‘Life is short and unpredictable, make the maximum out of it because in the end only memories are left’ read the wallpaper on her laptop. Outside the fifth apartment window, dark clouds were gathering for a downpour, unexpected at this time of the year; it was the 12th of November; she was working furiously on her laptop, typing words almost faster than she usually spoke. A single strand of hair fell on her face and she blew it away, her hands too busy to leave the keyboard. She could hear her husband hustling bustling in the bedroom, half tired, half annoyed. “He must be looking for the remote for the TV”, she chuckled, marveling how she just knew. “Hey Princess”! he affectionately call her princess, his familiar voice came slithering through the corridor, “Where is the TV remote?” He’s too dependent on her even for these small things. They’ve been married for Five years, met in school, drifted apart, met again, they connected well and ended up getting married.
For a moment, the keyboard heaved a sigh of relief from the rapid cluttering of her manicured slim fingers. A familiar urge to get up and find the remote rose in her, like a subconscious force rising in the capillary of her throat; long ago, as a child, her mother had taught her about “how to be a good wife”; “I think it is in the kitchen,” she shouted back. “I think I forgot it there while making tea”. He’s not the complaining type, he understand her, she’s busy, and picking up a remote from kitchen is no big deal.
Obedient as a naive school boy, he came hobbling out, one hand holding their orange towel. She spared a glance and looked at her husband. Work, or coding rather, had altered his dimple into a wrinkle. Five long years ago, she had left her parents for him. “That isn’t true,” a voice inside her whispered, “You had run away and tagged him along.” Another voice piped up “But he has done well, hasn’t he?” she smiled. They have turned out to be the best couple, in every way, caring, understanding. “He’s such an open book”, she smiled somewhat overwhelmed. Her mind shuffled with practiced ease between what she was typing and her wandering thoughts. he had always gawked at her ability of multi tasking, but again she’s smarter than him.
He worked as a Software Engineer in one of those big shot tech giants where salary is good and so is the work life balance. His long shabby hair, bespectacled smile, and that ‘geeky’ look always gave away his profession much before he could introduce himself to anyone.
“I have to go back to office, need to fix this critical bug, it’s urgent,” she could hear his voice over the blaring noise of the TV. “Why do you have to go now”, her voice carried a note of irritation, “I thought we will have dinner together today”. Though her husband was meek and she knew she used her dominance over him, still she loved him. “It is our anniversary today and he has forgotten” that little voice inside croaked in despair “I thought I would remind him during dinner.” But that day he hadn’t forgotten, he was just going to do something different.
“I shall be back in an hour” he said, as he hurriedly put on his shoes. She wasn’t typing anymore. She wanted to cook something special tonight. “Come early or eat cold dinner alone”, she quipped as she closed the door behind him.
The repeated banging of the bell brought a smile to her face. The day they had run away, he had come to her home while her parents were out and had frantically rung the bell repeatedly before she opened the door. Though years had passed, he always played the same game — rang the bell repeatedly while coming or going out, he’s a child inside his heart.
He remembered their anniversary very well. He imagined her eyes when he would put that diamond pendant over her soft skin. He chuckled at his own mischievousness. “He wasn’t that sort of a person, he was the simple, straight forward guy, or so she thought”, he reflected, “She will be in for a surprise today”. He know she’s not the materialistic type, but it’s their anniversary and he wanted to gift her something special.
Half an hour later, she was in the kitchen. “Every night in my dreams…” she hummed Celine Dion as she chopped onions for paneer curry, he loved paneer. Soon she was marinating the paneer slices, garlic-ginger paste and haldi when she realized that the TV was on. “No wonder we pay so much on electricity bills”, she remarked as she strode to the bedroom; one hand dripping with marinade, while the other struggled to put that irritating strand of hair back in its place.
“Breaking News: Mumbai terrorized by blasts again” the idiot box blabbered. She stopped in her tracks. “Zaveri Bazaar has been ripped apart yet again—-“, there was silence inside her. A part of her wished that little voice inside would say something. “Zaveri Bazaar, one of the major hub for jewelers and diamond mrchants” Her mind refused to think. Dumbstruck, her bulbous eyes stared at the TV screen while marinade dripped from her fingers; that irritating strand of hair still on her temple. “His office is on Lamington road, why would he be there in Zaveri bazaar” but what if, what if…
She felt the bile rising up in her throat; she couldn’t shout nor speak, her whole body was trembling. Like a zombie she picked up the mobile phone lying on the bed and dialled his number. Her practiced fingers trembled, her ears begging for the click of him picking up the phone. Her eyelashes were moist, she could not see clearly through the haze, but she couldn’t cry; her thumb pressed the green redial button all over again. She felt an unusual tingling in her toes, her usually steady fingers shook in uselessness; her ears pleaded to hear that voice, his voice…
That was when the perplexing silence was broken by a ring of the bell. And it rang twice. And then again. And again. It was ‘him’.
The first drop of tear fell from her eyes, and then something broke, hysterically crying and half laughing she ran to the door, he was there all soaked up in rain and shocked, maybe he had heard the news on the way. He took out the small red box and wanted to say something, but her fingers silenced him, she was crying clutched to his chest. He softly hugged her and gently first drop of tear trickled from his eyes.