Harry and Svetlana share a sweet and overwhelming love for each other in Jeff Takari’s first Romantic Shorts offering. As he walks us through the exotic locale in India, Jeff introduces us to a man and a woman who desire nothing more than the love and compassion they share for one another. Take a walk with these endearing lovers as they explore their feelings, to the exclusion of the world around them.
Welcome. And, enjoy!
by Jeff Tikari
A tale from a hill station in the Himalayas, India.
I sipped tea and gazed through the clear plate glass window of ‘Cakepoint’ and saw glimpses of the Upper Hill Road through the swirling mist outside. I was anxious and awaited the Inspector of Police to join me and give me the latest up-date.
* * *
When I entered Harry’s shop one late afternoon, a little tinkle from a bell, nudged by the opening door, alerted him to a customer coming in. A lingering smell of pipe tobacco and coffee, a warm atmosphere, and little lights over the displays created an ambiance that invited one to linger, to browse, and to take one’s time. It was a comfortable place, and I hoped it would always remain a little hide-away for me.
Harry strode forth with a smile; he wore a brocade waist coat over a white, long-sleeved shirt and dark worsted trousers. An unlit rosewood pipe dangled from the side of his smiling mouth. Amply built and of average height, he supported short wavy hair parted on the side.
I held a hot cup of coffee in the palm of both hands, relishing its warmth, and looked around. This is where Harry met Svetlana when she came in one blustery afternoon. Sweet, waif-like, delicate, blue-grey eyes, pink lips and cheeks; she was a happy person and smiled a lot showing lovely teeth. I saw Harry looking at her – he couldn’t take his eyes off her. He saw her delicate fingers as she bent over and handled the trinkets on the shelf; he noticed her almost translucent skin and light brown hair beaded with droplets from the mist outside. He glided up to her, “May I help you?” She turned, hair falling across her face and smiled at him. Harry stood stunned …that smile hit him plumb between the eyes. Harry was a goner!
* * *
It was a few months later that Harry started closing his shop at three in the afternoon – ‘siesta time’ he told people. Who had heard of siesta time in India? He would reopen again to catch the evening shoppers – and there were many during the season.
About 3 p.m. every afternoon, Harry met Svetlana on the ridge – a quiet road fringed with straight trunked, tall pine trees with wild flowers in abundance underneath. The road was slightly higher than town though partially visible from it. There were not many people around at 3p.m. They held hands and walked arm in arm, laughing with a joy lovers feel in each others’ company. They slowly proceeded along the tree lined path where invading mists or blind spots on the road allowed them to steal kisses. They walked all the way to ‘Lovers Point’, a steep stony road over the last kilometer that left them panting at the top. There they would sit on a grassed knoll and take in the beauty of the distant green-blue mountains that rose above the mist to form towering snow peaks. The smell of pine was fresh in the mountain air. Squirrels clambered up fern encrusted trunks of nearby pine trees and watchful hawks circled the sky above waiting for a chance to pounce.
They held hands, made small talk and kissed often. There was a sound behind them of a twig breaking – like someone or some animal had stepped on it. They looked around, but saw nothing. The vegetation was quite dense in that area. Perhaps it was a wild deer. A waft of air brought a stale unpleasant smell to their nostrils – a smell of unwashed bodies.
* * *
Svetlana had come on a tourist bus that ground its way up the steep mountain road belching blue/black diesel smoke. She found accommodation with an elderly Anglo-Indian widow, Mrs. Pinto, as a paying guest in her red roofed little cottage on the hillside across from town. Mrs. Pinto had posters at the bus stand informing tourists that she took in paying-guests – females only – at very reasonable rates. ‘Hot water on tap!’ the poster boasted in attention getting lettering.
* * *
Harry lived above his shop in two large sparsely furnished rooms. From these upper rooms, through the pine trees, he could see the red corrugated roof of the little cottage.
Sometimes when the weather was wet and windy, Svetlana visited Harry at his rooms. They sat on a large mattress pushed against the wooden room wall. An electrical heater warmed the young lovers as they sat laughing and kissing during the period they had before Harry went down to open the shop again.
They made love once. It was a tender, passionate meeting of two aching hearts. She said ‘no’ to any further such encounters, “It’s a sin and I am still married to a person who is somewhere in Eastern Europe.”
She never moved in with Harry and Harry never moved in with her.
