“Come, Vandy, it’ll be fun, we leave on Thursday and will return Sunday.” Amit sat on the low, wooden stool to polish his shoes for office the next day.
Reena, Amit and Vandana’s mother, was in bed, snuggled in the comforter. Vandana was also snuggled in with her, and they were watching television. Dinner was over, the heater was on, and the room was warm and comfortable.
They were watching some crime thriller on BBC where a woman was confessing that she had allowed her husband to die by not calling for the ambulance in time.
Vandana shifted her gaze from the T.V. to Amit. “Sorry, brother, I have work. Read that as W-O-R-K!”
Amit continued to polish his shoes. He was particular about looking smart.
“Goodnight, people, got to get up early tomorrow.” Vandana placed the remote next to Reena and left.
Amit held his shoes up against the light to check their shine.
Reena’s mind shifted from relaxation mode into high gear. Going on a working day? Where, with whom, what for? It must be that girl.
That girl was Amit’s latest girlfriend. Though Reena had not been introduced to her, the girlfriend’s existence was evident by the slow erosion of sharing between mother and son. Amit was no longer informing his mother about his plans, whereabouts or even if he was coming home for dinner.
“So where are you planning to go...to?” Reena looked away from the T.V. screen where a shadow had fallen on the woman as she walked the lonely path leading to her home.
“Corbett,” mouthed Amit.
“Corbett National Park? And how do you plan to go?” She needed to be sure.
A hand with a heavy metal axe swooped down on the woman on the screen.
“Taking the car,” he said.
“Sorry, Amit, you can’t do that. The last time you took it for the weekend with your friends to Jaipur, the front seat had a hole and the back seat had stains.”
“I’ll get it fixed with my next salary.”
“That’s what you said last month too. It hasn’t happened.”
The salary went in wining and dining the girlfriend. Reena knew.
“So I’ll attend to it,” he said.
The car, which belonged to her, was for office purposes, not weekend getaways with an unknown girlfriend. She had to be firm.
“No, you can’t take the car. It is for work, and for family outings.” By family she meant herself. Her.
Amit’s voice was flat, emphatic. “What family? There is no family.” Amit gave his shoes a final, hard rub. “And... we don’t need to discuss this further.” He left the room without looking back.
The heavy metal axe had a very sharp edge, Reena noticed, as it hit the head of the woman on the screen. She fell in a stream of her own blood, life ebbing from her.
published 23 May 2012