She was waiting for him. He was to come home soon. Well, he could never have a home, that’s what he had said to her once. But at least, he was coming back to her after almost a year. She waited.
Everyone around her laughed. They said that he was a truant. He could never be trusted. She could see their faces. She knew they were jealous. When he came, everyone rejoiced. He touched many on his way and yet she knew it was to her heart that he would always return.
The clouds often brought his news. He was well, they said. Patience, they reminded her. He was known to desert his many lovers, often without a second thought. He wouldn’t do that to me, she thought. Sitting in front of her mirror, she looked at the lines on her face. They were slowly beginning to mark her age on her face. Doesn’t matter, she thought. He will wipe them away with his tender touch. She shivered at the very thought of it. His touch, his fingers trailing their wanton path, his eyes, black as a smouldering coal, devouring her beauty and their union culminating in the eternal and ethereal climax – birth of a new life.
She waited; her dusty attire, washed as best as she could, adorned her body. Her crown of dry leaves rubbed against her dry hair. The wait grew longer.
Suddenly one day, a messenger came riding on the westerly wind. He is coming, my lady. He is coming. Look at the horizon, the messenger said. And like all messengers, he hurried away, perhaps to give the news of his arrival to his other lovers. She looked at the horizon. Nothing there. She looked at the sea. Deathly silence over the vast waters told her nothing.
A few days later, another messenger came. She thought she was hallucinating. He had never been this late. She couldn’t get up from her bed. She lay there waiting.
Then one evening, suddenly the winds changed. The sea grew restless and the birds began to hurry back to their homes. She lay on her bed, eyes shut tight. She did not want to be disappointed again. The door opened. She could sense him. His smell was unique. It carried tales of countries with it, countries he had either given his blessings to or ravaged in his raging madness. She could feel his breath, warm, moist and full of promises. She was ready to surrender herself completely to him. She could feel his hesitation. Or was it deliberate? His lips brushed against hers, or maybe she just imagined it. But then like his many promises, his presence grew weaker, till suddenly there was deathly silence.
She lay waiting, waiting for him to come again, like the raving lunatic and fill her up with the ultimate gift, the gift of life.
Till then, she had no choice but to wait, parched for his touch.