The Tension is…
She walked into the crowded drawing room, tugging on her dress so that the slit would be where it was supposed to be – in front and to a side.
Saama was no stranger to big parties. Her family used to host these when she was growing up and as a child, no one really took much notice of her save for a few known faces.
It was the same now. The party at the manor had all the known faces to society of which precious few were known to her. Saama wandered around smiling as she grabbed a glass of whiskey on the rocks with some water and proceeded to enjoy the canapés that were being served around. Smoked salmon on a cream cheese biscuit, liver paté on a fried bread disc, crudités with a dip and sourdough discs with baked peach and burrata. It was quite yum. She was sure she saw some meat items being passed around but she had not yet encountered those.
Leaning against a doorway into the drawing area, she noticed the men in tuxedos pulling out their kerchiefs, pocket watches and the like. They were clustered in little groups, chatting, laughing and generally having a good time.
She heard the strains of the string quartet that was playing downstairs – the music drowned by the people with no mirth control and little care for such niceties. Try as she might Saama could not distinguish whether it was a Bizet or a Beethoven being played and so she gave up on trying to listen to the music. Instead, she stared around the room, sipping her drink slowly and cupping it in her bare hand complete with her teal sapphire and diamond ring.
Saama was decked in a midnight blue dress, figure hugging and long with the said slit on display showing her well honed leg. Her neckline was a boat with a suitable massive diamond and platinum pendant on display – the spoils of family heirlooms. Her feet were encased in black pumps and she had a small clutch purse now tucked under one arm as she surveyed the room. Her nails were painted a deep red and her lips matched this colour.
Saama was not altogether comfortable but at the same time she was happy that she could just observe the crowd as she blended into this menagerie.
She noticed Lady Fernando in a bright red dress with sequins all over – she was glittering like a butterfly. Too loud for a place like this thought Saama but then again the crowd was such that this was not a big deal.
As a 40 year old independent woman of great intellect, Saam had little time for societal nonsense like parties of this nature where everyone who was everyone was present but no one really knew anyone.
She remembered the invite delivered to her months prior by the host, Lord Soysa of Bagatalle. Such a sanctimonious little wretch he was. But he enjoyed Saama’s intellect on the rare occasion they would share a juicy morsel of knowledge coupled with a good giggle. She valued this level of friendship and knew his parties if anything, were of great meat for a mind like hers waiting to put it to paper on a good day with a good glass of Amaretto.
Saama noticed the accessories – the rather obvious Coco Chanel & Louis Vuitton bags and the rather surreptitious D&G belt buckles on the men coupled with a Rolex, Audemars Piguet or Cartier. Saama snorted into her drink – such pretensions from such scum. Honestly, a lot of them made their money through the back door – the “business” world of Colombo that did everything from drugs to sex work with no qualms whatsoever. They were stalwarts in their religious practices of course – poojas, Katina Pinkam, refurbishment of various religious places etc. I guess one balanced the sin with the charity. Helped to maintain the yin & yang of one’s life.
She decided she had observed enough here and slowly wandered around to the next room. This had more women who were seated on the plush couches and were gossiping about domesticity, the latest affairs and the latest shopping trips to Dubai, Singapore and the like. In a corner she noticed a group of men chatting. They seemed young – or rather her age. Not the usual 50+ year olds. Their laughter mingled with the cigar smoke and the men’s perfume and wafted towards her in a heady scent. She noticed a hand holding a glass of whiskey – it had a rather ornate gold ring with a black stone. The cuff of his jacket seemed adorned in some type of light brocade almost. Before she could see who it was she looked up into a pair of piercing black eyes. He had a straight nose, a goatee almost and a very noticeable face. She stared, half smiled and he nodded and moved back to look at the circle he was in. Saama was a tad unnerved but continued to look around the room as she sipped her drink.
As she stood there, Saama noticed a small room off the one she was in. What drew her to it was an antique writing table which was carved with beautiful roses on the side and had a sheen that was inviting. As she walked towards it she realised it led into a private area that had the trappings of a typical writer. The writing table was closed but the side bore the inscription “For those who dare” which intrigued Saama no end. She wondered who had put it there and to whom did this lovely desk originally belong. For she knew this was not anyone of Lord Soysa’s – such depth was not to be expected of him.
