Neighbours .. continued
by Short Story -By Prema Sastri
Continued from Neighbours
Bettina realised the enormity of what she had done. Prita had taken her to her soul. In return she had searched out her sharpest kitchen knife, and skewered her with it.
She found her way out and walked to Bells. She went through a soundless gate. The key turned. The light switch came on at her touch. She surveyed her drawing room done up in beige and off white, the pale carpet, the empty glass vase on the centre. Everything seemed dead.
She went upstairs, put on an old flannel night dress and lay down. Images of her stay at Ludhiana, of Prita`s coaxing her to eat, Balwant`s cheerful laugh, children running around splintered her mind.At last she fell asleep. She awoke to find it was late afternoon. She did not know what to do with herself. She hated the idea of going back to her old life, She pulled the bed clothes over her head, willing the world to go away.
Just then she heard footsteps coming up the stairs. There was a knock on the door. She did not answer. The door burst open. Balwant stood in the doorway, carrying her suitcase. He put it down. “Your things.”
She lifted her head. “ How did you get in?” Balwant took out a key from his pocket. “I made a duplicate, when I mended your door. I knew it would be needed one day.” He put the key on a table
and turned to leave.
“Don’t go Balwant,” Tears rolled down Bettina’s cheeks. Her nose started running. Balwant went to the bathroom. He wet a hand towel and placed it on the coverlet. Bettina wiped her face. She put down the towel to find he was gone. She stared at the empty space and blinked, wishing it was filled. She opened her eyes to see him balancing a tray with teapot, jug and cups.
“Tea! The English solution to every problem.” He made the tea, and gave her a cup. She gulped it down
“Can you ever forgive me?”
“I can. I know you have nitwits for friends, and that you listen to them. I’ve seen them come and go.”
“Prita will never see me again.”
“You’ve hurt her. For us looking after others is a way of life. It is an insult to offer money in return.”
“I behaved badly with Prita, but I want to make it up to her.”
“By becoming her sister-in-law.”
Bettina gaped. “What!”
“She’s been telling me for weeks. ` Marry Bettina. Bring me a sister`.”
“What did you say?”
“I said, she is English. She won’t have me.”
“You were wrong”.
“I love Prita, and will do anything to make her happy; even if it means marrying her bossy brother.I will be your kaur.”
“So! This is all about Prita. Where do I come in?”
Bettina held out her arms.“Find out for yourself.” The End