‘Want to come with me?’
Kiri has knelt next to my sun bed. I lower my book, turn slightly toward him and lift my sunglasses so I can see him clearly.
‘I need to go to Weligama to pick up a delivery for the restaurant. Want to come with me?’
Well, I’m sure I can find some space in my busy schedule, I muse to myself.
‘Sure!’ I beam at him and get my stuff together, throw it into my bag and slip into my sundress, another of Cindy’s ones. I’m ready.
‘Maybe we can also find a phone for me, so we can keep in touch?’ Of course, the phone! I had completely forgotten about it.
He takes my hand and pulls me behind him. We are heading for the tuk-tuk parked behind the bar. He slides into the driver’s seat, and I slip into the back. As soon as I sit down, he swivels around, takes my arm and pulls me to him. He kisses me deeply, his hand in the hair at the back of my head, the other still on my arm. His kiss is slow at first, then it gets more insistent and his tongue parts my lips. I get a shiver all the way from my groins to my nape. I feel my body respond to him and lift both arms to hold him close. My body waivers, I ache for him. Why is this sensation so physically overwhelming?!
He pulls back slightly, looks into my eyes and smiles.
‘I’ve been wanting to do that the whole day. Looking at you sunbathe, I couldn’t work. You’re beautiful Maddy.’
What? Stretch marks, cellulite and blue veins included? I chime to myself, but I don’t want to draw his attention to them, in case he hasn’t noticed them for himself. So I say nothing and just smile flirtatiously, or at least I hope this is how it comes across.
He lets go of me, swivels back around and starts the engine. We are off at a crazy speed down the little side road, past our hotel and onto the main road. A bus passes us, blaring its horn interminably and nearly pushing us off the road. I feel the colour drain from my face, but Kiri is unfazed. He hoots his horn, overtakes a couple of scooters on a bend and swerves back in, just in time to avoid the oncoming truck. I decide not to look ahead, so I fix my gaze to my left and start relaxing. The buildings are mostly covering the view of the sea for quite a long way, but when we get near Weligama and pass the monstrosity of the new hotel, the bay opens up. The sea is peppered with surfers, the beach is covered with colourful catamarans and the odd fisherman stitching up his net. Along the new promenade, an incredible variety of fish is displayed on the floors of makeshift stalls. The place is buzzing. We turn into the town, and I lose sight of the sea. Now all I can see are people busying themselves, walking, talking, buying, weaving in and out of shops, crossing the road, pushing to get on and off buses, buying street-food, selling the most colourful variety of fruit and vegetable and fighting to get to the front of the queue at the wine store. This place is alive with activity.
We stop abruptly.
‘Just one minute.’
Kiri jumps out of the tuk-tuk and dives into a shop. People passing by stare at me with a mixture of curiosity and dislike. I’m not sure which one prevails. Kids spot me and point, some say hello but most of them just giggle, pulled along by their mothers. I feel like an animal in a cage. I hope he gets a move on.
He comes out of the shop, his eyes squint in the bright light. He is carrying a big bag of groceries and a single red flower. He smiles, throws the bag on the floor next to me.
‘For you,’ he smiles and hands me the flower. Such a simple gesture, but I’m deeply touched.
‘Thank you,’ and I have never meant it so honestly.
We turn the corner and walk into an electronics shop. A few minutes later, we walk out with a new phone that will keep us connected in the coming months.
We park along the promenade and walk on the beach, then lean against a catamaran to admire the blue sea. The bigger island in the bay has a private villa on it. People are wading in the water to get to it. A larger boat is approaching the beach at break-neck speed. I think it will crash, but it just glides up onto the sand until it grounds to a halt. The crew jumps down and is joined by what seemed like onlookers just seconds before. They all turn to face the sea, put their hands on the protruding wood and start a coordinated dance of lifting, pushing and letting go. I can hear a rhythmic song being shouted to make them keep the pace. In no time, the catamaran is hitched up the sandbank, safely away from the powerful waves.
To my left, various degrees of white to bright-red skin is paraded by want-to-be surfers. The local lads, all sporting long hair, loiter around trying to spot the next lady to try and pull. As soon as I realise I’m looking at them, I turn my eyes to the empty isle. I hope Kiri hasn’t noticed. I know he is paranoid about me looking at other men. I dare to steal a look at him. He doesn’t seem to be in a bad mood. He has a rather dreamy smile plastered on his face, and he is looking far off into the distance.
‘Are you all right?’ I wonder.
‘Yes, I was just remembering the days I used to go fishing. I had some good times.... and some tough times,’ and he returns his gaze to the sea. I just wait for him to come back to now.
‘Let’s go; they need that stuff in the kitchen. Do you want to buy anything while we’re here?’
‘No, thank you.’ We slip back into the tuk-tuk and head back at the same crazy speed.