My wife lies on the bed and I besides her. It’s already late to sleep. The table clock shows 12:11 AM. It has been three days I am trying to finish up a chapter of a book which I recently bought. The purchase of this book is not intentional. One of my colleagues from work owns a book store, a family business I suppose. His father looks after it, heck of a time pass for the old man. So, that day as I was returning from airport seeing off my sister, I happened to bump into him outside his store. And the obvious, he invited me in for a cup of coffee. A few talks and he got busy with some book issues. As I was browsing through the section that read ‘Religion & Philosophy’ my eyes caught a glimpse of a book named ‘Four Illusions’ ,with a depiction of Buddha on the cover. I skimmed through some of its pages when I heard him say, “Looks like I’ve got a customer here.”
“Yes, you bet.” I asserted.
I put the book aside, switch off the lamp and rest my head on the pillow. She is already in her dreamland. I can recognize her breathing pattern when she is dreaming. Her hair carries light fragrance of shampoo she uses. I close my eyes and think; the fragrance is just some chemical but why am I so much attached to it and begin to seek in the smell for the joy and purpose of my life?
I wake up and see my face on the mirror that stands tall on the dressing table in my bedroom. My wife is already busy with her regular chores. Few millimetre of hairs cover my cheek, I don’t shave regularly. But this time I have to and there is something behind it. First, a ceremony, which I must attend this afternoon and second, a brand new aftershave that I recently bought and haven’t used yet.
Standing on the balcony I stare high up in the sky and see a lonely flying red and yellow kite. Looking at the elegantly flying kite controlled by a thin string, I feel my cheek, which now is slick and smooth. My wife appears besides me holding a cup full of hot tea and with a turban of towel crowning her head. As she hands me my tea, I cannot take my eyes off her black blouse that is well plastered on her wet white skin showing portions of her breasts beneath it.
As always, I carry my black bag hanging down my shoulder and head to my work but this time without my lunch-box, which my wife never forgets to slip in my bag. I work for a firm, which knows well how to make a piece of paper full of drab information look attractive and interesting. I am a designer, virtually I design everything; from brochures to newsletters and sometimes handbooks too. The jobs are never too easy where creativity is involved and mine is one of those. Keeping in mind that I should leave early, I look at my wrist watch and e-mail the final design of a book cover to my client.
I have to reach there before my wife calls to inquire my whereabouts. But I must get something for the child whose ceremony I am going to attend. I park my motorbike and walk across the street, towards a clothing store. A blind beggar sits just outside the store beating a drum and with some glittering coins scattered in front of him. I look around and see people moving in haste, and amazingly the rhythm of their pace matches with the beat, the beat of the blind beggar.
I see most of the familiar faces, and there I see my wife, clad in her blue sari, standing tall and with a smile on her face. I want to move near her, hold her tight in my arms and kiss her on the neck just below her ear. The ceremony is going on well with the guests feeding the child a spoonful of rice pudding and the rest waiting for their turn. I stand besides my wife and watch her as she takes the small silver spoon in her hand and begins to feed the child. It feels strange; excitement mixed with a hint of fear, to see her and read on her face the contentment and the desire.
As soon as we reach home, I get a phone call. It is Sudhir, my distant cousin. My heart begins to beat faster as he speaks in tensed tone, “He is no more.”
“But he was getting better.” I manage to say.
“It all happened suddenly.”
In no time I reach the place and see Sudhir standing at a corner. With no exchange of words, I move close to him and place my hand on his shoulder. The body rests on the pyre, fully covered, showing portions of yellow cloth in between the wood gaps. The ready pyre blazes within a moment giving off thick fog of smoke.
“Once the body gets enough heat, the fat will speed it up” I hear someone say and look at the grey smoke as it rises up, higher than the bronze pinnacle of the temple.
I ride back to my home on a moon lit road. Small patches of clouds cover it for a while and soon after drift away letting the brilliance fall upon me and my surroundings. I stop my bike just outside the entrance to my home. I can picture my wife waiting me for dinner. My thinking takes me to my bedroom where I can see the empty bed and the mirror standing in front of it. I carefully look in the mirror and there I see my wife lying on the bed and I besides her holding a book in my hands.
(Source : Author sent it via ‘नयाँ रचना पठाउनुहोस्‘ functionality of this website. )