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Death, please wait I have to collect my paycheck

Chapter 1

Beep! Beep!

The alarm went off at 5.30 am, like usual, his wife threw her hand over to the alarm, switching it off gave him a small nudge in his ribs so he would wake up.

Yawn!

Rubbing his hands together and looking at them as his first site for the day ahead, he awoke himself.

‘A man’s hand holds the power of future and he should trust and thank them for all the things they do for him.’

When he was little, someone had told him this and it stuck with him since then.

Today is a big day, he thought and that brought a wide grin on his face, he got up with half closed eyes trudged to the kitchen to see his God that he put up in a cute little console when they first entered this house. He has had a habit to wake up and have a glimpse of the God before he does of anyone else. Another habit that was stuck with him.

After his daily ritual, and a good two minute prayer, he stretched himself to wake up fully and while stretching he observed that there is a huge pile of dishes that needed to be tended to.

He strolled back to the bedroom; saw that his wife was still sleeping; probably the party yesterday took a toll on her, he thought and smiled to himself devising a plan of swaying off her feet when she wakes up. Like he used to do during the early days of their marriage.

Thirty years, he thought, thirty years of being together. She was 24 when they got married, she had a job in computers, and back then when computers were so much bugaboo in India she was already working in them and getting recognized by the management.

He poured the liquid soap on the scrubber and started soaping the dishes.

She left the job because he asked her to take care of his family. She abandoned her career saying she was only doing it to help her father. But he knew it was more than that, and the fact that she was willing to do it for him made him ever so grateful to her.

Knock

Ah! Must be the newspaper.

And got back to thinking about their thirty years of a wonderful marriage. During these thirty years they spent together, she spent every waking moment of hers understanding him, tending to his family demands and taking care of their kids. He never heard her complain about how the money by the end of the month was never enough, or how his family would always demand her to be her perfect self even when her health couldn’t possibly allow her to be, or even when their son who was the apple of her eyes married a woman against her wishes. She bore it with utmost composure, she was his pillar at times when he couldn’t turn to anyone.

He heard muffled noises from outside, and sighed exasperatedly.

That damn dog, it wouldn’t leave until it fed. Jaya had this way about her, she would never ignore a stray. She started feeding that dog one day and now they were stuck with taking care of it.

He was done with the dishes, placed a pot of water to boil on the stove and got to the cupboard to fetch the coffee-filter. On opening the cupboard he saw the Nespresso coffee maker in there, the one his beloved son and daughter-in-law got for them from the states.

‘Amma! You should take more rest now, this would help you get your morning started just right without you slogging over the hot stove in the mornings.’ His son would go. He really loved his mother.

But he knew, she would never touch that thing.

‘I know you want us to be happy Ram but you know how set Dad is in his ways’ his wife would say. Even though her and her son both knew that he would leave his habit in a heartbeat if it meant she could have a break once a while. But he just nods and drops the conversation.

Later that night when they were alone, he remembered asking her,

‘Jaya, why won’t you use that when Ram and Geetika have bought it for you so lovingly?’ he asked her later in the privacy of their bedroom.

‘Evandi…’ that’s what she calls me. ‘You know what they say, idle brain is a devil’s workshop. I sit all day idly, making a coffee and breakfast for you is something I have grown fond of doing. And I don’t think I would want even a machine to share that joy with me. Besides you and I both know that he only did this feeling like he owed it to us, something about atoning to his mistakes. He should just stop feeling so guilty about what happened and move on rather than buying us gifts and trying to cover up his guilt.’

———-

Evandi – term of endearment with respect esp. for husband.

———

She was right. They were hurt, like any other Indian parent nowadays who hears about their son getting married to someone of his choice than the one they selected, but they would get along with it. After all he was their son and they would respect his decisions as much they would of their own. And Geetika, was the perfect daughter-in-law, so much that they were very happy to have decided to go with their son’s happiness than to bow down to the social norms.

He got the small two-piece coffee filter off the top shelf and felt a small ache under the ribs.

[_Old bones, _]he thought

Knock

That dog at it again!

“Coming! Would you at least wait until I make coffee?” he said out loud, hoping the dog would hear and be quite. That dog demanded attention like it was his birthright. At least it had the good graces to not bark this early in the morning.

He put the coffee in the holder and placed the strainer over the top, and poured the water, which now reached a perfect hot temperature. Took the dog dish that Jaya set aside, dished out the contents of last night’s dinner and mashed them with some milk and headed out to the porch to feed the dog and get the newspaper and milk.

He opened the door and the fresh chilly morning breeze rushed inside the house making him shiver a little.

Winter is arriving. A little earlier than last year.

“Subbarao…” he heard his name being called out.

Must be my imagination.

He bent down and got his newspapers that were thrown at his door rolled like a pipe. And took the basket contains packets of milk in it.

“Subbarao!” he heard it again, and knew that wouldn’t have possibly been his imagination.

Rajan maybe.

He moved to the left of their compound towards their neighbor, Rajan’s house.

Their house was small, but tastefully elevated. It was the first place that he ever called his own. They had enough space surrounding the house which his wife used to cultivate a small garden as a spare time hobby of hers. She would spend hours painstakingly trimming the plants off all the dried leaves, watering them religiously, ensuring their maid would clean all the gutters to ensure proper drainage, talk to them too. She would say they have feelings of their own. And without love even the sturdiest of trees would wither away.

He navigated carefully over the zigzag pathway placed not to get your feet into the slippery wet packed earth. And saw a man standing there and looking at him expectantly.

The man looked young. His hair was sticking out in all directions, he had thick black bushes for his eyebrows, big golden earrings that made his ear hole a little wider, he wore a black outfit, had a black whip with golden handle in his hand, his footwear was gold paduka.

————

Paduka – Indian slip-on flip flops without the straps.

————

Subbarao was surprised to see a stranger, dressed so elaborately in what he could only assume to be a drama costume, who snuck into his house this early hour, he was furious, but before he reacted, he wanted to know if this man wasn’t someone may be related to him or his wife. Who stayed back from the party yesterday and he completely forgot about it. Nothing explained his costume but it’s better to be safe.

Forgetfulness another perk of getting old.

“Yes. Do I know you? And what are you doing here in that costume?”

***

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Death, please wait I have to collect my paycheck

We all have dreams and hopes and goals in life. This is a story about a sweet old man who lived by the book all his life. He lived by the rules laid out to him by his elders. He loved his wife, provided for his children and worked till the last breath he ever took on this earth.

  • Author: Pasumarti Harika
  • Published: 2017-04-26 06:35:08
  • Words: 7828
Death, please wait I have to collect my paycheck Death, please wait I have to collect my paycheck