Papu's Declaration of Love
excerpted from the novella
The Third Eye of the Needle


By Dean Borok

They sat in silence for a few moments as the soft ocean breeze caressed their faces in the pale moonlight.

Finally Papu said, "My dearest Eponine, we have many great poets in the Indian language who can express with the greatest delicacy the profound emotions of the heart. I am not one of them."

"You're doing pretty good, Papu."

"If I could express the things I want to say to you, perhaps it would be with brush and canvas such as Picasso. But I will speak plainly. You are a woman of extraordinary beauty and expansiveness of spirit. That becomes evident when one sees your photographic image. Your unique qualities have enthralled the entire world, and doubly so because of your uniqueness. You are quite literally one-of-a-kind. If I were to travel the world a thousand times over, I feel I would never discover your like.

"A man like myself, whose business is to discover beauty and convey it to a mass audience, to whom beauty is a commodity, inevitably is going to feel that he wants to keep for himself the most sublime expression of his craft. A master jeweler is going to covet the finest stone, or the auto magnate the most exquisitely tooled vehicle.

"That is why I don't feel ashamed to express my desire for you, my dearest Eponine. The reason I chose this restaurant, with all its symbolism, is to let you know in a small way that Kama has struck me with one of his flower-tipped arrows and lit inside me a flame of desire for you." He took her hand and kissed it. She didn't resist but rather extended it so he wouldn't have to lean too far. "Eponine, I am asking for your hand in marriage."

Eponine began to cry softly. She thought back to her girlhood in Texas where she dared not even contemplate the prospect of marriage. It was a subject that was not ever discussed in her house, the idea seeming so outrageous that a young Texan male would even consider for a moment marriage with a three-eyed girl. She had never even been on a proper date.

Not that she hadn't dreamed of romance, her ideal a rough, taciturn Texas boy, a Steve McQueen with cowboy boots and a motorcycle.

Ali had sort of fit that bill. He was a rough man, yet he knew how to handle her gently. But he was dead and buried, and here was this totally unexpected kind of a person, a plump, short Hindu with loads of money and power, expressing love for her in a way which was totally foreign and inconceivable to her in a setting which was geographically and spiritually as far from Texas as you could get!

At length she spoke. "Papu, I'm flattered by your proposal of marriage, and I'm not taking it lightly. But have you given any thought to children? Genetically speaking, I'm a wild card."

Now Papu was on familiar ground, that as salesman and promoter. "That is precisely why I am the man for you. I know the best geneticists. We can proceed carefully, with all testing, until we are confident enough to proceed with a pregnancy.

"Eponine, I know that this is unexpected, and that you are not feeling romantic love for me, but in India we are taking the long view of these things. You and your family will be secure for life, whatever happens. And you needn't abandon your career — quite the contrary. I have several projects in mind for you."

Eponine slowly got up from the table and went around to where Papu was sitting. She stood quite close to him, so that his head was level with her bosom, and he had to look up at her face. "Papu, I accept. I would be honored to be your wife."

He stood up and they embraced.