Malabika sipped her coffee and stared blankly at the stars above her. The mobile screen flashed repeatedly displaying a message from her beloved Shaina. Malabika had been ignoring the messages for a long time now, nor had she been answering Shaina’s phone calls. She had been constantly gazing into the darkness of the lonely night. Her heart and her limbs felt heavy with the coldness of the night and the unyielding loneliness that surrounded her. She surfaced from her deep thoughts interrupted by the loud screeching of the mobile phone. “Why can’t she leave me alone? These items of modernities are too intrusive! Can I dare have some privacy?!” she thought aloud dramatically, followed by a grin to amuse herself out of her state.
She had been in this relationship for 2 years now and had first met Shaina in a conference in Mumbai. She had been in many relationships in the past, but with Shaina, she had shared the finest times of her life and had never felt so content before. Shaina and she, despite living in the same city, had decided not to live together. Actually, it was Malabika who had been anxious about sharing the same space and Shaina paid due respect to her fears.
The sound of the door-bell woke her up from her slumber and reluctantly she headed towards the door. “Mala, why have you not been answering my phone calls? Darling, do you realize how worried I have been?” Malabika was unpleasantly flooded with all these expected questions from Shaina. Getting no response from Malabika, Shaina held her in a tight embrace and planted a kiss on her lips. “Is everything all right, Mala? Have I been unfair, rude or inconsiderate in some way? Tell me what’s on your mind?” “Argh! Questions! Can’t these be stopped?!!” Mala burst out and then stood upright, unmoving without uttering a word, for several moments. Shaina knew that Mala had had chronic depression. She didn’t force Mala to speak instead just took her to the bedroom.
Shaina could strongly sense her distress but considered it unwise to stir Mala again. She decided that the best she could do at that point, was to to put Mala to sleep. Shaina was worried by the fact that Mala had not been sleeping for days and had been popping sleeping pills now and then. She held Mala in her warm embrace and sang her a lullaby. Shaina could see Mala’s drained and weary face in the faint light of the night bulb. It had been 6 months now that Mala had started seeing a psychiatrist, after constant persuasion by Shaina. Her state worried Shaina.
Shaina remembered when she’d set eyes on Mala for the first time. “An exquisite beauty, with an incredibly appealing pair of eyes”. That’s how she had defined her instantly. She still looked the same notwithstanding her intruding dark circles. It was love at first sight! They had been together ever since. “Shaina”, she heard her faint voice from the bed. “Yes, darling? Are you feeling better?” “Shaina”, repeated Mala in her sleep.. without answering Shaina’s question.
Slowly Shaina rose from the bed and went into the living room. She looked admiringly at all the art pieces that Mala had collected from various places of India. Amidst those artifices, she could photos of her and Mala, together. “How beautiful we look!!”
Her eyes then fell on the landline phone. The wire had been unplugged. Suspiciously she went ahead and plugged the phone. The voicemail was full of messages that kept beeping one after the other. She could hear the voice of Mala’s mother, “Why are you not picking up the phone? Are you scared of your identity now? You have brought disgrace to your family. Are you listening to me?!!… Why have you changed your mobile no?”… The next message…. The voice echoed “You are dead to us now; do not dare to step in the house ever, even if we are dead……” the voice went on”…. Shaina could not hear anything now….she could now only see the beautiful face of Mala!
A version of this story also appeared here.