“He saw her every day that summer. Sitting on the red-oxide verandah, leaning against a carved wooden pillar, headphones and silver hoops in her ear, the phone warm in her hennaed palms. Smiling. Humming. Talking. Every word simultaneously etched on the air with her long fingers.”
The doctor pushed up his spectacles and paced the stage as he continued the story. Eyes followed him, back and forth.
“He brought the herd home at dusk. There was no golden dust haze, the air over the pukka municipal road was devoid of drama. Godhuli was for the mud tracks of Gokul. She never looked at him. There were no visions of Radha, waiting, agonizingly, for Krishna’s return. No echoes of a flute to bring the stars to her feet. No magical full moon nights by the Yamuna in a backwater town where the wells run dry in April.”
Again he paused, for effect.
“When the holidays were over, she left. Later, taped to the black iron gate, he saw a peacock feather flutter in the twilight.”
Someone in the audience moved a tea cup into the hush.
“The kind of story that deserves a perfect ending, no?” He was playing the crowd. “How would you want it to end? You want me tell you I was that boy and,” he pointed to his wife in the front row, “she was that girl and this is how love is meant to be?”
“But everything is random. All these collisions and misses of minds and bodies – no one is moving eight billion lives on a board, choreographing meaning into arbitrary existence.”
“I could tell you the boy was brought to me one night and I tried to save his life. That he told me his story of unconsummated love before he died. That he never got to say goodbye. And you would want to believe that too. What else do we have left to believe in?”
“Or maybe you’d rather dismiss it as nonsense – that I made up the story so I could sell you a book about an alternate reality. A doctor who denies both science and god can be marketable for a while. Or amusing. Or a viral meme.”
A hand went up at the back. A reporter. He could see the press ID around her neck. This one had snark in her tone and a sun in her eye. “OK, which one is it?”
“Which one do you want it to be?” He figured she must have a deadline. “Perhaps you think she came back for him but he was gone by then?” He was indulgent. People reveal a lot about themselves by their choices.
“Unlikely.” She waved her hand, dismissing the suggestion.
“You’ll say that the odds were stacked in her favour?”
“I’ll say everything is random and all existence is arbitrary.”
“But you still want a meaningful ending?”
She smiled. “Meaning implies science or god, doctor.”
She removed the press badge from around her neck. “I am just a girl who left a peacock feather on an iron gate.”
Flash Fiction #4
Flash Fiction #3