Unwritten destiny of the unplanned twin.
Idea courtesy : Dad! Yes, I am in Calcutta. ❤
Unwritten destiny of the unplanned twin.
Idea courtesy : Dad! Yes, I am in Calcutta. ❤
The red curtains were being pulled back. Dressed in a black floor sweeping gown, with sequinned black trimmings lining it, her wrinkled skin touched up by a pair of deft young hands on her troupe, she walked on to the stage. The soft light on the stage made her eyes twinkle. She could see a lot of heads in the audience but couldn’t make out their faces. Rushed silence welcomed her as her stilettos clicked on the wooden floor, until she reached the carpeted spot around the mike. This was her last opera. She’d chosen to retire Prima Donna before she was replaced by someone younger, more beautiful and maybe, just maybe, a better singer than her. The deft hands that had touched her up – she was retiring to her.
As he watched her walk away, he muttered abuses under his breath. As she walked farther, his voice became louder, hurling out the abuses loud now. It made him angry and unlike her, anger did not make him cry. Anger took him away from the pain, it made him feel in charge. He was no longer the helpless one. She may have broken up with him, but he was the one who would decide what he felt. And he chose to be angry. She looked back at him; the passersby were staring at her. She felt uncomfortable. Where there was pain in her eyes a few minutes ago, now there was shame and fear. Her confident gait was now hurried and skeptical. He broke her heart, twice now.
As he laid back in his chair, heat exuding from his ears, he looked up at the fan. It wasn’t moving. The surface of the fan gleamed due to the light. He was having trouble breathing. He could feel his ears turning red. He rubbed his chest. The silence in his cabin was pounding at him. There was no one outside on the office floor. They’d all left for home. He could have gone home too. But to whom? And when had he last gone home for someone? Wasn’t it always because he needed food and sleep?
His wife had left him yesterday. The woman he’d been married to for 20 long years, who’d brought up two of his children, who’d never asked for a single holiday in all of those years, who’d been an idol of docile and submissive, left him. And he’d seen no change in her. Just like that, she left. How long had she been packing? How had he missed the change in her? When did his work take over his life? His kids had called him so many times since morning. He didn’t know what to say to them. He still hadn’t managed to call her even once. He felt too ashamed to. Instead, here he sat, staring at the fan, wondering if the sacrifice was worth it.
“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” they said. I don’t know who the they here are. I don’t mean I don’t know, I just can’t seem to recall who exactly they are. I grew up listening to mothers say it, the advertisers claim it, movies celebrate it. I was brought up in an Indian middle class family. The view our flat had was of other flats, crammed up in a tower like reluctant matchboxes given a balancing act dare. I was told to dream, but within limits. I had wings which could only flap within the cages they had set up. Again, I don’t recall who the they were exactly. One midnight, that of my 23rd birthday, it was decided that I was of marriagable age. The stroke of the grandfather clock above the living room mantlepiece had magically reformed me from a girl who should keep out of talks of adults to a woman who now had to sit demurely among adults and know exactly what and how much to speak.
Like the films had predicted, I found my knight in shining armour. He came riding a white horse, literally, on the day of our wedding. He looked wonderful. The night was even more wonderful. I was tired but he was magical in bed! Or at least, what he did seemed like magic to a virgin like me. And in the morning, he presented me with a diamond. My first, though not my last. The one I keep tucked away in my closet between the uncomfortable silk sarees I rarely wear. Now the view from my window has changed. I still overlook concrete towers but posh ones. The view came at a price, not the diamonds, no. The price was having to share my husband. That night, two years ago, he was magical in bed, indeed. The other woman claimed so too. Two years and he had never faltered. Until three days ago.
My husband is away for the week. He says he’ll end the relationship with the other woman. I may be young, but I am no fool. I may be good, but I also have my evil in place. I may think white, but I have my black too. I changed the locks of the house. I installed a hidden GPS tracker app on his phone. I hired a PI to track the woman. And I sold the diamonds. At least, half of them.
My hair tied in a side bun, earrings dangling by my round face, cheeks rosy as buns, the shimmering copper of my dress accentuating my wheatish complexion, I smiled at my reflection and thought, ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, they said.’
The phone rang. The cab had arrived. This was the night I’d let my hair down.
