The Bed Whispers to the Chair
The bed in the room has a metal frame around it that makes a box. This frame holds space like a secret. It is invisible and visible both. The thin mattress is covered by a spread, hatched-green like a table cloth in a restaurant. A small slice of afternoon sunlight falls across the foot of the bed. The light comes in through half open shutters that guard a screened window. Sometimes a breeze makes a billow in the cloth curtains that are bound across the top and the bottom, so that they puff. out like a large skirt on a little girl. There is a small chair and a desk with a metal lamp under the window. The desk gleams with recent cleaning.
Above the bed, on the metal framed canopy, is a cloud of white netting, to be pulled down and tucked tight for sleep by the next tenant. The netting falls down loosely as a bridal veil to the edge of the thin mattress. Sheets are left in a graduated pressed bundle with one narrow towel that is more dish worthy than skin appropriate. This stack of linens also waits for hands and intention to unlock their only purpose.
The floor is a scored cement with a sheen on it so that it catches the reflection of the broom as it moves across it in the hands of the. sweeper. She squats. Her orange and yellow sari bunches around her knees and she sweeps a narrow line of dust to the threshold, scoops it up into a plastic dustpan and stands. She is deft and efficient in her tasks. She carries her broom and bucket down the. hallway of identical doors. Across the veranda is a courtyard garden. The cleaner might be a child or small woman that has already had three children. From behind, her shape and her movements do not disclose her details.
Bougainvillea blooms like a hairstyle in the trees. There is another plant whose flowers are creamy flesh petals. The bed and the chair wait. The room is a shell without a heartbeat. It waits for the arrival of a traveler to breathe life into its vacancy.
In the airport of city, on the other side of the verdant Gatz mountains, a woman rolls her suitcase past airport guards on to a sidewalk with a crowd with other travelers. At the boundary, there is a rope line of drivers holding signs. She looks for the one with her name, and makes a smiling contact with this driver. He points her toward the rope opening and she finds her way around to hand him the handle of her bag. She relaxes a little and follows him as he leads her through the chaos to his waiting car.
Daylight lingers and shadows deepen in the courtyard. Mosquitoes sleep within the folds of the net waiting. Some residents make this their late afternoon bath-time because the solar heated water is at its hottest all day. They place a plastic bucket outside the communal bathroom for a boy who will come and fill it with water from the tanks. The plastic buckets echo as he puts them down filled with hot water, punctuating the afternoon sounds at the ashram. A man’s voice, in accented British says, Nancy are you here? Do you want Chai, as a bell sounds signaling tea time. More distant, is the sound of boys or men yelling somewhere outside the walls of the garden in some sports activity. Volley ball or cricket creates explosive intermittent roars.
Without a person, the room has no meaning, no purpose in this frame. It waits to wake up with the arrival of the next lodger. The woman holds a scarf around her face and looks out toward the lush view of mountains. Wondering. Monkeys perch on the guard rails as if they are counting cars and trucks who pass each other in a single lane sounding their horn as they go.
The bed and the chair feel a boy enter with the suitcase and place it against the inner wall. He hangs the travelers name from a brass hook on the bed with a date. Then the bed comes alive as the tag with the name vibrates and slows to stillness. The boy leaves the door open for the woman who is finishing the check-in paperwork. Finally alert, the bed whispers to the chair the unspoken hope — the possibility that the next one will bring with her — the Lord.
The chair asks the bed to tell the story again, now that they know someone is arriving. Perhaps, as it sometimes happens, God will arrive with the next one and make this room His Abode. The chair pulls in to the desk, both with their own longing to hear again this story. God will arrive with her and soothe her restlessness. He may stroke her brow while she sleeps, bones against the thin mattress. He may make the air move with a breeze, so that the mosquitoes cannot lay their eggs in her water. If He comes; when this happens, the chair whispers, God Himself, becomes the bed, and also the chair. All are in service to the woman’s longing. He will cradle her all through the night and, He will wake her at five am so that she may wash and dress and walk up the hill with the sunrise to sing the day and His Name awake.
© annie fahy, 2017