NAME: Michelle Evans
COURSE: English and Publishing
MODULE: Creative Writing
ASSIGNMENT TITLE: Salman and Me
At first I didn’t recognise him. How was I expected to? The image I had etched into my memory was of a much younger, eager man. Now, as I watched the television in stunned silence, I realised that the person I had fallen in love with, the untouchable I sold my soul to, was lost in a sea of political fear, never to be free again. I held out my hand and slowly traced his face on the screen with my finger, remembering how once, in the hot brooding months spent together in Aymanam, we had traced every part of each other’s bodies with our fingers; learning the unchartered territory by heart. Of course we were never meant to be. When my father, who held the position of High Commissioner of the British Embassy, was told of our friendship, he threatened to have Saleem’s fingers removed if he were to continue the cross cultural liaison and so, after much discussion, we decided to part until such time that his writing brought him enough money for us to leave together. I prayed every night; I prayed that God in all his wisdom would forgive Saleem his failings as a Christian and deliver him his rights as an author. By early June, as the high winds of the monsoon season broke into the solace of the sun’s rays my prayers were answered and Saleem left Aymanam in search of greater things and, as I would later discover from his sister, as she washed her hair at the bank of the river, even greater women.
Eventually, my father grew weak. At first I believed him to be ageing. His hair had grown grey and had started to recede from the sides forward, his face had lost the complexion of an Englishman over-ripened by the Indian sky and had become sallow and drawn and his heart, once weakened by my illicit love affair, but strengthened by his triumphant parting of us, now barely beat to the traditional pace of his former self. It was no longer than five months after returning to my birthplace of London when my father quietly passed away without a sound in the night. It appeared that his mark on the world was complete and I, no longer playing the role of a child, but baring the scars of real womanhood, was alone.