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21 DAYS - 1


Date – 25th March, 2020

Time- 8:15 pm

Location – Somewhere in a 1BHK apartment in Mumbai Suburbs

The otherwise quiet living room was filled with the cracking sound of the ceiling fan. The television set which was fixed on the wall unit right opposite to the three seater sofa set, lay open with the PM’s speech pouring out of the screen, sending shocking and disturbing waves amongst the people who resided in this apartment.

Sudha, the lady of the house ambled into their bedroom, still numb with the news. Her mind raced, “21 days...complete lockdown!!?!! How will I...When will I...I’ll have to stay here...more 21 days...how will I...” Not a single thought would complete in her mind.

She glared at the suitcase which was kept at one side of the table, filled and ready to go with anger and hopelessness.

Her phone beeped. A whatsapp message. The message read:

Sudha, the situation has gotten worse now. You must have seen the news. We’ll have to wait till the lockdown is lifted. Then we will find a way. You don’t worry! Just manage for a few more days. If anything, let me know.

That was Sudha’s dear friend, Anagha. She was supposed to pick her up on the 1st of the next month, when all of this was supposed to end. Sudha was to leave this house, her marriage and her husband Shekhar.

In the living room, Shekhar was still seated on the sofa, his eyes glued to the TV. He was trying to understand the gravity of the situation, and was trying to gauge as to how the coming days were to be. However, everything seemed precarious, uncertain. This stressed him a little. He saw Sudha getting up from the sofa as soon as she heard the announcement and walked straight into the bedroom. He looked at her, but didn’t say anything. He wasn’t sure whether he even wanted to or not.

She wanted to leave and he was fine with it.

He switched off the TV set and was about to get up from the sofa when his phone, his ONLY stable companion these days, started ringing ferociously. The quite of the room made his otherwise soft melodious ringtone, sound like an angry piece of Metallica.

He hastily grabbed the phone to receive the call. It was his colleague. The following conversation ensued:

C: “Hey...saw the news, Googly ha!”

S: “Yaa...man!!! Hahah...”

C: “Things are getting worse man. How are we going to manage all this? I mean, look at the conditions of the government hospitals yaar? How will we do that testing.....”

S: “Hmmm...Seriously! Let’s see now, how it goes.”

C: “Yaa...anyways! The reason I called is now that things are extended, I’m going to send you few more project files on our drive...these were the ones which we were suppose to deal after July. Let’s start the work on this too. We’ll be in loop...you...me...Rakesh and Sarita. And we’ll try and get this thing done. Okay? Okay? Hello...Hello...”

Shekhar by now had stopped listening to Gautam. He was standing in the passage which led to the bedroom. His eyes were fixed on Sudha, who by now, was gently lifting up the dresses and sarees one by one from the suitcase and putting it in back in the wardrobe. She worked listlessly, as if someone has sucked life out of her, leaving her only skin and bones.

While she moved her arms, her red glass bangles clanked against each other, creating a kind of amateur tune.

Ahh... how he would love the clanking sound of her bangles, “My personal melody”, he would always say. No matter how long he would be at home, only the moment he would hear those clanking, then he would he feel that he was home.

Something moved in him with this realization. His face softened.

Sudha who by now felt a presence, turned around. They looked at each other, a tragic look of indifference to the person who once was your whole world. Shekhar, who was till now looked at her longingly, the moment their eyes met, his body stiffened, brows frowned, and whatever tinge of ‘something’ which he had felt for her was sucked away.

Realising he was holding a phone in the other hand; he receded his steps, turning away from her, resuming the conversation with his colleague, “Yaa...yaa...! I’m there...I got it. Send me the files. I’ll start the work right away!”

He hung up the phone, kept it on the sofa, picked up the laptop bag and removed the lappy from the bag. Placing it on his lap, he put on his glasses, tapped his cheeks twice as if to jolt him back to the present, logged in and drowned himself in his work.

So, there they were Sudha and Shekhar, a married couple of five years, living in the same apartment, under the same room, however now like mere roommates. The warmth of their marriage had evaded them and what had remained were only disappointments, broken promises, hurt and pain. Parting away was the only natural choice.

However, call it destiny or fate or luck, for the next 21 days, they were stuck with each other, almost dependent as these two were the only physical human contact now which remained, whether they liked it or not!!

To be continued...