The Unbearable Hotness of being (with apologies to Milan Kundera)

The air rolled its warm fat fingers lovingly over Sophia’s lean, supple body, caressing every inch, as she lay on her side on top of the breakfast table. Making herself as flat as possible, she stretched each limb in turn, reaching out until her muscles squealed and shuddered with the ache of effort. She felt as if her very being was melting into the wood beneath her, merging with the table, oozing into one solitary being.

The effort of walking from the sweltering sweat lodge of the bedroom to the table was almost more than she could bear. Her heart hammered in her chest, and her breath came in laboured puffs trying to extract the few molecules of cool air out of that oppressive heat, and suck them rapidly into her burning lungs.

The fan whirred ineffectually overhead, wheezing and groaning its objection to working in the heat, doing nothing more than shifting the hot air from one end to the other of the room. Every inch of her felt like it was on a slow burn, a chicken rotisseried and roasting, basting in its own juices, in the hotbox that her house had become.

She had washed every 20 minutes in the hope of cooling herself down, but every iota of liquid had evaporated off her as quickly as it landed, creating a steam cloud around her. She was her own mobile sauna.

Sophia opened her mouth and let her tongue roll slowly out. She had seen the dog do this in an effort to cool himself, and wondered if it would work for her. It couldn’t hurt to try. As soon as the moist pink flesh of her tongue hit the air, she could feel the saliva being extracted and her tongue desiccating. Her taste buds stiffened and shrivelled, and Sophia was convinced that her tongue now looked like any one of those images of dried mud flats in drought that the TV news always resorted to when reporting on the lack of rain.

With Herculean effort, she retracted her tongue, willed herself to rehydrate it with more saliva while fighting the urge to retch and cough, and rolled languidly onto her back spread-eagling herself. Her eyelids raked across the arid landscape of her eyeballs in a vain attempt to shut out the desert around her. Would she ever know relief from this inferno?

Then she heard it. The shuddering thunk, followed quickly by the glorious gale of icy cold air. Finally, he was home. Her love. He had come to rescue her with the flick of a switch.

She heard his footsteps grow closer, and slowly, laboriously she raised her head. She opened her eyes just enough to see the blur of him approach. Then he was there at the table, reaching his hand to her, stroking her head, gently muttering to her… “Sophia, you silly cat! Why didn’t you stay in the bathroom where it’s cooler?”

©Asha Rajan

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