She was tired. All the guests had finally left and she wanted to clean the place up before she went to bed. It was a habit she just couldn’t change. Not matter how late it was, she always felt the need to tidy the room up, wash the utensils, clear up before retiring for the day. “Why don’t you leave it for the maids the next day”, her husband would often say. But she just couldn’t get herself to do that. She needed to tidy up everything herself. Only then she would sleep peacefully.
This evening she felt a little more tired than usual. She sat on the sofa in the middle of her cleaning spree with a lemonade in her hand. She took an occasional sip as she stared at the ceiling. “Maybe I am getting old. Maybe just for once I could leave it to the maids”, she thought to herself. Within a minute of that thought she was up again. By the time she finished her chores, her husband was fast asleep. He was sleeping diagonally on the bed, true to his nature. She didn’t want to wake him up. So she quietly picked her pillow and sheet and went to the guest room to sleep. She knocked out in no time once her head touched her pillow.
Her life was one of tranquility and peace. She knew all her friends looked at her with a mix of awe and amazement. How she managed her home, her family, her little baking business that she conducted from home. Everything. Some even envied her, she knew. But she went about her life on her own terms. Her sense of duty and the love she had for her family overran everything else. She would never be swayed by anything.
Apart from these qualities, her collection of vases and figurines was a major talking point amongst her friends and acquaintances. She had impeccable taste and had collected these from all over the world over a period of time. Out of all her collection, the Blue Ming Vase was her personal favourite. It was kept inside a glass cupboard which no one else was allowed to touch. She liked doing most of her own work by herself. And even in the matter of taking care of her precious items she didn’t trust anyone. Not many were allowed to go close to the vases. Most of all the Blue Ming Vase.
The next morning after she sent her husband off to work and the children to school, she sat down on her study table to finish some invoices for her last batch of supplies she’d made. Brownies and cookies. The festive period kept her busier than usual but she didn’t mind it. Like almost everything else, she did this on her own too. She could have easily hired a couple of helps for her baking. But she wouldn’t trust anyone else’s idea of perfection. She had to do all by herself.
As she kept working on the invoices, her gaze turned to the glass cupboard. The Blue Ming Vase seemed slightly out of place. A tiny band of dust at the bottom suggested it had been slightly moved from it position. She got up with a start from her chair and rushed to the cupboard.
She opened the cupboard and gently picked the vase up. Her hands slightly trembled as she delicately turned it in her hand. What she saw was not something she didn’t know. It was something she had forgotten.
A pronounced crack on the vase was what she was seeing now. She had turned the vase strategically to hide it all these years. But finally after so long it was visible to her. The cracks she had so carefully hidden were out in the open. Tears streamed down her eyes as she kept holding the vase in her hands, the cracked side still facing her. It was almost her whole life was facing her on that cloudy winter’s morning. Be it her husband’s late night outs with his secretary, their son’s drug abuse problem. Be it her own addiction. Only she knew what those countless glasses of “lemonade” actually contained. Only she knew the real reason why she slept in the guest room every night. She had kept the crack hidden by carefully placing the vase in that manner. And today when it stood out exposed she felt naked herself. She still kept holding the vase as her sobs grew louder. She was shaking slightly as her pent up emotions finally brimmed over. She kept the vase back in its original position and wept bitterly, her head resting on the self of the cupboard as she cried.
She was interrupted by her maid bringing her phone to her. She wiped her face swiftly, put her hair back in order and sat down again as she looked at the two messages on her phone.
“We’d like to place an order of 12 boxes of coconut cookies for next weekend please,” said the first message
“Have invited a few colleagues and their spouses for cocktails and dinner this weekend. Hope it’s fine by you”, said her husband in the other.
She stared at her phone for sometime and then got up from her chair. She took a deep breath as she looked at herself in the oval mirror in front of her and smiled. She tried a few different ones till she settled on a particular one she liked.
She got up and moved on. It was going to be a busy next few days.
The Blue Ming Vase stood reinstated in its original position.
Copyright (c) Pratik Majumdar