Doilies & Daffodils
Esha was adopted from Chennai, South India, to live in the UK with a wealthy family of land owners. Her parents who used to operate a jewelry shop, were killed in a fire, when dacoits plundered their house to steal the more costly gold and silver jewelry they kept hidden for posterity. Luckily, her name was entered in the same bank account as her parents, to inherit whatever fortune incurred as a result of her parents lucrative business.
Her mother and father who were from Rishikesh, near the foothills of the Himalayas, were Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa worshipers; vegetarians who used to keep a few cows as part of their inherent duty, thought her the meaning of life. They were very pious and generous people, always giving in charity. Their family business brought them to settle in Chennai where Esha was attending school, learning French and English. She wanted to be a teacher of Āyurveda.
The dacoits had forced their way into their home in the night, when Esha was returning from a drama play enacted at her teacher’s house. On her way home, which is normally a safe and quiet route, along a narrow pathway near the ocean, she was attacked by two young men who, with a knife to her throat, defiled her purity in the most indelible manner. Stripped naked and tied to a tree, she was left bleeding and half conscious, after the harrowing ordeal of the rape attack.
Their Āyurvedic family doctor found her in the morning, when on his way, going the same path to join them for the morning Aortika or service, at the local Jagannātha temple. He was told of the remains by the family’s regular rikshaw driver, on his way back home with devastated heart, of what was once the sacred home of the Hoques. He would normally cycle them all to the temple. Double stupefied, he helped the doctor with Esha to the hospital.
The doctor was in a state of shock and trembling, with tears rolling down his cheek when he had taken off his lengthy kurta, released Esha and put it on her. She was weak and lifeless. It was at the hospital she met her adopted family, when lying opposite to an English woman whose husband sat beside her, as she was being treated for fainting episodes due to dehydration, brought on by severe diarrhoea.
The Āyurvedic doctor could not take care of Esha as he owed a lot of money to the bank and was in debt with already his own family to take care of. He wanted to, in his heart, but when the opportunity presented itself by the offer of the English couple to take care of her, he thought it might be best for Esha not to remain where such horrible memories would haunt her for the rest of her life.
Mr and Mrs Chadwell, the English couple lived in an Edwardian style home in Berkshire, owning a few horses their only son, Leonard, would ride, along with other relatives who would visit the house regularly. He was the pride and joy of his parents, who had no need to do any more labour other than hosting a coterie of family and friends with generous dining and meretricious dialogues. Given private education, his aspiration was to become a lawyer. Such luxuries had made him proud, arrogant and ill-mannered. Mrs Chadwell’s once amiable and affectionate disposition, sooner assumed a rather injurious hue.
Her countenance was a source of infinite disgust to Esha, when both her and her precious son, could not abide the prudence of their adopted relative. Mr Chadwell, would often step in to temper the scorching heat of resentment from his wife and son, towards Esha, but without resolution. He would then retire to his study with a cigar, to avoid such confrontations.
As Esha grew older, she resumed her latent inclination towards her spirituality, which bothered the Chadwell’s terribly. So desperate were they for a daughter, they had thought Esha being of a vulnerable status, could be steered towards their customs. But it was a an attempt on the part of the Chadwells, as effective as trying to ride a wild horse without a saddle.
‘Do pray in another corner!’ Mrs Chadwell had constantly display her indiscretion towards Esha’s religious persuasion, which in often cases, was a lot more to do with her practicing breathing exercises, than in actuality, spiritual rituals. But not familiar with such āsanas or animations of the body, Mrs Chadwell mistook it all to be purely and to her intolerance, religious practices.
Both women grew to resent each other. Esha detested the families’ impoverished sense of leisure, to decimate the lives of other sentient species and Mrs Chadwell despised Esha’s table manners to eat only with a spoon, as eating traditionally with her hands were unbearable to the family. Esha would only eat that which she prepared herself, notwithstanding Mrs Chadwell’s disgust. Howbeit, Mrs Chadwell could foresee no resolution, as the poor girl would starve herself to inanition, unless she could plan her own diet. She had the basic skills and knowledge from a young child.
Mr Monroe, the father of Mrs Chadwell, had retired from his service as a Physician, yet he could not save his beloved wife from dying of a stroke, which he gained his bachelor status from. He lived out the remainder of his years in Dorset, giving medical advice to those who sought after his expertise and writing articles in the paper, about the same subject. In this way, visited also by relatives or visiting them within the populous of surrounding areas, his time was passed favourably and tolerably, in rectitude.
His prudence, together with that of Esha’s, who used to escape to his house, from the toxic insularity of the Chadwells, served to create a wholesome treaty of advantages. Time to time, he would give her gifts and she would reciprocate his magnanimity with equal gesture. Both grew fond of each other, to the bitter inequity of the Chadwells. In a constant battle of the wits, which rested upon the bosom of their purpose, the devil’s playground was a consortium for which there couldn’t be better candidates among such adversaries.
After spending an insufferable number of years in the association of her adopted family, at 17 and confounded, Esha ran away to live with Mr Monroe. Not only was Mrs Chadwell’s perfidious nature enough to precipitate one to the nearest infirmary, but the interior décor of her incurious dwelling, was as inviting as the hiss of a snake. Her son who could do no harm, yet whom no one else could astound Esha with greater infidelity, constantly advanced his inordinate desires to the discomfiture of Esha, until one day, she faked a seduction to reciprocate his insistence.
