The two of them came out of the Coffee Shop on the other side of the street as the two of us were emerging out of the car intending to try out the joint.
I would not have noticed them had she not stared back at me with a frown, before turning around and walking away with him. Or was it the eyeliner she used that drew my attention? He didn’t need to look at me. Or else, he would need to wave. He had known me ever since I was born. She was around forty-five perhaps? Smartly dressed in black trousers and a top with a colourful floral design. Didn’t take in her footwear.
“Look!” said the other she to me. “Don’t,” said I instinctively, helping her to cross the street and enter the Coffee Shop.
He had been a university topper all through his student life. He met his future wife at college. Tall, fair, beautiful. Talk of the college. Handsome, successful young man. Smart, beautiful girl friend. Only son of a well-off father.
The first tragedy struck when his mother sustained a cerebral stroke, paralyzing her right side and destroying her speech for the rest of her life. The only words she spoke were — “kokon aache”. No one knew what they meant.
And then one early morning, the old father expired. He was heart-broken by the sight of his wife’s incurable paralytic state. He had been an angina patient as well. He had a heart problem too many.
They got married. They had a child. The child grew up, the paralytic mother died several years later. Tragedy struck again. She developed a debilitating form of arthritis. The handsome tall woman shrunk and grew small in size. She couldn’t move her limbs, walked with help, painfully bending forward. He cared for her. Never ate non-vegetarian food at home, she being vegetarian. Did everything that a woman would not let others do for her. Ended up his daily morning chores combing her thinning hair. Then left for the college where he taught.
Life moved on. Ailing mother taken care of, ailing wife’s routine suffering. His bright academic career ruined. No one heard him complain. A daughter in law arrived one day, chosen by the wife. Happy, smiling, friendly. Then came a grandson.
Life was not totally unfriendly, that’s rarely the case.
Smartly dressed woman in black trousers and a top with a colourful floral design. They had walked away, but she had briefly summed me up. Alerted perhaps?
No story is ever complete.