Rakhi looked up in
awe at the huge billboards forming the façade of a brand new mall. Bright
colors and well-dressed people dotted the entrance and compound circling it. Sitting,
standing, laughing, eating, holding hands, everyone looked happy. How much
everything has changed, sighed Rakhi
Just as she was
about to move forward she thought she saw a familiar face. Was that Raghav, son
of her former neighbour’s, the Makhija’s? The boy had his
face bent, intently concentrating on his mobile as he waited to cross the road.
Why doesn’t he look up so I can confirm it is Raghav, fretted Rakhi.
As if he'd heard her,
the boy looked up and stepped forward to cross the road, when from nowhere a
garbage truck came hurtling towards him. The boy was flung in the air, and fell
to the ground with a thud. Everyone stopped whatever they were doing and time
stood still. Till blood began seeping out from under his head and started
forming a puddle. That is when a girl screamed. No one had realized that the
garbage truck had sped away.
Rakhi was too
stunned to react. She stood still. She couldn’t absorb what she had just
witnessed. Was that really Raghav, or someone else? After all she had seen him
as a little boy last. She too wanted to scream like that girl but no sound came
Rakhi walked into
the house. Her mother-in-law looked at her and they silently exchanged a
conversation. In another lifetime, Rakhi and her mother-in-law had never got
along. Her mother-in-law had troubled her endlessly and Rakhi had borne it all.
But they were in a different space now, where they understood each other well.
Rakhi started into
the distance. Her mother-in-law came and stood beside her. She knew enough to
let her be, till Rakhi could not hold back and a torrent of words spilled out
of her. After a while a tear rolled down Rakhi’s cheek, others followed suit immediately
and soon turned into great big heaving sobs. Her mother-in-law looked at her
with compassion in her eyes, she knew exactly what Rakhi was feeling. That look
increased the sobs, which had now turned into hiccups.
Daughter-in-law were standing side by side in silent solidarity when Ravi
walked it on the scene. He looked at his mother’s somber face, and his wife’s
tear stained one and gritted his teeth.
‘Again, Rakhi?!’ he
‘Let her be, Ravi’
answered his mother
‘I can’t, Aai (mother)!
I am fed up!’
‘Ravi…I saw him...I
saw him being hit…by a vehicle…’said Rakhi, between sobs
‘So? So what? When
will you stop reacting like this?! When?’
‘I…I..’ Rakhi could
not complete her sentence.
‘You know how she
has always been, Ravi. Extra sensitive. Don’t be so harsh and impatient with
her.’ chided his mother.
‘Harsh? Impatient?Which world are you living in?!’
Ravi let out a sarcastic laugh
forget…that…boy’ Rakhi tried to explain
‘It reminded you of
our accident, didn’t it?’ asked her mother-in-law, making Rakhi start a fresh
round of sobs, as she replied with frantic nods, unable to speak anymore
‘Oh Rakhi!’ Ravi’s
face softened, ‘will you ever accept that we are no longer mortals, after all
three of us died in that road accident 10 years ago?’
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