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Chapter 42: The Dreams – Part 1
He left her in the bed and walked to the window. In part, he wanted to make her curious about what he was upto and the other part of him wanted to make sure that Pallavi was on her way out of the house before he returned to bed.
He didn't turn back to look at Kashi, but could feel her was watching him.
He looked back and saw her eyes close immediately.
Dear Lord, she was really bad at this.
He smiled as he kept watching the grounds of the house. About fifteen minutes passed before he saw Pallavi leave.
He made sure to lock the door before heading to bed.
When he got in beside her, he noticed that she truly had fallen asleep. She must be exhausted to the bone to get over her apprehension of sleeping in his room and on the bed that he slept on.
He lay down next to her, keeping several inches distance between them, and watched her for a moment to make sure that he hadn't woken her.
Her breathing remained even and steady and he finally released the breath that he hadn't realized that he was holding in.
Within moments, the lingering sleep finally seized him.
His long hair that curled haphazardly swung wildly with his movements. His pace had been slow when he started but now there were more discernible rhythmic movements that were like a wave passing through him. She had seen the Thiriuzhichil before, many times in fact. She had been visiting this Pulluvar homestead to watch all the Sarpam Thullal rituals for several years now. They were likely the only people in the entire village who weren't afraid of her. But even though they weren't afraid of her, they too kept their respectable distance. She didn't blame them. She wasn't one of them. She was one of the Namboothiri girls married into the Kalarikkal Illam. They knew she was ostracized elsewhere, even at the Illam. Everyone knew that. But the Pulluvars were the only ones who did not let that affect how they saw her.
The flaming torch blazed as the man swirled it around quickly in the air once before starting to run it over his body more deliberately. His body was a hard mass all over with little give, a novel sight to her. All the men in her family and in the family that she had married into, including her husband who had died several years ago, had had either skinny or fleshy bodies with paunchy or wiry bellies. She had never seen this sort of hardness to a male body, the sort where the abdomen appeared to be separated into neat little squares and arms that appeared to have been sculpted into strength by something akin to swinging an axe for prolonged periods on a daily basis. His skin glistened as its pores opened and released a gleaming sheen of golden glow.
She felt a quickening in the pity of her belly and closed her eyes in surprise. She focused on the vibrations that rose from the plucking of the pulluva kudam and it steadied her for a moment. There was something so primitive about this music; it felt as though it had been conceived in the beginning of time… or that original life had been imagined to its rhythm… she felt a surge of power rise from her spine… a blue light… that climbed and climbed… she knew she would go into a full trance if she let the blue light climb any further and thus allowed it to fade back…
When she opened her eyes, she was taken aback for a moment by the yellow flames. She looked at it curiously for a moment. It was burning through the arm of her blouse. When she felt the flames lick the white bundle of sari that was gathered and pinned at her shoulder, she felt someone douse her with water.
It took a moment for awareness to return completely. She swallowed hard as she looked around and saw people staring. The fear that had been absent from their eyes before, she thought she could see it there now…
She felt her heartbeat spike and tried to keep her breathing even as she looked around … when they felt her eyes fall on them, each of them lowered their gaze… At last, it was only the man left… the one doing the thiriuzhichil… the one whose body appeared to have been made of elements different than the rest of them… He had just put out the torch of flames in his hand when her gaze fell on him.
She could feel a rage of frustration build inside her from her perpetual aloneness. Her nostrils flared as she focused the intensity of her anger onto him. In the past, in moments of rage like this, she had spontaneously broken things. It had taken her years to learn how to control it. But in this moment, she didn't care so much if her gaze made him catch on fire and burn alive. She was tired of everything. One of these days, they would all stone her to death, she knew… it no longer made a difference if that day was tomorrow or today.
So focused was she on her own morbid thoughts that it took her a moment to realize that he was fighting her. He didn't look away, did not even blink in fact, as he returned her gaze. Whereas hers was trembling with red fury, his was as calm and deep as the cerulean ocean. Briefly she wondered if the others could sense the power surging between them. It would be impossible not to… Every power was a wave… and this was too… a tangible one. One that would burn – at times literally – if you found yourself in between.
It was her last thought before her eyes blinked.
And then she fell into darkness.
"Don't be afraid." She heard from behind her and quickly ducked down.
It was a chilly Amavasi night with the grounds and woods were wet from the earlier rain. Even with no moon to illuminate her naked body to the intruder, she remained below the surface of the water.
Who would dare to intrude on her this deep into the woods?
She had no friends. Only enemies. Those who feared her or those who wanted something from her… or both… She had found out that for men, fearing a woman only intensified their desire for her… she wondered if things would have been different if her physical appeal had been not so great… maybe then they would have killed her sooner… or not feared her as much… she couldn't tell…
When the need for air became intolerable, and she could hear no indication that there was anyone still in the vicinity, she finally broke through the pond's suface.
…And jerked back when she saw him just a few feet away from her in the water.
She turned around to swim in the other direction, but he was on her in an instant.
She kicked back, but it didn't seem to hurt him any as he grasped her around the waist and pulled her back against him.
For a moment, her body went into shock as it recognized his nakedness.
On instinct, she squeezed her eyes shut.
She knew who it was, of course… only he would dare walk in these woods on a night with no moon and have the nerve to attack her in this manner.
"I am not attacking you." She heard him whisper in her ear and turned around to face him, startled.
He allowed her, but kept her in the circle of his hold just the same.
"Can you read my thoughts?" she asked, angry now. Even she couldn't read thoughts.
She thought she saw him smile as he said, "It's just logic. You're naked and I am holding onto you. Understandably you would think I am attacking you."
She wasn't swayed by diversions. He hadn't answered her question. "Can you read my thoughts?" she asked again.
His smile disappeared and it was a moment before he answered, "No."
That was not a full answer. "But?" she asked, prompting him.
It took a moment for him to answer.
"Sometimes I can feel what others feel."
She allowed her mind to process what he said. It sunk in fully after a moment. What he described was worse than being able to read thoughts. Thoughts could lie… Emotions rarely could.
"Everyone?" she asked finally.
He shook his head. "Only some people and only sometimes. I learned to control it many many years ago. It's been a long time since something broke through that control and intruded on my consciousness like yours did that day. Especially in the middle of a Thiriuzhichil. Your emotional energy is… powerful…"
She remembered the rage she had felt.
"Anger is always powerful." She said with a shrug and started to turn away.
"The anger came later." He told her as he pulled her back to him, his voice taking on a deeper timbre that made something quicken in the pit of her belly again.
The Anger came later. His words taunted her as a memory of what had come before now rose in her mind.
"Your desire is just as potent." He whispered, confirming her fears.
"It was not desire!" She burst out as she pushed out of his arms.
He let her go this time and it made her feel a trace of apprehension as to why.
When she climbed out of the pond and dressed, wrapping the sari back around her, she felt his eyes on her the entire time and knew that he knew that she knew that she lied…
(To Be Continued…)
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