“I felt an angel's possessing grip, the flames
rising from your skin,
the shadow of the divine.”
“Why did Providence disperse women endowed with guile and charms that would torment men? And why must I not own up that I have lecherous desires.” He thought. “Who would not have craved for her? The limitation in the facial beauty as some would opine, or not being in the class of the most beautiful, pretty faces was well offset by the tempting physique, provocative voice and the viciousness of her gaze. Perhaps beauty was less endowed in her face so that she can be more enchanting! Her being what she is effectively bound me in a spell that was more than being spellbound. Who would not? She was viciously beautiful.” He mused, dragging a lung full of cigarette smoke and blowing it out into the air. He saw her spectre swirling in the smoke and dissolve in the thin air.
He did not demure and ever held back his feelings on the enchanting beauty in which God created his second biggest blunder as some would express about woman. But then the proclivity and wish of male to fornicate with every enchantress of the female species was something he felt as a physiological aberration Nature inflicted on men. Perhaps often used as an alibi, and quibble! However, the complexities of social properness and consciousness that got infused in men, made this fine razor thin distinction between man and beast. Yet, men dream, stray and often too! “Now, now”, he spoke to himself, “this is sententious and can be dealt without.”
He could not gauge the change in her attitude towards him. It has been these many days since he have been here and she had gone about with the least acknowledgement of his presence .She ignored him and was often looking through him when they crossed the other in the hallway. At meetings she would go about her secretarial work with dismissal of his presence and would address the other participants even if he probes her with a demand. She would greet others around him in the morning when she comes in and would joke with the rest on a break while demonstratively neglecting him. A couple of times he prodded with some conversation to get in through the barrier and she was rather brusque. Perhaps did she see his constricted longing? Did his eyes betray his lust?
He hankered miserably for her attention and was fairly disturbed by the comments and exclamatory statements some of his colleagues made about her. She was single and in her late thirties. That perhaps gave immense scope and room to pass sleazy comments about her private life. Men obviously are ravenous, he thoughtfully confessed. But there must be something about her liaisons if they have to comment much and titillatingly. Or were they fantasising as he? He was in turmoil when one of the fellows claimed having had a date with her.
He wondered if she was aware of these comments and innuendos, related to her amourous private life. But she went about her secretarial work in the office with élan and moved with provocative grace. Her panache was tortuous and suffocating him. He was impatient and felt he would succumb and mess his reputation.
A few times, he happened to travel with her in the official vehicle and she would alight and walk away at her street ignoring him and with a glance and thankful nod to the driver. He was peeved and resentful. He could not understand why she cannot pirouette her “Madam Bovari” image with him. Her callosity was excruciatingly painful and made him restless.
It was her unfriendly disposition towards him that caused his anguish as much as the affableness that she displayed to others in the work place.
It was then that one day while she passed his office one morning, she greeted him. He was virtually jettisoned out of his chair. He could not believe it. Perhaps she bade the greeting to someone else? With few quick steps he reached the door and leaned out only to see her enter the elevator and no one else was in sight. Then on she would smile pleasantly at him whenever they met in the hall way and wish him for the day. She was no longer cold and indifferent when taking calls for him or informing him matters of official importance.
“Jackpot”, he thought! It should not matter why it took long for her to reckon him. He grew excited and patience was deserting him and he was increasingly enamoured.
Fretted by restlessness he ensured that an official call on the phone to her prolonged for a while. She was pleasing and at ease on the phone, often teasing him with harmless comments. He began to read her words euphemistically. He suggested that she drop in at his office sometime during the day and he wanted to discuss something with her.
When she came by into his office faintly unsure but with a graceful smile he was palpitating inside. He motioned her to sit. She sat down with predictable flair that perhaps not all women can do .He said, “I have something important to ask you and I would expect you to be candid in your answer.” Her eyes glinted with eagerness and she nodded affirmatively .Did he hear her whisper, “Yes certainly”? His palms were wet and he perspired while his heart throbbed faster. “It has been a while, fair time since I have been here and I have noticed your total indifference towards me and sometimes your attitude towards my presence seemed like calculated snub. However, over the past few days I have been seeing a different you, who has suddenly taken a fancy and liking to me and begun to appreciate my presence here. I feel good for that. Tell me why, and what has brought this change in you”. She was carefully watching him and his words .She smiled when he stopped and drew in a deep breath. “You see, it is not my temperament to frolic with a person, man or woman who is stranger to me. And the perils of being a single woman are rather unforgiving. A smile or a friendly demenour is understood for a hustler. Pardon me for being candid.” She watched him intently and continued. “It took a while for me to know you from the distance and I decided that you are a person from good moorings and grooming, a fellow with respectable countenance. I hope that is no offence.” Her voice was like sweet whisper of nothing.
He felt peeved with himself and somewhere in him a pang of remorse and disappointment in equal measure.