After the children leave for school, and my husband for office, the house feels hollow with the deadening silence of bereavement. It is no ordinary mourning, in which one departs and the many left behind grieve. Here I, the only one left behind, grieve after everyone else has left. I feel a tearless, soulless kind of grief, feeling which for so many years has left my tiny heart barren and fallow.
The sun streams in through the window by the dining table. On it lies the breakfast tray, unappetizing with the falsetto cheerfulness of brightly coloured fruits awash in butter-melting sunlight. I roam through the rooms, not so many, feeling like a prisoner given a chance to choose her cell.
The brightness fails to cheer up the cold silence of the house. I switch on the TV on a music channel. Heroines with Amazon thighs gyrate, defying dynamics, in binary waltz with heroes trying not to look mesmerized by so much of flesh throbbing inside gossamer clothes. I remember the description of ‘a healthy girl’ in my matrimonial ad, a choice of veiled phrase supposed to hint at the merchantability of the feminine body. I mute the TV to listen to my thoughts.
Why is it that when I am alone at home, the telephone never rings. The children never call from school. If I call them, I find their mobiles in use. Whom do they talk to so much? My husband, of course, never has time to ring me up. What if he calls up and asks, “Where are you?” But then, what would I say? “Lost in my own house”? “Lost in my own thoughts”?
What happened to all my ex-beaus? How is it, that none of them passes through my city and calls me up, asking, “How are things”?
– “Since when, and with whom?”
– “Are you not still at the same place?”
– “You mean, in someone else’s heart?”
– “I mean, I still remember where you used to live.”
– “No you don’t! I have lived in so many hearts.”
– “Well, I was going to ask, could I come over and see you.”
– “Do come. But don’t expect me to dress up for you.”
– “Oh! It is just a manner of telling you, I live in the coffin of an empty house, embalmed forever.”
I pick up the novel I have been trying to read. But, the story has turned tasteless, and the pages have become bent from lying open face down. Like my life, the story does not move on. On any page I open, the story reads the same.
I go to the kitchen and see the cabbage, sitting on the cutting board. How I love to chop a cabbage, slicing thin lifeless confetti. Why am I afraid today that my blood may drip on them? Do I need to slice my finger to see if blood still flows in it? May be – because I cannot feel my pulse any more.
Soon the cooking gets over, and I have nothing more to do. I have not had breakfast and I will probably have a dry toast for lunch. Then the afternoon will wear on, slowly swinging the sun over the sky in its daily invariable trajectory. Shortened shadows will begin to lengthen and creep up, to touch me. I will shrink away from the window and sit staring at the entrance door.
The children will troop back home, tired from school excitement and distracted by the assignments. Then my husband will return and absent mindedly hand over his bag, then his purse, his pen and his glasses. He will take off his shoes, expectantly look at me and then reluctantly carry them over to the shoe cabinet. Done, he will ask, mechanically, “How was your day?”
I will not tell him, I will not let him know, that the laptop broke down, I cannot remember how many days back, and I can no more reincarnate myself in my virtual life.
I am doomed to the loneliness of a homemaker.
Indroneer / 31 Jan 2014
(Image acknowledgement: http://www.dailymail.co.uk)