I could feel, almost hear even in my most indolent frame, my heart heavily throbbing and flaming on the surface of my skin like a final pulse stuck in the cold chest of a dying person, beating visibly, metastasizing towards the throat and back to the chest again. It was a hot May that year with unusual cold rains and scary storms. My body laid on the couch like a shriveling rose thriving on those last beats of breath before withering into dust. I walked barefoot on the cold floor towards the dusty verandah, and laid myself down on the ground for the cold rain to soak in my bosom. I opened my mouth for the rain to embrace my tongue and licked the sweet drops off my lips. The stormy winds shook the Devdar trees around, the leaves swirled to the sad music of the wind and cluttered in my verandah. I gathered myself up from the ground and touched my gossamer gown rinsed with the frosty mountain rains. I walked into the house, my feet leaving wet muddy prints on the floor, like foot trails of the big cat in the muggy forest grounds. My gown stuck to my wet body like a second skin till I let it peel slowly off to my feet. I sauntered naked around the empty house like an insouciant cat. The windows creaked with the gushing wind and entered the house to startle my wet body with its cold embrace. A hot shower was all I needed, so I stood beneath the burning water longer than I should have. The porcelain floor was a riot of russet and dirt flowing down my body. As much as I wished to shut my eyes beneath the shower, it scared me to death. I felt gearless and unguarded in the colossal depths of the muggy ocean waters, drowning with a rock on my chest. So I decided against closing my eyes. Just then, I felt an assertive hand making its way from my neck to the roots of my hair. It felt like a silhouetted, faceless figure from the past perhaps. I moved forward to plunge myself onto it, only to fall flat against the wall. Hot showers don’t always fix the barren insides.

Tripping on every step and too tired, I still decided to take a midnight walk when the clouds screened the moon and wolves howled in the thicket of the forests, when there would be lesser known faces out on the empty roads and when the crickets would chirp in every bush, the sounds that twinkling stars would make in the sky if they could. Like a stray canine, I fearlessly sauntered the lonely roads carefree of stepping on or stumbling off something. Back to my cove, I lounged on my empty bed that smelled of nutmeg and sage. It smelled of someone’s presence. A someone I knew or may have known. Regardless, I plunged into the bed and felt a soft hand brushing my hair, tucking them behind my ear. Was it air? or a breath? I felt the hand on my chest, where lay my heavily throbbing heart, as if trying to push itself out of my chest. The hand pressed itself against my chest softly to calm the heavy throbbing. I placed my hand over it to seal it there forever. It felt warm like a lover’s hug. Was it a lover’s hand or did I make it up in my head?

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