Thursday, 16 October 2014

A Loss called Home

It has been a long day today - she thought in her mind - waving her hand mindlessly in the direction of the stray autos that whizzed her past on the highway. Some had passengers, some went empty, some didn't want to take one as they announced their close of day to themselves. Close of day it was, as the hand of the watch crossed eight and steadily moved closer to nine as did the colour of the sky, from dark to darker. 

It indeed was one of those days that she couldn't wait to go home.

As with every regular day, she finally had her turn of luck with transport after the usually long and impatient wait-time, and cutting through the ruthless traffic and the foul traffickers of the city, she finally reached in front of their community gate and heaved a sigh of relief.

Home, ah! Home. Finally.


She took the lift to upstairs; and it was still all normal till then.


xxx


It started when she reached the door, actually. As she fumbled her finger through the large handbag pocket to find herself her copy of the key, she felt it the first time. Something - silent yet pronounced. Something - weird. A feeling she could neither ignore nor accept.

It seemed the lock on her door was telling her that. That, wait; this is not your home. No, not any longer!

It's funny, she thought. And since when did locks start talking?

She pulled the key-chain out of her bag. At last.

There, see! She waved it at the lock before putting it to work, the keys, with a kind of getting back at it. See, here's my key and this, therefore, is my home. The key-chain had the first letter of his name engraved on it. When she had just bought it and had showed it to him, he had said - why didn't you buy one with the initial of your name, than mine? But then, it was not really a question - they both knew. And she could say he was happy that she had chosen that one. She remembered fondly, and suddenly.

She entered the house with an added assertion. It could all be a matter of the mind, or surely it was, but then, the feeling lingered in her. She indeed felt a kind of disapproval from the door and the lock and something in that did touch her inside. How funny is that! - she shrugged and stepped ahead in the dark to put on the light and the fun.

See, she knew the house, the room, even in the dark - didn't she? She somehow still felt a tug of doubt, as if she had to still prove her rights to someone, and who that was, she couldn't even figure out.

Of course it was her house. Who ever dare think it was not!

She stepped into the kitchen and opened the fridge door to grab a bottle of cold water.

There! It happened again.


xxx


Something, someone, from somewhere - she cannot say - refused her again. It felt like someone's asking her what permission did she have to step inside the house and the kitchen, to get that bottle of water for herself, to roam around in the house like she has been doing over the past few minutes? How could she, as if being a stranger, unwanted, open the door of the fridge and invade? 

Invade! Yes, that's the word, something told her.

What the hell! She pulled the door of the fridge, one more time, with a kind of vengeance. Not to get herself anything, but just to teach it a lesson. Give it a reply. maybe.

Hey, look! Remember where you came from? Who got you here? - She jerked the fridge door with a strange vindication. Remember that day, that afternoon? We went to the shop and picked you up? It was me, me, who took your side, who chose you. He wanted a smaller one, he didn't even like you much. I stood by you. I got you here. Remember? - She gave the door a final jerk and slammed it back, only to realise, almost immediately, how foolish it was of her to imagine things like that and to get back to, huh, a fridge!

But somewhere inside, she felt so restless that she couldn't rest the case. Something was wrong, wasn't it?

She realised she hadn't even left her shoes at the door and changed into her pair of slippers meant for home, something she'd instinctively do as soon as she was home. On going back to the living room, she couldn't spot her pair of slippers, Happens - she told herself - not letting it find a meaning that would be as meaningless as things she has been feeling inside. She left her sandals at the shoe-rack and put her bag on the study table, and pulled herself into a cuddle on the easy-chair they had got themselves from a random handicraft fair last winter.

It had a large structure with a long armrest and a sturdy, high, arched backrest. The carving was of flowers and leaves and branches, and the shopkeeper had claimed it was made of teakwood; a claim that a visiting carpenter had later dismissed to tell them that the chair wasn't worth of what they had paid for it. They both loved it nevertheless, despite that, and especially when the wood gleamed in sunlight every morning when placed against the window.

However, this time felt different. Soon as she got herself on the chair and pulled up her legs to her chin, a nail hurt her elbow. It was a sharp prick. Blood streaked down in a thin stream, and she had to rush to the water-basin to wash it off.

