Thursday, November 5, 2015

Two lives

She works hard from daybreak to nightfall. Some households treat her well, give her a cup of tea when she looks frail, others not so. She still wishes them each day for her bread is earned from them.
The children go to school because of her. The daughter is quite a good student and has dreams, the son is not too keen, a bit spoilt like in most households.

She walks home through the shanty town alleyways with a small bag of vegetables and a bottle of kerosene. Street fights, drunken brawls, cat calls and leering gazes greet her. She dreads to think that her daughter faces the same. Her little corner of the earth is visible now and her steps quicken.
The metal sheet that serves as a door is ajar. The fragrance of fresh garlands and incense greet her. Her son takes the bag and the bottle from her hand talking a dime to a dozen.

She looks towards the stove, her husband smiles. His legs paralysed after a factory accident, he is cooking their frugal meal. He gives her a glass of tea and a fresh jasmine string for her hair.
The evening sets into a multitude of stars.

The deal had been successful. A big round of applause and firm hand shakes mingled with tinkling crystal. Soft laughter and polite conversations matched the heady opulence of the decor as well as the wine list. She felt at ease here. Suitably cocooned in her Prada suit and Jimmy Choo stilettos, she felt confident.

Her mother always said, "If you don’t study, you wouldn’t get a job and end up marrying a man who might not respect you. A woman dependent on her man for livelihood is no good than the flesh at a butchers shop."

She had done better than that. She savoured her moment with a sip of the finest champagne. Her mother had long passed away but maybe she would have been proud, maybe not. She had always been tough to please.

Between the serve and volleys of casual flirtation and the negotiations on budget approval, she decided to call it a night. The drive back home for her, unlike the others, was a long one.

An hour's drive at a steady pace of 120 kmph got her home. The bedroom light was on. It was past 1 am by her watch. She smiled as she unlocked the door and walked through the foyer and up the stairs. Walls lined with memories of baby squeals, awkward teenage years and smart graduation celebrations unfurled upon her.

She softly opened the bedroom door.
"You are awake, " it was not a question, just a pleasant surprise.
He looked up with no recognition in his eyes. She was already going through the process of undressing him.

Gently the tie came off first, followed by the blazer, the socks and the shoes. She spoke to him about her day and he sat there looking at her trying to make meaning of her words.

"Let's go to the toilet, shall we honey? and then we will be ready for bed," she led and he followed.

She slipped the brochures advertising the care homes for alzheimer's patients in the bin by her bedside, turned off the lights and put her arms around her husband.

She could be at ease anywhere but she was home only where he was.