Chapter 2

Written by: Hemali Ajmera

And so it was settled. Darian would chaperone Dilara wherever she went, even stand guard outside the Chief’s hut at night. Protecting Dilara and her honour would be his sole mission. 

Dilara often wondered which of her clansmen was alive. The memories of the night she had fled made her skin crawl with fear and agony. How could anyone have escaped that mindless massacre? She had been miraculously saved from the raging inferno to serve a greater purpose. But what was the reason for the survival of this kin who had waited so long after the mayhem to seek retribution?

These questions plagued her day and night; when she tended to the cooking fire, when she nurtured and nourished Creel and even when she reluctantly fulfilled her marital duties towards Yemon. And these questions made her restless. She wanted answers, but mostly she longed to meet one of her own.

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Darian followed Dilara like a shadow, always a few steps behind her, but close enough to make his presence felt. Dilara had often seen him stealing glances at her through the sheer thatching at the entrance of her hut. They never talked face to face.  Whenever Darian spoke directly to her, which he rarely did, his eyes were always downcast. At such times Dilara thought she sensed a look of admiration and longing for her in them. Mostly she was unsure how Darian felt about her – did he simply revere her as the Chief’s wife or did he desire her as a man desires a woman?

Something about Darian’s masculine presence unnerved Dilara. His following her everywhere was annoying but she longed to see him each morning as soon as the first rays of the Sun illumined the sky. Feelings she had never felt for Yemon began to burgeon in her heart for Darian. 

As the days passed, Dilara’s existence was consumed with thoughts about Darian. She wanted to talk to him, caress him and love him. Propriety dictated that she be ashamed of her affections towards him but her heart was unabashed. It increasingly taunted her to break the taboos and experience the forbidden.

Now every minute of Dilara’s mundane life was consumed with just two things - her yearning for Darian and her desperation to confront her long lost kin turned enemy. Little did she know that her two coveted desires would be fulfilled in the most bizarre way.

That opportunity arrived one rain later when Yemon was travelling to a neighbouring village to settle a dispute. 

It was ancestors’ day and tradition dictated that Dilara visit the ancestors’ graves outside the village.  Leaving Creel in the care of an elderly village woman, Dilara ventured out with the other village ladies. Darian, with a bow and quiver of arrows strung on his shoulder, followed them closely. 

After the ceremonial offerings, the women were returning to the village with Dilara leading the group. Just then an arrow whizzed by Dilara’s ear, missing her by just a few fingers.

Comments

Your story telling takes the reader on a journey. We witness Dilara's growing feelings for Darian and experience growing dread about what that might mean for her. This is called dramatic tension and you've nailed it.