PART - 2
The sound of glass breaking in the kitchen jolted Lakshmi out of her reverie. "What happened?" she called to the maid who was cleaning the kitchen cabinet, mildly irritated at the disturbance. She stood up, adjusted the folds of her saree and walked to the kitchen. The sunlight streaming from the window reflected off the shards of glass scattered on the floor making it difficult for them to find all the pieces. She helped the maid clean up with a wet cloth and some Lysol. Lakshmi walked back to the bedroom and stood in front of the mirror. She eyed herself critically. Her eyes were starting to wrinkle a little at the corners and her waistline wasn't as slim as it used to be. She dint expect it to be the same after 2 children anyway. Sighing lightly, she looked around her room. The photographs of her family on the wall always made her emotional. She looked at the smiling face of her husband lovingly holding her two daughters and her eyes went moist.
She tried to clear her mind of her thoughts and settled herself on her neatly made bed with her favorite book. Jane Austen always transported her to another time. However, today she couldn't stop thinking about the day she called Suresh.
Lakshmi walked back from school with Durga and Preeti, her bag feeling heavier by the minute. It felt as though the crumpled piece of paper weighed a 100 kgs. She neared the end of her street and ran into her house without the usual goodbyes that took about ten minutes everyday. She ran into her room panting slightly and sat down on her bed, her hands clammy from sweat.
"Lakshu, come and eat something. You must be hungry" called her mother from the kitchen.
"Yes Amma. I'm coming". Lakshmi washed her hands and face and went downstairs to the kitchen where her mother was heating up lunch for her.
"How was your day?"
"Was fine Amma. We did the usual. I want to go to the library this evening and then to the new jewellery store to buy some earrings".
"Today? No. Your father and I are going to visit his colleague and his wife. They've been calling us over for a while so we decided to go today. They just bought a new house"
"Today? At what time?" Lakshmi immediately started thinking about that phone call.
"At about 6 o'clock. Why? Why are you looking at me like that?!"
"Nothing ma. I was just trying to figure out what time I should go out to be back by 6.
"What is wrong with you? You have to be back by 6 pm any day you go out, before the sun sets. Anyway, you have to help me make sweets for the Puja day after tomorrow. Go to the library tomorrow"
"Alright" Lakshmi finished her lunch and went to read and attempt to do some homework. Her thoughts were on Suresh and if she should call him or not. Her gut feeling said she should. But what should she say? She started practicing various greetings in her head. Should she say Hi? Hello? Oh, what if someone else picks up the phone? Should she ask to speak with him or hang up? The whole afternoon was spent with disconnected thoughts and she was feeling more edgy than usual. Before she knew it, her parents said they were leaving and would be back by eight. Her mom was dressed up in a nice silk sari with flowers in her hair. She looked at her mother, whose sweet smile lit up her day and her father who was so overprotective of her that she felt her love for them rush in and squeeze her heart.
After her parents left and she made sure she saw the car leave the end of the street, she looked at the clock. 6.05. Lakshmi opened her History book and then closed it five minutes later. She went and drank some water. She attempted reading her book and looked up at the clock every five minutes.
She picked up the phone and dialed the number. She could not back out now.
"Hello?" said a voice on the other side.
"Hello?" Lakshmi's voice trembled a little.
"Lakshmi? It's me Suresh"
A small sigh of relief that it was him who answered the phone went through her. She dint know what to say, so she kept quiet. Partly because she was scared and partly because she dint know what to say.
"How are you? Don't be scared. My parents work late everyday so I can talk. I really wanted to talk to you and I'm happy you called"
"Yes, but do you know how much trouble I'd be in if my parents find out I'm talking to you? They would kill me. Or send me away"
"Haha" Suresh started laughing. "Where would they send you?. You girls are always full of drama. I mean I have two sisters. I'm not talking about any other girls" he was quick to add.
"Anyway, I cannot talk now. I have to go"
"Talk to me for five minutes and then you can go"
They continued talking for sometime. About school, about exams that were coming up and the college they wanted to get accepted into the next year. Lakshmi dint know what had come over her. She felt comfortable talking to him and was actually enjoying the conversation.
"Oh no, its 7 45! My parents will be back anytime now. I have to go"
"Alright.But I will talk to you tomorrow around the same time Ok?"
"I don't know if I can call you tomorrow. I am going to the library"
"Library? Which one? Shall I see you there?"
"NO. Are you crazy? If anyone sees me with you I will get into trouble"
"Ok. Don't worry. Bye"
"Ammaaaa! I'm hungry" called a voice from the living room.
Lakshmi's younger daughter just returned from school.
She smiled and wondered why was she thinking about the past. It was so many years ago. Twenty years since Suresh, and eighteen since she got married. It had been a while since she let herself dwell on her teenage years and her thought process then, even though they might be silly to her now. She did not forget the happiness she felt, irrational and free. Those days of getting to know each other and then getting married. The early days of her wedding. How naive she was and how the events of the last twenty years has made her strong in ways she would have never thought possible.
"Momsie" said Smriti, who liked calling her mother all kinds of names. "Whats with the weird smile and faraway look?"
"Nothing" said Lakshmi. "Why don't you tell me what happened in school today?" she smiled at her daughter who was growing faster everyday. As Smriti started talking, she heard the front door open and close and her elder daughter walked in.
"I can't wait to get done with this and be off to college. Hi Amma!" Shruti walked into the house holding a bunch of books.
"OK girls, who wants to watch a movie tonight?"
"I'm meeting some friends at 6 Ma" Shruti informed her mother. "I have a test tomorrow" said Smriti.
"Alright. Some other day then!" Lakshmi couldn't help thinking Shruti informed her these days about her whereabouts rather than asking her. The girls went into their respective rooms and Lakshmi went back into hers.
For some reason, maybe because of the mood she was in all day, she took out her wedding album. She looked at herself, how her slightly hollow cheeks brought out her cheekbones and her eyes. Oh, her eyes. Her husband would always tell her how he would just get lost in them and feel her long beautiful hair. She touched her hair now. Shorter and more bouncy, her face devoid of makeup, her eyes without kajal.
And she was transported to another time and place, a different generation altogether.
.........to be continued.............