A Satchel from the Gods
A true romance, in memory of all those beautiful women who turned me down.

Ezra Azra

© Copyright 2022 by Ezra Azra


Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash.
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash.

Ramj and Bnoth were completely happy. The final results had come out in the last few minutes, and both had passed. They now had earned the Bachelor of Arts degree from the University they had been attending full-time for the previous three years.

Hard to believe, huh? Three years ago seem like yesterday we were so insecure about being accepted as mature students.” “Yeah, among the hordes of ‘bright eyed and bushy tailed’ fresh out of High School children.” “I can admit it now. Had it not been for your obvious doubts, mine would have caused me to drop out right there.” “Now that we have joined the University educated elite, nobody needs to know about those doubts of ours.” “If anyone comes to find out, I assure you it will not have been from me.” “Me, neither.” They bump fists.

Uh, should we just come out bare-faced and ask Nevin if he made copies of all those essays he wrote for us over three years?” “You think there’s a possibility he made copies?” They look at each, each in his own version of insecure puzzlement. Blurting out, “Of course not! Just my guilt taking over, fleetingly.” Snapped his fingers, “There! Gone forever! He has been a true friend. Not a devious blood cell in his circulation.” “Yeah, poorer than the poorest church mouse without socks, but the wealthiest soul in the infinite universe.”

Had I a sister, I would pay her to marry him.” “That would have made him a bigamist, because I have an eligible sister and I intend her to marry him. I’ve been praising him to her for years. The only obstacle is to get him to wear socks.” They laugh boisterously.

Not such an obstacle. I believe he doesn’t wear socks because he never has enough money to buy them.” “That’s our fault. We paid him with food. We were too miserly to pay him with money.” “I insist on believing that had we paid him with money, he would have bought more food.”

Uh, changing the topic, slightly. You think Nevin has a chance with Chetty?” “No way. Even if he wore socks. She is an only child, heiress to millions and millions. Her family owns all the businesses on a downtown street.”

Really? But he has to be the reason she remains in this study-four. When they get into discussing Religion, it’s all above you and me.” “Yeah, and, even, he is not taking courses in the Department of Religion. Just reads a lot and thinks about everything.”

I remember when they were arguing about those Roman Catholic miracles at the village of Fatima in Portugal in 1917. She got so worked up, I thought she was going to hit him.” “I remember. She was stunned when he agreed with her at the end. I thought she was going to hug him.”

Yeah. I think she would have hugged and kissed him had the two of us not been there.”

There was a long silence as both were lost in thinking about those wonderful unique moments shared by the four of them. None ever before; and never since.

I think she is challenged to know more than him in the near future. After all, she is not shy about letting us know she intends to be the first in her Religion to qualify as priest or rabbi or imam or pujari.” “Or whatever.”

She’s on track. That impressive-looking satchel she carries everywhere is a special award in the Department of Religion to students who achieve above A+ in all their courses in a three-year degree.”

By the way, just what is Chetty’s Religion?” “No way you should be even thinking of asking her. If you cannot resist, do it when I am not present.”

So, where do you go from here, now that you are higher educated?” “The family business. My Dad’s been eager to retire. He’s been putting it off because all my siblings are High School dropouts.” “Good for you. It’s just the opposite with me. I’m the black sheep of the family. Every one of my four siblings has at least three University degrees when I last counted. And two of those siblings are younger than me!” “Yikes!” “My parents insisted I leave the country. I’m sure they hoped I never return. Heart attacks all round when I return with a University degree I paid for myself. Hah!”

Good for you! Kill ‘em all; let god sort it out!” A cacophony duet of vengeful sniggerings.

I will be remaining in this beautiful country until after the graduation ceremony.” “Me, too.”

So? Are you still game to have a little harmless fun with Nevin and Chetty to pass the time?” “Of course. We start it in motion this evening over the takeout feast we planned for him in our favourite classroom.”

Their favourite classroom was a regular classroom that the University had forgotten about after one of its expensive modernizations of its buildings. It had been forgotten because it had been used during the re-structuring as an out-of-the-way storage place for miscellaneous construction items. It was Nevin who discovered it in its abandoned state afterwards. He had cleaned up the tables and chairs, and used the room as his private study. When Ramj and Bnoth had befriended him, he invited them to use the room. At some point, Chetty, discovered the room on her own. She started using it, thinking it was a regularly functioning classroom. The three men did not disabuse her of her mistake because they agreed among themselves that if the authorities ever discovered the room, her usage would make the room a normal classroom. The four of them referred to the room as their HQ. If she had ever come to be aware that the four of them were the only users of their HQ, she never revealed it to the other three. They, in turn, neither asked her, nor informed her.

At that evening feast of the three of them, Ramj and Bnoth made their offer to Nevin. “Now, Nevin, we bought enough for you to fill yourself here, and to have a lot to take home.” “Yes, all those items there in boxes, they are for you to take home.” “Thanks, guys.”

