A Forsaken Bride's Retreat

Kavitha Kandaswamy posted under Flash Fiction on 2023-08-10

Sita got up from the bed, she couldn’t sleep any longer or be depressed, even after so many days of trying to feign everything was for good, something felt off. She felt immense pain and agony at the betrayal.  The wind chimes hanging from the French windows, swaying in the wind and producing comforting sounds, served as a reminder to make a decision and move forward with her life.  Pulling her long hair into a knot at the nape of her neck and renewed determination she impulsively booked a one-way ticket to a remote hill station and checked into an unnamed resort, embarking on her journey without a return plan.  She sets on her path to rediscover herself, hoping travel might help her, meet new people, understand how to face the situation and be capable of facing rumours and answering the questions pointed at her.  *** The resort was amidst tea estates, in the farthest part of town, with patchy mobile connectivity, an old landline, no Wi-Fi, just nature and its serenity. The resort had a cook, caretaker, manager and some help. When she reached the resort, it was drizzling, gloomy and chilly. Luckily, she remembered to pack some shawls and warm clothing.  The caretaker, Mishra greeted her and spoke to her in the local language, showed her around the resort and the food at the dining table, informed her that she wouldn't be disturbed until 6:00 am the next morning, and left her all to herself.  Despite feeling uneasy in the enormous resort, she eventually opts to eat and rest her aching body and reassess her situation, come morning.  In the morning, after enjoying a hot bath and a delicious meal she decides to read a book, by the glowing fireplace. Hearing, a voice from behind, she turns her head towards it. ‘Hello Ma´am, I am sorry, I wasn’t there to welcome you. I had some personal work to attend to. Hope everything was fine and you had a good night's sleep.’  Turning towards the sound, and finding an attractive man, she reprimands her racing heart and thinks, ‘…stay focused and solve the troubles you have, instead of creating new ones’ ‘Yes, it was. Could you please get this saree ironed? What´s with the look?’ - She gets up and turns to him.  'Sorry, madam. Sorry, sir,' saying thus, comes Mishra into the room, took the saree, and before leaving, he turned to both of them and said, 'Ram Sahab, is the manager. He takes care of the estate and the resort.' Sorry for the misunderstanding. I hope I can do a tour of the estate sometime today or tomorrow.’  Sure. Let me see what time we can do that, I will get back to you with the timing. Hopefully, we can do it soon.’  *** Glancing at the day's schedule, when he looks up, he is mesmerised by the sights in front of his desk window, the serene green hills, with the sun peeking through dark clouds, a tug of war between the sun and clouds, breezy wind dancing on the lush green, and the passing clouds letting a drizzle here and there. The beautiful scenery brings her face to his forethought. The soft features of her face, the blazing eyes when he was a bit reluctant to do her bidding, the streak of anger, that vanished and played on her lips, the restrain, her stature with her hands on her hips…What am I doing? Why am I thinking of her? Oh! God….Please. *** ‘Ma´am, Ram Sahab, said, today by 2.30 pm a jeep would pick you up for the estate visit.’ said Mishra. ‘He won't come?’ asked Sita.  ‘Don’t know, maybe he is busy, otherwise, he would come.’  She got ready and wore the saree, that she mistakenly asked Ram to get it ironed, on her first morning there in the resort. She walks out to the main entrance and waits for the jeep. With the camera in her hand, she gets lost in the beautiful landscape and starts taking pictures.  Lost in the picturesque mountains and tea estates in front of her, she walks slowly down the winding path, clicking pictures on the way, unaware of a Jeep following closely behind. Despite its size, the vehicle is almost silent in its pursuit. She feels lost in the landscape and the pathways ahead of her appear narrow and running downhill. Not sure, if to continue or go back the way she came, she turns around to notice a jeep in the distance and a person walking towards her. Realizing she has wandered away from the resort, she heads back to meet the person in the middle. She realizes it is Ram, walking towards her when he is in close range. She stops and waits for him to approach.  She asks, ‘I thought you said you weren't coming. Someone else was supposed to pick me up. Why are you here?’ With a smile, he responds, ‘I hope, the guest isn't disappointed. Am I right?’ She just looks at him with her eyebrows raised, as if asking him what does he mean? He smirks and replies, ‘I understand we got off on the wrong foot. Don't worry, I won't hold it against you. You've been doing well on your own, but next time you venture out, bring someone who knows the area and its wildlife.’ She moved closer to him and almost held his hand when she heard the word 'wildlife'. As he was intently watching her, she created some sensible distance between them. They start walking slowly back to the jeep.  *** It has been almost two months since her escapade, but now it was time for Sita to face the reality of returning to work, the city, family, friends, and relatives. She wasn’t sure how it will turn out to be, but she was kind of ready to face it all again.  Unless a miraculous occurrence, such as a certain man in her dreams, materialized, she could not remain indefinitely. She was about to leave soon and had to comply with the situation. She stood on the balcony, lost in her thoughts, gazing at the mountain range with longing. Ram tapped her right shoulder, disappeared and appeared to her left. In utter confusion, she turned from right to left, finding Ram on her left.  He smiled, took her hand, and led her to the darkness of the staircase alley,  and in the smouldering shadows of the staircase, he stood close to her, and she looked at him with a questioning expression. He pointed to the cameras on the balcony sill and took her hand, in his hand. Looking at her with an unexplainable feeling, he spoke in a husky tone that sent shivers down her spine. She was sure he could hear the echo of her heartbeat.  ‘I am sure if I don’t tell you now, I will never be able to tell you. So, I had to tell you come what may and that is also one of the reasons, to be here in this cramped place. Please bear with me, I will be quick’ said he.  She could hear herself trembling inside, but on the outside, she kept a calm face and looked at him earnestly.  After a deafening pause, he continued, ‘I like you’, and looked into her eyes for a reaction or a change, but she remained stoic from the shock of the revelation.  ‘It seems like I have developed feelings for you. I can't bear the thought of you leaving tomorrow, but I understand that you have other commitments. If I want to be with you, I know I need to put in the effort. I'm not sure where to start, but I believe we have a connection worth exploring.’  ‘But…’ 'Sita, I know. But I need to express myself. I don't want to pressure you. Take your time to think about it. I'll be here waiting. You have my number, it won't change.'  She walks away from him with a thundering heart but then turns back to give him a faint smile, in response to his full open smile. Sita is unsure how to respond to his confession. She has to return to her family and business.  After returning home, she keeps her feelings under control. Despite network unavailability, she occasionally could chat with him and she longed to be with him. Slowly, gaining confidence she confided in her parents, who were willing to support her decisions. She kept reminding herself that if she was to consider Ram´s confession, she must tell him about being left standing alone on her wedding day by the man she was about to marry. She was clueless about his action and its repercussions.  *** Despite the ache in her heart, she found solace in revisiting the serene resort and its lavish estates through a photo album. As she stumbled upon a candid snapshot of him, her attention was momentarily diverted by his name flashing on her phone. ‘Hello, is everything all right? You are calling at an odd hour. I hope all’s well.’ With a chuckle, he answers, ‘...it depends on how you take it.’ ‘What?’  ‘I am in your city, staying at the Palm Groves Hotel. Varuviya, Sandhipoma.’ [Speaking in their mother tongue, for the first time, he asks her] - Will you come, Let´s meet?   Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!