That was the response he received from her, in reply to his text message. A four-page text message, laced with so many heartwarming, sweet words. It had been a text message containing allusions to historical definitions of beauty; Helen of Troy et al. He had never found it hard to construct words and phrases, and that evening he had lavished the most soothing of words on her. That text would have moved any skirt-wearing human being who secreted progesterone instead of testosterone. Any other lady’s heart would have melted…..any other, but not her.

No, not Jessie, at least not that evening. Not for the first time, Fred’s entire lexical arsenal had failed to produce the desired (if not expected) reaction. Such was the way they both related. It had been eight months since they started seeing each other, and still Fred was yet to solve the mathematical equation that was Jessie. Anytime he thought he had her all figured out, something popped up that helped to banish the thought almost immediately. Hour-long calls, lengthy chats, honey-laced texting, extensive visits, gifts, life-reaching promises……these had all failed to unravel the mystery he called his significant other.

He liked to compare her to his most recent smartphone, whose functions he was yet to fully understand even after nearly three months of usage. But then, if he put half of the effort expended in trying to understand Jessie into trying to study his phone, he would before long toss it aside for reason of overfamiliarity. He was acquainted with scores of ladies, but there was that ”je ne sais quoi” about Jessie that placed her above all others in his mental space. He could not quite explain the immense power she had over his emotions, like Daniel over lions. She was capable of adding colour to his world and making his life go grayscale at the same time. When she showed love, the way he felt could only be compared to the Transfiguration, and when she hurt him like only she could, he dreamt of ways to absorb the pain.

The general rules of civility and politeness in human interactions did not in any way apply to Jessie. It was she who would plant a kiss in appreciation for a short walk home, and at the same time neglect or refuse to call to say thanks for having her bank account credited. A mention on the social networks could be treated to warm pleasantries, yet a good number of their evening chats had ended without so much as goodnight wishes. By now Fred was used to tickling her and often getting little response, whereas a wry smile from him could attract the most endearing of hugs.

Fred had been a perennial puzzle champion in his younger years, but figuring out Jessie would require ten times the skill, effort and patience he had ever exhibited while he smashed through those crosswords and jigsaws. One minute she was a mirror he could see right through , the next minute she was a maze which he had to find a way round. Ultimately it was the complexity of the maze that made it beautiful, he mused. True, Jessie was worth the challenge, but it was not easy loving a lady who could flinch at the very same words that made her blush a moment earlier.

He could not forget the day she called to see him, sounding desperate as she did so. Not too long after, she sent a text message telling him not to bother. That visit never materialised, never mind that he was two-thirds through to her place when he received the message. There was also the day she had visited him, heightening his aspirations of getting lucky with her. She had in fact initiated the intimate expressions between them on that day, but in a flash she turned her back towards him on the bed, and with that all hope of any form of action was quashed. How about the times she sent him messages which read ”I want to hear your voice”, only to hang up midway through the consequent call? Yes, there was the week when her antics took their toll on him and made him fail to meet up with a deadline at his workplace which almost cost him his job, but could he deny the fact that her love and support played a huge role in the two consecutive Employee Of The Month awards he received after that incident?

Jessie it was who could discuss anything with him up to monthly periods and stained tampons when ”the mood was right”. The same Jessie who could update ”I’m really sad” on the social networks and respond to his inquiries with that seven-alphabet nullifier. No, a combination of the world’s best shrinks could not decipher who and what Jessie was. Sigmund Freud obviously did not have someone like her in mind when he educated the world on human psychology two centuries earlier. Depending on how she felt at the time, the seductive wits of a Don Juan or a Giovanni Jacopo Casanova could fall flat at Jessie’s feet. Fred always knew how to unlock a lady’s amorous potential, but even he had his off-days when it came to her. In the days when he was more familiar with his Bible, he would have compared her with the Gerasenes’ Demoniac, only this time with a little romance and without violence. If what they shared were to be transmitted into verse, it would have to be termed ”Bitersweet Poetry”. No one else could make him feel something as sweet as cake, and at the same time knock the taste out of his mouth.

He had chosen not to think about her response to his late evening text, using the rest of his active hours to apply finishing touches to the presentation he had to deliver at his workplace the next morning. He would however wake up with a slightly damp mood, and only got better after performing his daily ritual of glancing at the photos of her which adorned his phone, computer and bedroom wall. He resisted the temptation to call or chat her up that morning. He needed to focus solely on his presentation. His decision paid off, until 8.50am at least, exactly ten minutes to action time at the office. His phone beeped, upon which he unwittingly reached for it. It was a message from Jessie. Few words which conveyed warmth most indescribable. Vintage Jessie! Just when he didn’t want to think of her that morning. She never failed to throw him off balance. After a huge sigh and a period of seven minutes which he spent trying to regain composure, he gathered his papers together, took a deep breath and walked slowly into the conference room.

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