Don’t you wish Chetty were here?” “Why? So there would be less for me to eat? Anyway, she’s so wealthy, this food is, probably, beneath her tastes.” “Oh, come, now. She’s never made us feel inferior to her.” “That’s true. I like her. Pity is that I’m too old for her.” “Me, too.” A long pause while the three enjoy eating and drinking; with Bnoth and Ramj continually exchanging sly glances.

Nevin, you ever thought you had a chance with Chetty?” In his surprise at the question, Nevin struggled to avoid choking. “Uh-uh. Not with her nor with any other girl.” “You saying you’ve never had a girlfriend?” “That’s right. Nothing to offer a girl.” “Except your genius brain.” “Yeah. Right. Before genius, a girl wants a guy who wears socks.” “I have to agree with you there.”

Chetty has never made a comment about your no socks.” “That’s because she is high class, and good breeding.” “You know she thinks very highly of you, Nevin.” “Yes. You must have noticed how animated she gets with you when she is contesting a point in our group discussions.” “Yeah. With us she’s always in matter-of-fact-ho-hum-mode.” “With you, she is so beautiful when the blood rushes to her cheeks.” “Take a shot, Nevin.”

What?” “Tell Chetty you love her.” “I do not.” “All the better. You won’t be hurt when she turns you down.” “It will spoil the friendship, guys. Please, forget it.”

Tell you what. Ramz and I will give you enough money to buy yourself a pair of socks for every day of a whole year, if you take the chance.” Nevin stopped eating. “Whoa! That’s a lot of money.” “All yours if you tell Chetty you love her.” “And you will wear a wire to record it.”

What’s the recording for?” “Only to prove you went through with it. After we listen to it, it’s yours to do with whatever.” “And all I have to do is say I love her?” “And wait to listen to her response, of course.” “That will take only a few minutes.” “Or a few seconds, if you play your cards right, Nevin.”

Okay. I’ll do it. For the socks. But.” “But what?” “Tell me how and what and when. I have never done this, guys.” “Fair enough. Bnoth, tell him.” “Heyyyy! Why not both of us tell him?” “Oh, come, now. Both of you know I am homosexual. If Chetty were a guy, I would know several ways to approach him. But you, Bnoth, have bragged to us so many times of that little book you have in that inside pocket of yours. Surely one of those names fits Chetty.”

You got me. Okay. I’ve often fantasized about approaching Chetty. I would go with the god approach.” “What’s that?” “We know she’s a believer. Every time a god comes up in our readings, she takes over and leads the discussion. Right?” “Right.”

I know next-to-nothing about any god.” “Pretend, Nevin. This whole adventure is pretence.” “Yes. You’ve heard about that 1917 happening in Portugal.” “Yes. Who hasn’t?” “There you go. You can bet your only pair of socks Chetty is an expert on that happening. Just ask her.”

I do not have an only pair of socks. Anyway, how am I going to go from Portugal 1917 to telling her I love her, Bnoth?” “Come, now. Must I do all the thinking?” “Want to hear my brilliant thought? Just occurred in me.” “What?” “Right in the middle of her impassioned explanation, just blurt out, You are so beautiful. I love you.” The other two look at Ramj in admiration. He basks and smirks.

Perfectly brilliant, Ramj. There you go, Nevin!” “Good. We will work on Chetty and let you know when she will be coming to the HQ.”

A few days later the campus had only a few persons about. In two weeks the next semester of classes would start. Bnoth and Ramz had notified Nevin of the day Chetty would be at the HQ. They had fit him with a wire on his chest under his singlet undershirt under his near-tattered collared outer shirt; and a small recorder similarly hidden against his lower back. He was most uncomfortable, and nearly a nervous wreck.

Chetty noticed immediately she arrived with her expensive satchel, and dressed most attractively. She interpreted Nevin’s fidgetiness as a natural response to her stunning appearance. It was an effect she had planned for when she set about to go out into the world from home that morning. So far, she was pleased at the number of campus males gasping for air in her wake. She did not care for having overwhelmed Nevin, the sockless near-nothing wandering the remote fringes of her life. Indeed, she found his reaction mildly irritating.

She sat down at her favourite student table-chair at a wall in the HQ. She slipped her satchel to the floor against the wall.

Do you know what the surprise is that Bnoth and Ramz said they have?” “Uh, no. They did not tell me. They said I was to be here. That’s all.” “They had better be punctual because I cannot wait long.”

Her appearance was so exceptionally stunning that all previously plotted plans flew out the window. Nevin was sitting at a student table-chair he had turned to face her. He blurted out, “Chetty, you are so incredibly beautiful. I am in love with you!” Before he had finished the sentences he was terrified by the realization he was not pretending!

He raised his arms onto the table, and buried his embarrassed and panicking face in them. Instantly, he lifted up his head and faced here because he remembered the wire and the recorder. When he saw the anger in her face, he expected to die there and then.

How dare you, Nevin! I have never given you any reason to insult me like this!” He tried to speak an apology, but his terror had utterly snuffed out his voice. She got up hastily and angrily, and walked out and away in an almost undignified gait.

