With a newspaper tucked under one arm and a packet of grilled club sandwich in the other I made my way to a bench in a secluded spot in the park. The Jacaranda trees were in full bloom, and patches of colourful flowers added to the beauty of the place. Scented rose bushes, borders of marigold and asters in neat rows in blue, pink and white adorned the garden area. The lawns were well maintained, and beautiful multi-coloured butterflies fluttered their tiny wings against the flower tops. A faint easterly breeze stirred the delicate heads of yellow buttercups where I sat.
Making myself comfortable on the bench and spreading the newspaper on my lap I was ready to take the first bite of my lunch when I saw her.
A pretty young woman her hair held up with a clip high on a full head, a peach and cream complexion on a flawless skin came towards to where I sat and, on seeing me her big hazels eyes opened wide, startled. She stopped and taking a step backwards exclaimed, “I-I’m sorry. I didn’t expect anyone to be here.”
“Oh, that’s perfectly alright, “I replied warmly, “there’s room for both of us on this bench.” Sliding across a little and patting the seat beside me I asked her to join me for lunch.
She hesitated, shrugged her petite shoulders and sat down leaving some space between us.
We sat in silence as we both munched on our sandwich. Once the ritual of eating was over I turned to her, “You visit this garden often?” I asked in a friendly voice.
“Almost daily,” she replied.
“But not alone,” I continued. “It’s just a guess….”
She looked at me and smiled her pretty face radiant with happiness. “You’re right, Dinesh and I usually come here together during the lunch hour, but today, he’s attending a seminar”.
“What a shame,” I sympathized, “It must be nice to share lunch with a friend, especially if he is a man. Dinesh is your boyfriend I presume? Forgive me for being so nosy dear.” I hastily added.
She didn’t seem to mind. “He is more than just a boyfriend”.
“I hear wedding bells.” I teasingly smiled at her.
At that her face clouded and she looked thoughtful. “I love him so much, but I’m afraid there won’t be any wedding bells,” she said sadly.
“I am sorry to hear that. A pretty girl as you are should never get a thought like that. Doesn’t Dinesh feel the same way about you?” I asked curiously.
“No, it’s not that he does not love me. The problem here is that he is not free to marry me, he is already married.”
“I see…that makes it difficult, doesn’t it?” I said. “Would you like to speak about it dear? Talking about it will help clear the cobwebs.” I volunteered sympathetically.
She sat there staring at me, undecided, but also had that eager look about her, ready to unburden her troubled mind. She began to speak quite freely. “Dinesh is a wonderful man. He is intelligent, loving and attentive. Handsome and full of life, and also popular with his colleagues….”
From the way her eyes sparkled as she spoke about him I could see that she loved him very much. She made a pretty picture too, as the beam of sunlight streaming through the leaves fell on her, creating a halo around her head. It was easy to understand why a man, even a married one, would lose his head over her.
She glanced at her watch and commented, “I don’t have much time left. I have to leave soon.”
“Your office is not situated in this area?” I asked.
“No, its five blocks away. But since Dinesh’s work place is just a block away we meet here for lunch,” she explained.
“How very romantic you young people can get. You walk five blocks just to spend a quarter of an hour with your man? What a shame you have to leave. I was enjoying our little chat. Anyway, you were telling me about Dinesh’s marriage?” I pushed on.
“His marriage is not working out. And that is no fault of mine mind you,” she insisted vehemently. “Dinesh was unhappy long before we met. He had stopped loving his wife and has been desperately unhappy with his marriage for a long time now.”
“Why?” I prompted.
“Anjali, that’s his wife’s name, is not a nice person to live with, he is so very miserable in this relationship, he feels suffocated by just being with her.” She cried out.
“Those are strong words my dear. He really feels suffocated and miserable?” I questioned her.
“It’s difficult to explain.” She looked uncomfortable and uncertain all of a sudden.
“Are you married?” she asked me abruptly.
…… to continue