Disclaimer: All the Characters and incidents portrayed in this story are fictitious. Any resemblance of the characters to an actual person, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
January 28, 1974 08.15 AM
“Tell your dad that the Tiffin is kept on the dining table and ask him to take curd from Sharma ji’s shop”, said Shakuntala to her younger daughter while rushing out of the kitchen. My daughter was quick to respond, “You both will be going out together, why don’t you tell him mom”. I could hear this from bathroom. I am Aravind and I am a government employee. I got married to Shakuntala a couple of days after our country became independent. We live in a government quarter at R.K.Puram which was recently allocated to us. Things between me and Shakuntala for the last couple of months weren’t normal. We used to have small fights in between but after our marriage this was the first time we hadn’t tried to compromise between us since long.
Shakuntala was in a red saree when we walked out. She looked great in the red saree with the woolen sweater on top of it. It wasn’t very cold that morning like what it normally used to. I pulled out my scooter out of the shed and tilted it to allow the flow of petrol before I kicked to start it. A few rises of accelerator to make the engine warm and I was ready to go. Shankulta walked to the scooter and sat behind with legs on one side and caught the ream at the backside of the scooter. Normally we used to talk a lot during our ride to work.
After dropping Shakuntala at Nehru Place, I progressed towards my office which was near Gurudwara Bangala Sahib. After parking my scooter while walking into the office I realized that Shukhlal ji was already there. Shukhlal ji, my colleague was a shop of advice and that too for free. Generally I used to find him annoying just because he hops on to me with a bundle of advises every time whenever he would like to have a cup of filter coffee at my house. Being a south Indian couple, it was an obligation as well. After nodding to his greetings I sat in the seat to carry out my routine. At 11.00, Chintu placed the tea glass on the table. The vapors arising out of the tea was just spreading its ginger aroma in the small room. When I picked the tea, I saw Shukhlal ji sitting in the other side of the table sipping his tea.
As usual Shukhlal ji started the conversation and today, he was specifically interested in knowing my problem saying that he has been observing me being dull these days. How long can I keep retaliating?. I said him the issue that was going on between Shakuntala and me. After hearing it out, with a little smile he said, “Will you mind if I give you an advice?”. Of course, I would read my mind but with a little hesitation to state it I nodded my head as a signal stating no I wouldn’t mind an advice. Shukhlal ji said, “Sir, in our daily lives, we keep on adding things on ourselves like responsibilities, work, wealth, health, anger, tension, etc., however, with time we fail to add more love to our life by adding all other things. We give less priority to love in the process. Why don’t you try adding it?. It’ll work. After all it’s just some simple ego between you and bhabhi ji”… At that moment, I felt that Shukhlal ji is not just an advice bhandaar, he has some stuff to sell as well.
February 7th, 1974, 8.15 AM
What is this parcel, picked up Shakuntala from her wardrobe? Opened it to pluck out a small piece of paper which read “I love you”. After unwrapping the complete cover she pulled out the dress to realize that it was a Shalwaar Kameez. She very wanted to try wearing one for herself since long but from being an orthodox family from down south; she kept on neglecting her wishes. She also once said that her colleague had 5 different varieties of Shalwaar Kameez with her. It was her favorite red color as well. I could see her smile through the mirror placed hanging on the wall to her left.
Today, there was lot of conversation between us without uttering a single word. Shukhlal ji rightly said, we need to keep adding love by doing simple initiations. I walked out to take my scooter watching Shakuntala’s smile and picked the vehicle out and tilted towards me to allow itself a smooth flow of petrol. After kick starting and warming up the engine, I found Shakuntala sitting on the bike with her legs on both the side and holding on her arms on my shoulder. I felt like pulling of my sweater but it was a little more chill than normal.
When I stopped to drop her at office, “She leaned on my back to whisper in my ear, Shall we go for another long drive?” At the age of 52 I felt like a child. The only ingredient needed was innocence.