word_ Fly

Abstract Romance

4.2  

word_ Fly

Abstract Romance

Petrichor

Petrichor

12 mins
372


" Can I see you for dinner tonight? " 

She asked, folding her white apron with her hand while her other hand was holding the receiver of an old telephone

" Yes, that would do. Text me the place and time ". She ran her hand over her black hair, hung the phone up, and sat on the couch, looking through the glass window. A few trucks were passing through the road. The branches were standing still, while the leaves danced to the humid wind. It was a mid-summer afternoon The creaky noice of the fan was  getting feeble. As she looked up, the fan had stopped . She pressed the switches on and off. The power was out. Antara took out her half-filled bottle. She arranged the desk with quirky moments. She locked the door and put the keys into her handbag. The door lock was an old rusted iron one, large as the size of a healthy man's fist. The wooden door had cracks on it here and there. Antara's office room was visible through the peephole. 

" Madam ... " 

She stopped and looked back. 

" What do I do with these keys Madam? Monday is a holiday and I won't be back till Wednesday. So where do I keep them ?" It was the peon. He was a short, kind of plumpy old man with a thick mustache The rays of noon sun have partly reflected on his head. He asked scratching his bald head, looking down. 

" But you said your son would be here for the next two days until you come back. So keep the keys with you. I have got my office keys. " She said in a haste. 

" No, no madam... I'm afraid that would not be a great idea. My son ... He would come. But you know madam ... Kids ...I don't think if he would come early and open the office. He has agreed to my insist. He wasn't interested. " 

" So what shall we do? " 

" Is it ok if I handed the keys to Hemanth? He lives near, he could come early " 

" Well then do it " 

She did not wait for his reply, walked away too quick. She sat on the corner seat of the bus. It was thronged with people Usually afternoons wouldn't have this rush. She took out her phone. 

' 7 PM 

At the Chinese's ' 

She read the message and replied to it. 

Her fingers moved quickly over the keypad. She was typing a  long message. The man sitting next to her was staring at her screen. She gave him a piercing look and frowned at him. 

She opened the door, quickly took off her shoes, and kept them on her shoe rack. The 1-hour bus journey was too tiring for her. Her apartment was 45 km away from her office. 

She took a hot shower. Played the television, grabbed something to munch. She sat on the chair with her one leg up, holding the plate in one hand.

Her phone rang. She kept the remote on the chair and picked it up. 

"Hii there .... Wait a second. Let me just put it on the speaker mode. " 

She kept the phone on the table and was back in her position. 

" So, why did you want me to call today? You said you'll give me a call sometime on Sunday. "

" Ahhhhh I just felt like talking to you Miya ..." 

Miya and Antara were best friends from school. 

" So tell me what's cooking ?? " Antara asked crunching the biscuit. 

" Uhhh aah Nothing much. Remember the internship program I told you about. I kind of lost it. " 

" Ooh, That's ok. You can try something else. There are plenty of opportunities out there " 

" It is not that great as it seems, having no steady job. It's easy for you to say, what else do you have to worry about. you've got your own job. " 

Antara kept the plate aside and took the phone in her hand.

" A job !!!  Miya, Do you even realize that I'm stuck in an inaccessible village, doing some sleepy dull paper works and lab works for a stupid research project, that I should not have agreed to do. " 

" Don't argue Tara. You decided to do this. No one forced you, Don't blame everyone for your wrong decision." 

" You never understood me. And you'll never " She put the phone back on the table. 

" Forget it !! Don't ruin the day. So what's for dinner. " 

" Uhhh ... I've got dinner plans " 

She said lowering her voice She did not want to mention Anything more. She was afraid if her friend would disapprove her going out with Mr Nihit

" When will you be back ?" 


" From dinner ?? " 

" No Tara ... I meant when will you return to Mumbai ? "

" Not sure about it .. May be it'll take 3 months or say even 6 months "

" That's too long .Don't you miss being here with us " 

" A lot ... You know it's too dull here . Following same routine every day " 

" Come back soon dumpo  " 

" Now don't get started  I'll better hang up. I feel sleepy" She hung up on Miya. Antara crouched on the floor. Something was bothering her.I t was not about her going back . 

