It was dusk. The air was cool and the sky was turning darkish blue. There was no breeze, no rustling of leaves and everything was quiet. Even the birds had returned to their perches.Basanti was sitting in the comfortable chair in the front porch watching vacantly the empty road. She was 65 but looked older for her age what with the strict instructions on her diet and movements.
Sharath came by her side with a tray that had two cups of tea with Marie biscuits. As he sat down by her side after stroking her head, he could see a faint smile in her face. These days she hardly smiled and there was mostly pain in her face that she tried hard to conceal whenever he came by her side. He took the cup and gave it in her hand. “I think you will like this. I added tulsi, your favourite flavour.”He put his arm around her and said “Isn’t it very quiet this evening. May be it will rain in the night”
She smiled weakly and replied”Yes, unusually quiet. I don’t like it and am scared. I do not wish to leave you behind alone. You are yourself not boasting of a good health with your weak heart and arthritis. My only worry is you would refuse to go to Ananth at Germany. I know you are uncomfortable at his house with his German wife though she is a very nice person. This thought about you rankles my mind more than my physical discomfort.
“Don’t be silly. You are not leaving me behind. Banish such thoughts. It is getting chill. Let us go inside and watch your favourite serial of songs contest. Thanks to you I have also grown to like the young kids showing their amazing talent”
He led her carefully to her bed inside holding her arm and switched on the TV. The song of an old Lata number reverberated in the room and if one closed the eyes, one cannot distinguish the original from the copy.”This girl Ruchika is good and I think she will become famous one day” Basanti said.
"True, she has an awesome voice and a reach that is incredible” he replied and looked at her.
Her eyes were closed and suddenly a fear overcame him. He gently felt her forehead and relieved placed his hand on her palm. It was rather cold.”Basant”he called her softly and when she did not respond repeated. This time she opened her eyes and said “Do not worry. Close the kitchen, TV and doors and lie by my side.
He came back soon, sat by her side, and gently massaged her arms that always pained.”You are a blessing for me, so understanding and loving. The touch of your hands is soothing. I am very happy but feel sleepy. Put your arm over me when I sleep and your proximity gives me assurance. I pray to God that we should be together always” she said
“Do not worry. I will always be with you. Sleep now” he said as he stroked her hair. She fell asleep soon there after
It was 6.15 am. She heard noise of the newspaper being thrown into the porch. She turned and found her husband sleeping still. She wondered why as he usually got up at 5am,had his bath did some puja and boiled milk. He would always be at her side with a cup of tea at 7 am when she usually got up.
She thought he is also aging and must be tired. She dozed off again to be woken by shrill bell of the maid. She found him still sleeping and went to open the door.
When she came near him along with the maid, she called him gently. When there was no response she touched his forehead and found it lukewarm. She felt his palm and found it cold. Worried she shook him by his cheek when his head fell on his side. She let out a shriek that was heard over entire block even as she fell over his chest.
The maid rushed out brought the neighbours in the apartment complex. One of them a doctor examined them and pronounced them as no more. Evidently God had answered her prayers