In a spurious attempt to have him experience the wonders of Kamasutra, she had him lying down in only the dress in which he took birth for his day of reckoning, which resulted in her pouring a small copper bowl of heated oil over the gifts of his lower torso. Not to maim him, yet hot enough to warn him never to approach her again. He yelled in agony and called her vile names.
‘You treacherous ungrateful wretch! Did you truly think all your self-deluding rituals could possibly endear you to our family? I find you rather amusing,’ he extruded sarcastically.
‘And if you take as much time as you do in your debauchery, to analyse your life in varying resonance of only one colour, from within the dark recess of your redundant mind, you will find it even more amusing,’ she spewed back, stormed out the room, remaining intact in her under garments, with whatever little of her dignity was left.
It was when Mrs Chadwell heard of her son’s plight and frightened out of her wits that her son may never bore her grandchildren, she acquiesced to a fit of rage and demanded the leave of Esha in the wretched hours of the night. The last words of Esha resounding in the ether, ‘your mode of living, is as shallow as your personality?’ severed the thin thread that had bound her to the uneventful family. But vengeance had a note for the Mrs Chadwell’s open wound.
When she reached 18, Mr Monroe, she called Grandfather, sponsored her education in Āyurveda. She later did her internship in South India, where she met up with the Āyurvedic doctor she had been writing to, time to time. He soon helped her to procure the inheritance of her late parents; a tidy sum of money, some of which she used towards her training and stay in India.
Later, after obtaining qualification in her chosen profession, she gained experience when she operated her surgery from a rented room in London. There she managed to save up enough money to buy a house in Yately, together with the remainder from her late parent’s inheritance, swaddling herself in the bastion of Āyurveda, serving as an opiate to quieten temptations.
Grandfather Monroe passed away in his sleep, so Esha heard from one of the cousins, as she was not allowed by Mrs Chadwell, to attend the funeral. Still, she managed to stay out of sight and went to the burial ground when everyone had left. Next to the grave, she dug a little hole using a piece of stick she found lying nearby, to bury the letter she had written in commiseration. It read:
My dear grandfather,
May your next birth be as supportive to your advancement, as you were to me heretofore. May the light of your soul illuminate the path you choose. I regret incurring the displeasure of your family, the result of which pardoned me not, from attending to your departure from this world. Though we are separated by the physical coverings of our being, we are yet, eternally bond, by one divine soil. Fare well, spirit soul, fare well on your next journey. My affection for you remain as unmoved as it is easy to paint sounds.
Your loving adopted daughter,
Leonard had eventually found himself a suitable spouse and to his mother’s delight, nurtured his first child. Mr Chadwell passed his days in sanctified freedom, reading the newspaper under is intermittent puffs of cigars. His nature, perpetually as sedate as the drab colour scheme within his dwelling.
Twenty eight years later, Esha sits on a wooden bench by a pond in the tranquil surroundings of Yately, watching the wildlife as nature intends them to be. A volery of birds chirrups amongst distant horns, as the glowing warmth of the spring sun, shimmers sparkling rays, which dances upon the surface of the water. She is dressed in a full suit and tie with a pair of black boots to match her outfit. She has been dressing like this since she extricated herself from the fetters of her adopted family. Her shaven head absorbs all the sunshine available, as the only part of her body that is exposed to the elements, because the full view of her face is concealed by the dark sunglasses she is wearing.
With all the comfort invested in her soul, she tries to centre her mind on the dragonflies skidding in and out of the water, but a large yellow and black bumble bee hovers about her person. She fans it away with a dried leaf which is lying next to her. It recedes but returns. It is attracted to the subtle mixtures of Litsea Cubeba and Orange Blossom aromatherapy oils, she uses on her body. She continues to brush it away, until it gave up its pursuit to extract the nectar for which it assumed, could be gotten from her.
There were no other human movements about until she caught that of a man wearing a straw hat, dressed in long sleeved white cotton shirt and trousers, carrying a stick and a long-strap cloth bag. He canters towards her. She resumes her focus on the dragonflies in front of her, in an attempt to evade any awkward communication about the weather, which may arise from an eye contact. It has happened on occasions before, when she had to generate an insincere smile to match the equally insincere interest exchanged between her and passers-by, as the open-ended questions about the weather only arising when they had noting original to say, yet always terminating at the dead end lane of a polite ‘Mm’hmm’ for which it commands. The gentleman sat down next to her.
‘Good afternoon,’ he said.
‘Good day,’ she returned, with a quick turn of her head, to remain focus in her absorption.
He leans the stick on the seat between them, as he removes his hat and frees himself from the bag. He took something from his shirt pocket. She observes his movements from the corner of her eyes. He can tell the person next to him is not of his gender and if it is, such detectable features of a woman would certainly gain victory over his.
‘Would it bother you if I smoke?’ he asked, almost repentantly, holding a cigar in his hands to ascertain the tone of the voice.
(There should be indents on each paragraph and dialogue, but somehow, it doesn’t show up when the post is published). Anyhow, this is just a taster of my possibly fourth book, if I’m still alive.