Sunday, 6 October 2013

I miss you







With moist, weary eyes he looked out of the window overlooking the street below. Everything was as usual, the early morning hustle and bustle, the chatter of children, the sound of a bicycle bell….. He could hear a child cry in the distance. Maybe hungry, he thought. The lady across the street opened the door and poured a bucket of water just in front of her doorsteps, getting ready to prepare “kolam.” The sight reminded him of Shanta, his companion of 51 years. Remembering Shanta these days was painful. It brought tears to his eyes. He felt a tug at his heart, a void indescribable.

“Shanta!”

The very thought of her took him back down memory lane. He remembered the day he met her first, the day she entered his life as his wife, the day she gave birth to Deepak, the day……….  But now she was just a memory. She had left him to fend for himself. He felt helpless and lonely. Not that Deepak, Ruchi and his two grandsons did not care for him. No. They took good care of him. It was only that he was so used to having Shanta around that life seemed to stand still without her.

The door across the street opened once again, this time revealing a young lass of 20 or so. His lips suddenly curled into a smile and that smile once again took him to the past.

Shanta was in a bad mood. The gout was taking a toll on her health, both physical and mental.  The “Bai” had failed to turn up. The house was in a mess. It was only the previous day that Deepak had made a call with his two little brats, his grandsons. The little ones had turned the house topsy- turvy.  It was more than what she could take.  Finally, coxing her to sit aside and relax, he cleaned up the mess as best as he could. Suddenly he remembered, it was a long time since they had lunched out.  Why not relive old times once again?

Off, they went in their old Maruti 800. Ah! By the way the Maruti 800 was their first car. Like Rex their Alsatian, the Maruti 800 was their faithful companion of years, the only difference being their ages. Rex was eight and the Maruti 800 twenty.  It had been tough to get Shanta agree. But once in the car, she slowly started to relax and enjoy.  The cool breeze and the strains of MS wafting from the stereo lead her to deep slumber.

The sounds outside suddenly jolted her from her sleep. The car had stopped by the wayside ‘dhabba.’ Adjusting her ‘pallu,’ she looked into the mirror. Yes the ‘bindi’ was intact. Shanta, as he could remember was always particular about the ‘bindi’. Her concept of the ‘bindi’ was a big red kumkum circle.  Getting out she slowly moved with him hand in hand, towards their favourite corner seat. The meal was ordered, hot wheat ‘parathas’ with spicy pickle and ‘Dal makhani.’  Sitting there waiting for the meal to arrive, she looked around taking in the beauty of her surroundings. Suddenly a patch of clear land caught her sight. The last time they had come here it was covered with weeds and shrubs. Now the same had been cleared exposing a wonderful site.

She looked up at him and said, “Ah! What a beautiful site.” He looked to where she pointed and his mouth fell apart. He wondered whether the gout was affecting her senses. How could she, Shanta of all people describe that sight as beautiful? His wife had always been critical of the dress the girls of today wore. The sight of minis, jeans and T- shirts would set her tongue lashing out at the fashion industry, the media and celebrities of today. She wondered what was so appealing, so feminine and so beautiful about these dresses that sent the girls crazy.

He blinked and looked there once again. Could it be that his sight was failing him? No. He could clearly see .There under the huge Banyan tree, stood two women, one in her early twenties and the other in say early thirties. The bulge clearly pointed to the fact that she, the elder one was in an advanced stage of pregnancy. But what was so beautiful about that? All he could see was that their dress sense was horrible. In fact it made him cringe. The younger one was in a mini exposing what looked like two big dumbbells beneath it. The elder one was dressed in tight jeans and a tight T- shirt. Had she not been pregnant, no one would have found it odd. But then the tight T-shirt over the bulge was making her look anything but beautiful. A loose kurta would have been perfect.

Ho looked at his wife with puzzled eyes and said, “What’s so beautiful about that? In fact, I find it repulsive. What’s got into you? I think you are going cranky. The gout seems to be affecting you senses too.”

She looked at him with blazing eyes. “You think I am going cranky? You think I am mad? How dare you? It’s you who is going cranky. Now tell me what’s so repulsive about that site? It’s in the midst of the beauty of Nature, and unlike some, the dimensions are perfect.”

“What? Now don’t tell me the dimensions are perfect. “

“What’s wrong with the dimensions?”

“They are shapeless.”

“Shapeless? Now don’t tell me you can’t differentiate between a perfect square and an imperfect one.”

“Square?”

They both looked at each other and then at the object/s of their heated debate, trying to figure out what the other meant.

Suddenly, they saw it and what followed was a loud burst of laughter. He realized that she had said “site” and that he had mistaken it for “sight.” She in turn realized that all the while he had been looking at the two ladies and was wondering what she found so beautiful in them. The laughter over she was back to her old self, sermonizing on the need to inculcate in the younger generation, the need to dress properly.

The loud cry of the crow on the window sill brought him back to the present.  Looking up at the sky, with a sigh, he whispered, “I miss you.”  

*****

Kolam’-            Design made with raw rice powder in front of the main door, esp. in South  India.
‘Dhabba’-          Wayside eatery.
‘Pallu’ –            The outer end of the saree usually draped over the shoulder.
‘Bindi’-             A small spot of kumkum powder worn on the forehead . 


This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

The prompt was- "She said______. He mistook it to be________.