The house was unexpectedly silent. It was the third day of my moving into this city and living temporarily in one of my friend's place. Usually, when Joyee has left for work, the maid has finished cleaning and breakfast and lunch have been served, her parents would turn up the television and watch a movie which I know they've already seen a couple of times. Or else, I'd hear them having a regularly important conversation. But that unexpected silence that day made me wonder whether they've gone somewhere.
So I tiptoed into the living room and there they were in the attached balcony. Sitting on separate chairs with a heap of unpeeled peas on a table in front of them while the sun warmed their backs. Both carefully peeled peas and separated the seeds. There was a newspaper lying on uncle's side. I assumed he had been reading it with his glasses on while aunty took care of the peas until he decided to keep the newspaper aside and help her instead.
At 10 in the night when Joyee came back, I thanked her again for letting me stay which she brushed off with a warm smile. While we were talking, I saw uncle fastening his boots and aunty covering herself with a shawl.
"Where are they going?" I asked Joyee.
"Oh! Just for a walk in the society. They do that sometimes."
The next day was a playful day. Aunty and uncle both were standing in the balcony looking out for something when I went to tell them I am going downstairs for medicines.
"There are two kids," she said, "They ring bells of the houses in the society and run away. One holds the lift probably while the other rings the bell. By the time we get to the door, we've already lost them. Today we are trying to catch them."
She kept looking out for the door while uncle stood in the balcony. I giggled and continued downstairs.
I needed to go to my office the day after. While leaving, I saw both of them on the dining table, making a list of items they needed to buy from Tuesday's market. Aunty kept reminding things while uncle nodded and tried to remember.
By the time I came back, there was a heap of newly bought groceries on the table.
After finishing a call I went to aunty in the kitchen.
"Papa says hello," I said.
"Oh! Hello to him too," she said and chuckled, "When your parents come to Delhi, bring them here and we will meet them too."
I smiled and nodded in affirmative even though it was unlikely for two people who hadn't even talked to each other for more than a year to travel together.
"Your nose is cold again," he says after reaching out from across the table and grazing his thumb along my face.
"How do you imagine our marriage would be like?" he asks like he has done a dozen times already.
For the first time though, I don't see him hitting a slap across my face because of my family leaving little to my imagination. This time, a tiny spark of belief lights up inside me for something else that exists and is so much better. This time I know I can hope for something like Joyee's home.