* * *
I was in Harry’s shop one day when the bell over the door announced the entrance of customers. Two strongly built youths entered and looked around. Harry eyed them with some distaste and watched them closely. The lads wore scuffed leather jackets, unwashed jeans, and supported shoulder length straggly hair. They hovered around the displays exuding a stale smell. They picked up some pens, examined them closely and put them down again. They loitered around for a bit and left giving Harry a long hard look on the way out.
Harry looked down at the coffee he held in his lap, shook his head and mumbled, “Louts,” under his breath. “They hang around eyeing us when we go for walks.”
* * *
The afternoon mist lifted at 2 p.m. after months of bone chilling cold windy afternoons, but the rain came down, heavily by 3 p.m. The north-east monsoons had arrived with deep rumbling thunder and cleaving lightning. Harry bundled into an ex-army raincoat and pushed his worsted trouser legs into black Wellingtons. He would take his usual route to the ridge, but if the rain didn’t let up, he would visit Svetlana briefly at the cottage.
The rain was a light drizzle when Harry arrived. Two pairs of hidden eyes surreptitiously watched as Harry walked up the mossy incline to the cottage. Pots of wet, white Geraniums lined the sides of the steps and red Begonias overflowed the wooden window boxes. He climbed the steps and removed his raincoat, hanging it dripping on a hook by the door.
Svetlana sat in front of a log fire with a light blanket over her knees. She smiled when he came in and reached up as he bent down and kissed her.
“You’re wet, my sweet.”
“It’s a small sacrifice to come visit you.” He smiled.
Mrs. Pinto came in; grey-haired, matronly, smiling…an apron over her dress, and feet pushed into fur lined rope soled boots. She bore a tray with a steaming pot of the local tea brew and a plate of Monaco biscuits.
“I saw you down the road and got some tea ready. You must be frozen. Here, let me get you a towel…your hair is all wet, dear!” She fussed over Harry like a mother would – he exulted in her loving concern…she was such a tender and kindhearted person.
Later, after tea, when Mrs. Pinto retired upstairs to rest for the afternoon, Svetlana led Harry by the hand to her room. They huddled under blankets, talking sweet nothings and warming each other. They hugged and kissed and held each other tight. One thing led to another and they found themselves naked, sweating, and panting. Their passion had completely engulfed them and obliterated all hesitations. They now lay holding each other, “My sweetheart,” she said with moisture misting her beautiful eyes, “We mustn’t let this happen again – I am utterly in your power and you can make me do anything. You know that.”
“But why, my love? Your marriage is as good as annulled, and soon we can get married.”
“But until then, my sweet, we have to practice restraint.”
That evening, for the first time, Harry did not open his shop.
Two pairs of eyes noted this.
* * *
I sat at ‘Cakepoint’ having a cup of tea one wintry afternoon. The monsoons had departed and the winter chill and mist swirled around the glazed balcony that overlooked the ridge. I sat idly gazing at the ridge and waited for the Inspector. Suddenly the mist lifted and I saw Harry and Svetlana, hand in hand off to ‘Lovers Point.’ My heart beat violently.
Svetlana wore a long red leather coat and he a calf length trench coat. This was the first time I was seeing them on the ridge, though the towns’ people claimed they had seen them before between 3 and 4 p.m.
I lifted the binoculars from my handbag with shaking hands and studied them. They were clearly in focus. Svetlana was laughing and walking in an animated way; she looked up into Harry’s face… I could see every hair of her head: she was smiling and her mouth was slightly open exposing her beautiful pearly teeth. Her skin was glowing and pink from the chill in the air. Harry lifted her jubilant face and kissed her lips – the mist swept in and obscured them.
* * *
I took out a handkerchief from my bag and wiped the tears from my eyes. My heart was laden with sorrow – tears flowed down my cheeks – the apparition had been so very lifelike!
* * *
You see, Svetlana and Harry were brutally murdered at Lovers Point, two weeks ago.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Romantic Shorts thanks you for joining us for Jeff Tikari’s Harry Bilinsky. Please feel free to visit Jeff Tikari’s Romantic Shorts Author’s Page to learn more about this talented writer. You can leave a comment for Jeff, other readers, or Romantic Shorts using the reply form below, our contact for on our Contact Us page, or by sharing this story with friends and family using the share buttons below.
We hope you enjoyed your escape in the middle of your day. Watch here for our next romantic short story. If you would like to receive an email notification of future publications, ‘check’ the “Notify me of new posts by email” box at the bottom of the comment/reply box below.