Woman Alone - contd
by Bijoyini Maya
(Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India)
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Seated on the divan these two ladies began to talk. Mrignaini was shocked to know that the elderly couple had expired in a fire accident an year before she came and scared at the prospects of seeing them. The apartment, Sindhuja said had not been allotted to anybody since then, as none were willing to take the risk of staying there permanently. Mrignaini thought of all the times she had seen apparitions right across her balcony. Strange how things change, blood and flesh becomes spectre in no time, friend becomes foe, and acquaintance is trusted more than close friends. Basanthi (Sindhuja’s maid) had left without speaking a word to Mrignaini, worse still; the latter had not noticed this sudden alteration of mood. Every day is a unique experience for all, especially for bachelors/spinsters who cannot share occurrences with a family unit unless they are staying with their parents.
After a cup of coffee and evening snacks, Mrignaini came back to her desolate room. Because she spoke to the walls, in her mind she gained strength to attempt speaking with the spirits dwelling opposite. Right at that moment, the phone rang. She always speculated his call when there would be an adventurous trip waiting for exploration. All the same the entire world seemed to turn to dust when he talked. The trees, human beings, pillars, structures of society not appealing anymore after he had just said “Hello M, How have you been?” Customary drab answers never made the conversation monotonous. He was, after all, her last hope of normal existence, average feminine feelings lying dormant in her. In spite of the conflict, to talk or not to talk, Mrignaini answered the phone just to hear him call her name out.
The call stretched like
old times for eight hours and when she missed dinner or early hours of dawn had arrived she did not know. While hanging up, he mentioned, “This time I come to India I won’t take no for a response, because I’m done requesting you. Let’s just say by hook or by crook you are marrying me, period!” Her mind was too full to be aware of the impact of his words but not unwise to realise the urgency in his tone, passion in his speech, and love in his banter. She brushed, nibbled on cornflakes, climbed down flights of stairs, climbed up another flight of stairs right across to venture into the unknown. Astonishingly, Sindhuja was already present with few cops there; doubtless, she found it hard to explain to them paranormal activity. They had found all stolen items inside locked up in a hidden safe. Things like refrigerator, television and washing machine must have been sold which explained the extra cash.
Everybody’s fingerprints in the block were taken for detection.
Mrignaini came back exhausted with news and called her mother to lighten herself. Sindhuja knocked at her door for the first time to tell her its better she goes back home for some time and when she is back Sindhuja promised her a hospital tour Mrignaini had begged for beforehand. By evening of the same day thieves were caught, they belonged to the nearest slum that existed before the apartments came up. However, they had not shared the booty amongst themselves and only hoarded it, colony milkman was their informer. On being asked, “How did you manage to leave no fingerprints in Mrignaini’s apartment alone?” he had smiled and said, “We do not dare go near Boss! She has many faces and God knows which one she will dawn when.” ***