Monday, May 28, 2012

The Old Charm [Short Fiction]

As she locked the main gate and walked towards her house she took a moment to look at the neon lights that painted the air orange. A wooden step ladder silently slept against the wall. She had used it to change the fuse. She decided she would push it to the store room the following morning. She looked at the brightly decorated door and its thick green border with a deep sense of satisfaction. She had insisted she work on it herself rather than getting it done by someone else- it was her house after all. Though this looked a tad too bright she was happy that it spoke of her creativity which she had tucked deep inside her after her childhood days. Little reluctant to push the door open she sat on the stairs and looked into the blank night.

Her mind kept drifting from one thing to another even though everything was taken care of. The stock for the opening day was procured, the chefs were summoned to report by seven in the morning, the lights were up, plants neatly decorated and she had also carefully ironed a sober pink and beige saree for the D- Day. Did I? She wondered about arrangement of the new addition of tables in what was her living room until today. She wondered how it would feel, this shift from securing herself behind locked doors each day to opening them for complete strangers for the days to come. A home restaurant, is that what they call these houses converted to serve food? If yes, that that was what her home would be transformed into, starting tomorrow. She didn’t think of any name for commercializing the place. Giving a restauranty name to her house didn’t go well with her. Anyway it was a small neighborhood. The word would spread with the help of friends and loved ones and it would be fine.

She felt the breeze brush against her face and she untied her hair. The wind played with her grey strand and she let out a sigh of relief. The part of saree which hung from her shoulder floated in the air and she tucked the mischievous end into her waist in a well practiced swift movement. She shut her eyes to cease the moment and questioned herself about what everyone else had questioned her about, “Why suddenly? Why at this age?” She felt her face and straightened the folds on her skin- how old did she look anyway and what had age got to do with a dream? A simple dream, and if not now then when? These questions had haunted her for a while. She had always wanted to do something but it was always the parents/in-laws, the husband or the kids. Now that she was free from all responsibilities she felt like a twenty year old waiting with anticipation about the possibilities of how life would unfold. The investment was very little so it was a calculated risk. She had retained the home interiors as was and added a couple of more sofa sets and tables. She unloaded an old carton, full of extra utensils which were carefully stored after her children moved out for starting on with their own lives. It was just she and her husband from thereon until two years ago when an unexpected heart attack left changed the situation. Does age make it easier to deal with grief or it was just she who handled remorse along with a hope to utilize a new lease of freedom? A tear trickled down her cheek and she wiped it off before the guilt or pain could weaken her. She had to prepare for tomorrow. She pulled out a crumbled piece of paper and read out the menu she had planned for.

Eight years later her children inherited a profit making home restaurant in the suburbs of Delhi that had become famous by the name of The Old Charm. It was an affectionate name that came into being out of love and respect for the seventy five year old entrepreneur.

The End
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