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Monthly Story, April 2023



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Archetype → Explorer

Rasa → Adbhutam (अद्भुतं): Wonder, amazement. Presiding deity: Brahma. Colour: yellow +

Śṛṅgāraḥ (शृङ्गारः): Romance, Love, attractiveness. Presiding deity: Vishnu. Colour: light green

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Kalu got into his jeep and started the engine. Scanning the night sky for signs of rain through the windshield, he lit the first smoke from a neatly arranged row of rolled joints lining the secret pocket of his wallet—one for every significant stop in the seven-hour drive ahead. After thumbing through the long list of travel playlists on his phone, Kalu settled for one out of instinct more than reason. Cranking up the volume, and tapping the steering wheel in sync to Led Zeppelin, he set off. It was late and he knew the road would be empty, save the wild elephants resembling moving boulders in low light, the occasional long-distance bus, and the packs of boar and deer dashing across to get to the other side. Only those out for desperate things like love and survival were on the road at this hour.


Kalu hadn’t told Jakie that he was driving over to her that night. Jakie lived a few hundred kilometres away, on the east coast of the island, running the seaside guesthouse that she inherited from her parents. Kalu’s family house was near the southern tip of the island, but you couldn’t quite say it was his home because he was barely there. Kalu lived between the two coasts—giving surf lessons in his family village through the southern season and at Jakie’s when the currents moved east—driving between the houses of his folk and his woman. The road became his home. He knew every bend, every tree, where the sambhur lurked, where the leopard liked to prowl and where it was worthwhile to make a stop and dissolve into the view with a smoke in hand.


By the time Kalu reached his last pitstop, it was almost three am. He inhaled the smoke and looked at the Govindahela peak standing singular and sombre over the tropical flatlands—the only thing resolutely unmoving amidst treetops dancing in the night breeze. This peak always reminded him of Jakie—the one person that he remained inexorably attached to, despite the distance, the temper, the other women and the numerous offers to flee abroad to greener pastures.


In the early days of their romance, Kalu had found it impossible to understand why he couldn’t stay away from Jakie. After all, the promise he made to himself—to never get caged to a wife, kids, and a pot of rice—was sincere. But, ever since he set eyes on Jakie sitting alone, sulking over her resort counter all those years ago, he had not been able to ignore her pull. He had left but always returned with the same irrational devotion that the sand held for ocean currents. He liked her unapologetic moodiness in the sunny tourist town where everyone went out of their way to keep things bright, cheery, and good for business. He also liked that his typically-southern and typically-Sinhala family couldn’t quite digest this brooding Burgher beauty. 


But, what he liked the most was that she never followed him. The handful of times that Jakie had travelled with Kalu to his coast, she had complained, cried, fought, and left early, swearing never to return. (But, she did visit for his brother’s wedding and mother's funeral). Outwardly, she seemed his opposite; he—always cruising easy with an open smile, and she—unmoving and impenetrable with eyes brewing seasonless storms. But inwardly, Kalu knew that she was his anchor—the only one who didn’t try to possess but insisted on guarding his freedom from a coast apart.


Kalu arrived at Jakie’s twenty minutes to sunrise. He showered in a guest room so as to not wake her, and came in quietly like a cat. He puffed the leftover roach from his last smoke while watching her long brown hair frame the solemn face and eyebrows furrowing slightly in their unwearying mistrust against the world. As the sun rose, he climbed into bed and felt for her breasts under the sheets. This was an unspoken ritual they had continued for almost twenty years, from the first time Kalu had climbed into Jakie’s bed at dawn, uninvited but welcome nevertheless. ‘Happy anniversary my storm cloud’, he said in her ear.



 

The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.



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