Space – Concluding Part – Muse India the literary e-journal, 8 Sept. 2021

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Space – Concluding Part

 “Didn’t the doctor warn me when I went for a check-up last month?” He advised me to stop thinking unnecessarily and reduce anxiety.

 I remembered the day Nitya came back with her daughter. The next day she enrolled her daughter in the neighborhood kindergarten “Bachpan” and went to the office. Till then we did not understand the seriousness of the matter.

 Even if I wanted to discuss the details with her where was the chance?! As soon as she returned from work she would sit with her phone and laptop, with green tea going on by the side. If I asked her hesitantly whether work was not over yet, she would signal me to wait and would bury herself into the laptop or phone. When Sanjana went to her after a play in the park saying she was hungry, Nitya would ask her to go to grandmother. I would then wash her off, feed her, and put her to bed while narrating a story.

Later when I sat with the correction or some other schoolwork, Murali would reach home exhausted. He would look into my eyes questioningly. I knew the exact meaning of his looks. What would I say?! The situation was the same as yesterday. Even if I sat with her to discuss her complaints, she would never take off her earphones nor would look at me. In earlier days we used to know when people talked on the phone. But, thanks to WhatsApp, all conversations went into eternal silence!!! Everyone maintained silence. Nitya never behaved like this even when she was in college.  After she grew older and became a mother to a child…what happened to her?

I was preoccupied with these thoughts even while teaching in class.

Soon after the class, Shashank’s father came rushing to me. “Madam, please can I speak for a minute?”, he asked hesitantly. Shashank was busy talking with his friends.

 “He has a lot of respect for you. That’s why I want you to convince him. He doesn’t listen to his mother nor me. If we say something he says that he is grown up and not to tell him anything. He is neglecting his academics also. If we question him he says he would manage his studies and friends. Please madam, make him understand”, Shashank’s father was pleading. Huh, ”Amusing!” I nodded my head reassuringly and sent him off…
 The Sun was shining bright, leaving traces of rain in the form of puddles. Roads were dirty with slush.

The return bus journey was not so thrilling. Besides, I was feeling hungry…I should have told Murali to pick me. I would have got “me” time in that car drive.  He must have missed home due to the official tour. I was used to his lively company. My sister Bhanu was always amazed seeing both of us. “How do you have so much to talk about?” she wondered. True, sometimes Murali would put a comma in his talk saying his throat was aching!

 I could hear Sanjana crying even before I stepped into the house. 

“I don’t drink milk”, she was saying firmly to her mother’s threats.  “Not even three years, you are so adamant. Ok, don’t drink”, snapped Nitya at her daughter. Murali took the glass from her hand.

 “Dad, please don’t force her”. Murali looked at his daughter amusingly. I thought, yes, Sanju was her mother’s daughter. She needed “Space”.

 Murali followed me into the kitchen with his granddaughter and her glass of milk. “Which vegetable should I cut?” I knew he must have preserved so much to share with me all these four days. Our conversation was going on endlessly till Nitya interrupted us.

“See, your phone is ringing continuously. You don’t even notice” said Nitya impatiently. True, we didn’t even notice how time flew! Nitya walked out of the kitchen with a scornful look that our conversations never ended!

 I understood what she meant by that look but I didn’t want to sacrifice my “space.”

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