King of Dreams
Harry N Down
Sunni’s Bar is an old building. Painted white on the outside. It has a canvas awning out front that shades threes tables where people sit outside to eat and drink. We walk in and Sunni is there to meet us. “Come in. Come in. Welcome to Sunni’s place.” He ushers a waiter to get some drinks. “Please come this way.” The place is very open. Yet it reminds me of an antique shop with its assortment of varying objects scattered around the shelfs. Solid wooden tables and chairs with cushions on them.
A variety of colours. Purples, reds, greens and gold. It is like walking back in time. There is no air conditioning other than ceiling fans, yet the place is very cool. We are seated next to a water feature. As I look around, I notice many pot plants with rich green leafy plants in them. The smells of the kitchen float through the place making the mouth water with anticipation.
“You get drunk tonight Kev?” Sunni has a huge smile. His white teeth complement his olive skin and jet-black hair and beard. We drink and eat what is provided for us. Kapil arrives and parks himself down next to us. Joining us but drinking only tea. We both look at him.
“You want to get home tonight, don’t you?” Kev and I laugh. “Mind you. You probably be able to get through that traffic better after a few drinks.” Kev bellows. We all start laughing. I notice Sunni organising his staff to shut up shop. The awning is brought down the shutters on the windows are closed tables and chairs brought in and finally the door is shut. I look at Sunni. As if reading my thoughts.
“My friend this day is quiet day and tonight I have my friends here. So we close early and feast and enjoy good company.” I just smile and nod my approval.
A little girl appears from the kitchen. Long black hair, dark, almost black eyes,, beautiful dark skin. Her skin is darker than Sunni’s. It glistens in the light of the room. She runs to Sunni and hides behind his back. Holding on to his hand.
“Come Shallini. Meet our guests.”
“This is Kevin and this is Steve. You met Kevin a long time ago. These are good men Shallini. No need to be afraid.”
“You see Steve? "
"Five years and still she is frightened, afraid and unable to feel safe.” Kev speaks softly and with a tear in his eye.
“I have told Steve about what happens to kids here sometimes.” Kev wipes his eyes and takes a mouth full of drink.
There is silence for a moment.
“Shallini, Kevin and I have brought you some gifts.” I pull out the Koala Bear and slide it across the table towards Sunni. I stand and pull out the opal bracelet and lay it on the table next to the Koala. I sit back down and start talking to Kev and Kapil. I tell a joke and we all laugh. They both know what I have in mind.
We carry on as if Shallini was just part of the group but each one of us watches to see if she will take the gifts. Sunni sits with us and joins in on the conversation.
The food keeps coming and so does the drinks. We have plenty of laughs and Kev explains what we have been doing and what we will be doing.
Shallini takes the Bear and cuddles it. She gazes at the bracelet and picks it up watching its colours shine with the lighting. She looks at me with a query on her face. I mime putting the bracelet around my wrist. She smiles and tries’s it herself but it drops to the floor. She picks it up and looks at me. I smile back and wave to her to come closer. She shakes her head in the negative. I shrug my shoulders and smile at her again. I enter the conversation once more.
“Sunni is the only male she will go near.” Kapil mentions.
“It is OK mate. When she is ready she will sort it out herself.” I say looking over at her and just nodding.
As the evening wears on, I feel a tap on my arm. It is Shallini holding her Koala in one hand and the bracelet in the other. She holds out the bracelet towards me. I hold out my hand and she drops it into my palm.
Without a word, I slide around in my chair to face her. I mime holding my arm outstretched and nod to her to do the same. Shallini slowly does. Trying not to touch her, I loop the bracelet around her wrist and fasten it. My hands shaking with trepidation that I might scare her. Bracelet on and fastened I slowly move back round to the table. I look in her direction and nod for her to be about her business. With a smile of course. I reach for my beer and notice that no one is talking.
“WHAT?” I shout out. “Why you all looking at me like that?”
Sunni looks at me. “You are the first male she has been near. It is truly a blessing.”
"May the Gods be praised"
“Call it what you like. I call it a bracelet.”
We all laugh. Sunni does to. He understands I want no thanks.
I just want her to be happy and lead a normal life as much as she can.
To be continued ....................here