The evening sat on its haunches. at her feet.
Her mind was baavra. never stopping. flying from this ghaat to the other. a nomad without a home. or everywhere, a home. everywhere she roamed in the forest.
The evening lay back. made a cushion of the chilly breeze that petted the still water in the pond. It gazed at her shamelessly. Her cinnamon-stick waist had made it a deewana. and now it say there leching. While dynasties, armies could find their destinies in the elephantine lilt of that waist. Even the forest had sat there astounded once. smitten. unable to meet her kohl lined gaze.
The evening lay around like a dog. panting. fishing for her attention.
‘have some shame’
‘kya aranya sahiba, pujari ko bhagaoge aap’ – a dirty leer punctuating his expression.
She sniffed the air.
Something was not right. She could hear it in the crickets’ uncertain chittering. could feel it in the dew that shiftily slipped down the jacaranda leaves. could see it in the hurried gait of the lizards.
Suddenly, the forest went quiet. the kinds of pregnant silence that falls upon a theatre before the orchestra begins. aranya smiled. then gazed at the other end of the watering hole.
She nodded at Tara, the tigress, as she leapt down from an overhanging branch. and bent her face to the water. every inch of her slow torso, moving in the way mountains do. royal, filled with largesse, but not measured. a spontaneous air of command rose from her velvet coat. the epic and the sensual shared secrets in the undulating chasm of her shoulder blades. She turned towards the water and bent low. acknowledging aranya with a near invisible flicker of an eyelash. before she sipped from the edge of the pond. Then she vanished into the undergrowth. as quickly as a steady thought. or the memory of an early morning dream.
The orchestra began again.
‘Do you feel it? Can you smell it?’
Evening jerked his eyes away from the parasmani tied around her wrist.
‘That is why you have come, I presume’
‘I have no answers’
‘But you have questions.
That is enough for now’
They say there in silence.
Gazing together. At the sanguine pond.