 From the time they met, has she only admired him more and more each day. The way Nihit talks, the way he looks, his solid-colored shirts, him correcting his specs. She holds admiration for every piece of the man. 

Nihit works at an NGO.His spouse Megha demised five years back. He was tall dark-toned, with a short stubble beard. He had a sharp-cut jawline that defined his long neck. His hair had one or two silver lines among them. Those greys were too early for a man of 30. 

Antara was lured to his mannerisms. 

She imaged him on her head, sometimes she tries to picture Megha too, though she had never seen her not even in a photo.

She had no idea how Megha looked. She has her own painted frame of Megha. 

Megha and Nihit eloped and got married at a very young age, she remembered him say he was only 24 when they got married. Megha would have been younger than him. Things went in the right direction for a while. Megha went into depression all of a sudden. And one day Nihit was back from work, he saw his wife hanging on the ceiling fan.

Her ankles were still clinging.


Antara dozed off. The television was playing the song ' Mitwa'. The hot sun disappeared somewhere behind the clouds. The sky was stained red and orange. The humid wind that blew, made the white curtains move. 


Nihit had already reserved a table and was waiting for his guest. He had ordered a glass of water. The restaurant was bijou. Waiters walked carrying the trays. Some would slide sideways trying not to hit the table. The man at the counter was busy. A nail was placed in his desk, on which he kept the bills. The bill papers tear at the center when the nails pierced through them. Nihit's eyes roved around. A child was crying on the table in front of him. The mother took the child and patted it on its back, trying to comfort it. And the father, a fat man held the other child and lead them to the bill counter. 


" I'm sorry. I overslept. " A voice said from behind. He knew it was Antara. 

" Come, take your seat," he said without turning his head. 

She kept her handbag on the table and sat facing him. 

" So.... " he tried to strike up a conversation

She sighed. " I was supposed to take a quick nap. But it was too sultry. I kind of dozed off." 


" So shall we order something? I've been sitting here for a while, the waiter came to me twice to take orders " 


" Sure .." 


" What would you like to have? " he ran his fingers through the menu


" Anything will do " she smiled 

 

" Sir, your orders ... " The waiter asked taking his pen from behind his ears.

" I'll have a white sauce pasta," Nihit said closing the menu. 


" Make it two " she nodded


" Why you look so sulked ?" 


" Sulked ?? No, I'm alright " she looked down. 

Nihit knew that she was lying. But he did not want to dig in further.


" And how's everything one at the office. Tell me about your project " He asked while serving the Pasta. 

She grabbed a tissue and wiped the plates.

 " Tiring ..." 


" That's it? Tiring ??" 


Nihit looked at her. She still sulked.


" Ok then, I've great news for you " 


He said without raising his head. 


" Great news for me " Antara raised her head


" Remember Nadhita Mohan .. I've told you before. She came to my office today. And guess what. She was really impressed with some of your works. She said You've got the thing and they are ready to give you a chance " 


" Wait...What ... Nandita Mohan ... You mean The Editor " 


She was startled. 

Nihit laughed, his food choked, he gulped a glass of water and said

 

" I'm so sorry that I didn't inform you. But I knew you would never agree on this " 


" You can't be true," Antara said with a facepalm " And which stupid write up did you submit to her "

Her face turned grumpy 


" I don't remember, I gave them 2 months ago I guess. probably one of your poetries and  a few writeups " 


The waiter came with the bill. 

Nihit insisted that he would pay. Antara wanted to pay it this time, as she thought it was awkward how he never let her pay. And finally, they agreed on splitting the bill. 

They walked through the alleyway. Motorcycles and rickshaws were rushing through the narrow road. It was all a buzz. The street was drenched in yellow city lights. The street shops were filled with people. The voices from various sources were ringing in the air. The sound of honking vehicles. Voice of women bargaining, Vendors calling out the prices. The sound of ' Samosa' put into hot oil could be heard if carefully listened to. 

" I don't think I can do this " Antara sound was feeble amidst the honking vehicles

" Uhhh? I didn't quite hear you " he said keeping his hands on his ears. 

