Je t’aime

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If you ever wonder- what is love, where is love or if it can be seen or touched – set out towards a small, isolated, idyllic village that goes by the name “Sancto Lucio de Coumboscuro”. Coumboscuro, nestled on the border, having passed through French and Italian rule several times in history, is a bit of both French and Italian but the locals feel neither French nor Italian.

There, you would see Lorenzo Martin. Walking leisurely through the lavender fields or roaming the surrounding forests of hazelnut and ash trees or simply staring out of a wooden and stone cottage window into the breath-taking alps. 


“You, impotent scoundrel!! Get out of here. Never ever come back again. What a waste of time !!” The words ring in his ears. He turns in his bed and the voice is gone.

A smidgen ray of sun through the sheer curtain wakes his senses up. He looks around the empty room with groggy eyes. He cranes his neck up to look outside the window from his room – mountain meadows, vast fields of bright purple lavender. He inhales deeply, filling his lungs with the crisp fresh air. 

It is a beautiful day. Wait …but what day is it today? 

He ponders. He begins to get restless. He looks around the room for hints. He tries to remember what he did last night, the day before or the day before that. He is about to get off the bed when she walks in. She rambles towards him with a drinking glass in one hand, a basket of fresh elder flowers and dandelions in the other, her long white skirt guarding her slender figure. He has a sense of Déjà vu. She smiles at her, loosening the poncho around her neck. Enthralled by her smile, his anxiety disappears into the thin air. With eyes transfixed on her as she moves around, he rests his head back on the pillow with his hands crossed behind his head.He feels at home, once again. He smiles back at her.

If one wakes up to this every morning, who cares what day is it!

‘Bonjour Lorenzo. How are you this morning?’

‘A little confused but you have sorted it all out.’

He stretches his arms out beckoning her to come closer. She walks in towards him with the tumbler in her hand, her wine-red curls swinging gently on the perfectly raised cheek bones. She gently tucks them behind her ears, sits on the bed facing him. 

He pulls her closer, his eyes fixated on her luscious lips when she hands him the tumbler.

‘Not until you drink it all down,’ she says.

Her words are music to his ears. A familiar music that he hears every morning. A music that soothes his racing heartbeat. He pauses to think for a moment. His random thoughts wander around aimlessly. He is not particularly thirsty, but he takes the tumbler and drinks it all down. He feels satiated. 

She ruffles his hair, plants a kiss on his forehead and begins sorting the flowers. He wants to lay down a bit more. He wants to rest his head on her shoulders. 

‘What is the hurry. Come over. It is a beautiful day.’

‘Exactly why the hurry. Freshen up, Lorenzo. We are going mushroom hunting today. It is going to be a long hike. I am sure it will do wonders for you.’

‘In a while, my love. Allow me a quick snooze.’ 

He drifts away to sleep.

The next time he opens his eyes, she is there beside him. Her fingers gliding through his hair, running down his forehead to chin. She takes his hand in hers and caresses the marks on his wrist. 

‘Not for long, Chéri.’ She says softly. ‘If you are done resting, mushroom hunting…shall we?’ She asks softly.

He tosses the blanket off him and heads for a quick shower. She does the bed, picks the clothes strewn around and makes her way out of the room her long trailing skirt following her. 

He stands in the shower, smelling her, long after she is gone. He looks at the marks on his wrist and thighs and swells with pride. 

The pleasant walk through the meadows, the lavender fields, the stretch of alps beyond the horizon. A treat to the eyes. A young boy tending to the sheep calls out – ‘Au revoir.’

Lorenzo waves his hand and shouts back – ‘Aww revor.’

She cracks up into an uncontrollable laughter. Putting a break to her laughter, she shouts at the young shepherd – ‘Au revoir.’

‘Every time Lorenzo? Really?’

‘Why would you laugh at me?’ He teases her. 

‘It’s your French accent.’


“You, Impotent scoundrel!! Get out of here. Never ever come back again. What a waste of time !!” The words ring in his ears. He turns in his bed. The voice is gone. 

He opens his eyes and walks to the window to draw the curtains apart. The sun is nowhere to be seen. His heart sinks. His head starts to pound. He covers his face with his palms fearing the gloominess will engulf him in its grasp. 

