The Croation affair
It was close to the end of the European summer of 2013. The cold days were slowly creeping in and the leaves were showing signs of autumn. I had just reached a small Venetian style historic port town named Trogir with my backpack. I was wearing my usual travel attire with a Bavarian hat to escape the seaside humid heat. Then, I checked in to a hostel in the main town. The owner showed me the way to the dorm. That’s when we exchanged our first glance of each other.
She was lying on the upper bed lost in her book. The late morning rays that seeped through the window highlighted her golden curls. All I could see was her curly shoulder length hair and her generous curves. She was reading the book lying on the bed with her back facing up. I could not see her face due to a wooden safety plank obstructing my line of sight. I reached my bed and put my bag on the floor and start unpacking. I was desperate for a cold shower to escape the Croatian humidity. But someone else had occupied the bathroom. So I sat on my bed hoping to make contact with the stranger girl.
After numerous failed attempts, finally the bathroom door opened. Out came a girl with barely a towel on her body leaving a trail of water that was dripping from her body. While the sight still lingered in my thoughts, I picked up my bath towel and hurried towards the bathroom. Just before I could enter I heard a girl’s voice speaking in German. Her voice was as sweet as black forest pastries exploding into a thousand fruity flavours upon entering your mouth. In a fit of excitement, I turned around to see what the matter was. And there she was – her eyes so blue, her skin a shade of the lightest brown from a tan. It seemed like time had just stood still to let me admire her beauty and grace. The divine creation of the Germanic race she was.
I realised that the conversation between the two girls was interrupted by my shameless stare. I had to say something. Anything. I was at stake. My country’s reputation was at stake. I blurted out the best German I could have – “Enshuldegung sie. Was ist du turn?” Excuse me. Was it your turn? Well, at least that’s what I wanted to convey.
The two girls stared for a while and started giggling. We stared at each other again. I stood there like a fool realising that I was cutting in the bath queue. I immediately retracted and asked the stranger girl to proceed. She said no and requested me to carry on. I revolted and insisted that I didn’t notice that she was in line and that I was being impolite.
After some back and forth, she finally accepted my proposal and went for her bath. I retreated to my bed with my towel while I felt quite embarrassed for what I’d just done. Her friend was still in her towel and she went to the corner of the room and stood by a window that I was staring at. She quickly slipped into a gown and started applying a load of sunscreen on her arms and legs. Then the stranger girl came out and I rushed in to have a bath.
The girls then offered me to join them to see the town together. We had lunch, walked around and had a lot of cultural exchange. I mostly spoke with my stranger girl. Her name is Laila from Switzerland. We talked about life, religion, travel, and future. Next day we went on island trips. We hung around and spoke and spoke and spoke. We had a lot in common. Since her friend did not like Croatia, they’d decided to head to Slovakia. She didn’t want to leave but she had no choice. I told her my plan and asked her to join me in one of the places. We departed, only to meet again after 3 days in Pula.
The alarm rang at 5.30 am. I opened my eyes with the view of her innocent face sleeping in peace. It was a last of our journey together. I had promised to take her to the beach in the morning for a swim. We hardly had any sleep that night. The previous day we made it to the beach but the sun had already set on us. She longed to swim in the ocean. Instead I convinced her that we would come back here again the next day. She agreed and we headed back to the hostel.
On the way we picked up some good affordable Croatian wine. We already had some left over pizza from lunch in the fridge. We had to walk a bit from the bus stop to the hostel. Just then, it started to pour. Instead of running to the nearest shelter we stared at each other while the rain drenched us slowly. I held her waist and we walked towards the hostel. We didn’t utter a single word and right at that moment I wished we just walked towards eternity.
Upon reaching the hostel we dried ourselves. I heated the pizza and sat in the balcony garden with the finest white wine along with the best company in the world. We spoke about our lives and various other things until our mouths let us. We then went into our room. We were sharing the room with two other French girls. They both were fast asleep wearing only their delicates. Suddenly, I lost all my sleep. She returned to the room after changing into her nightclothes.
She used the mobile phone as a source of light to maneuver across to the bed. The light from the phone against her face shone brightly highlighting her features. That’s when we made eye contact and could not resist any longer. I held her tightly against my body for a few moments. And then our tongues met like two swords in a long awaited duel. The fear of disturbing the other residents of the room made the moment even more intense.
It was 7 am, we finally reached the beach. Took our clothes off and ran towards the beach. She wore a bright red two-piece and I watched her generous voluptuous body. As the sun rose upwards she decided to retire to the bedrock hoping for some good tan. I swam for a while longer, admiring the corals and the sea life below my feet. I went back to the beach and rested beside her.
The sea sand crystals sparkled on her ample crests and her hourglass figure clearly visible. I was reminded of my flight to cold bland Germany in few hours. I cursed the cruel universe. We headed back to the hostel and checked out. We walked to the bus stop. She walked in front of me with her backpack and the Air India tag still on from her trip to India. I caught up with her and held her hand and told her – “Laila, your must come to South India and I will take you out for a cup of filter coffee and Bisibelebath.” She looked at me, smiled and gave me a quick peck. Peck on my lips. She said, “Varun, I promise I will.”
We reached the bus stop. She bought her bus ticket to Bern. I confirmed my bus timings to the airport. My bus was supposed to arrive at the platform in 15mins. We hurried there and only looked into each other’s eyes. We had nothing to say but stare into each other eyes. I was lost in the abyss of her bright blue cornea, recollecting all the time spent with her. She said “Hey look we spent time with each other and still didn’t get our hands on each others’ throat.” I said “Maybe you have to plan a longer trip to India to know for sure.”
It was time for the bus but the bus hadn’t arrived yet. I felt a huge lump down my throat. We stared at each other even more intensely. And then the worst thing happened. The bus arrived. The lump grew bigger. I said goodbye and planted a kiss on her red cheeks and went into the bus. She did not move. I sat in the bus and continued staring at her.
The bus was to wait for 3 more minutes. I hurried down the bus and kissed her tightly waiting for the world to explode. It did explode but in the form of the loud bus horn signalling departure. I let go and came back into the bus. I saw a tear slip down her cheek. We looked at each other until our sights let us and then she disappeared.