Putting his rugged hands into the pocket to feel safe that’s it’s still there in his pocket, he felt a sublime shock when his fingers touched it. Every time he touched it, it brought a smile to his face. After every few minutes, he would be checking if it’s safely there in his shirt pocket and every few minutes he felt that electric shock. As he walked, it brushed his nipple leaving him ecstatic, he was almost dream walking. Dreaming of the black silhouette of Isabel, from a distance casting its white shadow when the sun was setting down and a starry night was about to begin. The sacred dusk of their meeting when fire flies would slowly emerge from their nest dancing to the tunes of the drizzling rain, and in a distant the nightingale would sing a song of passion from her blood red breast as if a thorn was stuck in her heart creating the most passionate song of longing. Isabel still waiting at the lighthouse overlooking the mournful cliff, where loneliness spoke in silence from the rocky caves and the sea cried listening to their aching sobs.

Isabel has waited for years at the lighthouse looking at those mammoth ships in the hope that he would return one day. In the beginning, she would carry his letters at the lighthouse and read them to herself again and again. She would leave Thomas to play on his own, on the yellow grass. Thomas was only one year old, when he had to go again on those giant ships to work. Isabel had no idea of the life on those ships, where for weeks no land is seen and its only water all around. She would hold his letters close to her bosom and read them out to the mournful cliff. That’s how for ages, aching sobs of lonely souls crying bitterly could be heard from there, consoling themselves into a state of complete love, fulfilled heart and euphoric togetherness. That euphoria was always a distant dream, and it’s been five years that Victor hasn’t returned, His letters which used to arrive every fortnight, now only come once in six months.

Thomas is six years old, able to speak, recite, feel, express his anger, rejoice in tenderness. He loves his school up on the green hill, from where he can see the whole world. Like his mother, he too sits on the rock at the top of the green hill and, sings to himself songs of love. He doesn’t remember anything about his father. Possibly, the memory of a year-old child vanishes in growing years, leaving no trace, not even the memory of the memory that, there could have been something in that time. Unlike, his mother’s mourning cliff, Thomas’s green hill is a cheerful place where brown rabbits dance to the tunes of the magpie robin shaking its tail, and green grass sways in merriment. Therefore, Thomas doesn’t like the yellow grass of life near the lighthouse, it pokes him leaving scratches on his dry itchy skin. Isabel also finds it comforting that Thomas can be on his own and she doesn’t need to show her grieving heart to him. Isabel yearns to be with Victor but never speaks to Thomas about him.

The moon slowly rises and her pale face resembles the moon’s loneliness. Both of them waning in despair every night and the only difference was, the moon was, full once again. But Isabel, was always incomplete and therefore she thought, the moon is fortunate than her. She wished to be a star in the sky. A tiny dot among the millions of stars, where no one star has an individual existence or identity. It wouldn’t matter, if each night one star twinkles or not, unless you’re the North Star. She wanted to be a self-illuminating, lonely and insignificant star in the sky.

When Victor responded to her twenty odd letters with one reply, Isabel somewhere started feeling the void within her. She knew, she loved him like nobody but she didn’t know now whether she should have any hope of him returning. Hope was a dangerous thing for a woman like Isabel. This hope would pin her on this lighthouse, like Christ on the cross. Soon her white shadow would merge with the white lighthouse, and her soul fuse with the lantern of the lighthouse, guiding wayfarers who had lost their way. Isabel no longer carried those letters, probably some of her expectations had diminished and she didn’t want to be disappointed but some expectations still remained.

Isabel was going melancholic insane, ricocheting between expectations and disappointments. She couldn’t choose to abandon the hope, that he wouldn’t return. She also didn’t know how life would be if he returned. Was she, somewhere in the innermost chamber of her heart wishing, that he shouldn’t return? No one can answer this, but her. Isabel had given her soul to Victor and her body was decaying without it. What Isabel could have been waiting for perhaps wasn’t Victor, but to take her soul back, so that the blood in her body could flow once again and breath, breathe in the body once more. While Isabel waited for Victor, she was waiting for her soul. She would look endlessly at the sky, thinking about stars and their insignificant lives. She yearned to be a star in the sky, wanting nothing, becoming nothingness, a precious empty life. A bright illuminating light, one day consuming itself with its own fire.

