Every heart has a story...
- by gasper crasto (13th February 2006)
“They both used to converse about their thoughts in their heart of hearts, just by their hearts.” -Ramayana
True to my dreams, she had matured into a perfect rose: sturdy and chubby, eyes bright – as cheerful as her gardens, a dimple on one cheek that shimmered like a morning bud when she smiled; lips comparable to petals; and a manner that at times produced its own barbed thorns...
...The sound of her voice – soft, low and gentle - a perfect thing in a woman -- comforting... and the preciseness of it so intriguingly at odds with her shyness. And her wavy hair – how did it happen that it always smelled like roses? Was it some magic, too?
I was glad I could be with her once again... My one thought was I had never been happier in life...
During my years away, I was endlessly conscious about something I missed other than my home; it was not too difficult to realize that it was the closeness and warmth of her friendship...
“If I made a list of the things for which I am grateful, her friendship would always be near the top.”
...Despite personal commitments, I had managed to see her almost everyday, and to lunch or tea with her at some discreet restaurant or café of her choice. It was a joy to relax in her company and to talk about myself; who else would listen to my foolish talks, anyway...
...We spoke frankly to each other about ourselves.
She didn’t even ask where we were headed that afternoon; we knew each other’s thoughts through a strange chemistry.
“I still can’t believe you are here...” She said as we walked on the deserted beach.
I shrugged my shoulders.
“Our friendship has been – how should I put it – so good-natured...” She said.
“...And I believe what’s happening is a force of nature...” I said clasping her hand, “...Two people set out to be friends, but nature would have none of it... Nature wants them to be more... and nature is going to want that tomorrow...”
“Tomorrow..???” She halted her steps, “..What if...”
“What... ‘if’..!” I asked looking at her.
“Nothing...nothing...” She had a strange vacant stare in her eyes.
“Tell me...” I jerked her hand.
“Nothing-g-g... Forget it...”
“I hate you when you act...”
“Good... good you hate... hate me...” Her voice was strangely odd.
“Well...I love to hate you...”
“Hmm?... ... Nut-t-ttt..! Will you ever improve..? Sometimes I wonder if you are really crazy.”
“Is that a polite way of pretending you don’t think I am insane. Do you?” I asked.
She giggled. “People who are truly mad don’t seem to be aware of it... They usually think they’re perfectly normal. If need be, I’ll show you’re as sharp as I am...”
I couldn’t comprehend what she meant by the last sentence.
“It’s okay...” I said carelessly, “I’ll take a census of my friends before committing myself...”
We walked. Hands clasped. She carried her shoes in one hand; jeans tucked up to the calves.
“So... any new proposals..?” I asked.
She looked away. It seemed I had picked a wrong topic.
The walk continued. In silence. I glanced teasingly at her from the corner of my eye. Gradually, she released her hand, and clutched my T-shirt at the waistline, walking a step behind me - perhaps to avoid my eyes?
“The human brain...” Her voice was gentle, “...is capable of creating glories of the future... or sending men to walk upon the moon... It’s a small wonder then, that it can make a dream seem like reality – often down to the finest details... no matter how seemingly bizarre and unrealistic it might turn out...”
Again I had to tax my brain. I respected her sharp mind and clever tongue, but often wondered about the meaning of her phrases.
“What’s the truth behind your philosophy...Miss?” I asked.
“Truth?.. ... Well... ... Telling the truth isn’t always good... but then...lying is not that bad either, isn’t it?..” She paused for a moment, “...If telling the truth makes someone feel bad, lying can be good... Good things can come from lying and bad things from the truth although, sometimes, telling part of the truth is the same thing as telling a lie...”
Though I silently tried to repeat what she said in an effort to grasp its meaning, the words just flew over my head.
“...Why do you always talk so much...” I scowled turning around, “I may have to kiss you just to keep you quiet...”
“That won’t... be necessary...” She looked at me, and seemed unable to look away. I gripped her hand again.
“Mom was asking casually...” She said. I looked away behind her.
“#&@#...” I muttered and pointed at the sea. A man on a sailboard had flown high up in the waves taking a plunge in the water upside down. “Look..!!! That bastard is dead or I’ll marry a monkey...”
“...Look here...” She frowned tossing my hand away, “Why do you use that language in every other sentence...”
“Do I?... Alright, I’ll check myself...” I sneakily gripped her hand again.
“They know about us... moving around...”
“So... What the #&@#s a big deal...”
Though she fought to keep from showing it, I saw that behind the sparkle in her eyes there was a tinge of fear... or so I told myself.
...Perhaps the fear that she was dreaming, that I would disappear stabbed her. I thought about it and I laughed.
