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The Woman Who Read Camus

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A haunting tale by Subhadip Majumdar of a mariner describing his call to the sea.

***I am an old sea-faring dog, but within me is the soul of a haunted sailor. Somewhere between dark clouds and jagged streaks of lightning, the tempest will come again…. But I defy it. The sea never shares her secrets, but when her time is full, she wakes in laughter and roils against those who challenge her storm or the might of her waters. It’s a thing mariners sense in their souls. Each time we wonder: Will Neptune protect us, or will he delight in watching us go down in his waters. He listens for our laughter to make his choice. If he detects fear, our doom is sealed.

Having learned this and survived many encounters with an angry sea, one begins to question if his next voyage will be his final one or if the enchantment will hold. It is a thing sea dogs look for in each others eyes. Is your mate fearful? Has his time come? Or does he keep going back to sea because others might think him less a man if he does not? What is his standing with Neptune on this voyage? Will Neptune spare your ship for the sake of this man?

So I go to sea, again and again. When the roar comes and waves crash into white, will my words break into foam and make me feel the fool for thinking as I do? Or will I lie immersed, clothed only in bones at the bottom of the abyss? That’s is the question of the sea. Sometimes I cry, entangled in the deluge, a man who dares dream differently and love differently than others, a man who dances with the void and the vapor, trusting in the storm!

There is a breed of woman who appeals to mariners and meets our needs. They offer harbor from breakers, carry us through storms of passion in their arms and bring us to the vastness beyond. I watch such a woman on the beach of an island in my mind. She runs along the sand, plays with waves and recites Camus:

“Don’t walk behind me; may not lead.
Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Just walk beside me, and be my friend.”

I can’t believe what I hear. It comes from a woman who flirts with the sea. She wears a long blue green frock that waves in the wind and presses her form, her bare legs flash in a hue of beauty. The sun sets pink on her neckline–curved and beautiful. A salty smile slips across her face, and her naked feet form ripples that spill froth into brown sand. After half an hour of play, she turns to me in a completely wet dress that hugs her tightly. I stare down her beauty. She passes me–the smell of alcohol on her breath, the wild, windblown scent of of jasmine on her body, a salty smile on her face. She leaves, but I know she will be back, for we are kin.

This night I walk the beach again and see her. I knew she felt my longing. I knew she would respond and seek a rendezvous.

She stands near a dugout boat in the shallows and caresses me with her smile. I walk close, as if to speak with her, but I am silent, waiting on her words. Our eyes lock. Only my breathing touches her, and she must speak.

“No one has ever seen me or touched me with their eyes as you have. You are a writer, are you not?”

“I am a writer of sorts,” I reply.

“You have the eyes of a poet, taking in what you see, assessing, undressing and getting to the core of matters.”

“And you, lovely lady, are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. It’s easy to open my eyes to you and let you peer into my soul.”

“You made something happen in me, and I am not myself. I am yours, and I offer myself to the writer I wish to read again and again.”

She touches my hand, then my face and lips. In the faint moonlight, she still wears the frock that aroused me so, but she removes it, and I remove her red lace panties.  I run my hand across her loins, caress her soft pink breasts and erect nipples. She removes my trousers and I enter her. The boat rocks in the waves as we make love, and the waves come over the sides to spray us. She is the most sensual woman I’ve ever known, and I am lost within her, exploring the heaven of her love as we make our own spray.

“In the silky moonlight, in the depth of winter, you have taught me that within, there is perpetual summer.” Her words are flames that warm my ears. I cannot speak but shiver. How can one touch me so deeply, thrill me so completely?

Searching her eyes, I ask “You love Camus, don’t you?”

“He is the only man that I have ever loved. Yet I have waited for a man like you and I knew I would make love along the shore. The strange thing in my life is that the images I see too often become real. It happened after my father’s death, when mother left with another man. It was then I knew that I would lose my maidenhead to the sound of waves upon the sand.”

Then she straddles me and puts her lips on mine.

After an hour of caressing and loving and laying naked in the boat, she says, “I wish to see you again but not in India.”

“Then where?”

“On some small, beautiful shore in Europe.”

