Agnivesh – Home is where the Heart is
“What had Shauq told?”
The question shook Naveen from his thoughts. He had been sitting on the parapet of the terrace, a glass of lemon juice in his hand. The summer sun was blazing overhead, but he was in the shade of the coconut tree, the green around him silent and, even though the leaves were moving in the breeze, still. He looked at Sreeja who had come upstairs to hang the wet clothes for drying.
“What had Shauq told?” she asked again.
She hadn’t asked anything when he had told her that Shauqat had told him to take some time away from Mumbai. Instead, she had called ahead and made sure everything was set at the summer cottage. While that was taken care of, she had insisted that they go to her home in Bangalore. Her family had settled there long back for her betterment. The change seemed to have worked. For the two weeks they spent at her home, not once had his nightmare plagued him.
“It’s okay if you don’t want to tell, but being silent doesn’t help either, Navi.”
She had been strong for both of them before. Only once before had she shown that fear. This time, it got to Naveen. He saw that she had turned away from him, but her voice had been pained, as fearful as the previous night when she had shaken him out of his nightmare. It was then he realized that she was the one who had shaken him out every time he had had the nightmare too; how concerned she must have been for him. He reached out for her hand and giving it a quick squeeze, pulled her slowly to him.
“Shauq told me that I needed to get away from Mumbai. He told me to go back home, that the change would do me the world of good. And I believe him. I’m scared too, Reeju. But maybe it just needs time. I was fine at Bangalore, remember?”
He saw her nod, and he stood up and walked away from her.
“Maybe we should call him. Tell him that it was fine in Bangalore, but it seems to have returned here. He needs to know. Or we could go back. Mummy and Daddy will be happy too. They loved Kuttan and he was so much at home with them.”
He looked at her, and gave her a smile.
“Yes. That’s an option too. But let’s give it some time. Maybe it’ll blow over,” he told her, and walked downstairs.
He could see his nearest neighbor at his gate, buying fresh fish from the vendor, who had put the basket on the compound wall, which had moss on its side. The vendor, seeing him come down, shouted at him asking him if he wanted fish. When he told her no, she bundled a towel and put it on her head, then put the basket there and walked off, shouting to her would be customers. The neighbor though gave him a half smile, and came over.
“It’s expensive these days, the fish,” he told Naveen in fluent English, guessing he might have trouble speaking in Malayalam. “Are you here for long, or just on vacation?”
“On vacation,” told Naveen, returning the half smile.
The neighbor, Matthew, chatted amicably for a while, telling him of Kerala politics, the expenses they had, and even the lack of rains. Then, hearing the call for lunch from his wife, he walked off telling a hurried “See you later.”
“Was this home?” wondered Naveen.
He had his answer that night. The luminous dial of his wristwatch showed it was 2:17AM when he was shaken awake once again by a tearful Sreeja. He was sweating as he walked to the washroom and sprinkled cold water on his face. “Shauqat has to be told,” he decided, telling it aloud to Sreeja who had followed him to the door. She nodded, but didn’t stop crying.
As he sat in the hall, he remembered her words from that afternoon. And he thought, “Would it be worth trying?”
He told his thoughts to Sreeja, who didn’t say anything, but gave a nod again.
The coolness of the August breeze surprised Sreeja as she walked toward home from the shop. In her shopping bag were the usual groceries, and a Dairy Milk for her handsome little devil. She smiled as she saw the two of them, father and son, sitting near the door and waiting for her.
As soon as Agnivesh saw her, he jumped up.
Laughing, she ruffled his hair and gave him what he wanted. She went inside, handed the groceries to her mother-in-law. She then joined her father-in-law in front of the TV and watched the movie with him. She remembered the idea that Naveen had suggested.
“Home is where the heart is,” he had told, wondering if the presence of his family and the change of cities would help the nightmares to lessen. And it had. She was thankful that her in-laws understood and came to their side immediately, and thankful that the frequency of the nightmares was slowly reducing. It had been nearly two months now that he had had one.
“It’ll be okay,” Naveen told her when they talked before going to bed that night.
It had to be done.
Sreeja was worried, as was his father.
But his mother took his side, and believed that it was time too.
“We’re going for a trip. Just the three of us,” he had told her.
She worried that it was too soon. But Naveen had a feeling that his heart was at home, the ghosts of his past had gone, and that the only fire in his dreams, and in his life, would be the handsome boy who slept between Sreeja and him… Agnivesh.
~ The End ~
(© 9th April 2015)