She got and opened the door.
A man stood outside. He was partially drenched by the rain. In one hand he held a dripping umbrella , folded, which he was shaking and in the other he held a 3 tier tiffin box, which remained miraculously dry, without a spot of rain on it.
'Velayudan' She addressed him,'You should have at least waited untill it stopped raining.' She took the tiffin box from his hand ' Come in.'
Velayudan remained at the door step.He shook his head in negation and said, 'Its okay, chechi. Meenu had the tiffin packed and I thought I will get it to you before it became cold. She told me to tell you that she has put in two pieces of fried sardines also.'
She smiled at the middle aged man who perhaps was older than her, yet called her chechi.
She came back into the room to place the tiffin on top of the table in front of me. ' You should tell her thanks from my side' she spoke loudly , so that Velayudan could hear outside.'You are really going out of the way. I have told you hundred times that I can manage to cook for myself. This is too much. At least let me pay you for the supplies'
She knew that Velayudan will not take her money. She has tried many times before.
Velayudan did not speak. He too has heard this lamentation too many times before.
'Chechi, who were you speaking to?' he asked, changing the topic and leaning inside to take a peak inside to see the visitor.
She turned around. She saw Velayudan looking at were Iam sitting. She saw that Velayudan could not perceive me. I smiled at her.
She walked towards the door. Velayudan retreated.' Nobody, you must have imagined it.'
'I heard you speaking when I rang the door bell' said Velayudan timidly,'Must have been the radio or something'
She did not answer.
'Chechi?' Velayudan asked, worried ' is everything okay?'
'Everything is fine , Velayuda , everything is fine' She assured him. 'Tell Meenu that I will come by on the way to the way to the Orphanage and drop off the tiffin box'
'Ok chechi' he replied. He stepped out from the porch and opened the umbrella.
She watched his retreating figure until he reached the road and closed the gate behind him.
'He could not see you' She said as she sat opposite me.
' No , he could not' I replied.
' Are you real?' she asked,'or is all this just my imagination? Am I going crazy?'
' Iam as real as you want me to be' I assured her,'Iam not the result of a delusional mind but then again that would be exactly what I would have said if I was a figment of you imagination.'
' You are confusing me. Please stop that.' She said. She leaned forward and held her head in the palm of her hands.
I stood up and walked towards her. She sat there , cradling her head. I knelt before her and gently took her hands in mine. She looked up.
'I understand a little better now' I said. She looked into my eyes . Enquiring.
I released her hands and got up. I walked towards the door and opened it. Outside , it was dark. The rain was letting up. I could hear the dripping of its drops from the trees in her garden.
I stood outside. The gentle drizzle caressed my face and body. He touched me as a gentle breeze.
How long must I endure this , my lord?
Until you find me in your search, my friend.
She is beautiful.
Ah yes, my friend, they all are, as you shall find.
The breeze died out.
I smiled at His silence.
But I do know a good soul when I see one , I whispered.
She was still sitting where I left her when I dispelled the will and dissipated the body.
Tomorrow Velayudan will find her in the same spot. He would have had to break open the door to reach her.
That night he will sit beside Meenu who lies on the bed sobbing. He will tell her how chechi was smiling when he found her. Then he will bury his head in the thin towel he clenches in his hand and cry uncontrollably.