It was 12, and I had shut my PC and was waiting for my maid to get me a hot cup of tea. I generally sip it at noon to evade sleepiness. As soon as the clock struck 12, almost all the womenfolk would enjoy their cup of hot tea.
But I am a writer who would have to scribble on the keyboard, with words that have an electric tone and a magnetic attraction. Wherever my mind would go, words would smoothly appear yet with precision and systemic rhythm. As William Shakespeare had also said once, writing should be spontaneous that flows like a river. Now I had stopped writing, as I felt something had gone amiss, and words had stopped. I needed something to freshen myself, and nothing is better than a cup of tea in my hand.
As the water was boiling, the doorbell rang. I went to open the door, and there was Mrs. Sharma, my tenant. She is living on the ground floor of my double-storied house. She is a stout lady, having a fair complexion, white teeth, and a hair long, which she would tie in a bun. She was wearing a pink sari, matching jewelry, and had applied nice makeup; otherwise, she would often be in her Punjabi suit.
For the last two years, I noticed a sudden change in her behavior; she was feeling irritated at the slightest pretext, coming up with complaints, dipping noise of water, music, or when I unconsciously would park my car in front of her gate. I was confused, I did not do anything as since morning I had been working on the project, as I had to finish my story from but deep inside me, I was feeling fear, anguish, and anger. I had decided to stop talking to that lady and neither to see her face. However, she was there standing firmly in front of me. In my heart, I thought to keep cool, as I understood anger is a vice, and forgiveness a virtue.
As my eyebrows straightened, I nodded what happened, this time to my utter surprise, she was all her smiles, and I would feel there was gentility in her behavior. She presented me with a box of sweets with a message that Nancy is engaged, and I meekly smiled. I congratulated her, and she had guessed my worry but innocuously replied that Nancy is getting married in the next month on 20th November. Everything happened so suddenly that I could not tell anybody. The boy side has fixed the date of marriage.
I called her inside for a cup of tea. Let us enjoy this moment with a hot cup. She was reluctant at first. I could feel her tensed face but eventually accepted the offer.
As soon she settled down, I asked her about the lucky guy and what he does? She answered with a polite undertone; the guy is working in a company. Nancy knows him as they both are working in the same company.
It sounds good, so we expect that there will not be a problem at all, but she replied, her husband is not happy as the guy does not belong to our caste.
It is nothing; we only have to worry if your daughter is happy? If she is happy, religion does not matter. If you need anything, let me know. Whatever I can do, I will do for our little angel.
She looked at me with tears in her eyes, and a feeling of guilt had perturbed her. I asked her why you are crying.
She replied, you are so good, and I had been rebuking you. I am so sorry.
It is okay, do not feel anything as we are sisters, and if sisters do not fight, who will fight then?
You start your marriage preparation, and I am with you. I went inside and brought a small gift hamper, which had few cosmetics, a purse, and a few lady things. I gave that packet to her. It is a gift for Nancy. Please do not hesitate. I am her Massi too.
She took her with wet eyes and hugged me. After she left, I returned to my desk and kept thinking about her.
She is a wife of a Bank manager Rupesh Sharma who is a short heightened man who loves to keep a mustache. I never heard his voice much, except in one or two situations when we had a power cut, and he had called me to check the electricity system from my side. He was a polite man and stringent.
Earlier there would be a small garden in front of my house where I had planted some flowers. I would pluck jasmine and would give it to her, and she would be happy.
As time passed, Mrs. Sharma started getting irritated; nobody in the neighbourhood knew what had happened to her suddenly. At that time, I had to clear the garden and make the area cemented, as I was not getting time to maintain it, and secondly, the boys in the neighbourhood would also often enter the garden and spoil the plants. One day a snake had too appeared from one of the rose bushes after the heavy rain had lashed at night. I saw it from the window and immediately rushed to warn everyone. But as soon, some concerned men jumped in with their sticks, but the snake had vanished.
It was dangerous, so everybody insisted, for the place to get cemented. But later, I regretted having to remove it, but I had not cut my Gulmohar tree, as it was tall and was giving beautiful flowers sometimes. It would also invite beautiful birds.
Since I cleaned my garden, I never saw Mrs. Sharma had ever smiled. After many days I came to know what happened. Mr. Sharma had a piece of land in his native village, which he intended to sell. But unfortunately, his brother cheated on him and sold the sole ancestral property to a political group who were known for all malicious deeds. His brother gulped all the money and did not even show courtesy to give Mr. Sharma a share.
Mrs. Sharma was very disturbed. I remembered, in the evening, we would often stand under the shade of Gulmohar and chit chat, which had stopped now.
