Thursday, February 03, 2011

Glowing Embers - Part 2

The next day, she was on time, as usual. He couldn’t but help notice a glint of happiness on her face.
And then he noticed her dress. The maroon salwar he had ironed a few days back. He tried to remember the houses he had visited in the recent past, and from which she might be. And then it struck him – Mr. Sheshadri! That meant she was from the Sheshadri household. She must be their daughter, he thought. The Sheshadris had started giving their clothes for ironing of late. They were one among his new ‘clients’. He mentally made a note to take special care of their clothes and give extra attention to them.

Did she just smile to herself? It seemed strangely odd. It was a nervous smile, which she tried to kill as soon as it appeared. As she boarded the bus, he took out a white cotton kurta to iron and was back to work. Today would be a long day. Almost every house in his area had a heap of clothes that needed ironing. One of those busy days, he thought to himself. And everyone wants it today – it’s ‘urgent’ they would say. But he shouldn’t be complaining. Other areas were lean; and with people switching over to ironing themselves, he should be glad he has work.

The sun was setting and yet his work was not over. The more he ironed, the more the clothes piled – at least that’s what he felt. He decided to take a break for a couple of minutes. It was starting to grow dark. He decided to have tea and a smoke. He walked to the stall closer to the main road. The 6:30 bus came to a screeching halt at the bus stop. She got down from the bus. He looked at her and smiled. But she did not acknowledge it. In fact it seemed like she was hardly noticing anything or anyone. She waited for a few minutes at the stop, staring ahead. And then she quickly took out her mobile phone. She stared at it for a while and then picked a call, or so it seemed. She hardly spoke anything. Just a few nods and a feeble humming – as if in response to the caller. She stood in a few minutes of indecisiveness. She called an auto in a hurry, as if she was afraid she would change her mind. As he sipped his tea, he was left wondering. Where is she going? Why is she going?

As he took out the last sari for the day, he was relieved. But he had to be careful; it was Mrs. Rupa’s sari. That woman was never satisfied with his ironing. She was always complaining and her thrashing was the last thing he wanted today. As he folded it neatly and arranged it on his table for ironing, he noticed an auto coming to a halt near the bus stop. A man got out of it. And then – someone else. It was her! He was shocked. What’s she doing at this time of the night? And with that man? He felt as if his stomach was tied in knots. The man and she talked to each other; he was rubbing her shoulder as if to console her. And she was staring at the ground. She looked so frightened. What was happening?

She then looked around, crossed the roads and walked home in a hurry. The man who came with her, left in the auto. That’s when he was brought back to reality by the smell of something burning…. the sari! He was so caught up with observing the proceedings, he had failed to realize that ishtri was still on the sari! He didn’t know what to do. He went home to Muthusami, with the sari that had a gaping hole.

“Useless fellow! Can’t you tell him to be more careful? It cost me a bomb to buy this sari. And now look at it, will you? Don’t you dare think you can get away with this; I don’t care for your misery, you will have to pay for it… This is totally unacceptable...” Rupa madam was on a rampage. Muthusami was at the receiving end of her wrath. What could he say? He silently stood next to Muthusami and admitted to his carelessness. Somehow he managed to pacify her for the moment, and they left her house. Muthusami was enraged. “Palani, what were you doing there? You don’t usually mess up things. But of all people, you had to ruin her sari? Look at how much it will cost me. Even if you iron her clothes for a month for free, do you think you can make up for the loss? And God knows how much it actually costs. She will exaggerate and we’ll have to bear the brunt!”…. But he wasn’t listening to Muthusami. His mind was still engrossed by what he had seen.

What was she up to?

To be continued>>>


  1. I acn't resist but confess that u r an awesome writer.. teh kins like.. real and very vivid... awesome... Iam sure I'll soon see your name on a book cover :)

  2. Thank you so much Parvathy for the encouragement. As for a book... it's my dream as well... let's see! :)



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