It must have been around 10 p.m. Goa streets were buzzing with locals and tourists and locals with tourists. Everyone was with someone and I was. I picked up half of rum and 3 pints and trotted back to my room.
My room was a small walk from the main street, in a cottage right at the end of a thin quiet lane. The owners, a couple, John and Maria rented out their guest room for cheap, I had booked myself for a month. To write. The room had a separate entrance from behind the cottage. In it a bed, writing-table, a window, attached marble tiled washroom, no mirror.
A decent couple. They din’t bother much but their dog insistently barked when he heard me open the gates until I had reached my room and shut the door behind. The couple would know I am back. When I left my room and walked out the gates, the couple would know. Damn dog.
In the morning, John or Maria would leave a pot of tea outside the door and once in a while Maria would send across food, she cooked. Nice lady, she cooked well. Stout and active, she worked round the day running errands and her two young daughters. John was short and petite, looked quite older than Maria. He lazed on his hammock with his fenny bottle but he took good care of the trees that held him all day.
I made myself a drink and spread across on the bed. I could hear the wind dashing against the tree leaves outside, making a fluttering sound and then it would stop and the flutter would return as if the wind was moving in circles.
I heard the door knock. Maria was standing at the door and she reeked of booze.
“You need anything?” Her droopy eyes checked me out from head to moccasins.
“Can you spare me a drink? John is out with his friends and I am having trouble sleeping”
She walked in. She owned the place. I poured her a drink while she looked at my open luggage.
“So, are you really a writer?”
I made myself a drink.
“Thing is, I’ve never seen you writing”
“I am thinking” I replied
“Oh, what are you thinking?” She had a startled look, don’t fool with me kinds.
“Nothing” I said
Maria was wearing a yellow cotton night-gown printed with pink flowers and green strokes of disconnected branches, no leaves.
“You like this room?” she asked
“Yes, for a month its fine, I guess”
“I made out once in this room” Her eyes flirting with the bed. “But it’s been 6 years, we haven’t”
She held my hand and pulled me. I fell on the bed.
“Do you like me?”
“Yes Maria, you’re a good person” I sat up.
She burst out laughing. “Have you ever written about a woman’s heart?” She swayed the whiskey glass before her face. Not a drop, dropped out.
“I write about booze and sex” I took a sip and stayed.
“Will you make love to me?”
I had nothing to say.
“If I looked 20 years younger, would you?”
“I don’t know Maria”
“Your readers might like a making out story of a young writer and a middle-aged woman?”
“No one really reads me”
She smirked “Just like me, no one reads me anymore”
She gave me a hard look and started. I was too baffled to react, unsure what to do or say, just gave in. She worked on me, her eyes pressed shut I kept looking at her face wondering if her mind was here or someplace else.
When done, she moved away swiftly, sat on the chair, far from me and the bed. Her fingers ran through her ruffled hair. She tied them up neat.
I wanted to hear the fluttering of the leaves outside, but the wind seemed had long gone.
“I should be going now”
“Good night, Maria”
A tear dropped from the corner of my eye, I ain’t sure till this day, why. I picked my boxers lying on the floor, helped myself.
John was standing at the door. He was drunk, pretty drunk but he stood there looking right at me.
“Did Maria come here?”
“Yeah, she just left”
“Are you planning to stay here long?”
“No, John. In fact…”
“I know and I don’t care” John said sternly “but you better leave”
John muttered something and he head back to his cottage but stopped short. He turned and came straight up, punched my face. John, poor John was shivering.
“You got a drink on you?” John asked
I fixed him a drink.
“Are you really a writer? I mean, I’ve never seen you writing. Forget writing, you don’t even have a pen or a book on you”.
My laptop on standby had traveled miles into the galaxy. Who’d like to be around me at this moment?
John was fuming. He paced towards me. I thought he’ll hit me again.
“I gave 23 years of my life to build this family” His face an inch close, he spat on me.
“Look what I’ve got? She doesn’t even let me touch her. I never asked. I thought she needed some time off”
John looked away. His head fell.
“What can I do but drink helplessly before the man who just screwed my wife but I love my woman; I do, for my family, for my young daughters. What else have I got?”
John emptied the glass and threw it with all his strength but the damn glass didn’t break. That made him cry. He dropped on the bed. His hands held his face and the tears made their way out from between his fingers.
He jerked his head, tried getting back on his feet but John was wasted.
I packed my bags, stepped out of the room, quietly shut the door so not to wake John up but the dog…
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