The garlic soup
This post has been published by me as a part of Blog-a-Ton 55; the fifty-fifth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. In association with Rashmi Kumar, the author of Hooked, Lined and Single and Jyoti Arora, the author of Lemon Girl.
The weather had been unchanging for past few days. Monsoon was supposed to be romantic for many. But for me it was a reason of my bad health. My head was hurting so badly I was afraid it would split open the very moment. However it didn't and kept on hurting more. I put down the bottle of aspirin on the table and walked to the window. It was pitch dark outside. The clock above the window showed 9 pm.
I watched the rain coming down in sheets. As if the heavy sound of downpour was not enough, the waterfall some distance away drummed like an attacking tank drawing closer, inch by inch. When the lightning flashed, followed by a deafening thunder, my head almost cracked and I cringed. But just a split second before my eyes closed, I saw something. Or someone. In the veranda. Under the berry tree.
Like I said, it had been this way for past few days followed by nights. However I hadn't seen anyone under that tree earlier. I remember this clearly because it was planted by me in my childhood and I have watered it and have seen it grow to a big red berry tree. It is my favorite pass-time to watch it, shutting down my mind. So there was no one near my house a few hours back, rather nobody wanders in vicinity of my house. So coming back to this person, yes it was a person. I wondered who would it be. I have last seen a person months back. I have all the necessities stored in the attic. I live with myself, alone.
Still wondering, I switched on the lamppost, I saw it was a female.
As I walked to the drenched woman, I saw her eyes changing emotions and I was lost in thoughts. What was she thinking? Does she fear me? Is she relieved. However I couldn't really make out. When I reached the tree, I held the umbrella over her head and we walked back. However she stood by the door while I entered the front door of the house. When I looked back at her, the question she asked confused me. Water was dripping from her head and face. She asked me, "Will you be fine if I come in?" Why would she ask? I just nodded and went inside to get her some dry clothes.
Later when she was back into my dry clothes, to my surprise, she asked for red wine and said she can prepare garlic soup for me. These are my favorite, something I would want to have served over my deathbed. I nodded again, thinking how this lady would know about them, trying to recollect her face. But I couldn't. No matter how much I tried, I simply couldn't. I finally resigned and asked her if I knew her. Yes, off-course, she said. "But you wouldn't recollect now. You would soon", she said. I shrugged and waited for the soup to arrive.
We first had the soup as we sat by the window and watch the rain fall. "Life has not been that pleasant for you, isn't it?" she asked. I didn't say anything. Who knows who she was, it was better she did the talking. I was sure over the conversation, I would figure out her identity.
"Do you still go out to the ravine back towards the waterfall? How is the kind woman in that hut. I still remember the day when you hurt yourself falling down the tree stealing the fruits from her orchard. And when she treated your wound and gave you garlic soup, you were all smiles. I still remember your happy face. Do you remember?"
I looked at her and laughed out loud, I don't know why. All I remember then was the woman's corpse floating in the waterfall. She was a kind woman, I could remember though, but albeit distantly, little more imaginary than reality. I told the lady so.
"That indeed was a tragedy", the lady said with a loud sigh. As we finished the soup, I poured ourselves wine. As she held the glass she looked beautiful, any guy would have fallen for her. I told her so to which she asked if I have fallen for her.
It's beyond my capacity, I said to myself and instead asked her, "Aren't you afraid?"
She gave surreptitious laugh and whispered something into my ears which I couldn't comprehend.
"What did you say? How do you know about me?" I asked her worriedly.
It was very queer night, and the woman strange. I felt insecure as if she was binding me. The time seemed to have stopped into the night and the rain had swept us along with the house into a sea typhoon. Everything seemed to be tumbling, up and down. I looked at the glass in my hand, it was straight up but my hand was shaking, perhaps in awareness of something my mind couldn't comprehend. I looked at the woman one more time and asked again.
"What did you say? How do you know about me?" I was getting hysterical.
She smiled. And as she did, I felt something was heaved up from my memory dump. And I writhed in an anticipation. Stop. I wanted to say. But she kept smiling. And then she came close and looking into my eyes, she spoke in a very soft voice.
"Martin, just listen to me. You are important"
I looked at her puzzled. But her smile and her words were soothing and somehow calmed my anxiety and surprisingly I was feeling at peace slowly. I looked at the wine glass. It was still full. It wasn't the alcohol but the woman who's demeanor was working on me.
But was it true? Am I important? It was unfathomable. I kept quiet.
"Yes. The lady, she was so kind, wasn't she?", she asked.
"Kind. Yes. She was. But what did she get in return?" I asked, "Bruises and black eye?" My voice was getting edgy again and I feared I will snap. To calm myself I closed my eyes but the woman's corpse floating in the clear river water kept flashing before my eyes. I almost screamed.
"There is no meaning to this existence! If you were unwanted from the day you are born. Do you know how it feels when everyone abandons you? When people look right through you? When your existence does not matter to even a single person?" My voice was low, trembling.
"You were never unwanted. Do you really think otherwise? Do you remember the school-boy you saved from drowning. What would have happened if it was not for you to jump into the river and save him?" I looked at this lady who was churning my memories and bringing up what was hidden below the heap.
She was still smiling. She continued. "You say nobody cares for you. But when you ran away into the woods, who was it who came searching for you?... She searched you every where, calling your name, while you hid in that trunk, listening. You did wanted that woman to find you, didn't you?". When I looked up, I saw she looked right through my defiance. I found my own reflection in her. I did wanted her to find me. I wanted love. I wanted a mother. I wanted a normal life.
"You remember the her bruises. But you do remember the smile that spread on her bruised face. The tears flowing from the swollen eyes the moment she saw you. You ran to her and hugged her tight. Didn't you? Do you remember?"
"Yes. I did. I really did. She called me son. And I tugged her like a new born. I never knew my biological mother but when I hugged her, I became her son". When I closed my eyes, her face appeared, without bruises, her face smiling, calling me son. I can hear her voice. "Are you hurt? You are trembling son. Don't be afraid. I am here. For you". Don't be afraid. I am here. For you. Don't be afraid. I am here. For you.... the words replayed on my mind, the voice filling the void inside me.
"She tended the tree with you. How will you feel if that tree crashes? Do you want that? It has to be strong, no matter how strong the wind blows. Do you think it will survive this storm?"
"It will survive. It will survive". I kept muttering. Don't be afraid. I am here. For you.... the words still running on my mind.
When I opened my eyes, I was alone. I felt calm spreading through my body and mind. Something had changed. My heart was light and my mind clear. I felt the urge to have garlic soup, it's warmth passing through my body just with the thought.
When I looked out the window, the storm had passed and even while it drizzled, it was unusually calm. The cool breeze was flowing but it carried some fragrance which filled me with contentment. I looked at my hand, it was steady. I realized my head no longer hurt and deep inside, I was feeling at peace.
I threw the bottle of aspirin in the dustbin, it wasn't my last day after all. I made myself a garlic soup. As I drank it spoon by spoon, I watched the water dripping through the leaves and branches of the tree. It had survived the storm.
The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Participation Count: 21. Image Credits: Monsoon by Yann (Wikimedia Commons). Shared with GNU Free Documentation License CC Attribution-Share Alike.