“You are so sure of yourself...” She murmured as if reading my thoughts.
“Well, I know my strong points...”
“Strong points…?” She gave a look, all question marks.
“God... and my... rose......”
“Who is your rose?”
“Oh-h..! She’s someone I adore, not as stupid... babyish... and stubborn as you...” I answered.
“...And stubborn..” I stressed.
She was quiet, but only for a moment. The uneasy look in her eyes had not vanished. “...What if you have to face... thorns...to have your rose... What if you have to give up your rose for the sake of...”
“Every rose has thorns, my dear...” I sighed, “If they place the sun in my right-hand and the moon in my left-hand in return for giving up my rose, I will never desist until either God makes it mine or I perish defending it... I will face anything for her... Anyway, your concern touches me, lady... All I can say is, I trust God is on my side...”
“...What if God...” Her tone was serious.
“...Is He known to fail?..” I chuckled.
“What you’re gonna do... if your rose... ...fails you...”
I halted in my track and pulled her to face me.
“My heart knows hers... she never will...” I reacted.
She looked ahead at a distance as we continued walking. “You are so sure...What if...”
“Shhh...” I cut her short, “I will not have the rose against her will or at sword-point...”
“...How sure are you... of your rose...” She interrupted yet again, somewhat breathlessly.
I was beginning to get irritated by her unending questions, but then, I observed she was sincere and serious. I knew she disliked idiotic answers; I decided my approach should be both with a bit of caution and respect.
“How sure are you of your r-o-s-e!...” She repeated.
“As sure as God is good...” I answered without wavering much.
“... And... how true... is your love for her...”
“As true... as steel...”
“Would you... protect her... in rain and shine?..” Her words were in trembling whispers.
“I will burn in fire to see her happy...”
We stopped there. She walked up on the shore to keep her shoes. Then walked down to chase the waves.
I jammed my hands in the pockets and watched her from the edge of the water-mark. She came back running and tried to drag me into the water.
“Hold it...” I did not budge, “Let’s watch the sunset...”
She chased the waves again and retreated back as they chased her. After a while she stopped frolicking and joined me. We stood in silence watching the sunset.
The dipping sun created the western sky into a dark orange brilliance, chequering the clouds with streaks of light. I took her hands in mine and gradually pulled her close. Close to my body.
“You said you hate me...” She snapped, bending her stature backwards.
“...One kiss –- only one.” I jerked her right back on me.
She tried to form her lips to speak the word ‘no’, then probably heard herself whisper ‘yes’ and knew that she was in terrible trouble, drawn towards something she couldn’t resist.
“......” She whispered my name and perhaps said something else too; my lips felt hers and incinerated her words... The touch clouded my brain, and made my blood pound like a violent sea in my ears...
“No...!!!” She protested struggling free, pressing hard against my chest -- but did not move away. Her breath was coming as fast as mine; my skin burned where she touched.
We gazed into each other’s eyes, neither of us able to look away or speak.
I gasped nervously, and kissed her ears. “You can’t stop me... Can you?” I said the first thing that came into my head; it seemed the only thing.
“D-do what you want with me, then...?” She whispered.
“Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?” I cupped her face with my hands and pulled her closer... I could feel her breath as I moved my fingers behind her neck and in her hair. Her eyes rolled shut; knuckles clenched at my ribs.
“Nut-t-t-t... y-you... p-promised... j-just one...” She screeched between gritted teeth shoving me away.
My heart was pounding from the soul-stirring touch of her heart. Whenever I touched her, she churned up emotions inside me I hadn’t known were there; emotions so stormy, I could scarcely think.
A strong wave crashed on the shore, stronger than the last. It came hissing as if it were alive tugging at our ankles.
“Shall we go?..” She pulled at my hand, “It’s getting dark... I don’t know what to tell at home...”
“I’ll drop you at your doorsteps if you wish...”
“No...!!!” She shouted, “They’ll kill me if they know I was...”
“...with me?” I completed her words, “Is that so?..”
“Oh-h, you don’t understand... ..”
It took some moments for my breath to calm, for my heartbeat to slow and steady.
“...And how do I explain this on my feet...” She said brushing sand off her feet.
“Well, you can find a hundred excuses when I don’t exist...”
“Now-w..! Who said you don’t...”
“Huh... I exist...perhaps for your heart... but for your world..!”
She stared at me, and sighed. The strange vacant stare in her eyes appeared again.
We walked in silence till we reached the car park. I opened the door for her and she settled in the seat with the bag in her lap.
“Say something...” My hand moved to hers on starting the ignition.
“K-keep your hands on the wheel... and drive...” She gritted.
