By Arun J
Amidst the rumbling city, between the chaotic hours, along the bellowing rooftops, and at the heart of a party where dozens were rambling, tumbling, and stumbling across the floor to a variety of potation and liberation, she stayed silent. This unsettling presence of her imperial self led my eyes astray from the tumults of the night that was uncovering. In that darkness where the world simply failed to entertain the loins of my craven soul, she came within eyeshot, a woman, a soul unraveled.
Txiki, her name which I found from sources of the crowd, was the kind of name you would hear once and only then. But it suited her perfectly, I thought. From other sources I discovered about everything she was, she could be, and all that she had ever done. It is laughably easy in our unsettling world to find someone and their great grandfather’s second pet’s eye colour. She was a woman who liked differences. She found comfort between the hides of a book as much as the sheets of her bed. She found desires at the end of a kettle, as much as the bottom of her whisky. She found golf, football, and tennis to be attractive as much as the stereotypical shopping that mindless men say women care about. And yet Txiki was shrouded in a coat of mystery for me. Whatever my sources confirmed was not her, it could not be her, she was much more. I knew! Not in a way, I could explain, but in a way, I could savour and experience
Who are you, woman? I questioned from afar, unknown to her earshot, away from her stumbling corset of lies. Who are you? I could have just as easily walked up to her and asked, my heart forbade, it was on rampage. Rising and shriveling like the heavy waves of the Atlantic Ocean, it gushed down my insides blood, fear, and an unmatched curiosity to uncover the woman inside her husk. Was it selfish? Crazy? What if she was a serial killer? I didn’t ask, didn’t care. For me, she was a puzzle, and solving her was my goal. Yet my chest thumped in ways I found stupidly gradulant, a child’s fantasy, a tumbling trapeze. What was it about her that scares me into oblivion? Was she special? Is she dangerous? Or…. Is she the “ONE”? No! I commanded, to keep my ignorant desires in check.
Her! An adjective used to describe billions, but that night for me, it meant only a single woman. Her! A solemn mortal clinging to this world like all others, yet her clasp upon its rope felt infinitely different from mine own. Her! Shrouded in a husk similar to Pandora’s box, oh how mysterious, how cruel, I wanted to discover what lay behind those golden brown eyes.
And like the fairytales say to the child innocent enough to believe in the stories of true love, her eyes befell upon me, and stared deep into the abyss of my darkened soul. I felt my body shiver, shrivel, inflame, and rise at the same time, as her eyes passed me just as quickly as they were laid upon.
In that subtle moment, I rediscovered what this world meant by the definition of beauty. It was chocolate-skinned, not lean, not bust, but confident in the shape of her husk, whatever she was, enough! She had curling gold hair, with shrouds of black, and a deep black iris, with golden stripes, radiating. Her stark lips were kissing the edge of a drink she held for hours, her little nose expanding with each warm breath she emanated. She wore a black as black could get, her sleeves cut off, her legs unbound. The short braids that decorated her mane dangled as a rare wind blew through the crowd and onto her. Her eyes wandered around the vibrant room in search of a colour she had long forgotten.
As I was admiring what I felt was the greatest sight a man could witness, she did something that sullied my riveting chest. She smiled. To whom, I did not know, about what I did not understand. But as her lips parted to reveal a smile that redefined whatever fiendish thoughts I had about her, it collapsed into a ball unrecognizable.
It was only then that I realized, she was not perched upon a pedestal, she was just a mere human. She was not someone to be admired, she was someone to be celebrated. She was like me, like you, like all the other souls that chose to forget the unfair world that they were shrouded amidst. She was lost. Within a crowd of dozens, she sat alone, just like me. She drank alone, like another hundred I knew. My heart silenced, and my lips smiled, she was a wanderer too, nothing more nothing less. Yet, she was Txiki, a woman whom I knew nothing of.
As I realized the mortal that resided in her divine husk, my thoughts revived themselves in a new light of gold. For where I would have wondered her thoughts to be “This place is too small for me,” now I know the contrary, “When can I get out of here?” she must be thinking. For where I would have wondered her to judge the unruly sights that unfolded in front of her, now I knew she couldn't care less, her mind was somewhere far away, somewhere childish. I knew, How? I can’t comprehend, but I knew. Behind those clouded eyes which one could easily misinterpret as judgmental, she was blank and childish, thinking about thoughts that she wished to share with none other. “What must I eat today? What would it be like to travel to Switzerland? What is the colour of love?” she must be wondering, but her husk revealed nothing, no one but me knew what she was.
My heart felt at ease as my footsteps grew closer to her narrow, bony ears. She was one and I another, that was all the night cared for, all that the night required. To her empty table, where hordes of men were too intimidated to beseat themselves, I accompanied, aimlessly, childishly, and cluelessly.
“Hi,” I murmured in that loud sonata.
“Hi,” she replied to me, a grieving pinata.
I felt the eyes of my fellow gender and some of her own fall upon me, rusticating their thoughts, cursing my arrogance, and absurdly appalled by her lack of fiendishness. What can I say to them but about their impure thoughts? She was not one for their unruly minds, she was not theirs to enjoy.
“Do you wanna get out of here?” I asked, almost stupidly, forgetting that I was a stranger to her, and she to me. “I know of a great place where we could get hot chocolates in the middle of the night,”
Like the vast majority of the party around me, I also felt time to move much slower than it could have. She might think less of me, she might believe me to be “just another creep”, or she might be vastly different from all the thoughts I harbored about her in my ignorant thoughts. Would she shame me, contort me to my corner, or respectfully decline? Would she celebrate me, make laugh at my attempts, or be in glee with her council of women? I did not know, how could I? I am just a man, nothing more, nothing less.
All of my doubts vanished as her lips parted to a smile brighter than the radiant sun. “Best thing I’ve heard all day,” she replied, and immediately got up from her chair. Her drink was still unfinished.
“What are you doing?” asked the woman I love as she slowly climbed the stairs of our humble abode.
“Oh nothing, I was just reminiscing about a sad day,” I replied. My hands hovered through the one picture we took that night. Of me and her, holding our enormous cups of scalding hot chocolate, smiling like we were children in a fairytale, covered in fur coats and foggy steam, as the world around us was drinking its way into armageddon.
“What day?” she asked screechly and waddled over my seat to view what my eyes saw. And immediately smacked the top of my head.
“You’re a bitch, you know?” she tried to say harshly, her smile couldn’t agree to do the same.
“I know,” I laughed and got up to her as we stood by the railing of our terrace for the thousandth time.
“It’s going to be a good day, isn’t it?” she asked, taking a breath of the golden green air that only the sunrises in Switzerland could produce.
I wrapped my arms around her, and gently stroked the enlarged belly of hers. It had been four years since our eyes met, it had been two years since our hands wedded, it had been six months since our joy spreaded, and through every single day, I was grateful that my wife smiled the same way still. Today when she was glowing with a mother’s golden shine, I felt my world expand, my hearts embellish. And throughout all these years, we wondered so childishly about that day we stupidly remember.
“What if we had never met?” she asked so gently onto my ears.
“Then the world would have been a lesser place for it,” I replied. Holding all that is dear to me in my enlarged arms tightly, holding my courage to walk up to the beautiful woman everyone so easily misjudged, holding my heart, my soul, and my love for her all together.
“Want me to make you some hot chocolate?” I asked, she smiled.
Kissing her, loving her, celebrating her, I resigned from the portia, but still in awe with the fact that it was HER!
By Arun J