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Authors: Marisha Pink

Tags: #fiction, #spiritual, #journey, #india, #soul, #past, #culture, #spiritual inspirational, #aaron, #contemporary fiction, #loneliness, #selfdiscovery, #general fiction, #comingofage, #belonging, #indian culture, #hindu culture, #journey of self, #hindi, #comingofagewithatwist, #comingofagenovel, #comingofagestory, #journey of life, #secrets and lies, #soul awareness, #journey into self, #orissa, #konark, #journey of discovery, #secrets exposed, #comingofrace, #culture and customs, #soul awakening, #past issues, #past and future, #culture and societies, #aaron rutherford, #arun, #marisha pink, #odisha, #puri

Finding Arun (6 page)

BOOK: Finding Arun
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‘After you left, I went up to the study. When you
said that you had found letters … I didn’t realise that there were
so many. I can’t believe that they were in touch all these years,
it’s mad. I mean, your mother, and a woman in India, who would have
thought? I know that she loved the time that she spent out there
and of course she had her friends, because you know your mother
always was one for socialising, but it still amazes me that –’

‘Arthur,’ interrupted Aaron brusquely, recognising
that his father was slipping off into senseless ramblings.

‘Sorry,’ mumbled Arthur apologetically.

Aaron glanced at Aunt Ruby, silently seeking
approval to broach the subject that he really wanted to discuss and
she smiled back at him, nodding supportively.

‘Arthur, I’m thinking of going to India to see
Kalpana.’

Arthur’s face dropped instantly and he opened his
mouth to speak, but no words came out. Aunt Ruby shot her brother a
look of warning.

‘You … but … you … why?’

‘Why not?’

Arthur looked mildly insulted.

‘Well … because. Because it’s not exactly … I mean,
I understand that you … I know it was a shock to find out about
her, but … don’t you think that you’re being a little ridiculous?’
Arthur stammered.

‘Why am I being ridiculous exactly?’ replied Aaron,
cocking his head to one side mockingly. He wasn’t sure why Arthur
was so surprised, but his choice of words irritated him.

‘Because! You don’t even know the woman, Aaron.’

‘Isn’t that the point?’

Arthur looked to Aunt Ruby, seeming to silently
plead for her to intervene, but she closed her eyes and shook her
head, refusing to enter the discussion. Arthur turned his attention
back to Aaron, the exasperation evident in his face.

‘Aaron, I know you’re upset about losing your
mother, but finding this, this woman, it’s not going to change
anything. It’s not going to bring her back. She can’t replace
her.’

‘I know that.’

‘Then why do you want to go and see her?’ he whined,
seemingly convinced that there could be no other reason for
considering such a trip.

‘Because, I can. I couldn’t before, but now I can
and I’m curious, Arthur. I want to know what she’s like. I want to
know why she gave me up for adoption, why she couldn’t keep
me.’

‘Well isn’t that obvious? She didn’t want you!’

‘ARTHUR,’ shrieked Aunt Ruby, but it was too
late.

The words hit Aaron like a bullet to the chest and
he felt winded by their harshness.

‘Oh God. Aaron, I … Aaron, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean
it like that. Of course I didn’t.’

He looked to Aunt Ruby for help, but she simply
returned a look of contempt and reached across to squeeze Aaron’s
arm reassuringly. The trio sat in silence, the stark reality of
Arthur’s insensitive words weighing down upon them. Aaron stared at
the floor drawing deep breaths in an attempt to quash the rising
anger he felt. This was not how he had envisaged the conversation
unfolding.

‘Aaron, please, say something,’ Arthur begged.

‘Is that really what you think?’ he said quietly,
not looking up from the floor.

‘N-yes, yes it is, but only because I can’t see any
other reason. Catherine would never have taken you away from your
birth mother otherwise.’

‘But if she didn’t want me, then why would she have
stayed in touch with Mum all these years? Why would she have asked
about me and asked to see me?’

‘I don’t know, Aaron. I don’t know this woman, but I
do know Catherine and she would only have lied to protect you. She
said so herself, remember? She just wanted you to be happy. There
must be something that we don’t know.’

‘Isn’t that reason enough to go and see Kalpana? She
does know, she’s the only one that knows.’

‘Aaron, I know you think that she’s going to have
all the answers, but you might not like what you find. Sometimes I
think it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘I mean that you’ve had a fantastic life with your
mother and I. We’ve given you everything that anyone could ever
possibly want or ask for. You’ve attended good schools, you’ve
travelled and now you have your place at Oxford. What I’m saying
is, at the end of the day, does it really matter why? And whatever
the reason, maybe it was for the best. You already have a mother;
she was a wonderful, loving, caring woman and I know that it’s hard
with her gone, but you have such a bright future ahead of you. Why
risk spoiling it by going after someone who was happy to live
without you for nineteen years?’