Without saying more or giving me time to respond, she slips into her floral frock and leaves me with the waves and her wild erotic fragrance.

For two days I wait, but she has gone.

*****************************************
Years later, in Croatia, at a small sea side town I receive an email message.

“Many years ago we met. Then I was in my youth! It was on the seashore somewhere in India where you changed my life. I cannot forget the writer who loved me in a dugout, buffeted by the winds and waves. Remember? If you are near the sea tonight, join me by the lighthouse.”

Is this the woman I met in Goa? If she is, of course I’ll meet her. I’ve never forgotten how she made me feel. My years of sailing the oceans and writing about the world were flavored with her passion. An hour after dinner I walk to the lighthouse. There, at the edge of the waves, light from a half broken moon shines down, but it’s enough to show her red skirt and white top. She is, in fact, my dream woman!

“Hello, Fredrick, I am Elif!” she responds.

“It is good to know your name,” I said. “You never told me.”

“There was no time for that,” she answered, “only for the searching of each others souls.” We smiled our way into one another’s thoughts and laughed.

She continued, “You have turned into a fine writer, one easy to locate. When my friend in Zagreb told me you were here in town, I thought we should meet again.”

“What of you?’ I asked. “Where have you been for so long a time?”

“Life has dealt harshly with me and turned me into a whore! I have gained all then I lost it back, but I’ve been waiting to see you one last time. That afternoon and night of madness! It is hard to explain what it’s like to try to recapture what I lost, to search for you in every man I meet–living only to find another you!”

“Why is that?” I ask.

“Because you’re the only man I’ve ever truly loved, and it just happened–like something out of a dream that haunts me every time that I make love.”

Elif opens her mouth once more to kiss me. I cannot resist the urge to kiss her back, and the time we lost away from one another disappears. The wait was worth it. Soon we make love again, on the beach, in the water, beneath the lighthouse. The storm surrounds us, and lightning strikes once more. Through the night we love like poets, ever seeking, never finding, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, seeking vulnerability. We reach for each other again and again, sensing it will be the last greatest passion we will feel, that the storm will drown us and leave us alone. Our moaning matches the breakers and bleeds into the sea. We make love again in the shelter of a fisherman’s boat, and the the remembrance evokes tears. Finally we fall to rest in each others arms, hugging to keep warm, drunk with the intoxication of perfect surrender.

As I awake Elif is gone like the perfect dream of pleasure. There is no trace of her. I dress in my wet clothes and retrace my way to the hotel. There on my laptop is a message from Elif:
“We can never meet again, but this last night was enough to fill me for the rest of my life. You are the only man I’ve ever loved. Keep writing. It is your gift, and it is where I will always find you and nurture you in dreams. Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower–Elif.”

I sit for a while with a coffee, feeling numb. In know it is no use to search for her. She is a woman who lives in her own world, but I send an email reply, “Elif you are remarkable. Live a happy life. Don’t waste your days, and always think of me as I will think of you. Your love is too precious for words, more than I deserve, but I have known it for two magnificent days which is more than most people have in a lifetime.”

I pack and buy a ticket to Barcelona. I never hear from Elif again until twenty years later when I am sixty. A courier comes to my house with a letter.

“Once I was an artist. And this is my masterpiece. Now I am selling everything and soon I will be gone –Elif.”

I tare the paper from her offering. It is a picture of a virgin woman in a blue green frock, bathing in the sea at Goa.

“Is this painting yours, Sir?” the delivery man asks.

“Indeed it is. This painting is the story of my life.

I smile and sign the receipt.
*****

Author Subhadip Majumdar

Subhadip Majumdar a writer poet from India. He is certified in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa. He also edited a reputed Bengali poetry journal. Wrote a short novel as Tumbleweed writer in Shakespeare and Company, Paris. Two poetry books published and one novel in process of publication.

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Published inRomance

3 Comments

  1. Sandra Sandra

    Great story, thanks for sharing!

  2. Cynthia Cynthia

    Keep it up, you guys write really well!

  3. Smith Smith

    I must confess I really love your blog. More stories like this please!

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