It was dark. But not so dark that you can’t see. He gets up from his bed and moved towards the window and lifts the curtain to peek around. Slowly. Very slowly.
Would she be here today? Will she dance like she did the other time? wondered Rue.
It was totally accidental. There was a power cut and Rue couldn’t sleep that night. The hot air combined with the musky smell that lingers long after the cleaning lady leaves makes the room unimaginable without the constant drone of the ceiling fan. He had got up to open the windows and let the sea breeze in. Little had he known what awaited him the other side of the window. And he was hooked after that.
It became a ritual, power cut or otherwise. He would wake up at 12 every night and move towards the window. Slowly lift the pretty hand stitched curtains that were once his mom’s pride and gaze down at the garden. Some days she is there and some others she is not. On the days that he finds her, she usually dances around the bushes picking the flowers or fruits that had fallen on the ground and stacks them in the corner.
Papa always thinks it’s the work of the musk-scented lady and uses it as an opportunity to talk to her, thank her and of course touch her. He thinks Rue does not notice but Rue does. Rue can very well see that his papa’s damp hands on the cleaning lady’s shoulders actually wish they were a little lower. He had seen Papa staring at the lady’s chest on many occasions. Even when mom was around. Mom had not minded. Rue had. He does. He hates the cleaning lady.
On this particular night, she is not there. In fact, Rue had almost given up hoping to see her again ever since last month’s incident. On that day, Rue had been foolish enough to call out to her. One look at Rue and she just vanished. Vanished into thin air. Rue wished he hadn’t done that. But he had been so sad and so delighted - both at the same time. He had wanted to feel her arms around him once again. Have her kiss him one last time. Snuggle against her breasts and feel like a baby again. Oh, if only…
Stepping up his courage, Rue moves away from the window towards the door. Should he go down to the garden? Maybe she is hiding somewhere waiting for him to find her. That had been their favorite game after all. Playing hide & seek around the banyan trees.
The garden at this hour does not seem to be a friendly place. It hardly resembles the bright cheerful place of his memories. There are dark corners that seem to be arbouring evil things. The wind moving in and out of the banyan roots create a strange symphony almost like distant human whispers.
Rue picks up his nerve and steps into the middle of the yard. He calls out. Once, twice more. Nobody responds. He turns away dejectedly. He better go to sleep – he has a maths test to give tomorrow morning.
Wait. Was that his name? Is somebody calling his name? Nah. Imagination. He climbs the final steps into the house and closes the door quietly. After reaching his room, all he is able to do is fall on the bed and sleep which is weird. One would have expected him to cry. Cry like only a ten year old can. For his mom. But strangely Rue feels good. He nods off with a silly smile on his face.
Below, unseen by Rue, she dances. She smiles and she knows that she will always be there for Rue. Even if he can’t see her. Moms have an intense love towards their children and a fierce need to protect them at all times. Sometimes even after death.