As she stood in front of the desk, she looked up slowly and noticed a beautiful painting mounted on the wall in a gilded dull gold frame. The painting was a party scene – quite similar to the one she had just left. The setting was a room with a lot of people talking and laughing in little groups with some clustered around an ornate divan with a pale green brocade. On one side was a woman in a blue dress with her hair piled on top, wearing a big pendant and she was staring across the room at a man who was on the opposite side. He was dark skinned, with his hair long and drawn back in a ponytail wearing a brocade coat over riding breeches. He was clutching a glass of whiskey in his hand as he stared across at the woman in blue. What caught Saama’s attention was his ring – a gold ring with a big black stone.
Saama was suddenly aware of a presence next to her and she quickly turned her head to see the man she had noticed before staring at the same painting she was. She was a tad unnerved till he after a moment, turned and smiled at her.
“Beautiful isn’t it?” he said.
“Yes, it’s quite striking” Saama replied.
“Reminds me of so many people and so many moments shared like this. Yet, this one, is not the same” he was staring at the painting as he said this.
Saama was quiet though she could feel his presence close to her and his cologne which reminded her of CK One. It was fresh and yet it complimented his overall look – smart yet different. He too had long hair she realised – braided and drawn back.
Saama slowly turned towards him and quickly glanced back at the painting. She could almost feel his gaze on her neck and yet she kept staring.
“It’s quite intriguing that a similar event is taking place here don’t you think?” Saama asked to dissipate the rather awkward silence. She was of course, referring to the party.
“Yes it is. It’s almost like déjà vu or some kind of strange premonition of the future.”
Saama continued to stare and then they both turned their faces towards each other. Saama was now clutching her whiskey glass – almost empty – with both hands and he was holding his in one hand.
“Sorry, I did not introduce myself before, my name is Carl” he said with a smile and extended his hand to Saama. She slowly unclenched her hands from around the glass and extended her right hand and shook his. She noticed that his hand was tattooed with some mathematical looking design but she dared not stare at it for too long.
It was a warm, comforting handshake. Saama and Carl were now staring at each other in almost deep contemplation.
“Saama.” She said after a long pause. “I am Saama”.
“Well Saama, this has been a rather intriguing encounter I would say. Yet I won’t deny it’s a pleasure.”
Saama did not know how to respond. They were now both facing each other, each holding onto a whiskey glass with one hand while the other was dangling down almost in hopeless denial of the need to reach out.
Saama was biting her lip and trying not to breathe fast. Carl was moving his fingers ever so slightly yet almost indistinguishably.
“Have you seen the rest of this place?” Carl suddenly asked this question while slowly holding onto Saama’s elbow and steering her towards the rest of the room. Saama’s breath quickened at his touch. It was firm and definite. There was nothing slimy about it. Yet she felt so exposed. Almost like he had touched her naked skin in an obscene manner.
“Actually no, I was drawn to that writing table and wondered who it belonged to. It’s a beautiful room.” Saama meant this as she took in the rest of the room with its many book shelves, more paintings but these were of scenery and animals and towards the middle was a divan in green brocade. Saama wondered if that had inspired the painting above the desk. There was a bay window in one corner but the curtains were drawn as it was night time.
As they completed the circle, Saama turned around until she was facing Carl. He slowly dropped his hand from her elbow and they just looked at each other for a long time.
“Do you know who this belonged to?” Saama asked Carl.
“No I don’t know. But I would love to get to know more” Carl responded.
He was looking dead into Saama’s eyes as he said this. Saama wondered but then stopped. It was too much or so she felt.
She could now definitely smell CK One on him and it was a wonderful aroma and it woke up things in Saama that she would rather not have mentioned.
Almost like a butterfly breaking free of the pupa, Saama felt the unfurling of feelings she had long suppressed in the name of being discerning and selective. Well, this specimen was not some riff raff but who the devil knows, she thought. And dear God, there was that tug which was never a good sign for any sanity afterwards.
Carl continued to look into her eyes almost as if he could see and feel the conflict behind them, the war that was waging between reason and desire.
He did not move, yet continued to look. Saama knew the battle was within herself and it was not his – his decision was clear in his eyes.
Carl slowly set his glass down on the writing table, just above the inscription.
This was not some ordinary encounter. This was the kind that melted diamonds in an explosion of lava. It wasn’t about just lust or sex. This was far more potent and it was slowly burning the shackles of Saama’s resistance.
“I think, the tension is…” she started to say as Carl moved towards her and gently took hold of both her arms in his hands…