The phone rang just as I was about to step out. I almost didn’t answer, but the I saw his name flash. D never calls me.
How are you? He asked, not caring how I really was. His voice was vacuous, as though the smile that filled it was gone from his life.
I’m good. What’s happening? I said, unable to dismiss the sense of foreboding.
I thought I should let you know that mom’s no more.
I felt as I do when I expect there to be one more step on the stairwell, but instead my foot crashes against the cold, hard ground sooner than I expected. Of course I expected to hear this eventually; just not so soon.
I proceeded, over the next few hours, to try not to think about her. I had a dance class to be at.
Mister asked for my hand. One, two, cha cha cha. Three, four, cha cha cha.
You’re not really here, are you?
Just feeling bad for D and his dad.
The class crawled to an end. Mister held my hand tightly as we walked out.
Are you okay, baby?
Yes. No. I’m not sure. I know how it feels when a loved one dies. But right now, I’ve got nothing. I don’t know how I should feel when someone I didn’t like very much dies. Am I supposed to keep thinking of her as someone I didn’t like very much, or should I be thinking back to the good times and scrounge for good memories with her?
I don’t know.
Later that night, I caught myself thinking about all the things I hated about her.
Everything I did was wrong.
No no, don’t slice bhindi lengthwise. Cut it into round pieces instead.
What kind of bharta is this? The onions are undercooked. It tastes sweet!
She always thought I was capable of cheating on D.
With skirts that short and a propensity to work late, it’s no surprise that you keep getting promoted, she had said to me when I got home late one night after work.
Why? Have you found someone else, she wanted to know the day D announced he wanted to split. It didn’t matter that I was as shocked as she was.
Mister broke that train of thought with his question. Maybe you should skip the chautha ceremony tomorrow and go meet his dad at home next week?
No. I’m going.