There were handful on nights, when her black silhouette would cast a white shadow on the lighthouse, the nightingale would sing and to the music of light drizzle, fireflies would dance to death. Waiting for the sight of the ship she recollects the lines she said to Xeeshan six years earlier, when both of them kept watching Victor’s ship, till it went out of sight. It was raining that evening and both of them stood near the mourning cliff, resigned to holding the umbrella that was being turned upside down, choking with the feeling of sadness after bidding Victor goodbye. Isabel had said to Xeeshan ‘I thought I would never find anyone until I met Victor. I didn’t give my body to him first. I gave him my mind, my feelings, my thoughts, dreams, memories, desires and beliefs. With time I realised it’s him who makes me complete, who makes me happy. We married and soon Thomas was born, I don’t really know if I would be able to deal with everything on my own without him’

“You’re Isabel, I’ve seen you grow up and I never thought that you are incapable of facing any sorrow in life. You have something mysterious about you from where you draw your strength, I don’t know what it is. Probably¸ there is another Isabel inside you from where you see the feeble life in a different way. And you’re not alone. I’m always there when you need me. And whenever you feel very lonely and left out, I’m going to be there, unless you throw me out with your childish madness” says Xeeshan teasingly and they both laughed standing at the mournful cliff. Isabel laughs once gain thinking about Xeeshan teasing her and it’s been six years since that rainy evening when Victor left and didn’t return.

For the first three years, his letters came regularly, and in the last three years only four letters. While laughing Isabel starts crying and tears flow from her eyes, tears of longing, tears of an aching body wanting its soul back. Suddenly, there is a tap on her shoulder, she turns to left and then to right and in front, on the edge of the cliff stands Xeeshan with his mischievous smile. Isabel’s tears of longing metamorphosize into tears of delight. Xeeshan’s presence fills her body with jubilation.

She asks him “When did you come? I keep my eye on the ship, I never saw any ship coming for last few days?”

Xeeshan answers in childlike tone ‘While you were busy looking at the sea for ships that never return, I flew up in the air to meet you’.

“You will never talk in direct ways Xeeshan, right? You always have to be fifteen years old, isn’t it?”, she asked.

“Yes, because there is no joy in being an adult”, he replied.

“But when did you come? I didn’t see any ship”, she exclaimed.

“Because I didn’t come by ship, I came by plane”, he explained.

“Just like that?”, she probed again.

“Yes, just like that! Everything doesn’t need a reason. A life lived unreasonably is more beautiful”, he responded.

Xeeshan had begun working on a ship two years ago, but he visited land often. He chose a ship that didn’t sail too far, from where, returning would be like Odysseus journey back to Ithaca.

He puts his hand in his pocket and takes it out, Holding something in his palm, he asks Isabel to open her palms. Isabel hesitantly open’s the palm because she knows that he would be up to something and would put some beetle on her palm that he would have found around. The moment he touches it, he feels it’s electrifying energy flowing all about him and he slowly holds her palm with his rough fingers and places the object on her palm.

“At last, I found something which possibly no one can find. I found a part of the world where you would like to be one day, where I would like to be one day. Two nothingness hanging in sky living a life of oblivion by giving out a light that only brightens the dark night in an inconsiderable way. Here is a meteorite for you, just like you, vapid and innocuous from another world, from nothingness”.

Isabel lifts the lid of her eyes and can’t hold the tears that surge looking at the dreamlike meteor on her palm. In that moment, she felt as if a soul had filled her aching body, it writhes in painful longing and she says to him “We should meet in another life, not like an entr’acte, but like a full-fledged play of life in the sky, you and me,……you and me should meet in another life”.

Written by Omkar Bhatkar

You can listen to the audio version of Entr’acte here