‘Bonjour Lorenzo. How are you this morning?’ 

He turns around to the familiar voice, heaves a sigh a relief, runs towards her, and hugs her with all his might almost smothering her. She stumbles, struggles to maintain her balance. The tumbler in her hand moves and spills some of the drink on the floor. He cups her rosy cheeks in his palms, drawing comfort from her blue eyes. The grey sky is behind him already.

He wants to keep her locked in his embrace. She pries herself out carefully so as not to spill any more, reprimands him lightly handing him the drinking glass.

He gulps it all down. Putting the drinking glass away, he goes back to snuggling her. She runs her hand all over his back. He feels secure. He feels loved. 

‘Lorenzo, you may rest today. I shall be here, right beside you.’

He wakes up with a renewed energy to the same gloomy grey sky. 

‘Shall we go for a walk?’ He asks her. She helps him get dressed and leads him through the meadows into the woods. 

The misty fog makes it difficult to see too far, but he can still see some of wooden cottages far in between. There are no sheep or the young shepherd in the fields. He wants to keep walking uncovering what lays beyond the fog until they reach the alpine foothills. He wants to lay down on the purple lavender fields with her and just do nothing. 

He walks hand in hand with her while she picks wildflowers and leaves from the woods. He sits on one of the logs soaking in the beauty of the nature and Lizelle’s. He does not question the duration of his existence on this paradise. This is where he has always been. This is where he shall always be. He thanks his stars for this…all of this. 

But when did it all begin?


“Impotent…Idiot…waste of time…” The words ring in his ears. He turns in his bed, and everything falls silent. He vaguely remembers it as a nightmare until she walks in with the drinking glass in her hand. The pitter patter sound and the tiny droplets of water on the glass windows tells him it is a drizzly day. ‘What day is it? What was I supposed to do?’ he thinks. She walks in, he takes the tumbler from her hand instinctively and drink it down. 

The cloud of happiness, joy, fulfilment shrouds him. He surrenders himself willingly. He forgets all that happened until the moment before she walked in. He is thankful for everything she has to offer him. He does not know what it is to not offer her everything in his capacity. Love, care, trust, belonging. He looks at her while she goes around the room replacing the flowers in the vase, picking his clothes. He asks her if he can snuggle up indoors today. She smiles back. She does the chores, walks out of the room. 

He feels lethargic and decides to lay down for a while. 

He stares up at the ceiling drawing circles in clockwise direction in the air with his right-hand index finger. He pauses. He starts to slowly draw circles in anti-clockwise direction. 


It was July. Dressed in traditional Provencal attire, Lorenzo Martin, an international student of arts in Paris had joined the Roumiage, a spiritual pilgrimage departing from Provence in south France along the Alps to Coumboscuro, a little village along the border of Italy and France. He just wanted to run away. Run away from all things familiar, From the university, from Elaine. He was embarrassed beyond imagination. 

The breakup with Elaine had hit him hard. He was smitten by her from the day he stepped in the university premise. Forget Arts for which he had travelled this far from United States, he would spend his days gaping at Elaine in the class and in the night practising on moving his tongue and the wind around it in the right technique so the je t’aime could convey his feelings appropriately. It was not so much about Elaine’s physical beauty as it was about the aura of her presence. Be it her tough exterior, her short unkempt hair, dimples when she smiled or the tinge in her eyes when she listened to the lecture attentively, she had something that cast a magic spell on him. 

She had sensed the awkwardness in his tone when he had attempted a feeble ‘Bonzoor’ when they were formally introduced to each other in the class.

‘Bonjour! Well …Hello! I speak English.’ She had replied with a smile. 

He had soared a few inches above the ground when Elaine had finally agreed to go on a date. Little did he know later in the evening, in the most intimate moment of his life, his own body would abandon his heart. 

He had faintly whispered, ‘Zeta…meee’ walking back Elaine to her room after the sumptuous dinner at the fancy restaurant, only for the word to have drowned in the wailing sirens of the big city.

Elaine had pulled him in by his coat as soon as soon as her door unlocked. The bed squeaked as their intertwined bodies laid on it. Lorenzo had been waiting to unzip Elaine’s sequined black dress since the red wine spilled on it earlier that evening.

