A blank page, that’s how Jeff felt. Lonely, abandoned and unfulfilled. There had to be something more than the physical love in brief relationships that led nowhere. He hadn’t found the magic told in books or heard in songs to fill the page with words.
The house seemed empty without his mother. He’d lost her to cancer a year ago. A widow who had brought him up with love and affection, but a tight grip on discipline and manners. He didn’t remember his father who had died of a heart-attack when he was four. Only the images from photos in his mother’s album. A stranger called ‘dad’.
Throughout his education, he achieved good grades, a degree in computer sciences, and had begun a career as a programmer. Science, sports, and a keen interest in arts were the highlights of his preferred pastimes. He kept away from politics and daily headlines. His mates, mostly married, with kids, teased him on a being a confirmed bachelor at the age of thirty-five.
Yet, his single status came with rewards. He was the sought after guest at dinner parties to balance the number of the male and female invitees. Sometimes he would have a fling with an attractive blonde in the party, other times he would return home on his own.
On one of these occasions, when his eyes landed on a brunette sitting at the far side of the long table, something ticked inside him. Pushing the dark locks away from her face, she seemed to be engrossed in a heated conversation with the guy sitting next to her. He tried to read the movements of her cherry lips as her animated hand gestures accentuated the many rings on her fingers. Then, she had turned around and when their eyes met, she had smiled to him. He smiled back.
After dinner, he followed the trail of her spicy perfume into the lounge and at the first opportunity introduced himself . “Hi, I’m Jeff, friend of Allison.”
Dark eyes lined with kohl perused him. She beamed, perfect ivory teeth peeking between full lips. “Nice to meet you, Jeff. I’m Monsoon.”
“The artist? How delightful. I love your paintings and the exotic name that complements them.”
“I was born in the Far East, hence the name and the subject matter.”
“Do you live here, now?”
“For many years, but I do visit the Orient, occasionally, to find new inspiration.”
“What is the latest theme?”
“Bali, the Hindu paradise.”
“I’ve never been there. Are you with someone? Can I refill your glass?”
“I’m with an old friend, I’d love another drink.”
They talked the entire evening at the end of which she took him to her studio apartment and to her bed, after slipping off the colourful sarong wrapped around her slim figure.
When Jeff woke up, he was in love, with the artist, the mysterious female lying fast asleep next to him and everything that made up her world.
What Jeff didn’t know about Monsoon was that she was a political activist, a human rights defender in countries where such violations peaked. Indonesia being one of them. A few months later, he took a sabbatical and followed her to Bali, where Monsoon had rented a house by the sea.
Life was perfect until she joined demonstrations on behalf of Amnesty International. She was arrested for disturbing the peace on the island and taken into custody.
Jeff was devastated. He hired lawyers to defend her, yet the authorities were strict and ruthless against protesters who were jailed under primitive conditions. Three months later, when he was finally able to obtain a pass to visit her in prison, he could not believe his eyes. She had lost weight and bruises on her bare arms showed the extent of the circumstances she was confined under.
Her lively eyes clouded with dark circles around them, she gazed at him. “Jeff, you must let go. Go back and live your life. I’ll be here for a while. This is not the first offence I’ve committed in this country. They’re digging up all the information back in Jakarta where I organized many demonstrations in the past. They might relocate me there. It will be a long trial if there is ever one.”
“I will not, my love,” Jeff said, adamant. “I’ll be wherever you are, until they set you free. It’s not like they’ll give you life sentence. I’ll wait.”
“What about your job? You can’t ruin your career and stay here indeterminately.”
“I’m a computer programmer. I can find a job anywhere in the world, working freelance. All the global companies are here. Don’t you worry about that. If necessary, I’ll sell my house in England.”
“This makes me sad, Jeff. I’ve been nothing but trouble to you. I’ve run over your life like a hurricane, destroying your peace. Please, forget all this and make a new start.”
“I can’t, Monsoon. You taught me love, filled my life with that warm breeze, and the soothing rain that comes afterwards. The winds can be fierce at times and the torrential rain can cause floods, but I’m strong enough. I’ll endure the pain.”
He held her hand and brought it to his lips. “Marry me, Monsoon, even the wildest storms subside in time.”