" I said I don't think I can do this," she said louder this time 

' Give me a way madam, why do you stand in the middle of the road. Move away ' someone said from behind and made his way through the rabble. 


" What do you mean you can't? They are not going to make you write immediately. You'll have time. They want you to work on a few topics. Then there would be screening. Things will take time. " 


" I'll give it a try. " She looked straight on his face and smiled. 


" I not much into this literature stuff. But I'm sure if Megha was here, she'd be completely into this. She would have got you this opportunity long before. She was all crazy about this stuff. " he turned his face away and gazed at the crowd as if he was searching for someone. 

Antara remained silent. In fact, she was left speechless whenever he talked about Megha. She felt a strange connection with this girl. 

" Megha and Nandita went to the same college. She used to scribble something and would read it to me. I never understood a word. They were more about the moon... I don't really understand. I had always wanted to show you some of her writings. You know you ....and her... You are like ... What do they call it ?? Birds of the same feather. Maybe you would understand. Then I had second thoughts on it. What if Megha comes one day and asks for it. I'll be out words. Kind of fanatic about all these. " His voice trembled. He licked his lips and tried to look away

Antara held his hands. His palms were ice cold. She expected him to take away his hand. Instead, he held her hands tight, pulled her hands a bit close to him.

None of them talked for a while .The busy alleyway ended on a long lonely and narrow street. She slowly tried to relieve her hand from his. He probably  sensed it and let her hands-off. 

The sounds of the city were muted. There were a few houses. People were standing on their balconies. A woman was on her terrace taking the clothes off the rope line tied. 

Antara finally gathered the courage to ask him

" What really happened to Megha? " She did not look him. 

" Ever since Megha and I got married ." He began after a long pause

 " Her father was very much annoyed. He was mad at both of us. He often came to our apartment asking her to Comeback. But she wouldn't. She would ask me to go and talk to him. She believed that things will change if I talked to him. But I never did that. We had to quarrel with this issue After two months both her parents hanged themselves. The dishonor of their daughter's elope shook them. The relatives didn't allow her to the funeral. I recall that day .. she did not cry, didn't utter a word. She sat for hours staring at the walls. " 

Antara felt sorry for him. His face turned blue. She felt a remorse ' I should not have asked him ' 

"She never talked after that. She was taking treatment. Often she refused to have medicines on time. One day I was back from work. It was around 8 pm. I knocked on the door twice or thrice, then I looked through the window calling out her name. No answers came. I thought that she would have slept and tried calling her on phone. Still no answers

Neighbors came, we pushed the door open. She was hanging in our bedroom. She was gone by then. She left no note. She had nothing to tell. Megha had nothing for Nihit. In fact, what was she supposed to say? I did not listen when she talked. And now she had nothing to talk about. She just went away. " 


Nihit didn't want to cry. He tried to swallow his pain and closed his eyes. 

But his tears betrayed. 

Antara did not know what to say. She walked slowly letting him walk past in front of her. But he stopped and looked for her. She pretended to tie her shoelace and walked quickly to reach him 

" I'm so sorry, I ruined your night. You must be wondering what a geek I am " He walked looking at the buildings. 

She wanted to say no. This man is clueless. He pulled me close to him as a magnet does to a piece of iron. All of a sudden he starts to repel. Each time Nihit mentioned Megha's name, she was getting more closer to her. The painting of Megha on her head was added a new color. What would have Megha written? Maybe she had a written a poem on the moon as he said. The young faint moon of her own sky. She looked up for the moon. It was hiding behind the clouds.


 ' The strange man on my poems appears to be him '

They stopped at ' The old street bus stop it was unoccupied. " If I gave you Megha's poems. Will, you read them for me? Maybe you'll have to explain them to me. " His pinky finger accidentally touched her's, he tried to move away from his hand. But she kept her hand on top of his and looked away. He made a loose grab on her fingers. It started drizzling. The petrichor emanated all over the air. They boarded the tram. She took a seat near the window. He looked at her. Her eyes were twinkling. He made an exhausted smile that eventually turned to a mellow one. She tried to inhale the petrichor but it had melded with the smell of his Cologne .   She felt strange how she hadn't sensed this smell  for  so long . The raindrops were tapping the window as the tram moved.


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