Linda Walker, is a 24-year old student who is a loving daughter, a caring sister and a good friend but the first thing that strikes you about this fresh-faced girl are her dark, piercing, curious eyes. Eyes that wander at all times and eyes that question, eyes that perpetually search and eyes that seek. I met this petite Irish girl a couple of months back. New in the United Kingdom and our office, she seemed guarded but warm. After the usual introductions and greetings, I was delighted to know that she would be seated opposite to me. I was well prepared with my plan to charm her and made my first attempt.
“I was just about to get myself some coffee, would you like some?”
She looked at me and I think I saw a smile. “No, thank you,” she said and took to her work like a duck to a water. I was disheartened but I made myself belief that I definitely saw a smile there, somewhere.
The next few days went by swiftly and after my 30th attempt at getting Linda a coffee, she finally agreed. “You are Antonio, right?” she asked. “That’s right. Antonio Lopez. I am from Spain and I am new in UK, too,” I shared. “Oh, that’s nice. I was studying in Spain for the last six months,” she chirped. And, reminiscing about the days in Spain is what got us together.
I envied Linda. She had graduated from United States of America, interned with an NGO in the hilly regions of India, attended a friend’s wedding and explored Japan, bagged a scholarship from Stockholm University and studied a semester there, completed a semester in Italy and the next one in Spain. I often wondered if our romance was just another phase for her but I dared not voice it in the fear of planting that idea in her mind.
She was everything a 25-year old man needs. She was a friend; a companion, a great cook and her love for exploring found a way in our bed as well. But, the one thing that made me a little uncomfortable was her little black box. This black box was always in her handbag and she would never let me touch it. I consoled myself saying that it may just be some old memory of her folks or small mementos of her past adventures but the day I unearthed the belongings in the black box was the day, my world changed.
The box, looked ancient, worn out, discoloured yet intriguing. I knew opening it would cause differences between Linda and I as that was the only thing that Linda treasured but withheld from me. Well, the box and her apartment. Linda stayed with me four to five days a week but not once had I been invited over to her place. That suited me well as Linda was a cat lover and had three of them reining her apartment whereas I on the other hand suffered from Ailurophobia, a major fear of cats. Coming back to the box, which was engraved with some scripts that were illegible but looked Indian. The box fit well in my palm and felt almost weightless. It seemed like one of those ethnic art boxes that are commonly sold in Camden Lock for five pounds but what was in it, is what scared me. It still gives me sleepless nights, long after Linda and I parted ways the night, the black box was opened.