The novelist – chapter 3

“Old coot, bastard” exclaimed Jalal having inhaled some of the dust kicked up

“Well what do you except man, after the way you spoke to him we could have at least gone back with him” muttered zarmina, knowing they would probably have to in the next hour or so as the afternoon sun was burning fierce in the sky without any clouds in sight.

“Cmon zari don’t be so naive, all of these places are extremely expensive and we both know he wanted to just up his commission”

“Fine lets find us a shack by the water then, you can catch fish and then skewer me every night and we will be happy ever after”

“That’s not what I want!!!”

“Then what the hell do you want Jalal, ok lets walk a little further ok”

“Fine” He took her hand and trudged along the beach, walking past the estates sammy had shown them onto an emptier area of the beach, they saw some cows grazing peacefully, small straw huts along where they stood and walked on further till they came to another estate, a little run down but standing firm against the wind, some of the windows looked broken but were firmly shut as they strode up to the wooden fence surrounding it.

“Jalal this place is empty”

“Well we wont know till we ask will we” he said as he walked past the fence and into the yard to rap sharply at the door with a glass pane set in the middle with a white cloth covering it from inside.

“See no one there love”

He rapped again and suddenly the cloth was turned to the side and the wrinkled old face of an local Sinhalese woman about 60ish looking appeared beaming before them.  Her small and petite frame pressed up against the door and her eyes sharp through the glasses perched at the corner of her nose.

“Who are you, I don’t have any money to buy anything” She said as she eyed the couple standing at the door, their clothes shouting foreigner in a tongue she knew well.

“No we, could you please open the door” Said Zarmina as she strode forward smiling.

She nodded and turned the latch, sliding the door open and stepping out, her hair whitened with time and her gaze still fixed upon them.

“Yes now, don’t tell me you are lost”

Jalal peeked over his wife’s shoulder and smiled his most charming smile

“Not at all. We are just looking for a place and saw yours” he said

“Not for sale” the old one shook her head defiantly her eyes now piercing them

“Ok but maybe, we can take a look and rent”? Zarmina leaned in trying to show confidence and warmth with her body language as she had read about in one of those all explaining books.

“Hmmmm rent, you have money?”

“Yes yes some money” Jalal couldn’t help himself as he slid out from behind his wife not noticing as she gripped his hand we aren’t looking for much just a clean place to stay a bit.

“ I don’t want your money” the old one suddenly smiled revealing her white teeth, startlingly unaffected by her age. As if her whole body was in another time zone and her teeth in another.

“Then what” Jalals face almost about to collapse as his mind whirled in twenty different directions trying to grasp at some solution to make the old hag agree.
“Well for starters you both can come in and have some tea with me, its not often an old soul like me gets new visitors” the woman nodded as she turned around and walked inside her home leaving the door ajar for them to follow.

“Jalal I really don’t think” Zarmina had barely completed her sentence when her husband walked in dragging her behind him with his hand on hers, one she had precariously held to contain his excitement only moments ago.

He led her into the interior of the home and it smelt old, clean but old as if one was entering into another far more saner world. He saw the old woman lighting a small candle  lamp in the lounge area and followed the light as they sat down on the soft plush sofas, wide and cradling as the sea before this home.

“Now make yourself at home and I will get you some mint tea, its really special up from tea estate In nuwar eliya have you two been there yet?”

“No actually we were planning to see it but my husband here has this crazy idea of spending all our money on living here” blurted out Zarmina not being able to get any vibe from the place she sat in.

The old lady smiled again that same brilliant white smile and winked at Jalal’s wife

“Well you can  scarcely blame that thought, I have never ever wanted to move away from the sea”

She shuffled off to the pantry or some other place where she kept her tea as Zarmina looked at Jalal who seemed to be already stark raving mad about this place, well he had been a bit mental to start with on this idea but now he was just looking around with puppy dog eyes full of wonder.

“Jalal, earth to Jalal”

“What zari cant you feel it”

“Yes actually I can feel it, it feels like we are going to live here and im not too sure”

“The place speaks to me love, one can almost feel the time here…and the vibe is just old”

“Yes old and weird man, this place and this lady living alone here”

“So an old lady cannot live alone eh?” cooed the host as Zarmina almost jumped out of her skin, she didn’t even see her come back in the room, how could something this old be so …silent.

“No no I didn’t mean…well you know umm” she stammered as the old one poured them two cups set in perfect bone china, undoubtedly from an expensive shop, it had that look of old regality. Little mermaids painted in blue around the gilt edges of the cups.

“Its ok love, you see in this day and age and before it as well tis always better for a frail one such as me to live alone after..well after such a tragedy” she leaned her head to the side and sniffled in an old linen handkerchief she pulled out.

“What tragedy?” Jalal almost begged her


to be continued…….

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