Fiction: Long Fifteen Years

Abu Siddik

- Abu Siddik

“Looking great in red, Madhu?”
“Really?” She turned and flashed her magic smile. Asim saw crow’s feet at the corners of her large patched eyes. Make up could not hide the scars of age!
“Yea,” nodded Asim.
“How here?  Surprised!”
“Nothing special.”
Asim retreated to the old golden days of honey and dew. He eyed the brown mole on her left cheek once he adored so much. Now it fattened into a dull spot. 
“Do you still sing?”
“No.” She flatly said, and quickly suggested, “Asim, if you not in hurry let’s drink something?”
Asim followed her and both had coffee. 
She sipped and calmly said, “How many years it would be?”
“Settled?” Prosaically asked Asim.
“Oh…it’s great!”
“Why? Here, I mean Siliguri.”
“It’s so cool, dear!”
“Fifteen years ago it was so. Now everything is hot. Multiplexes, high-rises, bars, spas, saloons, malls multiplied. Look at the polished lanes and vehicles storming each second. People were so smooth!”
“Your husband?”
“Ha ha ha… I didn’t marry. Later I changed mind, and Rishi also found a beautiful IT girl. They settled in Bengaluru,” indifferently Madhu said but her facial expression bore signs of pains gnawing at her. And she tried hard to suppress it.
“And what’s about you, Asim? Why look so pale and harried?”
Asim loved the way Madhu uttered his name. She alone could do it. An aching pleasure ran through him.
He didn’t speak. His eyes fixed to the soiled shoes. He felt nervous in such a beautiful place. People are all hot, fashionably clothed, drinking, laughing and talking endless. The light is everywhere.  He felt utterly naked before such charming eyes. 
He got startled, and soon laboured hard to shed his shakiness.
“Asim, keep my address,” she handed over him a piece of paper. “Come one day. I’m late. Mother is in coma for last seven years. And you know from nobody I ask help. At day an ayah nurse her. But nights we pass together, sitting, dozing, half asleep….”
Together they walked and came to bus stop. Eateries were doing brisk business. Men, women, children, scavengers, and dogs vied in front of the stalls. A few miles away there was a heap of city’s waste. It stank. A gust of wind blew and the people put handkerchiefs to their nostrils. A few waved empty hands before noses.
 Minutes later a bus started to roll and Madhu hurriedly got into it. Through a broken window she waved hand but without glasses Asim couldn’t follow her. He was blinking and clearing his spectacles with the end of his shirt. His eyes were moist and vision dim.
“Bye.” He said to himself in a muffled voice, and surreptitiously waited for his turn under the hazy sky.  

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