The glass window
She looked out of the hotel room window walking down a 10 year old memory lane. So much has changed since the first time she opened this yellow paint tainted crashed glass window, on the top of her Appas tiffin shop. The window glass which reflected the smile of her lost childhood and fullness of her adolescence, now smeared with dust and smoke from the street below resembled her heart. The soot has covered her life; not sparing even the corners- salvation was impossible, survival inevitable.
The street lights burned without the same liveliness, like a doll losing its importance as the child grows up. Gauri looked around her old room, a place which was once an adobe to the suppressed cries of an 8 year old mother less child, a place more comfortable than the warmth of her middle class house two streets down the road. These walls were once her earnest listeners and silent advisers and thus her best confidants. The dusty shelves held the old records of her naive and immature adolescence, a key to remind her how she used to laugh. Her ringing laughter as Ramu used to call it. Oh! Ramu, she realised the movement of his name on her dark Lakme lipstick. It curved in to a self pitying smile, her usual attire when she visits this place along with the black goggles and expensive Kanchipuram sarees with matching jewellery, covering the slender built with the free end of the saree to save herself from the piercing looks of her old neighbours.
The shop was now in rack and ruins, its lower storey completely out of use and kept shut, the upper storey, sheltering hundreds and thousands of innocuous inmates in the absence of the harmful ones, kept clean and maintained every now and then by Marathu, a sweeper boy from the opposite building for two thousand rupees every month.
The shop and upper room was Gauris part of share, in fact the only inheritance from her father for that matter and an entirely unnecessary and useless asset indeed. But, the most treasured she thought contradicting the general opinion which she ceased to attend to since years ago. Since he left. The whisper was soft yet intimidating as it sounded in the echoed silence of the room. It was the same silence that always saved her from the hubbub downstairs in her fathers shop, the window opening only to the lane not to the main road on the right side and it being the only source of income of breeze and noise.
It was growing dark. The street lamps gave out the thick yellow shower of light to a limited space below the lamp sticks as an open invitation to the small insects that bathed in the spotlight till the nights end and died without bothering the world around. Her older mind was used to sights and thoughts of such gravity that her heart sometimes fluttered at the very thought of death and transience.
She reclined her head on the window sill and stared across the busy street, now emptying with the nights advance. The glass window showed no more the old sceneries. No more will Ramu walk down the road turning back and waving until he is past the turning at the farthest end of the street after walking her back home from school every day. No more will she rush upstairs to wave back at him munching the 50 paise sweets he used to buy her with his piggy bank money.
Where the second lamp stick stands now, which she thought seemed different from the others with its halo spreading across the road, was their meeting place before going to school where then stood a small pan shop. That was a very long time ago, when the world didnt know them or they didnt know the world. It has all disappeared now. She felt intimidated as the strangeness passed her mind: nothing belongs to her now. Not even the air, the sand or the sky which made her days beautiful many years ago. The room which bore her seemed to question her authority to reclaim the past.
She contemplated with a sigh on natures capacity to forget the past without leaving the slightest proof behind. Was it the nature or the mortal world that threatened the existence of her memories, she couldnt identify. Her memories were, yet, fresh that they were pronounced much more than the present. She felt herself unredeemable from the infinite loop of her memorable past and a misplaced piece of the giant jigsaw puzzle of time and life.
The street went to an early sleep that night dumping Gauri to the company of crickets and the familiar silence and eeriness of the night. Even the night seems to forget her. Closing her eyes she made a desperate attempt to dissolve in the infinite ocean of darkness and silence; a final attempt to go back to her most endeared past; a past without shackles of marriage or suffocating economic security.
She threw her eyes wide open, expecting the nights snares to come close on her, to tighten its noose on her slender neck and kill her in one snap. She imagined the guardians roaring at her that aching word betrayal. She realized that she was answerable not only to Ramu, but also for the companions of the nature that nurtured her, cherishing her innocence and purity and bringing her up like a foster mother. She remembered how she tried to justify her ruthless actions ten years ago and how pathetically each time she failed and dissolved in to tears of guilt and ache.
The weapons were kept ready. The night took a blowing twist, screaming its rage and restlessness into her ears. Enduring the pain and rage she kept her eyes shut without complaining, like a silent confession, giving herself away to cleanse her clean from the sins. The entirety of the night felt soothing, now. Both parties contend. Her beautifully lined eyes, now smudged with a thick line of tears, opened peacefully back to the world of reality.
The sky was a glowing blanket of fluorescent blue. She stood up quickly with a staggered balance, not bothering to straighten the crumbled plaits of her saree and walked across the room in a weak, unsteady pace. Reaching the threshold, she looked back at the room one last time. Everything looked the same as if nobody has ever stepped inside it for the past decade. She opened the door and beckoned the cleaner boy who was sleeping outside the room. Locking the door herself, she handed over the key and four five-hundred rupee notes to him.
Until next time? asked the boy to which she gave a slight but mournful nod, okay, akka. He retorted with a smile, his face pale from the sleepless night.
Gauri left him to wake himself up completely from the sleep and rushed downstairs before people could come out of their houses for the early morning prayers. Carrying herself into the vehicle, she looked behind once more to absorb the beautiful, undisturbed picture in its sublimity. When the car began to move she imagined watching herself leave from the glass window. Like any other view from the window, this last one also seemed like a perfect painting.
With the soft sunlight glaring against the tainted yellow window glass, reflecting the brightness across the room and falling on each of the souvenirs she preserved there, the world woke up to a new day not bothered by Gauri or her trifles.