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Friday, June 21, 2013

Dreams and Reality - a short story

I turn the pages of the album in a desultory manner. Photographs are memories of days filled with either too much pain or too much happiness. Involuntarily my fingers stop moving at a page. It shows a henna dyed hand resting ever so trustingly in another hand. In my husband’s hand. In Sumit’s hand. I close my eyes before the tears can escape. Oh ! those were the days of love and  laughter which we both lived with a song . Ten years of togetherness and then the abrupt separation….

The shrill ring of the  telephone  brings me back to the present. It is Roohi, my childhood friend. “ Come over to our place for the weekend”, she says. I start to nod my head but the word that escapes from my mouth is a ,”sorry- can’t make it”. “Why” she asks with the possessive ease of thirty years of friendship. “Have invited someone for dinner this weekend”, I lie glibly. She keeps the phone but leaves me thinking. A weekend  dinner?  Not a bad idea.  But dinner for whom?  And then  it comes to me- dinner for Sumit – for a husband who used to be….

Two hours of intense planning later my menu is ready.

For the entrĂ©e  

 The evening  definitely  had to start with   Sumit’s    favourite    drink in summers- chilled aam ka panna. With this I would serve a platter of freshly pressed cottage cheese cubes, cucumber sticks and nachos with  Pineapple and green pepper chutney.

 The main course

 Sumit had turned strictly vegetarian just before leaving me. Serving vegetarian would be the best bet. The main course would be :

 Paneer Darbari

Mirchi Ka Salan  

Dal Bukhara 

Vegetable Biryani  

Missi rotis and laccha paranthas


 Kesar kulfi
 Jodhpuri Moong ki dal halwa

 And , ofcourse there would be paan , fresh betel nut leaves from  Benaras, to round off the evening.

 The weekend

 It is Saturday eveningThe terrace   of my house is looking lovely. The fragrance of the  flowering  champa tree wafts over the evening. The  white rajnigandha   blend with the  marigold to provide both color and light. The full moon of  June  casts its magic   . The candles on the table  illuminate Sumit’s face. He looks just the same. I want to ask him- “ Why did you leave me?” But I don’t. There is no one else on the terrace. I have given the servants an off.

I serve him dinner on plates from my new dinner set collection. Everything is going so well. Just then the doorbell rings . I ignore it. The ring is more insistent. The door bursts open .It is Roohi. She looks at the table and then at me. Tears are streaming down her  cheeks. She hugs me tightly . “ Priya, Sumit died  five years back. You have to accept this fact. Stop living life with a photograph”.  I look at Sumit in the photograph. He seems to be saying, “ she is right .”   A  dam bursts . I cry for the first time in five years.

My weekend dinner is over. It has brought me back to reality.