Nevin sat in a stupor. He was not crying, but he could not stop tears gushing down, and his nose running. He managed unsteadily to reach for the scarf Chetty had forgetfully left behind on her table, in her angry disgust. He picked it up, but hesitated for a moment to use it, out of fear of offending her. He let it be and, instead, hurried downstairs to a bathroom to wash his face and hands. In the bathroom he removed the wire and its recorder. He decided to go home.

On his way down the stairs he remembered Chetty’s scarf. He went back to the HQ room. He grabbed at the scarf; it snagged on the corner of the table. When he bent to unsnag it, he saw Chetty’s satchel where she had placed it, on the floor up against the wall.

He was in a turmoil. He picked it up and lay it on the table. He sat in the chair. The safest thing to do was to leave it where she had placed it because she was certain to return for it. On the other hand, if he went home with it, he could later gain her good will for having kept it safe for her.

He took it home. Holding onto it calmed him. He was holding a possession of hers which she had held close to herself. He looked forward feverishly to when he would look inside the satchel. Perhaps, just perhaps, keep for himself some small item of hers she would never miss?

Over the next few days, he repeatedly spent time in the HQ, hoping to meet Chetty and Bnoth and Ramz. He was puzzled by the men not showing up. He did not know it then, but he would never again see or talk to, or hear of or from either of them.

Eventually, Chetty showed up. He was, by design, seated at the table at which she usually sat. Pretending spontaneity, he looked up quickly from his reading. She hesitated.

Surprisingly, not nervously, “Hi, Chetty.” Surprisingly, nervously and softly and somewhat uncharacterously tenderly, “Hey, Nevin.” “Friends?”

She sat at a table. “Of course. True friends easily survive misunderstandings.” An awkward pause.

Before I forget, Chetty, I have your satchel in my locker downstairs. Kept it there for safety.” “Thanks, Nevin. Can we, please, go get it, now?” “Of course.”

They went to the students’ locker room. He returned her satchel. “Thank you, Nevin. Please let me pay you for keeping it safely for me.” “No, no, no, Chetty. I am happy for the opportunity to be a true friend. See you whenever. I have to rush off now.” He hurried away, not caring to allow her time to say anything.

He ‘rushed off’ to find a bench in an open area on the deserted campus grounds. He sat and hoped 99% for a specific happening.

Why not hope? If they who had awarded her the satchel had not told her, surely she should have made the discovery on her own.

To help himself stay calm, he pretended to enjoy the almost total absence of persons on campus in this holiday time between semesters.

Chetty found him! The 1%, instead, was happening. He steeled himself. She was not pleased as she plonked herself at the other end of the bench. She clutched her satchel.

You should not have looked inside, Nevin.” “Such an expensive satchel with no lock, Chetty?” “I am a graduand of the Department of Religion that teaches the sacredness of personal privacy.” “Intention to help a friend is more important than allowing personal privacy.” Long seconds of tense silence, during which both avoid looking at each other.

How much do you want, Nevin?” “For three pages of official graduation forms that could get you expelled, Chetty?” “How much?” “Perhaps, just perhaps, enough to buy me a pair of socks for every day of a year, Chetty.”

How much, you bare-foot louse!” “As much as you paid for those pages?” “Agreed.” “So, you did pay!” “Yes, as a donation for the restoration of the Church of the Lady of Fatima, that was destroyed by that tornado last year.”

He turned to look at her. “The Church on downtown Victoria Avenue?” “The only one in the Country.”

Softly and unsteadily, “Its doors are always open. I often go inside in the daytime to sit in awe of the beautiful architecture.” “As beautiful as it was before the tornado?” Still looking at her, he slowly shook his head. He spoke softly.

I don’t want money, Chetty. “I really, really love you.” “I have no romantic feelings for you, Nevin.” “I know, and I accept that, Chetty. But you are a believer in gods. Can you not allow that it is they who gave me your satchel, for a good purpose?”

I also believe there are devils, Nevin. The devils gave you my satchel! All you get is money.”

Not money, Chetty. I want that we return to HQ and for you to let me see you naked. No touching. Just looking. A sight more awesome than the inside of the Church of the Lady of Fatima, on Victoria Avenue.” She was furiously disgusted. But expulsion from the university would ruin her family’s generations of hegemony in the City.

About an hour later they were in HQ. She was naked, standing at the far end of the room, look at him, defiantly, and on the brink of vomiting. She forced herself to hoarsely taunt, “Hey, sockless pervert, want to come here and touch?”

He was seated at a table at the other end of the room, up against the closed door. He was struggling mightily to be calm. He quickly shook his head at her taunt, sincerely believing she meant the invitation.

May I get dressed?” He quickly nodded. She spoke as she dressed, “The papers, please?” Quietly, haltingly, “Yes, of course, Chett.” Quietly through her teeth, “Do not call me that! Give me the papers!”

They are in the satchel.” “They are not in my satchel! You think I have not looked, you, you pervert?”

In other words, Chett, you do not know your very own satchel has a secret compartment.”

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