Lola was bored. It had been a week since she had gotten up inside this room and though she had left it many times – sometimes to pee, sometimes to bathe and sometimes simply to test this new found freedom – she had nothing to do except stare at the walls and wait for her meals.
When Lola woke up, she was surprised to find herself on a comfortable bed, inside, after a long time. She was sure had she not been drugged, she wouldn’t have been able to sleep; so accustomed had she become to the night sky, wind blowing and Hunter’s blankets that smelled faintly of dust, sweat, smoke and raspberries.
When Hunter returned to the land of the living, it was with an intense need to urinate. It helped that he hadn’t been tied up. Once he had relieved himself, he patted his body to take stock of the damage done. Except for a slight bump on his head, a dry and bitter mouth, aching limbs and anger, he was fine.
She didn’t want to. She had promised herself she wouldn’t return. But her curiosity got the better of her. Next morning, making an excuse that sounded untrue even to her ears, Urmilla went to the same place, sat at the same spot, in the same position with her feet dipped in the water. She fervently hoped Master Mei Ling, whether figment of her imagination or not, would show up.
“Namaste,” said Urmilla with her hands folded. She didn’t know what language to talk in, so she decided to go with Hindi. “Is Master Mei Ling still with you?”
The girl’s expression changed from polite indifference to shock. “I am sorry; who?”
“Master Mei Ling. My sister told me about him and how he was connected with this ashram. I wish to speak with him on an urgent matter.”
“Who is your sister?” the girl asked, narrowing her eyes.
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The morning breeze woke up Lola from her deep slumber. She was feeling incongruously safe and well-rested. When she turned to see what the gunslinger was up to, she wasn’t surprised to see him with his back to her, staring into the distance.
“What is it?” she asked, her voice coming out as a croak. She wasn’t used to so much dust.
“We will be in trouble soon,” he said nonchalantly, handing her a water skin to drink from.
One couldn’t find two siblings more different than Romeo and Romilla Beaumort. Where Romeo had always been the softer, calmer one, Romilla had been the quintessential wild child. Where Romeo was more interested in living the easy life, he could never understand his sister’s fascination with guns, violence and bloodshed. The only saving grace for the brother-sister had been their parents who had allowed their children to grow as they had wanted.
Urmilla sat through the meeting in a daze, not really grasping the meaning of the words that were being said. If some passer-by thought that she was asleep, no one would blame them.
It had been a normal morning…or as normal as could be expected for someone whose sister had just died. She vaguely remembered the morning, and the memory of her getting dressed for this meeting was even fainter. She did, however, remember a single instruction, given out in a precise but cold tone, ‘dress appropriately.’ And she had. She looked every bit the part of a mourning sister – white sari with a conservative gold border and a pair of dark shades that hid her curiously dry eyes. She wondered idly if people could see through the sham.