I scratched his ear, like he loved. My old dog sensed my tears, nuzzled me lovingly. The doctor laid him to sleep. Forever. I cried.
Her husband sat her down at the bed. She’d just taken a hot water bath. She placed her towel on her shoulder to soak up water from her wet hair. She inhaled deeply. This wasn’t the first time she had to answer the questions. This wouldn’t be the last.
“How did it happen?”
“What did he say?”
“How does it feel?”
“When exactly did it happen?”
“Did you see it all?”
Once again she closed her eyes and recalled the moment. In a flash, it was all over. One second she was at the pavement, the next she was on the road, the head of a dying man on her lap, blood drenching her clothes, tickling down her skin, shock overriding the bile building up in her stomach.
She opened up her eyes again. She was ready.
Her husband instead said, “It must be difficult for you dealing with the accident. Do you want to eat outside or should I cook?”
She breathed again!
And the six word story series is back!
Closure is overrated. Reopened wounds bleed.
Naksh was singing at the top of his voice! “Papparah Papparah Papparah… Badtameez Dil Badtameez Dil… Ahh… Haan“
“Oh shut that radio thing off and stop jumping on the bed,” Shailjaa scolded her eight year old son, Naksh!
No longer jumping, he smiled at her and stood there, the hand held radio his father bought as a gift, still blaring what people called music these days!
She was still angry at him but this child of hers could not be least bothered! He’d misplaced her earrings and she couldn’t find it anywhere. She was sure she’d given to him to go and keep it by the bedside table. She’d even boxed his ears two hours ago but he came back and sat beside her in no time! Now he was jumping on the bed unashamed.
“Get out,” she said, dropping the freshly ironed bed covers and pillow cases on the bed. “I have to change the bed sheet.”
“Mummy, I am sorry,” he said, and walked out of the room, forlorn and dejected, head hung.
Shailjaa didn’t reply.
She pulled off the old covers angrily. Unfurling the new covers, she went to the headboard side and struggled to pick up the mattress alone to push the new covers beneath. Something fell from behind the mattress onto the floor beneath. She bent down and looked under the four poster bed. Two pieces of gold shone out to her. One within her reach, the other rolled off to the other end. She crawled under the bed and got her hands on both the pieces. She craned her neck upwards to look at the bed from under. A coffee flavored toffee was sticking out from behind the mattress, fighting gravity, pinched in place. She pulled it out too and crawled back out from under the bed. She sat on the floor, head resting on the bed, turning the earrings back and forth. They were the ones for which she’d boxed her son’s ears. She felt terrible, devastated almost. She now recalled picking it from the bedside table and having kept it on the bed. They must have gotten wedged between the mattress and the headboard during the course of the night. She lay her head on her knees and held herself close. She sat that way for more than a few minutes and swore to herself she’d put people over things here onwards.
Getting up from her place on the floor, she went out of the bedroom to look for her son. He was standing in the balcony, listening to the radio. She snuck up behind him and dangled the toffee in front of his eyes. He whirled around and smiled broadly. But then he saw her face and his smile dimmed a little. Her heart pricked.
“You want this?” she asked him.
He shook his head.
She felt sad.
But then he said, “I want the mango flavor.”
Her heart jumped with joy! “I’ll get you those later. Right now, will you please help me with covering the bed?” she asked.
He nodded her head vigorously. Then he raised a finger and asked, “Can I jump on the bed after that?”
“Yes, we both will,” she said, laughing.
Beaming with joy, he ran towards the room, and she noticed as she followed him, that his radio was lying in the balcony. She picked it up and placed it on the table – a lesson learnt.
He was rummaging through old letters his deceased wife had written him during a long marriage and before. He also found his first and only Valentine Day card from thirty years ago.
Tears welled his eyes immediately when he read and re-read the sender’s name etched in crayons. He called her. This would be his first conversation with her in more than two years. “I want to take you out for dinner today. Will you be my valentine?”
She wasn’t sure if she should even receive the call but she did. “Me? But, Daadu. Also, today is the 21st of January,” said his recently divorced thirty eight year old grand daughter.
“I found the Valentine Day card you’d made for me years ago,” he said, not going into further details.
Eyes closed, she pursed her lips and barely managed to say, “I’ll pick you up at seven PM today,” before tears brimming with happiness rolled down her cheeks.