The Sun had finally gone, plonked into the sea as a ripe apple falls from the tree, leaving the world in relative darkness. The moon rose from the east, a white, cold disc of cheerfulness, shining a weak light over the ocean, and the forest adjoining the retreat. A few lights from the hotel twinkled in the distance. A warm breeze blew across the beach, and through the patio where I lay on the easy chair sipping my beer.
I could feel a warmth rise from inside my tummy, and spread from there, enveloping my whole body, soothing my tired limbs, caressing my heavy eyelids. Presently, the beer was gone and I sat immobilized in a happy delirium.
‘This is a happy life’, I thought. Hmmmmm…..the ocean roared in assent, it’s waves rising and crashing on the sands rhythmically.
Maybe it was the beer I drank or just my tiredness, but the darkness seemed to be enclosing me from all the sides and advancing towards me menacingly. I sat, and I watched, as the shadows crept across the patio and then stopped.
The warm paralysis had ascended up my body, my eyelids drooped, and it was becoming difficult to breathe.
‘It must be my asthma’, I thought. Hoooooo…..the wind howled in agreement.
As I sat there conversing with the ocean and the wind, something moved in the pitch-black darkness that surrounded our villa and tried to step on to the porch.
‘Who is it’, I mumbled, my speech slurred by sleep and beer.
It stopped there in one corner of the porch, to my right side. I could discern a form through the corner of my eye; but was too tired and too sleepy to turn my head and look at it. It? The darkness had a form which looked definitely feminine. I could discern curves. A faint smell, like jasmine, wafted from where she stood. I blinked, to take a better look at her face; to no avail.
Hoooo….the wind howled again, blowing her clothes around. She shifted a little, moved a little closer. The smell of jasmines was close now, overpowering, stimulating. I could see she had long hair which flowed in the wind, glistening in the moonlight. She wore a skirt-like lower garment which jigged as she walked. A faint jingling sound came from her anklets. As she approached me, I could see her clothes were torn, and definitely belonged to another age. I had never seen such clothes, not even in the movies. Her bodice was tight, revealing more than it hid. The moonlight played hide and seek so that I could not see her face clearly, but from her frame I could discern that she was average height and stockily built. And her perfume, oh her perfume, no, it was some oil she wore; it was so overpowering!
‘Who are you?’, I asked. Whooooo…..the ocean asked too.
‘Are you from around here’, I persisted, she wasn’t answering. Nooooo…..the ocean replied in her stead, its sound sonorous, ghostly.
‘Where do you live?’ Heeeeereeeee…….the wind screeched. I must be out of my mind, I thought.
Her lips moved, ‘I used to live here’, she pointed towards the adjacent forest. ‘In the forest?’ I asked, following her finger. The darkness near the forest had also moved and segregated into small clumps of dark people. One was a tall, dark man, powerfully built; other ‘darknesses’ were small, childlike. I could make out a girl and a boy. They wore the same type of clothes that she wore, but they wore something else on their bodies. Shackles……………………………………………..(To be continued)
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