Something echoed inside her again. Something yet again asserted the fact that everything in the house, every damn thing, somehow, was protesting against her presence there that evening. Why, she had no clue. She really did not. But then, she could no longer brush it aside.


xxx


She felt hungry after a long day, and thirsty too. But above all, she felt confused.

She miserably dragged herself back into the kitchen in slow steps, thinking she'd make herself a cup of tea and toast herself a bread. That could possibly help if this was all a matter of a frustrated mind and an insanely starved stomach. She hadn't got time for lunch at work in the day, she remembered. 

She put on the induction cooker and set the toaster up at the second electric plug-point, only to remember that they had ran out of both tea leaves as well as bread some two days back - something that they both thought over the last few times that the other will buy on the way home, and had laughed together the very same  morning over the fact that both of them didn't over repeated occasions.

Is this, well, a sign too? Or is it that she's plain going mad? She stopped for a few moments to think. And then, she gave up. 

Really, what is it about today? Why isn't it the way it should be? 

It's her home. It always was. She had set it up, inch by inch, all by herself. No wait. together. Both of them.

So, what exactly was this feeling, or becoming a stranger suddenly? In one blow?

She took slow, hesitant steps to the bedroom, not quite confident any longer. She couldn't tell what awaited her there. She didn't even dare ask herself.


xxx


She gave the door a little push. It was dark inside, and she hesitated for a few moments before turning on the lights. She just couldn't be sure of anything, anything, could she?

She finally reached for the switchboard. A soft click, and a warm white light brought the bed and the wardrobe to her vision. She looked around. Yes, things were indeed in their place - though, that was not exactly what she was afraid of. 

Instinctively, she took a quick few steps to reach the mirror on the door of the wardrobe.

She faintly remembered the time when they didn't have a mirror, the early few weeks when they had just shifted to the house and had ran out of budget for this piece of furniture. She would use the shiny glass pane of the window for a distorted reflection in order to do her hair and her face, feeling unfailingly frustrated in the process. She'd incorrigibly complain about it every morning of those few weeks, and he, in return, would bring her his merely few inches long shaving mirror, getting a kick out of how funny one can get of just not having a mirror to dress up. "Girls!" - he'd sigh, teasingly.

She faced the mirror now with a lack in confidence that she couldn't explain, not quite sure what more was in store for her that evening. But to her relief, there she was in it - her good old herself. 

Slightly better on the scale of regained confidence, she pulled up a smile and watched herself keenly in the mirror. When he'd be home tonight, she though, she'd have him stand beside her and watch themselves in the mirror - something he loved to do ever since he got this piece of furniture, and she always coyly shied away from.

She started humming a faint tune as she turned away from the mirror and took a few steps towards the bed, thinking of stretching herself into a quick rest before she'd be back to the kitchen to make themselves dinner. She wondered what the menu would be, and suddenly felt an urge to make something exotic to throw him a pleasant surprise treat. 

His office hours has been crazy for a few days and he'd surely love that extra bit of attention - she smiled thinking. She started to mentally jot down in her mind the ingredients she had in store to choose from, relaxed and relieved of the sudden tension that had stupidly built up in her mind for the last hour or so since she came home.

It was then that it caught her eyes. 



xxx


The box lay at the corner of the bed. Half-covered by the untucked portion of the bed-sheet, but not too subtle nevertheless. She could not be sure if it was meant to be hidden from her. But then, now that she's found it...

She knew what it was, and yet in her mind she resisted reaching out to it. Until the time that she could not, any longer.

A box. A harmless square box, with a plastic cover. Inside, a set of six candles. Scented ones.

Something, they hadn't bought together.

Something, perhaps the only thing, that wasn't meant for them. For her.

Something, she now knew way too well, that was a sign. That was surely a sign.

She quietly stepped back - in a slow, slow motion. 


xxx


She went back to the living space to wear her sandals and pick up her handbag, and then, slowly pulled the door and locked up the lock with the key, careful not to make a sound. She then bent down to the floor to slide the key-chain inside from beneath the door. 

She was alert, and scared. She wanted to make sure she had not left any mark that she had been here this evening at all, but then, she didn't have it left in her to go back inside to check.

She left. 

For good.

Where? She doesn't know as yet.

All she knows is - she had lost her home.