April 09, 2009


She stood in her own kitchen, feeling like a stranger. A stranger would have the benefit of a fresh perspective. She closed her eyes, trying to guard against what she knew must eventually come next. It had always been so.

Why did I think this would be any different?

She shook her head, and opened her eyes. She looked around. Her eldest, four years old, was spilling milk while he tried to drink it. The twins were two years old. God knew she loved them, but these days, she simply didn't have the energy.

She looked at her husband as he came down the stairs. He jumped to attend to the spilled milk. No 'Good morning' as there once was.

She sighed, knowing a husband who tried to help was probably better than one that didn't.

She didn't know if she loved him anymore. She thought back to her previous failed relationships, be they of friendship or love, and the turning point in each one of them. Almost every single one did have a turning point. After which the love would start to fade, to be surreptitiously replaced by a seed of dislike. Which invariably grew into something that simply couldn't be uprooted. She had always supposed that it had been for the best. She tried to ignore the gnawing sensation that she had reached a similar turning point here.

This was different! She was married and had kids too!

She pasted a smile on her face, hoped no one would realize something was amiss, and tried to get past it.

Maybe you should talk about it. Before things became worse. Before you start to mean what you say under the subterfuge of sarcasm and the little jokes turn into insults.

She ignored the voice, and tried moving on. She had never been good at communication when it was most important, scared that the intensity of feeling would reveal too much.

A month later, she sat in her driveway, looking at her family from outside, unwilling to go in and be a part of the picture. She drove out, silently.

"Putti, I can't get hold of Chinnu". His voice sounded frantic.

Her best friend of the better part of two decades quieted down the first rush of panic, and asked 'Since when?', and listened to the details. She cursed herself for not following up on the glimmer of worry she felt when they spoke last. Chinnu was always full of news about herself, but recently she had started to deflect her questions and had tried to get her to talk instead. I should have known something was wrong! She cursed herself silently for ignoring the signs, although Chinnu had never gone missing before. The fact that Chinnu talked called in a leave of absence at work meant that she was safe. Where could she be?

"I am going to come over and pick up the kids so you can look for her" She said.

He hesitated, and finally gave in. "Do you have any idea where she might be?"

"I wish I did" she said, although he must know that her loyalties lay firmly with her friend, and if for whatever reason Chinnu didn't want to be reached, she would still support her. Even if that meant taking care of her kids, she thought to herself, with a small smile.

A day later, she pulled out her address book from a long time ago, and convinced her husband to take a few days off from work to take care of Chinnu's kids. As she put her car into gear, she thought back to a conversation, that for some reason popped into her head today and refused to let go.

"Putti, do you remember Parvathi aunty?" Chinnu had asked a few phone calls ago.

"The one who still lives in your ancestral village? Oh my god, that was such a long time ago!"

"I know. I used to love how we could step into the clear water of the tiny irrigation canals in the fields and instantly feel peaceful and content. Something about being so close to nature, I guess" she had said and changed the topic.

I hope I am not on a wild goose chase.

She didn't go to Parvathi aunty's house when she entered the village. She remembered that behind the village were the fields and drove directly to them. Her memory was faint, but she found a helpful village boy, who gave her the directions to Parvathi amma's field while smiling the whole time. She found a Cadburys bar in her bag and handed it over. She hadn't thought it was possible, but the boy's smile became even wider.

Simple pleasures, she mused, as she followed the directions.

She couldn't spot her in the fields. Sighing, she stopped her car and leaned back into the April sun. The ragi crop would be ready and brown in about a month. She remembered the taste of the young, green ragi millet, fried with spices.

'What the heck' she said aloud, and got out of her car. She pulled out a few ragi corns and looked around. There was no one to scream 'thief'. The scarecrow looked on morosely.

She stepped out of her sandals and put her toe into the water in the canal nearby. It was deliciously cold. She thought back to her childhood memory, and chastened by the fact that she still hadn't found Chinnu, looked around guiltily.

She saw a mound of brown earth, with small stones bordering it, in one corner of the field, and remembered Chinnu mentioning that her grandparents were buried there. Next to it, under stone slabs, was a small idol of Ganesha, where the family always offered prayers on important occasions.

On a whim, she walked towards it. And finally saw that Chinnu sat beside the idol, under the shade, with her head resting on her hands. She sat beside her. Chinnu didn't look up.

"I thought you might find me"

"Are you mad I did?"

"No" she said, looking up finally, "I tried, Putti, but I couldn't stay anymore."


Divs said...

Nice man... wonderful write-up... but whats with all the negativity in all your write-ups?? Always a split n no happy endings :(

Rush said...

hehe many thanks dodo!! hmm i don't know, morbid stories are more fun to write.. happy has been overdone i guess :)

Sini said...

Nice stories..

Rush said...

Thanks, Sini! :)

Samarth said...

Is it the same Parvathi amma from Swades.... Quite a character then, I must say :-)