The sun had set. The sky glow was fading away. The birds were chirping their way back to their homes. Just a few more minutes before the fog would cover the town in its white calmness.
Nisha had always loved watching the sunset. It gave her hope for a better tomorrow as today came to an end. Pooja, on the other hand, liked the dawns better. She felt the sunrise brought in rays of optimism while the sunsets were oh so gloomy.
“Here is the bag, but do you think…Nisha!!! C’mon!! Help me clean up this mess will you?”, Pooja was perplexed to see Nisha staring into the skies.
“I think I need some tea first. My head is spinning and I can’t think straight”, snapped Nisha.
“What’s there to think? We just have to pack the bags and clean the house before we leave. Here, have some water and get started. I’ll make you some tea after we finish here. We have a train to catch early morning tomorrow. Now c’mon!”
Nisha took the bottle of cold refrigerated water from Pooja, gulped down some of it before heading to the kitchen to put the kettle on.
“Seriously? Tea now? We have a lot to do!”, yelled Pooja.
“I know Pooja! And we’ll do it. For now can’t you just catch a break?”, Nisha yelled back.
“Unbelievable Nisha! You asked me to come early from work. To catch a break? Do you know how much of a trouble that is? My boss almost fired me”
“Well then you shouldn’t have come!”
“And anyway, why do I always have to do everything? Why should I clean it all up? Unbelievable you!”
Nisha stormed out of the room as Pooja stood gaping at her. She then followed her into the kitchen,
“Don’t you dare walk out like that again! I came early because you called me sobbing asking me to come home. This is what I come home to”, Pooja threw her arm around the room baffled at what seemed like a tornado hit here.
The two paused their banter till Nisha poured two cups of tea. They both had a sip each and then continued.
Pooja and Nisha were high-school best friends. Luck took them to the same college and also brought them to the same city where they currently lived and worked. Nisha handled administration and operations in a renowned school, and Pooja worked in the city electricity department. Both shared a small rented house on the ridge that gave a beautiful view of the valley on one side and kept them in touch with the city’s hustle-bustle on the other.
Today was Nisha’s day off. And tomorrow, they both were heading back home for the winter break. Though Pooja will have to return in a week’s time, Nisha’s stay at her parents’ will be for a good whole month. This was the time of the year they both saved money for. Their folks back home, especially their younger siblings, would excitedly wait for the gifts from the city. The colourful sweaters, the leather boots, the faux pashmina shawls, the lamb wool caps and mufflers, and trinkets for the women of the house were all a thoughtful and mandate purchase this time of the year.
As Pooja was letting the day pass by in leisure, Nisha was at home completing the pending chores. At lunch time, Pooja got a call from an angry-sounding-heavily-breathing Nisha asking her to reach home quickly. Not quite sure about what would’ve happened but weaving a concerned prayer for her best friend, Pooja requested an early off.
Upon reaching home, the scene shocked her. The living room seemed like it had been ransacked. The red vase lay broken on the floor with white gerberas spewed around it……..the rug was wet perhaps because of the water from the vase……..the tea cup was smashed against the wall and tea stains painted the wall ugly…….the chair had fallen with its back on the floor……..and the smell……..oh! God what was this nasty smell?
Not only were the chores not completed, the house was in a total mess now and a lot had to be packed.
You see, getting angry is natural. And letting it out is good. But you shouldn’t let anger own you. Because then, you not only are a menace for the society, you spoil your relationships with your loved ones too. How long is one supposed to tolerate your temperamental behaviour? And then sometimes, there are dire consequences too.
It was dark outside now and fog loomed over the valley. The winters were beginning to shroud everything in its wraps. People had now started wearing light sweaters and jackets to keep off the chill. But inside their house, the heated argument drove the chill away.
“I don’t think this bag is big enough, I will need another one”, demanded Nisha.
“This is only one. Try to fit everything in”, said Pooja nonchalantly.
“There’s an old airbag in the kitchen. I know it’s slightly torn, but I think that will work”, said Nisha looking at the stuff remaining to be packed. She then looked at Pooja and questioned, “And why are you just sitting now, clean up in the meantime will you?”
“You don’t need to tell me that. I know what needs to be done”,
“Well then move! Don’t just be sitting here.”
Pooja got angry each time she looked at the stained wall. They will have to get it repainted or the landlord will over-charge them. Plus her favourite tea set was spoilt now that one cup was broken. She sighed looking at its pretty little red hearts on chrome yellow that lay defeated on the floor.
As she picked up the rubbish scattered on the floor, mopped it and rearranged the living room, Nisha was almost done packing.
After dinner, they went out to get some fresh air.
The street was empty barring a few people who were either returning from work or were taking a walk like these two. The fatigue and the chill air wore them down.
A few steps down the slope they saw their neighbour walking towards them, “You girls are off to your village? Good Good. Have a safe journey and convey my regards to your parents.” The girls nodded with a smile and continued walking.
They took the left from the post office that by-passed the mall road to reach the other side of the ridge. This street was barren at night, not that it was any crowded during the day either. The tall oaks seemed to be looking out for them. The owls were hooting.
Just as they crossed the post master’s house, they could see the lights from the railway station glowing from down the ridge towards the right.
About an hour later, they were heading back home.
“Thank you Pooja. And I am sorry for the mess.........and for being rude to you.”
“Don't be dear, you had a very tough day. Thank God you're ok. And I’m glad you gave that bastard what he deserved.”
“Yeah. You were right, he was filth. I was stupid to believe him each time he apologized after hitting me. And good you’d saved that old airbag. I stuffed his remaining body in it. But what do we do about the stain?”
“We’ll paint it again!”