leaves crackle underfoot. Fumes of wet earth spiral upwards into the translucent moondust; twilight rain’s afterthought. the saxophone breath of the night. soft rustle of foreboding. the forest begins to stir. sleep leaves the eyes of trees in little dew drops. pregnant with the hoarse voice of hungering beasts. the rat-a-tat-tat of crickets cut through the machine’s chatter. the cogs in her mind slowly ground to a halt.
still there is an insistent drone.
Nayana ignores it. the mosquitoes seemed fiercer here. each one, a spy taking blood back to the lair. where aranya sat. her bed a sheaf of banana leaves.
aranya was all desire.
Her little hands pried open the foliage. And let the forest seep into her skin, like the smell of sex. A wild, pulsating moan groped through the thorns and brambles. In between the wafer of dream and thought, she sat comfortable in her shamelessness.
There was space in the forest. Enough to turn a hesitant thought, a whim, a little chirping bird, into a sky full of birdsong.
As she breathed in the gravid aura of aranya, the lover in Nayana, was aroused. She thought of her dark eyed muse. And the promise of a love that had seen hope. She stared into the darkness, and shivered as she closed her eyes and visualised aranya making her way through the paths that no human would stray into.
How her eyes would glisten with the knowledge of one who had been touched; how the lizard scurried away as her feet carved homes in the wet earth. How the moon would lech at her swaying waist that carried the weight of lovers’ animal sighs; aranya. The unfinished. aranya. Illegitimate child of the forest’s longing for itself.
When the earth split open. When rivers overflowed their banks and the moon was a golden rivulet in the the ceramic silence of the forest. When the world rose out of debri. When the ground was all eyes. agni went into the city all guns blazing. And Aranya, his stubborn older sister, sumdi mein, sped off into the trees.
She’s been there since, nourished by the undergrowth and the freedom of wild love. Wild children they are, those who came into the forest in unholy communion. Their fancy cast into the roots and fallen berries. Figurines in fireflies’ dreams. Fearless crusaders into the crevasse of the unconscious. Angels of chaos. Creatures of unbridled play.
Nayana looked upwards. It looked like rain. She knew he was not coming.
She knew the truth all along. But it is easier to lie. To hide fear in a casket of illusions.
Her love was a story of multiple betrayals. Within her.
Only aranya would understand, she thought, as her head cradled itself against a slight ascent in the forest-floor, and her eyes shut out the crickets incessant jabbering.
Like a beating heart.