Surobhi : The Fragrance

Surobhi’s gaze followed the flight of the fluttering moth. It kept advancing towards the hungry flames. Mesmerised and enchanted by the glow. In a heady swirl, its wings withered accumulating in ashes beneath. She could almost feel the rhythm of its death dance, consumed by her own. She typed a message.

“Deep, why does this happen to me? A sudden fear grips me and tugs me hard. My insides churn in trepidation and I shiver as though am bound alive in a shroud. It is the fright of you finding someone else. Someone who does not coax fearless love. Isn’t as passionate; nor a fierce sentinel of her possession. Someone who will not want you to belong; will set you free and let you be a wandering soul.”

Within a few seconds came the reply; “Hmm”

She never complained. Her wants were few. Yet life always served her its table scraps while she offered her very best at all times.
Surobhi’s heart skipped a beat. It always did on that particular day of the week. She reached for her mobile.

“Deep let’s go for a movie! Ok ok, let’s shop. A coffee at least?”

“No Suro, I may get late today” replied Deep

“Oh no! Not again! Please…” she trailed off

“Not possible. I have deadlines to meet,” said Deep

“Ok. Then you come home and I will make scrumptious dinner” proposed Surobhi

“Stop being childish Suro, I can’t see you today. You know I have commitments.

Surobhi asked, “And what about me?”

“You know our world is not real” chided Deep

Surobhi whimpered like a lost puppy, an act that often melted Deep’s heart. And immediately sent off peals of childish laughter.

“Alright alright, it’s fine. You know I”ll always wait.” Submitted Surobhi

Deep had disconnected before she finished. Yet she smiled and went about her way. Forever waiting, always the second fiddle.
Surobhi hung up nodding with a knowing smile, Deep was late as usual. But, this time he was closer, he was in the lift.

“Whoa Suro, gorgeous you, missed you, love, it’s been almost three weeks since I saw you”.

Surobhi rolled her eyes in prank as she pulled her seatbelt in place “So what do you suggest we do?”

Deep shook his head in defeat as he took to the wheels…” you mischievous little she-devil, remember your wish is my command.”

“Wow Deep, that’s cool, then take me through the empty roads, with the sun setting behind us and the wind in my face”.

“I can promise the sun as it’s on its way down. But for today you got to do without the wind, I can’t bear the pollution,” said Deep, and they both burst out laughing.

So off they drove from the city. Across flyovers, through lanes and bylanes Deep and Surobhi headed home. The little nook that they built with love away from the eyes and scorn of this world.

Surobhi looked out into the distance. Tall buildings touching the skies. Concrete and stone structures dotted the long stretches of the highway. Cold, empty, and hollow with darkness emphasising its lifeless existence.

“Deep, have you seen these buildings?

“Hmm, of course, I have,” said Deep

“So many houses and yet so many homeless” continued Surobhi
“Yes, I have, but not like you did” replied Deep

“Not like me? What does that mean?” asked Surobhi

“Yes, I saw with my eyes, you saw with your heart” completed Deep

The elevator stopped at the 16th floor as Deep fished out the keys to their apartment.

Drops of water clung to her forehead, fresh from a shower. Surobhi looked around. Familiar sounds and smells; some known voices and objects made her feel at home.

“I am grimy and uncomfortable too” said Deep as he hurried towards the shower.

Meanwhile, Surobhi set to brew their favourite coffee and plonked onto the couch. She felt drained at the end of a hard day of Sales Calls. Phew! Convincing CEO’s took some life force and Surobhi was quite adept at it. Still, she felt tired.

“Ah!! This feels heavenly. Do I deserve some pampering? My lovely Suro?” asked Deep as he nuzzled at her nape.
Surobhi’s gentle smile that lit up the room spoke a million words. She held Deep’s hand in silence, a silence that Deep is quick to hear.
“What are you thinking dear?” he questions.

Surobhi shook her head without breaking the silence.

Deep pulled her close to his heart and warm drops of tears moistened his bare chest.

“What’s wrong Suro?” he asked puzzled.
“Deep, you go back”

“Back where?”

“To where you belong”

“Where does this come from?”

Surobhi mumbled between sobs as Deep tightened his embrace and refused to let her weep

“Don’t utter these words ever Suro, I can never live without you.”

Surobhi repeatedly whispered through her quivering lips, “I know Deep, I know, I know…”

In a moment of tenderness, Deep and Surobhi lost themselves to each other. When their eyes met, Deep’s glance filled Surobhi with a sweet sensation. The love in his heart pouring into her teary gaze through his eyes. Tides of warmth engulf them as they find solace in their dreams.
Surobhi sauntered across the marketplace. She picked up a trinket or two. Browsed through her favourite book stores and tried a few Kurtis. An aimless lazy afternoon; that she wished to get done with soon.

“Guriya I am home.
“But it’s Thursday Ma…aren’t you going for important work?”

Surobhi’s eyes welled up and she dashed towards the refrigerator. Talking loud for no reason in a make-believe sing-song voice.

“Ma, come here and sit down,” said Rudra, looking up from his books for a moment.

Gudiya was always puzzled at these moments of silence her Ma and Dada shared. A silence, ending in Surobhi locking herself in the shower.

Rudra screamed angrily …” haven’t you had enough? First Baba and then this man Ma…leave him…he will never have time for you”.

Thursdays either ended with happy dinners or dragged into Friday in sobs and sighs. She was always alone.

Surobhi twiddled her toes and grazed her feet on the luxurious bedspread. The first rays of the sun touched her feet with a gentle kiss through the window. Waking to a lazy dew-drenched morning she saunters into the kitchen. This is a dream day. No rush of the alarm clock. No beep of the microwave, the mixie doesn’t whirr and the kettle whistles a languid note to match Suro’s mood. Gudiya is fast asleep and Rudra was already miles away.

The beep on her phone lights up her face as she flicks through the various Apps. Too many messages, nothing of consequence and of course not the most important one either. Surobhi nods and smiles, a knowing smile that speaks to her, and her alone. She flipped through the newspaper in-between lazy sips of her morning cup. She calls out to Gudiya who had nestled her chin on her mother’s shoulder

“What’s for breakfast mommy?” And they both embrace each other in soft innocent cuddles and laughter. The smell of luchi and aloo made with kancha lonka and kalo jeere wafted into the hall. Gudiya left the TV remote and rushed to the kitchen. “Yummy… Ma let’s gobble it all up”

Surobhi cherished the day, thinking soon my baby will be grown and will leave the nest too. They lavished each other with love and tenderness. Some easy beauty routines and a long unhurried bath.

Surobhi was back in the kitchen. Eilish mach and kosha mangsho, that was exactly what Deep wanted to have. He had promised to spend the day with her. Muger dal, aloo posto and aamsatto chutney would complete the feast.

“Ma, I am hungry”, said Gudiya…Surobhi glanced at the wall clock and decided to wait another hour as she served Gudiya.

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