The whistle of the pressure cooker cried aloud. Susheela was sweeping the floor in the front room. Its only the first whistle, she thought. The phenol smell was punching her nose. Manoj sat there reading newspaper. Dressed in his company uniform this is his routine before the company bus comes to pick him up. He was a man in his early fifties. His face was showing his ageing process through some wrinkles here and there. Some grey hairs had already found its place among the others. When Asha and Anusha teased him of getting old he would quip that’s the premonition of something good that is going to happen. He then always used to narrate the anecdote of his grandmother stating that when luck is on your way, it is notified in the form of grey hairs on head. But he was not sure whether she had referred about any bald head like the one he is sporting.
The third whistle blew loudly and this time very fiercely. Leaving the sweeping mat in the floor itself Susheela ran towards the kitchen. Wiping her dirty hands in the Saree, she got the stove off. “Manu, I want an exhaust fan over here”, she said in a loud voice, “it’s very hot over here in kitchen. You won’t understand the difficulty.” There was no reply from the living hall. “Only we woman knows what it is like to be in a kitchen in a boiling temperature. You guys only need to move your ass from the comfortable sofa to the cushioned seat near the dining table. There will be everything on the table ready to be served.” She said to herself in a husky voice.
“Don’t worry better half. Did you read the horoscope for this week? It reads a great week coming for me. TAURUS: You will have a wonderful week. You will be rewarded both professionally and personally. Your long pending promotion will be awaiting you. New purchases for household are on cards. Monetary problems will be resolved and your love life will be exciting.” He passed a loud laughter after reading out his horoscope. It was for the week September 13 to September 20. “Lady, Its a rewarding week for me this time.”
Susheela came back to the living room. Not much impressed with his excitement she continued to sweep the tiled floor. “Now what do you mean by excited love life. Two grown up daughters, couple years before retirement, sloping down health; I think there are many more things to get excited.” The pace of sweeping increased gradually wiping of the whole dirt the precious day had left when gone.
Manoj got up from the sofa. He kept the newspaper folded on the glass teapoy and came near to Susheela. “Age is not a barrier for these things, wife”, he hushed in her ears. She blush a little. She always does when he calls her ‘wife’. “Oh shut up, kids are there in the other room. You don’t know when to get romantic and where.” She took the bucket and headed towards the bathroom. Aasha came out from her bedroom and gave a hug to her father. “Where is Anusha” he enquired. “She is in the bathroom having her hour long bathe.” Planting a kiss on his cheek she switched on the television.
“Susheela, I am leaving; surprises waiting for you in the evening.” He took his bag and left the flat. “This man will never change” Susheela thought. A small smile bloomed on her face A coy smile.
Hours later she was surfing the television. Jumping from channel to channel ‘Aaj Tak’ caught her attention. Breaking News. She stopped by. For Aaj Tak and India TV there will be something breaking news all the time, she thought. Reading the news she got enraged. ‘What will be this nation’s state if such devils try to break the peace now and then’ she thought. The count was increasing showing the monstrous face of the blasts that rocked in five spots in the city.
She took the mobile to give Manoj a call. That is when she realized why didn’t he call after the blasts? Maybe he might not be aware of it, she thought. She dialled the number. The whole network was jammed. She went near to the landline and dialled her husband. Ring went but, no one responded. He will be in bus and the mobile in vibrating mode, she thought. “This happens most of the times. I don’t understand why he need to keep in vibrating mode”, she said to herself. She redialled the number. Did he go to buy the exhaust fan? Did he plan some surprises buying goodies this week? Her thoughts started going wild. Her face started to reflect the panic which was growing in her mind. She dialled the number again and again.
Nobody answered the call, ever.