The same telephone call. The same words.
Late, meeting, you eat. Her mind veiled the ears from listening any more … or caring? The ‘bye’ by him was spoken to the wind, for the receiver was already half-way down to where it usually stood. Undisturbed. A lethargic movement of her hand and the quietest click. Like a tear which falls unnoticed. That soft that insignificant. Equally sad.
She sat with her hands in her lap for a few seconds that seemed to stretch like a movie in slow motion, thumb playing with the 23-year-old ring on a certain finger. As if looking for something around it. As if it itched. The fingers on the other hand tapped in rhythm with the clock. Tapped on the thigh thinking, with deathly stillness. As if looking for ways to part the velvet curtains and jump out … no no, only fly out and return later. To something new, or maybe to a new self?
A new self.
She slapped her thighs with new-found energy and got up, with a decision made so impulsively that it took her red and white bangles by surprise. Made the red bindi on her forehead hang precariously, so frowned-with-determination the brow seemed. Salon. Let me go to the salon.
She started getting ready. In the mirror she saw a face adorned the same way since she was 23, as she combed her frizzy hair nervously to re-do the bun. Those magazine girls from the expanse of her free time in the confines of her 4 walls came rushing to her mind – lips painted red, eyes smoked grey, those arms and legs gleaming with sheen and hair so stylish, she wanted to pick up the scissors and cut off her tail instantly. Sinfully. With every thought, her heart beat faster, as if she was going to run away. Forever. But she was simply going to go to the salon, right? Two blocks away. Oh how she wanted to ever since it opened, but how the feet and mind refused to take her there. Kept her lust in check. Like a schoomarm’s conditioned birch rod. And ... He says I don’t need to be touched up, so pretty I am. That no foreign hand need rob me of Simplicity, the true jewel a woman can wear. She who belongs at home.
With every stroke of the brush, she noticed herself anew. The shadows under the eyes had got darker. The cheeks seem to sag and in place of the lips she saw a mouth tightly shut. For after all, not all thoughts found freedom in breath. Actually, most did not. How much can you talk to the ladle in the kitchen, or the vacuum cleaner? Or even to the flowers, no matter how fresh the arrangement? Once, she caught herself talking to the sparrow which often came to perch itself on her kitchen window. A few words, but she checked herself in time. Am I mad talking to a bird? She had turned the television real loud that day, drowning out the ‘What do I do? What can I do?’ spoken to the bird long back, but lingering in the air around still. Heavy with guilt.
Am I going mad?
Her pulse kept pace with the fastness of her hands. The last knot was tightened with a tenacity which shook both the earrings. Like a quake with its epicenter inside her body, somewhere. She will go to the salon today. She will. Let him come home later to a surprise. Will he like it? Will he get angry? With one sweep of her hands settling the dupatta in place, she swept those questions away. Her feet moved like a little girl’s on her prom night. Free, somewhat, and following the voice in the gut. Dancing free style to visions of another face in the mirror. A new face she wanted to see. Perhaps, the face of a voice?
The bag could hardly breathe, she held the straps that tight. It almost fell off in protest, or was it her shaking hands? She turned the door knob and the door acquiesced. Oh, I should leave a note! But what will I say? But what if he worries? But .. and in she turned to scribble her impulsively made decision on a post-it. If only she had just left … without caring. The phone rang. ‘On my way’ and ‘the meeting got cancelled. Keep the dinner ready’.
The door closed on her face … with the quietest click. Like a tear which falls unnoticed. That soft that insignificant. Equally sad.
She woke up from her Awakening. Threw the dupatta on the dining chair, got the stove burning. Drowned the rice in a bowl and ripped the eggplant to roast. The juicy red of tomatoes flowed on the chopping board. The sound of the knife shadowed the sound of those pretty giggling girls from her magazines’ folds. The jingle of small freedom could not compete with the cooker’s siren.
She wiped the sweat her forehead was oozing, as she watched the pots and pans, the smoke and the gurgles, the waste. In the bin. What was I thinking? Salon? At this age? After all these years? Plus, what is the point? He says I don’t need to be touched up, so pretty I am. That no foreign hand need rob me of Simplicity, the true jewel a woman can wear. She who belongs at home. Is it?
Of course it is!
[Written for WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was - Decisions, Decisions - How are you more likely to make an important decision — by reasoning through it, or by going with your gut?]