Aaron sighed heavily; everything that Arthur had
said was true. Meeting Kalpana might not be the happy reunion that
he was imagining in his head. She might not want, or be able, to
answer his questions, but after all the years of wondering, all the
years of never fitting in to the world in which he lived because of
the world from which he’d come, the prospect of meeting his birth
mother was simply too great to ignore.

‘It’s a risk that I have to take,’ he said
finally.

Arthur looked helplessly at Aunt Ruby, but she only
raised her eyebrow signalling for him to be cautious with his
response.

‘I’ll tell you what,’ he began dejectedly, ‘why
don’t you write to her first? Tell her that you’d like to make a
visit and see what she says? You don’t want to rush something like
this; I’m sure it will be quite an event for the both of you.’

‘There isn’t time, Arthur, she’s said that she’s
sick. That letter was written at the start of March and April is
practically over already; a letter will take too long, if it even
gets there at all.’

‘Nonsense. I can send it as priority mail from the
office. It will get there in no time.’

Aaron wasn’t sure why, but he didn’t trust Arthur,
not with something this big.

‘I think it’s better if I just go. What if she’s too
sick to reply to a letter now? She said that she can’t get out of
bed anymore. I don’t want it to be like, like –’

‘Like your mother,’ Arthur finished, ‘it’s okay, I
get it. When I get back to the office next week, I’ll talk with
Sarah about clearing a few weeks in my diary and ask her to look
into some flight options for us. We should be able to manage
something around July; it’s normally a bit quieter then with
everyone taking time off for the school holidays.’

‘We?’ Aaron blurted out before he could stop
himself.

This time it was him who received the look of
warning from Aunt Ruby.

‘Well yes, you can’t possibly go alone, Aaron.
Anything could happen.’

‘I … I think July is too far away, Arthur,’ he
responded diplomatically.

It was true, July was too long to wait, but moreover
Aaron wasn’t sure why Arthur wanted to come with him at all and the
mere thought of it made him uncomfortable. Arthur had never played
the doting father and his latest over-protective protestations
didn’t add up. The trip would be momentous enough without also
having to contend with the particulars of their relationship and
Aaron didn’t want anything to detract from the purpose of his
visit.

‘Well it would be a push, but I’ll see if the
schedule allows anything earlier …’

‘Arthur …’

‘Of course it will be tricky at such short notice
…’

‘Arthur, listen I –’

‘And with all the time I’ve had off recently because
of things with your mother, well –’

‘Arthur,’ interjected Aunt Ruby forcefully, halting
her brother’s spiralling ramblings.

She squeezed his arm reassuringly and then turned to
Aaron, motioning for him to continue.

‘Arthur I was thinking of going in the next few
weeks, as soon as I can get a visa really ... and I think it would
be best if I went on my own.’

Arthur’s face fell and suddenly he looked small and
pitiful all at once. The three of them remained silent and nobody
knew where to look, least of all Aaron. There was nothing more to
say and he quickly resented the growing feelings of guilt gathering
in his body as a result of Arthur’s odd reaction. The old man
usually cared little about what he was doing and even less about
where he was doing it. His sudden interest in Aaron’s affairs was
unnerving and though Aaron couldn’t put his finger on it, it was
clear that something inside Arthur had shifted since Catherine had
died.

‘Okay, if that’s what you really want,’ he mumbled
eventually. ‘How long do you think you’ll be gone for?’

‘I have no idea, a few weeks at least. It might take
a while to find her; the address on the letters is only a post
office box address.’

‘Perhaps you need to spend a little more time
researching here then?’ enthused Arthur, badly disguising his
delight at the prospect of a delay in the proceedings.

‘Don’t you have the adoption papers, Arthur?
Wouldn’t they have that sort of information on?’ enquired Aunt Ruby
innocently.

‘I’ve never seen any,’ he responded, seemingly irked
by his sister’s question, ‘if anything, Catherine would have filed
them away in her study, but I’ve cleared it out completely now and
I didn’t find anything.’

Aaron regarded his father suspiciously, the idea
that he might be concealing something a fleeting thought in his
mind.

‘What about the refuge? They must keep records of
all the people that stay there. I’ll bet they have a copy of the
papers,’ Aunt Ruby ventured.

‘Do you know the address of the refuge?’ Aaron asked
hopefully.

