“How much money do you need to shut this case officer?” he replied still maintaining bland tone.
* * *
The silence in the house formed a warm blanket. And Devyani was quietly reading another novel gifted by Azhar.
She turned the pages back to the first one. There he had written a message for her, like always.
“For those days when you don’t feel like talking to me. And wonder why you choose to continue despite all the differences, read a few lines off this and remember me.
“Devyani, can you please get the sprinkler from the table?” her mother called out from the kitchen.
She rose from the couch with a jerk. Her light steps disturbed the blanket of quietness in the air. And she could almost feel the heat of resentment rise in her heart.
She could have easily walked out of the kitchen and picked it up herself? But no, they get some pleasure in disturbing my peace? And then they say Azhar is a bad influence?
She quickly approached the dining table. There on the far right was the red and white salt sprinkler. She picked up in one swift swipe and began walking briskly again.
She suddenly stopped in her steps and turned back. She saw the postcard kept underneath. The same flowers with a simple line and a rush of signature.
“Happy birthday, ma,” she spoke softly while entering the kitchen.
* * *
“Happy birthday Rajlakshmi,” his soft words worked like magic on her. They found way to the deepest, warmest part of her heart in there.
She blushed and smiled. Holding hands together, he would take her to a far way place. And make sweet love. This was probably one of the few times when guilt never took toll on her. She felt she deserved to be happy just for one day in her life.
Walking back home, she would have a song on her lips. She would reel under the love of another man, not bounded by customs or society but only by plain and simple love.
“Where have you been all this while?” and at home, her husband would spin her back to reality.
She would remain silent, not even raising her head to meet the sharp, piercing eyes. Afraid her pain and infidelity would get conveyed in that one second.
And breaking the moment would be her daughter, rushing to hug her from behind.
“Happy birthday, ma,” she would speak in her baby voice.
* * *