient. A week since he’d seen her smile, since he’d seen her elegant amble. Now his soul writhed with boredom, irritated by her mere absence. People are perversely excited by what they cannot have –and he was no exception. Desire now mounted inside him. She was alluring and full of promise – he imagined her to be the sort of woman that could provide him happiness and become the mother to his kids. But now, like a dog, she had him grasping for the bone he cannot have, swinging it in his face, tempting him yet not letting him have it. Or was she merely being stubborn?
She has an unusual shyness about her that is more seductive than anything else. This shyness combined with a unique spirit of a childhood innocence that she has managed to preserve and build upon proved to be powerfully seductive, invoking an enduring kind of spell on him. She is beautiful too, but she has a different kind of beauty to her; not the kind of artificial beauty gained from swarming oneself with toxic substances. No. Hers was natural – as natural a waterfall is, gently sloping down the rocks, forming beneath them a reservoir of calm, crystal-clear wells with slants of sunshine between the leaves lazily caressing the water below. Or the spellbinding beauty, as the sun at dusk, half plummeted, half covered by clouds with streaks of yellow, orange and white, which then seem to be prostrating towards the sinking sun in adoration, or even as natural as her tiny village of Hurwa– in the outskirts of Eden – where evergreens and orchards surround the close-knit community. Her mahogany skin is highlighted by her long jet-black hair descending in strands, covering half her face. If she ties her hair back, it would further elongate her neck and define her beauty.
She is elusive and distant too, and he did not know much about her. Unconsciously he was strangely drawn to her and hoped to retrieve the person that lay beyond that fascinating appearance. She has a presence that made her stand out from the rest of the girls he had seen before – she is wrapped in ambiguity, a little vagueness and a dreamlike aloofness. These periods of absence made his heart grow fonder, engaging his emotions further. Maybe she understood the dynamic of selective withdrawal and was now teasing him with it, he thought to himself.
As the sun sets everyday, he would spend his evening waiting by the riverbank. This is the route she normally takes on her way home from work. He would sit on the wooden bench beside the lamppost and wait facing the water. Then he’d get up and saunter by the elderly couple who frequent the riverbank with their black Labrador with the blue collar leash. Ever since he started his wait for his beloved at the water front, he’s seen the elderly couple almost everyday and if he didn’t notice them one day, he’d wonder what happened to them. He walks to and fro the entire length of the riverbank, impatiently awaiting her arrival. His watchful waiting finally pays off when she does come along, sending his heart into convulsive bursts of merriment.
As she walks her slender body, swaggers with a graceful gait; a rhythmic manoeuvre presumably practiced and polished to provoke and bewitch, yet she, as if oblivious to all this, carries her head high with total confidence and ambles without a care in the world. Her eyes have a piercing gaze – one that hypnotizes and dismantles his senses. Sometimes he’d find himself lost in them – lost in the blackness of those pupils with the shades of brown. And sometimes they’d provide him with some sense of comfort, as he begins to embellish her image with fantasies of his making. She has a well-defined physique, with a lithe waist that invites one to encircle their arms round it, and a silky blue fabric that displays the contours of her body to perfection. She looked good in blue, he thought. He got hot just thinking about running his hands on those curves and the swell of her breasts. He developed a sudden sense of urgency, hunger and delight all at the same time.
Conversations with her might bring him valuable information about her character, her likes and dislikes. Such conversations might also lower her resistance so he might befriend her, he thought, but he didn’t have the courage to approach her. Also, he could neither compose convincing letters, nor elaborate his love using lofty words of love. And on the streets he doesn’t stop her. He’d love to, but couldn’t find in him that much of boldness. So he greets her with a nod, intending to make his presence felt at least, to which she bashfully lowers her head and rewards him with a smile. She too, he now assumed, must be fully aware of this new planet that is looming on her horizon. And when they ‘meet’ – he’d like to call them ‘meetings’ – these ‘shared’ moments of exuberance linger in his mind. And at night, these moments are evoked, every second and every minute of the encounter fetched forth by stimulation. He lies in his bed in a deep trance. He’d close his eyes and sniff the air as for her scent – a scent so captivating that every time he thinks of her, her scent, Lilly of France comes to mind. It’s like he can still smell it in the air. She’d never spoken to him, so he’d imagine what her voice would be like. He’d speak about his love to her in romantic tones, and talk about the troubles he went through and the pains it took to win her heart. He’d assume a sweet, soft voice – a voice that like a melody reverberated in his ears, relaxing him and exciting his emotions. Then he’d whisper sweet nothings in her ears, and she’d giggle – a giggle that pierces his ears, sometimes bringing him out of that trance – then they’d embrace – an embrace so warm and tender, putting behind him any anxiety he had. Then he’d lull her to sleep, and watch her as she sleeps soundly in his lap, smothered in comfort. And the whole cycle is started again the next day.
Months passed without him uttering a word. He observed and admired her from a distance. This was a folly that lay him open to ridicule, for soon his friends started to notice his actions. So out of fear of being ridiculed by his friends, he promised himself that he’d go up to her and speak of his love, evoking in him an unfamiliar sense of boldness. Even though this idea daunted him, ridicule was far worse. Day after day, he’d prepare for what to say, for the right words to utter. And that fateful day arrived, when he became resolute on his decision. He waited for her at that path she usually takes – by the river bank. She is strolling along the path, carelessly as she usually does. The sight of her made him weak in the knees and a cold shiver ran down his spine. This was the moment, he said to himself. She was now a few paces away and trickles of sweat trickled down his forehead, which he rubbed with his kerchief. This was his weakness – talking to girls. There was something about them that frightened him. But everyone has a principal weakness or insecurity. What was hers? He wondered.
‘Hi’ was all he could say when she was within an arm’s length, as his heart was pounding heavily in his chest. With great force he managed to follow it with ‘can I talk to you for a second?’ She smiled and looked down. He obviously didn’t know anything about her, she assumed. Then she glanced up at him, examining his features. She noticed his taut jaw, his well defined cheekbones bearing an old scar, his forehead glistening with sweat as though he had been running, and his hands as he entwined them occasionally. She guessed he was about a year or two her senior and for a moment, she admired his well built body wrapped in the white Polo shirt, his pure white teeth as he talked, and the well-groomed outlook he presented.
He could not understand the reason she was smiling for. For a moment he was happy. Then she began to say something with her lips, signalling with her hands as she did so and that’s when he realised that she was deaf! She took out a pen from her purse and scribbled something onto a paper and then walked away. He unfolded the paper and read what was written: “Alas! Falling in love, happens when you least expect it”. As she walked away, he still stood there on the footpath, his eyes fixed at her, his arms dropped at his side, watching her as she strolls nonchalantly along the path.