Arthur looked absent-mindedly around the room,
blatantly pretending not to have heard the question.

‘Arthur,’ said Aunt Ruby curtly, administering her
brother with yet another disapproving look.

‘Yes? Sorry, I was miles away,’ he said.

‘Aaron is asking if you have the address of the
refuge where Catherine worked?’

‘Yes, I do … somewhere.’

Aunt Ruby grimaced at him reproachfully while Aaron
looked on expectantly.

‘It’s in a place called Puri,’ Arthur sighed
petulantly, glaring at his sister like a sulky teenager forced to
do something that he didn’t want to. ‘It's the same city that the
letters were sent from; somewhere on the east coast.’

‘Well,’ said Aaron, the excitement building in his
body, ‘I guess that’s where I should start then.’

 

 

EIGHT

 

AARON tossed and turned in his bed, unable to sleep
for more than twenty minutes at a time. In part this was due to the
fear of sleeping through his alarm and missing his flight, but for
the most part his restlessness could be attributed to nervous
excitement. His whole body tingled with an electricity borne out of
anticipation for the journey that he was about to undertake but,
stealing a glance at the clock, he sighed deeply at the realisation
that it was only three o’clock in the morning. There was still at
least an hour before he would need to get up and though the past
few weeks had flown by in a flurry of activity, time now seemed to
be moving painstakingly slowly. Between making the necessary travel
arrangements, packing and constantly reassuring Arthur that he
would only be gone for a short spell, he’d barely had the time to
dwell on the enormity of what he was about to do. Yet there in the
darkness of his bedroom, it suddenly felt like he had all the time
in the world.

It was hard to imagine being in a place that he knew
virtually nothing about. He had read enough to know that India
would be nothing like London, but the conflicting accounts of
tourists and natives had painted a unique picture in his mind, such
that he no longer had any expectations at all. There were those
that had loved its frenetic pace and searing heat, captivated by
the myriad flavours and cultural traditions, and those that had
been unimpressed by the overcrowded bazaars and filthy streets,
frustrated by the ubiquitous poverty and bureaucracy. It was
perhaps fitting that such a precarious reunion should be set
against such an unpredictable backdrop, and though he was unsure
where he might find Kalpana along such a vast spectrum, the
uncertainty filled him with fear and excitement in equal
measure.

It was impossible to know how he would feel when he
saw her, or indeed to guess at how she would feel when she saw him.
Would she recognise him from the pictures that his mother had sent?
Would she be surprised that he had come at all, after her letters
had gone unanswered for so long? And what would she make of the
news of Catherine’s death? It was clear that they had enjoyed a
lifelong friendship, to say nothing of the fact that for years
Kalpana had vicariously experienced motherhood through her friend.
He wondered too whether she would be shocked to learn that he had
believed her to be dead, or whether that was a condition of the
mysterious ‘agreement’ that she had referred to in her letter.
There was so much that Aaron wanted to ask her and he hoped that it
would not be too much for her to handle in her sickly state.
Whatever was wrong with her sounded serious and the irony of
another mother being unable to get out of bed and wishing to see
him was not lost on him.

He checked the clock beside the bed once more; it
was past four o’clock and at last time to get up. He wasn’t quite
ready to face full illumination, so he switched on the bedside lamp
above his head, allowing his eyes the time to adjust. In the
shadows of the dimly lit room, he rolled out of bed and began to
dress himself in a tracksuit and T-shirt, not too dissimilar from
that which he had gone to bed in. He would be inappropriately
attired for the weather that awaited him regardless of what he
opted to wear, but the chilly May morning made warm clothes
non-negotiable and he wanted to ensure that he would be as
comfortable as possible during the long flight.

He perched on the end of the bed and flicked through
his travel wallet, double-checking for his boarding pass and
passport, the sound of his mother’s voice reeling off a pre-travel
checklist in his head. She had always been present when he was
preparing to travel, alerting him to things that he wasn’t seasoned
enough to consider himself, and though it felt strange that she was
not physically there, it comforted him to know that she was still
somewhere in his subconscious. Once he was satisfied that he had
everything that he needed, he clicked the padlocks on his backpack
into place and eased the straps over his shoulders. Despite
Arthur’s many reservations, travelling with his backpack in Africa
had been so easy and flexible that the prospect of dragging a
suitcase through the busy streets of India whilst he tried to
locate his birth mother was a distinctly unappealing thought. He
grabbed the smaller rucksack, now containing his travel wallet,
and, glancing around the room one last time, clicked the bedside
lamp off and began to make his way towards the ground floor of the
house.

BOOK: Finding Arun
6.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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