Her eyeballs crept back to catch his sight as his wolf whistle echoed in her ears. Her shoes were drenched in the mud as she hurriedly ran away from that dark alley. She opened the door and the house felt a shiver as the blizzard found its way in. Closing the door behind her, she aligned her back with the door as the drawing room was covered in a sudden thump and a subtle sigh. Her shoes felt the warmth of the welcome carpet and wooden flooring. She removed her overcoat and hanged it on the metal coat hanger, which she had bought from this cheap market near the suburbs. Somehow, she found the courage to gather herself and haul herself over to the dining table. She pulled the chair with her arms, now fragile from all the files that she had lifted in her office. She not only sank in the chair but also in a deep string of thoughts. Thoughts of the poor little soul that was once like a part of those arms, as that is where it mostly spent its time: just crying, cooing, sleeping and, most of all, laughing.
She could still paint that September afternoon in her mind till the very second. She had just arrived home with his favourite diapers and chocolate when she heard an array of deep breaths. She went over to the couch and there he was: the epitome of life; the only reason she wanted to live. She pressed his chin with her finger and moved the skin on the bone and soon found her body relaxed and at peace. She sat beside him with great care: to make sure he wasn’t disturbed. She was fatigued and her back ached from the weight of all the groceries. She took him in her arms, closed her eyes, let out a deep sigh and fell asleep in the bat of an eye.
A sudden banging woke her up. The zephyr had shut the window behind her. She woke up and found him in her arms, lost in his own dreamland with his mouth open. She was just about to get up and close the window when she realised that her arms were cold; he was cold. She tried to wake him up by calling out his name but he didn’t even move an inch. She shook him very gently but he didn’t twitch his nose. Her heartbeat started to hit the highs. She shook him hard and started shouting out for him. No response. It didn’t take her more than a minute to realise, but it has been 10 years and she still hasn’t accepted the truth.
She was woken by a multitude of horns right outside her home. Her blood pressure had gotten so low that she had to grab her right hand and check it to make sure her heart was still beating. She removed her shoes and kept them in the shoe rack which was kept near the main door. She didn’t even remember walking from the door all the way to the kitchen but here she was, with her hand cupping the coffee maker. She desperately needed that caffeine. Not for the work, not for household chores, but to play with him. She used to sit in bed, every day, and play with him as if he never went; it is true for her because she was not living in the present, but in a defunct time where there was no one but him and her, and an unlimited amount of time to give to each other.
They say that she killed herself just a couple of minutes after he died, but they still see her running in those alleys, buying groceries in those wooden supermarkets, working at the office next to the cubical of her boss, taking a walk in the garden with her sweatpants on. It’s as if she is searching for something or someone in those everyday mediocrities of life; she greets her neighbours every now and then and it doesn’t surprise them because she didn’t die for them and maybe, neither did he.
~Tanishq Khurana, DPS R K Puram
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