She still waits beneath the Peepul to see his smile in the fading sunlight. In the silhouette of the tree, she often lays her feet and caresses the mud with her toes to feel the clay clusters on her barren skin. Its sprinkles kiss her, her barrenness, where he lingers like her sweat. His feel is most prominent upon her lips which have learnt the shiver of his touch. She keeps them untouched, allowing the rub of his thumbs to dwell over them and conceal gher grief with his press.
The silence of the house should have compressed her, making her smell only dust and vagueness. But in the play of pretence, she moulds him up with fiction where his pillow makes her sleep on it, his clothes begin to talk like him and the sound of his shoes trail through the unseen corners of the corridoor. She looks at his crumpled shirt, a pair of socks and a white handkerchief placed untidily on a motionless wooden chair. It seems as if they were placed in the same manner in which they were left behind when he left her. She picks up that frilled shirt and hugs it.In the grey contours of his shirt, she finds his droplets of sweat piled up and her soul blooms up with his scent.
A fortnight has passed since he had been buried in the nearby graveyard. She had seen his dead body. On that day, he appeared to her like a child pretending to sleep who could wake up any moment if the rain dropped on his eyes. But the rain didn't come as it did when their eyes had first met. Instead the skywore a subterfuge of calmness and made her wear one too. So for the first three-four days she suppressed her raw emotions. Next, she began losing her senses and later, when she learnt to put together reminiscence and make reality, she started becoming a sponge. A sponge which could suppress all feelings but release none.
She started a game of hide and seek to arouse him from his slumber of death. Reading those anniversary over and over again, intermittently listening to the sound of wind chimes and staring at the photo albums became the sole priority of her existence. She even cooked his favorite spaghetti on the sullen afternoons, watched the sports channels beside his sofa and prepared his bed at night. Within the pale contours of the house, she half consumed her own self and the other half of her consciousness became motionless like the window of their bedroom. Yet, she refused to free herself from the prison full of broken hinges, of creaky coverings whose key hung heavily over her heart. Neither did she lose it nor did she unbolt herself and saw to it that no one dared to throw it away from her. The impulse of preserving memories was deep rooted in her, ever since he had married her.
Evenings came and faded away slowly. Concentric shadows dimmed the ceilings and as they reached the floorings, murky patches developed which seemed to swallow the life of the house. The smell of ruin began to coalesce. Something, had to save it from dereliction. Someone had to save her from herself.
In the middle of the night as she lay down near his pillow, pretending sleep and peace, joy and contentment, an astral drop of dew fell upon her. She looked towards the open window. Slowly but certainly the sky was breaking its subterfuge. It was starting to rain.
A drop fell, then another and soon drizzle accompanied by a gust of wind opened her braids of hair. The steady moments of her body filled up with the noise of shifting sands, the gnawing of a rat and the murmur of raindrops. But no where was the smell of violets or the touch of blossom. Even the pillow didn't make her sleep on it, the clothes didn't talk like him and the faintest sound of footsteps could not be heard. She clasped onto her key tightly. The rain dropped heavily than before, She tried hard. The rain grew fiercer. The key fell down...
The drizzle fermented her grief and she cried without a single sigh in her breath. For, she had no more sighs left to her. Her weary hop of his arrival was a play she had been playing for long fourteen days in front of the mute observers of her house. Now the play was over and she had exhausted her fabricated dreams. She had no more script left to enact.
She spent all the hours of darkness sitting on the cold floor of their bedroom. The pain somehow made her feel a little alive than before. As she was beginning to gain some strength, dawn began breaking out and suddenly something struggled inside her.
She started trembling and placed her palm near her womb. How could she forget that he was still with her? She felt the implacable warmth of a familiar touch daunting her fortitude of existence and breathing the breath of her lost yesterdays. She was sure, it was him.
She opened the window wide, very wide and noticed a faint light. She felt a glint of love in her world after destiny burnt its roots. She felt her freezed blood surge inside her as she embraced him. The sun shone again, behind the peepul tree, spreading rays of a new smile, a new touch, a ray of hope...
Kaustav B. Kashyap
B.A. (H) English