“Let the engine get warm at least.” I gazed at her.
“...And look ahead when you drive... Drive !!!!...Come-on... Nut-t-t..!!! Whom are you waiting!...D-r-i-v-e..”
“Hey-y... If you are so desperate for a pee, there’s...”
“Shut up, will you?...... and drive..!”
“I won’t... if you keep shouting!... Anyway, it’s not dark yet..” I sat back relaxed in the seat.
Leaning forward, I tipped down the rearview mirror to focus at her. I loved to kid her and make her smile, to watch her lips curve slow and shy and her dimples come to life; it seemed I never wanted to stop looking at her when she smiled... Our eyes met as she smiled into the mirror, then made a face at me like a child.
“M-o-v-e..” She shrieked dipping her knuckles in my arm.
“I am not in a mood of driving...Come over...You drive...” I said.
“Me..? Not on this road...”
“Not on this road... why? You drive on airport runways only?.. Hmm?.. This is the result when one is pampered with royalty... and when you hold a license with daddy’s influence...?”
That made her look in my direction.
“Enough...!” She grimaced.
“Okay... You either drive or else... sing a song..”
“Sing a song? What madness..! You sing, I’ll listen...You sing good...”
“Let’s flip a coin... I’ll sing and drive if I lose; you either drive or sing if you lose..!!! Fine?..”
She smiled, a dazzle of charm, and giggled; giggles which are so sweetly embossed in my soul.
“Okay...” I picked a coin off the dashboard and then said rapidly, “Heads I win, tails you lose.. Here we go...!”
I flipped the coin on my palm without giving her much time to think. She peeked to see what it was.
“Tails..” I shouted, “You lose!..Ha..ha.. What you’re gonna do, tell me.... drive or sing??....Sing..! Please sing...”
“You cheat.. You said ‘Tails you ... Heads...So I lose both ways...?” She knuckled my arm again, giggling, “You-u... ... you sing..”
“Me?..Na..na... I sing only when I am nervous....Please sing...”
She wanted to complain.
“Hold on...” I interrupted, “I’ll play your favorite song, you may sing along.” I switched on the stereo and pushed the specially recorded CD and scanned till I trapped the right song I knew was her favorite.
“There...” I said adjusting the volume low so I could hear my own voice.
“Alright, alright...Please don’t laugh..” She giggled.
“Take the ribbon from my hair... shake it lose and let if fall... lay it soft against my skin...like the shadow on the wall...” She sang in a way that made me stare in admiration and envy. Not just at the voice despite the fact that it was stunning enough with its silver-bright clarity. But at the kind of ease of self that would allow someone to simply break into a song in public.
It was indeed her favorite song. I listened and watched her as she sang and felt the heat rush into her face – the mortification of being caught singing so emotionally – but perhaps she trusted the light was dim enough to mask it.
Just listening to her voice made me sing too; I couldn’t hold dragging a croak to the chorus : “I don’t care what’s right or wrong, I won’t try to understand...Let the devil take tomorrow-w-w... ‘cause, tonite I need a friend...Yesterday is dead and gone...and tomorrow’s out of sight...and it’s sad to be alone...help me make it through the night...”
There was a flicker of apprehension in her eyes as the stanza ended.
“Now... Let’s...get...going.. Okay?” Her voice was calm.
“Oh-h...Yes...” I sighed.
She glanced down at her watch and gasped, “...God, it’s nearly seven.. Shh.. I had no idea...”
“Relax-x... You’ll be home in twenty minutes... I am late too... got to rush... see some friends..”
“Where... Why do you go out every night... Don’t stay out late...No ‘drinks’... Be home early...”
“I’ll call 11 past... Don’t call or sms unless I do...”
“... May we kiss good-bye?..” I switched on the headlights of the car.
“Might... maybe... may...” She said almost unconsciously.
“This...” I said taking out a miniature crystal rose I’d kept in the glove compartment, “...is for you.”
“A rose..!” She blushed alive.
I smiled. The crystal twinkled from reflections of the street lights.
“It’s beautiful....” She gazed at it with wonder.
I leaned across. She did not shy away as I kissed her on the cheek, saying poetically:
“The sweetest flower that blows...
I give you... as we part...
For you... it is a rose...
For me... ... it is my heart...”
Unveiling the rose...
(Chapter 2 of a 9 chapter e-novellete -- 'Every heart has a story')
This chapter is affectionately devoted to a -- Special Person -- one single, sweet rose...
· “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?” – Mathew 20:15
· Background song: Help me make it through the night – sung by tammy wynitte ; couplet by famous poet frederick
next chapter: ...and thereby hangs a tale