Visiting the same river twice
Visiting the same river twice
Nadee and Ganga were cousins who grew uptogether. After Highschool Nadee goes abroad for higher studies. Story starts with her return and unravels what she had been going through. Ganga understands that experience can change a person and they could never be the same.4
New adult fiction
Shyamika Hapuhinna (Sri Lanka)
“Ganga, why do you look so alarmed, can’t you recognize Nadee?”
When Akash, my brother asked me when they visited my place with her parents, it took some time for me to accept that it is her. The straitened hair and fair skin may have been made it difficult for me to recognize her. But it was not that. There was something strange in her eyes too. Well, it is not even the blue lenses that she has changed into. She didn’t have that age old comfortable air around her. Instantly I felt that she is not in my comfort zone anymore and I’m not in hers either.
Nadee was my play mate friend and crime partner until we finish high school. Back then, almost everybody in the school believed that we are sisters of the same parents for we were often found together, and resembling similar features from my mother’s family – brown eyes, tanned skin and almost spiral hair curls. We also shared a specific whistle which worked like a fire alarm to warn each other at times of risk.
Nadee was sitting by her parents and appeared to be a shy girl visiting a place for the first time. My elder brother Akash seem to be having a particular gaze at her – may it be the straight hair or fair skin. My mind instantly went back the memory lane and recalled how my brother used to make fun of our dark skin and spiral hair, teasing that we were both adopted orphans. Akash, my brother inherited a fair skin from our father and grew up, proud of that. Nadee in her fair skin, seemed to have made my brother perceive her as an entirely new subject – not that old Nadee he used to tease. My brother’s new obsession over her didn’t mean much to me. It is not that old Nadee anymore and that’s what mattered to me.
“So Nadee was your play mate…. Don’t you think she would fit right with us…?” My mother asked me at the dinner table, after they left. As she was inquiring me, I also noted that her eyes were trying to catch Akash, whose ears were at this end but still pretended to be obsessed with his mobile.
I instantly realized their plan.
“Why should she live here for the rest of her life? she has her own home…”
Seeing no point of asking me further, my mother simply added a comment, “Ganga, people may look different when they come after spending years in a foreign country”. She rose up to clear the dinner table. I went forward to the kitchen to help her. As I turned at the wash basin to wash the pans and plates, Akash came behind me and patted my shoulder. “Silly, can’t you understand that mother wants her to be your sister in law?”
“You don’t need to tell me that! I can see that”. Akash only smiled at himself and didn’t answer. Suddenly feeling my mother’s presence, he vanished.
Couple of days passed by. Nobody mentioned anything particularly about the subject. I continued with my work. After completing my bachelors in Education, I secured a teaching position at a girls’ school and I was busy encouraging my students to launch a magazine. My days spent teaching the students and reviewing the articles students have submitted to their journal. One day as I was working after school on the magazine, I got a message from the office saying that I have a visitor. Since I could hardly guess of anybody, I went straight to the office to see Nadee waiting for me at the reception. Seeing that reception was not the place to be kidding around, I came out of the office with her.
“So, you have become so official...?”
“Ganga, it is not like that. I’m sorry I appeared strange even when I visited your home that day. I badly wanted to catch up with you. But with your brother looking at me that… I just couldn’t”
“Oh, ho… so you were getting electric shocks?” I looked at her with a teasing look. For a moment I felt that good old times are back.
“That is exactly why I wanted to visit you like this. Not to talk about your brother, the way we talked about our crushes back then. But if I were to tell this to anybody, that could be only you. If anybody ever understand me, that could be only you. Can you just spare me some time?”
I looked straight at her eyes. She has removed her blue lenses and was in her natural brown eyes. I instantly sent a message to my students that I have to leave and instructed them also to leave. We went to a newly opened coffee shop in the town, which was my new favourite. She made some comments on how the town has changed. What followed took me away in to a different world.
We didn’t realize time passing, until the waiter came and told us they are going to close. It was almost getting dark. I had kept my mobile silent since morning as I was teaching in the classes. Once I noticed 15 missed calls from my mother and another 20 missed calls from my brother, we had no choice but to hire a cab and fly home. After facing an hour’s session of cross examination at my mother’s court, for she was the judge and my brother, the lawyer from the prosecution as always had been, I went to my room and had the door closed.
Nadee’s first 3 years following the Vet. Degree has all been peaceful. Once she started her internship was where her life turned upside down. She has fallen in love with one Mike, a farm owner, who often visited the vet hospital with the animals in his farm, when they were sick. As months passed by, they were known as a popular couple in the community, as they were often seen together walking down the streets, in the park, in the farm, etc. By the time her practical exams were approaching, a new consultant came to the hospital as the head of their unit. Before long, Nadee realized that this 55 years old senior spending more time examining her trials than the others, and was having a strange gaze which gave her goosebumps. She has had no time to spend time with James during the exam period.
On the last day of the practical exams, the head consultant called her to the room and proposed her to be his paramour. The offer was more of a command than a request. If she were to accept, she would get flying colors and would be given an appointment in the same hospital itself. If not, it could mean that she could simply fail the exams. She instantly recalled of her parents in debt having funded her studies abroad. She couldn’t go home as a failed student. She only replied “Sir, I can’t face my parents without the degree in my hand, they have suffered a lot”. Mr. Jordan taking this as an acceptance, let her go for that day, but demanded her presence at the Starbucks café at 6. P.m., seeing through her body and having many plans in mind. Nadee having had no choice, told Mike everything and asked him to escort him to the café for her safety; only to realize that Mr. Jordan is Mike’s father.
Nadee didn’t tell me anything about the rest of the evening. Whether she succumbed to Mr. Jordan or whether Mike rescued her is a mystery. The next morning the results were out and she has practically topped the batch. Immediately after seeing the results, she straightaway did the needful to collect her certificates, went to a saloon and had a different look, and didn’t wait for graduation.
On the day before the flight, she left a thank you note to Mr. Jordan and a goodbye note to Mike. She took the flight and came home. She just wanted to close the chapter behind her and forget whether a Mike or a Jordan ever existed in her life. She finally said “Ganga, I missed my period this month. I could be pregnant. If so, it could only be Mike.”
I cannot say, whether she would or could join my family as my brother’s wife. I don’t even know what she would do about her life. I only realized that time and distance doesn’t change people but experience does. I know that I cannot see her again as that old Nadee. Both our names, Nadee and Ganga, means river.
We cannot visit the same river twice.
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