I tried to console her several times, but it was of no use. With the money from the property, they would have bought their own home, but now they had no option but to live in rented accommodation. I realized then we could not trust life, as it is full of complexes, with its ups and downs.
I could not realize when the week passed in shopping. It was 12th October, the clock had struck 8, but Sun, which at 6:30 would pierce through my window, is not there now. Puzzled, I peeped out to see dense clouds floating. I exclaimed it might rain. It is better not to venture out today.
After my morning ritual, I had my breakfast and was going to open the door my mobile started ringing. It was the voice of my Mom from Ferozepur, who was very worried, as she explained, come instantly, your dad is not well. I was so shocked that my phone fell from my hands.
I wondered whether I should tell Mrs. Sharma or not as I had promised her that I would help her at weddings, but now how could I do it? I had to inform her about his condition, and my Mom also needs me. I had to reach Ferozepur.
I called her to my room. After curtsy apologizing, I told her about the phone call. Her eyebrows rose with doubts, but I heaved a sigh of relief when she said, go immediately and do not worry about anything here. I will take care of everything and would see your house is in order till you return. Thanking her, I handed her the house keys and told her to use my rooms for marriage.
She took the keys, and with weary eyes, I closed the doors of my house. I was surprised when Mr. Sharma pulled his car out to drop me at the bus stop.
I climbed the bus and seated myself in the seat I got as the bus was full. It was a complete 4 hours journey. The woman was also sitting with me. As the bus roared, I got a strange feeling, would my father be alright. And sometimes, my mind would wander back to my house, would it be okay, and will Mrs. Sharma take care of my house.
But somehow, I had to stop worrying about this materialistic possession, as I had shut down the gas connection in the kitchen, closed all the taps. I had duplicate copies of the property papers, which I had left back in my room on the desk.
I should not worry about the papers as his health was more important. And forgetting everything, I closed my eyes, and when the sleep took over me, I did not know. Getting jerks here and there and shaking my head, I remained in my sleep but conscious enough of what is happening. But my mind and my heart are also of human, it dwindled.
In the dream, I saw Mrs. and Mr. Sharma are laughing at me with the property papers in their hands. Now they had forged my signature and occupied my house. The marriage of her daughter was an excuse to throw me out of the house. The hand of the lady made me woke up. I murmured why these negative thoughts are coming to mind. But these things do happen. A few days back, Mrs. Joy had told me an incident as to how one of her tenants had cheated the landowner who used to stay alone and occupied her house.
Suddenly the bus driver applied a break. It was a strong jerk that my head got hit on a rod. I got a bump on the head. The old lady sitting with me also was shaken, and she too jumped over me. But she relaxed her nerves and regained her composure. When she saw I got a bump, she took out a wet cloth and placed it over my head.
Meanwhile, the bus had reached Ferozepur, and passengers had already gotten up from the seat. I also halted, keeping my hand over the head. I hired the auto to get home. Though the pain was severe, it was not much that my father might be suffering.
My father had a heart attack, and my Mother had admitted him to the hospital. When I reached home, I found my sister waiting for me. Mom is already in the hospital, she said. I freshened myself and rushed to towards the hospital, which was near to the home. I got aghast to see my dad in that position, but he was pleased to see me.
One month soon passed, in the care of my father and house. My Mom would most of the time remain in the hospital.
I had forgotten the marriage of Nancy though Mrs. Sharma had called me a couple of times, and I also did to her, but it was only for a short duration, to know if everything was okay.
It was 20th November and was a cold sunny day, so I took my chair out on a balcony and sat on it with a book in my hand to read. It was a Jane Austen’s classic, Wuthering Heights. I love it for the intricacies it presents in a relationship of love and how the relationships confounded with complexities erupted. It has a touch of profound novelty and deep realism. As I was in the midst of the novel, I got an alert on my “What’s App” number.
I opened it, and suddenly a video flashed. I zoomed in to see the house decorated with flowers. From the gate to the house building, there was nothing else but flowers in different shapes and designs. I hardly realized it was my home. Then the video moved, and I was amazed to see the area, which I had turned into a cemented floor, is now covered with beautiful plants. It was unbelievable then I saw Nancy, in her beautiful wedding dress which I remembered had shopped for her.
It was of Nancy’s marriage, “Oh My Gosh! I had forgotten
She was looking beautiful. The Couple had seated in a Mandap. Nancy had bowed her head, which she slowly raised and looked at me with a smile and anxious eyes. She instantly said the words that I could never forget. I love you and want you to be with me, bless me. Mrs. Sharma was also full of remorse; she too came in the camera and said, “Suhani, can I held marriage without you. You are her favorite Maussi.”
Tears fell from my eyes, and only two words had come out of my mouth, “God bless you both.” I attended her whole wedding till she left in her duly decorated Doli.