BENEVOLENCE, a Short Story
The phone vibrates for the sixth time when I get the chance to have a sense of it. The phone, yeah it is the phone, not any humming buzz of any insect and there is no scope for it on this 10th floor off a highly modernized office of Venkat and Sons. Here even a fly does not dare to intrude without an entry pass.
Is it something very important? I peer at the glaring screen craning my neck a bit from the piled papers and swarming mails like locusts on the computer screen.
It’s Anita. For a second, irritation twists its hairy brows upward to make a multilayered furrow on my brown forehead, till it changes into a tense curiosity to know what aces to the earth that she summons me in this frantic mode.
“Honey!” Her outburst of tremendous happiness ricochets the whitewashed smoothed furnished walls of the cabinet and reverberates into my senses with the realisation that something unexpectedly big deal has been won. But what might it be?
Smile and weep, both are infectious. So I smile without realising the cause of it and waited for her to disclose it.
Then she hushed her voice to a bit up to zero decibels and whisper as she was about to reveal a secret, a great secret.
” She is dead.”
“That money sucker bitch”
The words boom in my ear. I feel I hate these words for her though somewhere a great relief bubbled within me. My mind automatically starts calculating the amount and multiplying it with several factors. Oh I should not think about it now. Dipa must be annoyed at my silence. But today there will be nothing in this world that can make her mood off.
” We will book the car next month” her excitement is oozing through her voice that I can touch and feel though tangible yet so palpable. Dreams gather around my cosy cabinet.
” We will talk about this later. How she dies?” Corking up all the next possible dreams I ask the most important question.
” Heart attack, mom says, she can not reach you by phone, so she calls me just now and she asks you to call her immediately. She must ask you to go there in condolence. I think there is nothing to condone as the burden is out of our shoulders and others and everyone must be relieved and at peace. I don’t believe in the showing of fake tears. But now it is your decision, I don’t want to poke into your family matter. Just don’t ask me to accompany you. I hate all these.” She concludes and takes her breath.
” Okk, I am calling mom. I will call you later”
“OK, bye then.” She hangs the phone with a bit of annoyance but he knows she will now start surfing the latest car models and prices online with a happy heart.
I smile at the thought and call mom.
” Mom, I just hear the news from Anita, are you ok mom?” He tries hard to sound sad.
Mom was sobbing and within her hiccup she says,
” You should come immediately Minu. Everyone is here. They are asking for you.”
Suddenly I feel a tremendous anger flowing within me. How the women became so dramatic and cringy? All are a type. Anita wants to show that she can keep me under her whims, mom wishes to present me as a little boy of his mother. It is she who makes me bound to be the scapegoat when my uncle died with thrifty savings and though he has eligible working daughters and sons-in-law to support, mom just pulled my ear to milk out my hard-earned money to prove her power over me and her generosity to them. Suddenly I feel the air-conditioned room is not cool enough, I feel uneasy. Anger is choking my lungs emerging only hot air. How I suffer month after month, year after year. Every month I have to wash out a large amount of money in my aunt’s bank account to keep her well provided. And how much it affected my life, had she ever thought over it? Every night Anita demanded how many days that woman would suck our blood? And …and oh! How vulnerably we prayed for her death. And it took so long…so many years to end this lethal role-playing, half-perishing our conjugal life with frequent clashing, blaming each other. And now …everything will be ok. My relatives would no longer be the bloodsuckers in her eyes. She would no more blackmail me, tease me, or blame me for depriving her of happiness.
Why did she live so long? How I wished her to die after every quarrel with Anita. The breach between us was repleting till the news comes. Oh, how peaceful it is when someone dies. I feel peace. From now there will be no such vicious quarrel, Anita can not blame my mother anymore, we can save more or spend more.
” But how to compensate for the loss?” Anita used to say when I tried to calm her down that she is thin and feeble and must die within six months. Every month we wish her death wholeheartedly. Only her death can bring consolation to Anita and peace in my family. But it took long seven years. There is nothing to compensate for the loss. I have to donate the money every month that I can save. Not only the money but the peace of mind, that long seven years. So much is spoiled.
But no more fretting. We will be happy from today. No liability. Never. It’s such a sucking phase. I will try to forget everything.
But now I need to go there to meet them, ‘that relatives with tentacles’ as Anita calls them. But they are my kindred. And I must meet them. If I can pretend to be beneficent for so long I can do it for today.
Hey, I am Munmun, the phoenix fabulist who wants to tell you stories. I love to read stories and I love to weave stories. I feel life is an amalgamation of multiple stories, colourful threads, and threads of pain, pleasure, hope, and hopelessness. We just need to pick those hues and arrange them, knitting them with our own emotions and perception. So let’s celebrate the stories of life.