Rimjhim was in doubt: serious doubt. Unfortunately, she did not realise she was in doubt, for she was not groomed to doubt. She was never an aspiring doubter.
Till today, that is.
It was about the bed. There was something wrong with it.
There was something terribly alluring about it.
Of course, beds are alluring by nature; it is part of their job requirement. In fact, that is precisely why they get bought.
But this was different, for Rimjhim was not lured by the bed because it was comfortable. If anything, it was the discomfort.
And it happened every night, night after night, for six months. Or maybe five.
It was the same routine every day.
Rimjhim had acquired the bed second-hand, from an auction in Park Street. She liked the wood. It could have been teak or mahogany; she did not care, largely because she could not tell one from the other. All she knew was that the colour was somewhere between ivory and ebony, and the wood was extremely hard.
[If the last seven words of the previous sentence made you smirk, this is not your kind of story. This one is full of innocence. I hope you have stopped counting.]
It was also about the enormity of it. Rimjhim liked space, a lot of it. She lived in a humongous apartment — big enough for a battalion of sorts — and lived alone. In fact, she chose to live in the suburbs for the same reason. Given the amount she was willing to pay, she could have acquired a two-bee-etch-kay at the heart of the city.
As was obvious, she had opted to combine two bedrooms. All she needed was a gigantic bed for no apparent reason.
This was it. It was not a king-size bed. It was almost a kingdom-sized bed.
Rimjhim often wondered what the previous owner used to do with it. Maybe have orgies, she thought. But then, this was big enough for three simultaneous orgies with no one having any clue about the other two.
Maybe he practised football on it.
But that was not her concern. She got what she had wanted to. It was time for her to acquire that dining table and the thirty-two chairs that came with it.
It was the same last night. It was a feeling that was too familiar to her, and yet there was a difference. She had the same dreams. She woke up at regular intervals.
She heard music, loud, eerie, ancient, wild music from a bygone era, from a place she had never been to.
She was good with music, but she could not place the instruments. She could not remember the tune, but the beats lingered with her, reverberating through her senses.
She found the rhythm disturbingly erotic. The imaginary drumbeat from instruments that were not drums. Wild. Chilling. Ripping apart. Almost forcing her to respond.
Only there was no one to respond to.
Or perhaps there was — or was there?
She must have imagined the masculine smell. That had to be a hallucination, despite its intensity.
It was irresistible at times. Rimjhim wondered where it came from. Maybe she was imagining that as well. It has been some time since she had been with someone.
Maybe she missed a male body. Maybe she needed that someone to rub her softness against, to nuzzle, to caress.
But this was not real. She could not nuzzle against nothingness.
And this continued, night after night, sucking Rimjhim into the vastness of the bed as she turned down one social obligation after another.
The rhythm and the masculinity. If only. At least one of them, if not together.
Rimjhim was exhausted tonight. She could not even muster the strength to order pizza. It was past midnight when she woke up with a jolt to that unmistakable virility of the smell.
Too late for pizza; or anything.
So she lay on the bed, clutching her phone, too drained for Maggi.
Minutes passed by, or maybe hours, as her insides churned with hunger.
Why was there no music tonight?
Then it happened. The aroma was unmistakable.
Spices: some familiar, others, perhaps not. But certainly spices. Cooked.
That could mean only one thing: food.
The fragrance was too close, too stark, too strong to be ignored, overpowering the smell she woke up to every night, the smell of the man that never was.
It grew stronger.
It was impossible to tell which smell was which as they wafted across the room, converging on Rimjhim from either side.
It was pleasing. It was crushing. It was oblivion.
Why are they not playing the drums? Food, music, sex...
And then she felt it. Something moving next to her, on the bed, the enormous bed, rolling, tossing...
She knew she had to leave the bed. That was the only way out. And yet she could not summon the energy.
She knew she ought not surrender, and yet she did, powerless, unable to get away from the bed that engulfed her entirety.
The bed creaked. No, it probably crunched. There was definitely something, and that something was gigantic. She wondered what it would feel like to be crushed by a human of that size...
No, no, no, that is not what you should be thinking about... you should be running away...
And then, in that darkest of nights, with a creak and a crunch, from the depths of the bed that lay in that colossal room in the remotest of suburbs, Kumbhakarna rose again.