There was silence all around except the sporadic moaning until Elaine suddenly pulled the blanket off the bed, wrapped around her, paced the length of the room up and down. 

‘You, Impotent scoundrel!! Get out of here. Never ever come back again. Idiot. What a waste of time !!’ She had raged like a furious tigress. He had pleaded her to take him back in vain. 

‘It must be the cheese, or the wine…or the bed or the beer I had to curb my anxiety before the dinner…I do not know …but you are mixing up two completely different things. Impotent and what happened here are not the same thing. I love you, Elaine. Amouramour…Please…please… give me another chance.’

Elaine stood there stomping her feet until Lorenzo walked out of the door, head hung down. Lorenzo never saw her again.

Word had spread fast in the campus. Lorenzo started distancing from everything and anything remotely connected to the incident. To give his vanquished soul a respite from Elaine and in hope of stitching together the pieces of his broken heart, he had headed towards Provence to join the spiritual pilgrimage.

The journey took him across snowy peaks, steep canyons, and chestnut forests. His lethargic American feet had wanted to give up, but his very broken heart had pushed him along. 

With the culmination of the journey in Coumboscuro, the pilgrims was extended a warm welcome by the locals. It was when he was resting in the make-shift barn that he had seen Lizelle for the first time. She was volunteering to serve the pilgrims. His heart had skipped a beat when she brought the famous local delicacy, La Mato or as the locals call it, “the crazy one”. Crazy it drove him. He had restrained his heart to not go any farther, not get into the mess again. But he ensued as she enticed.

Love they say is a drug. A complex drug. It gets more complex as it disintegrates and leaves remnants within you – your soul, mind, heart, body. 

Lizelle had found in him a tender heart. A heart she was yearning for; to try her experimental potion on. In the small village of handful of natives where she grew up, she had wanted a heart that would beat only for her until it gets tired and stopped beating altogether. A heart that would not abandon her for the glamour of a big city. A heart that understands nothing but love. But she also knew such a heart had to be moulded; with care, love, and herbs.

She did not want to die alone like her neighbour, Ms Annette. 

Ms Annette would say, ‘grow your cannabis, soak in the beauty of the lavenders, blow a dandelion, paint an elder flower, there is so much to love around. What more do you seek from a humane? Why miss something that you have never had in the first place.’

Lizelle’s had been waiting for that first time. 

She had been waiting for the annual pilgrimage to culminate, her eyes roving for a non-Provencal traveller until the bruised soul of Lorenzo with his broken French accent had come her way. 

Lorenzo came attracted to Lizelle like a fly to nectar.

When Lorenzo bared his heart out to her, she had marvelled at her find, ‘what better way to pay off my hard work of years.’

He was her guinea pig. Long after the other pilgrims were gone when the village was back to its idyllic state, Lizelle continued to cast her spell with the delicacies. She served them to her esteemed guest garnished with her potion that gripped him under her reigns. He reeled under the steady flow of wild herbs mixed with utmost attention. The only hindrance was nightfall. Between dinner and the first glass of drink in the morning, the potion would begin to wear off. If Lorenzo woke up after midnight, he would bang on the door, scream aloud. Not that there were many people around to hear. But she thought it better to gag the nuisance. Tie him to the bed while he slept. 

She would adjust the composition that would suck out all of Lorenzo’s memory swiftly until the day came when he woke up a blank slate. All that he knew was ‘Love’ and Lizelle, encompassed in the circle of love. 


“Impotent…useless…waste of time.” The same words ring in his ears. He takes turn in his bed, everything falls silent.

He wakes up in a room all alone. He runs his fingers through his hair. He looks out at the sunny day. He looks at the fading marks on his wrist. He looks towards the door in anticipation. She walks in with the tumbler in one hand and a basket of elder flowers and dandelion in the other. He grabs the tumbler from her. He pulls her closer. He looks deep into her blue eyes, he plays with the strand of hair fluttering casually on her high cheek bone, tucks them behind her ears. He run his fingers on her forehead tracing the fine lines across, then moving on to her lips and says – ‘Je t’aime.’


pic courtesy: Danielle Rice on Unsplash


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