She opened her bleary eyes when the cat, all seven pounds of squirming flesh, climbed onto her belly. Squinting into the sunlight streaming in from the open window, she discovered that she was now the weary possessor of a pounding headache, and at some point, had managed to lose both a tooth and a spouse.
She wriggled out of bed, as lonely as she had found it for the week. The seven pound cat jumped off her belly. It whined. She drooped down, patting it.
‘Now on, we two have to live together, only we two dear…’
She said, looking at the cat.
The cat looked back at her. It probably understood something for it stared at her for a moment before walking at a leisurely pace to the bed side table and sitting down by its side. The curtain cast a shadow on its back. It was preparing to doze off again.
‘Much like Siddhanth this cat, always finding a cosy nook and corner to sleep off’
A week had gone by after Siddhanth left her. Last Sunday he went out. He went out leaving behind a small hand written note on the table.
‘Dear Atreyi, Now that we both have realised you and I can never meet, like two lines of a railway track, I am going to find my own destiny leaving you to find yours. As we both agreed upon certain things like sending you every month a certain amount of money to your account, I will do it. Moreover, if the need be you can always contact me through mails. Be happy, Siddhanth’
Atreyi had actually a great feeling of happiness on Monday. After work she went to a resto bar. Returned home after eleven thirty. For the first time in four years she felt quite comfortable with her own freedom. No one to cook for. No one to brag her. No one to give her words filled with holy s–t.
Tuesday also went well. She returned home with a bottle of wine. Cooked chicken chops and had a great late night movie till she dozed off.
Wednesday also had been great. Thursday also.
She thought she was in heaven without any qualms. Only this Saturday, when she thought she would have a great weekend, having a date, she woke up with a broken tooth. The tooth had been turning loose since last night.
Only in the morning she found it under her tongue, moving like a pebble. She took the tooth and put it into a glass of water. The tooth dropped reaching the bottom of the glass, slowly gliding through the water. Some tiny air bubbles stuck to it. She looked at it and suddenly thought of Siddhanth.
‘It is all because of him…he must have left me with a curse…otherwise how could the tooth fall today only?’
She looked at her face, it looked clumsy. She opened her mouth and felt by fingers the blank left by the tooth which now sat happily under water in the glass.
‘Bah! What a day! Now I will have to go for a date with a gap right here….’
She looked at her teethline. An incisor missing.
‘Without a tooth, do I look bad?’
She again looked at her mouth.
‘Am I looking bad?’
She asked herself.
She tried to smile to make out how her face looked without the tooth. Time and again her tongue went to that gap, feeling the blankness, the void.
Suddenly a strange thought came to her.
At the age of thirty-five, would again a tooth grow?
Or will it be left blank?
Like the way Siddhanth left a void.
And then she thought that she could wait for few weeks and if no tooth comes up then she would consider thinking of putting an artificial one there.
‘Yes! Finding a tooth is not a big issue these days…implanting one is pretty easy…why are you worried Atreyi? You will find a tooth and also a suitable one to be your partner for life…’
She rebuked herself with the objective of cheering herself.
And she felt cheerful suddenly.
She got busy in readying herself.
After all Raghav would be here at seven.
And she would have to dress herself up suitably for the occasion.
‘What could I wear? This summer? A saree? A formal suit?’
She thought while soaping.
She tried to think of Raghav’s face.
The last time she saw him at that meeting he was wearing a dark blue suit.
‘Does he love blue?’
She tried to think of all the dresses worn by her that Raghav has seen.
Once he wore a beige suit with a navy blue shirt.
‘Yes! Blue is the color…and I should wear a blue saree…
A blue saree with a white blouse … that would give a look of an ocean…an ocean which is blue can have a soothing effect on Raghav specially when the mercury is on the rise this summer…’
Coming out of the bathroom she went to her bedroom cupboard.
She turned the A.C. to its lowest temperature mode. It started making a low purring sound. She drew the curtains. The room looked shaded. Outside the Indian scorching summer was having its fullest glory.
Only yesterday she had read in newspaper that a heat wave had claimed two people in Bihar.
Here at Bengaluru the weather luckily does not go berserk. Thank God!
Still the summer had shown its might. She had been working extra hours to protect her face and hands from getting sun burn. She looked scrutinizing at her face and arms. So far no brownish blotches.
‘Next week will have to buy further supplies of sun screen lotions…’
She made a point before sitting in front of the mirror.
She was feeling a bit upbeat, after having the bath.
‘Thirty-five is a ripe age for women…’ She thought looking at herself in the mirror.
‘Only Siddhanth left me, like an idiot… how can one leave a mature lemon tree when it is filled with blossoms, ready to bear fruits of summer? Such a moron Siddhanth is!’
No longer she was feeling bad about summer and its scorching heat.
She felt she had grown for the occasion.
A lemon tree.
Then she thought instead of wearing a turquoise saree she would wear a light green chiffon, coupling it with a white sleeveless blouse. She thought of tying up her hair in a bun.
She heard sound of the elevator coming up.
It was seven almost.
She had been waiting at her living space.
Every time she heard the sound of elevator door opening she thought Raghav had come.
That happened for the last ten minutes or so.
The door bell sounded at last.
The much awaited door bell.
She sprung like a child.
She rushed to the door.
There Raghav stood.
Smiling as he was.
She smiled back.
The evening went quite good.
Raghav had brought a bottle of wine and a bouquet.
She had arranged the table at nine.
At the table the talks went from hobbies to work related issues.
‘To tell you Atreyi,’ Raghav started, putting a piece of mushroom into his mouth,
‘your arrival had sent real good signs…professionally…’
‘Really? How come?’
Atreyi asked, eager to know how her presence worked wonders.
‘We were in need of a good copy writer with certain creative potential particularly for a project, who knows animation too…and you know finding all these rolled into one is very tough task, borderline impossible…but this guy … he just dropped from heaven like an angel for us…really…this Monday only he joined us…and from day one we all are very very impressed by his work ethics and creative mind. Stupendous! This man Siddhanth! He had arrived like sunshine to our company, really, such a beauty of a soul, a fully devoted man to his works.’
Saying this Raghav concentrated on separating the bones from chicken drumstick.
‘Siddhanth? You say?’
Atreyi asked, her voice quavered a bit.
Raghav answered without looking up.
This time Raghav looked up.
‘Do you know him?’
He asked curious.
‘Yea…sort of…once we met at a bar…’
Raghav started eating.
‘I remember him …because he had a tooth missing …’
‘Just like I will remember you for your missing tooth…this evening’
Raghav quipped and laughed.
Though it was a beautiful summer evening and Raghav was seemingly satisfied with the arrangements she had made, suddenly she thought she felt dried. A dried lemon without any juice. A scorched burnt singed tree.
Her tongue somehow again went back to the blank portion of her gum.
It felt the void again.
A strange void with a strange feel.
Moinak is a teacher by profession and a published English fiction writer and poet. Got two critically acclaimed English literary fictions to his credit namely "online@offline" and "in sarch of la radice". Many short stories and poems and essays by him found their ways in dailies, magazines, journals and webzines. Lives at Kolkata. Loves to do travel photography.