He was very excited. Though his hands very dirty, he didn’t care. He was just eager to show her what he had received today. He ran barefoot, the small pebbles pricking his foot at all the sensitive places and his knee still pained from the lathi (rod) the policeman had beaten him with, last week. Bursting with breath, he ran inside the house and was met by her large, round innocent eyes. His eyes crinkled and he grinned.
“Look Durga, what I found today!” he said, as he held in his palm the two rotis he got at the temple. “You can keep one to yourself and one for your maa.”
Durga’s face fell. “What about you, Karan?” she asked.
“Oh, I’ve eaten at the temple only.” He smiled, ignoring the rumbling of his two day empty stomach. Who said blood was thicker than water?
“Fuck,” she screamed as she realized what she had said. He rushed after him and said, holding him as he struggled to release his hand, “Honey, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that! Jeff, are you listening to me Jeff?”
He wrestled his arm free. “I don’t want to. That’s enough, okay? I’ve had enough of it,” he yelled at her. “I want to end it all! It was a big mistake trying to contact you! I must be bonkers to have thought that talking to you would help. Just look at the state of you! You look like you came out of a gutter, you look like shit, you are homeless and you stink.”
“But Jeff, why don’t you give me one other chance, please, Jeff…”
“I’m done, please release my hand,” he interrupted her icely. She let go. He turned his back and walked away. Blurred eyes that focused somewhere far away than the retreating back she was staring at, she reflected upon her life, wondering how, from a wife and a mother, she was reduced to a surrogate mother. Then she knew. His father certainly knew how to pull strings.
“I brought a mixtape,” Humaya informed as she pushed her three bags in the car. Vrati frowned.
“I didn’t know that we were leaving for six years,” she said sardonically.
“Haha, very funny,” Humaya replied. Then sighing as if suddenly exhausted, said, “Besides after the ceremony, won’t we be leaving forever?”
As she said this, the ring on her hand sparkled under the sun, and Vrati understood. She was glad they were leaving.
Nervousness grabbed her stomach and squeezed hard. She gulped fearfully. As the compere introduced her on the stage, she could feel her legs turn to jelly. Still, when announced, she wobbled her way forward to the centre of the stage amidst pin-drop silence. The lights dimmed. She saw her mother in the front row nod encouragingly. She took a deep breath and started. Never faltering, she danced gracefully, keeping her face vibrant and alive with energy. Finally, as she stood in a statue at her final position, she saw the audience rise and clap. She received a standing ovation as the curtain drew to the clapping and many “Encores!” she could not hear. Art, she realized was not about ability, but about passion.
He was very anxious. His life depended on it. The calendar on his bedroom wall showed how much he had looked forward to this day; his daughter had put crosses on each passing day until today.
His eyes were in a blindfold and someone held him by his arm and walked him somewhere. They stopped.
“Are you ready?” a kind, female voice asked him. Her voice had a strangely soothing effect on him, yet he stammered, “Ye-yes.”
They removed the blindfold slowly, quite on contrast to how he felt inside- nervousness, anticipation, and fear. He kept his eyes closed as they slipped off the blindfold. “Ready when you are,” the same lady said. He muttered a small prayer.
One. Two. Three. He opened his eyes. He stared. At seventy fours years of age, he saw the world for the first time.
“Your operation was successful.”
The ring brought tears to gis eyes. It was the most perfect ring ever.
His mother’s. Given to her by his father on their fiftieth wedding anniversary. He had said, “Son, this ring that I’m buying for her took a lot of sacrifice. But it is all worth it. She made me who I am. I can’t thank her enough for allowing me to spend my life with her. I want you to promise me that you’ll give this ring to the person you are sure you want to spend your life with. Like for me, it was your mom.”
A week after his father died, they received a letter from the bank saying that his ancestral house had been sold and the money had paid off the loan provided by Wedding Jewellers.
Now, sitting on one knee, he looked at the miracle in front of him. He knew it was it.
She thought there was no other way left fo her. The last three years of her life had been testing. First, the battle with rug addiction, then the divorce, the custody of her children, and now, the near moneylessness. It was enough. She stared at the razor blade in her hand.
She took a deep breath, and imagined the pain it would cause. She could visualize the blade cutting through her veins and she relished it. She closed her eyes. Just as she touched the blade to her wrist, the phone vibrated. Who would want to talk to me? She picked up her phone and stared at the message. “Your book’s perfect. Out in January, 2016. Call me asap.”
She was stunned. She stared at the razor in her hand and cried. She cried for a long time.
*Total work of fiction. Isn’t in any way related to how I feel.*