The Coffee Shop

He played along with a spoon, sitting alone by the corner table. Using the spoon as an imaginary drum stick he played along, listening to the Smokie song from his playlist. Like always, he was waiting for her.

“Happy Anniversary my darling.” he whispered softly to no one there.

They made a beautiful couple. Everyone thought so. And he felt it himself too. They did make a beautiful pair. He fell in love with her the day he saw for the first time at the library. She was returning a Philip Larkin Anthology and he was paying a late fee fine for his Ted Hughes Collection. One look at her hazel eyes and he was floored. There was a sweet perfume around the air she walked. Her wavy streaked hair softly bounced as she walked away, looking at him smilingly as she went. He kept holding on to the Ted Hughes open mouthed. Staring at her till she was out of sight.

Their courtship was as whirlwind as it could be. He could be charming when he wanted to be and he charmed the life out of her. He swept her off her feet and soon they were a couple everyone was talking about.

The waiter came and kept his cappuccino in front of him and the espresso for her. He didn’t say anything to him but interchanged the cups as he left. The espresso was his and the cappuccino hers. He kept playing with the spoon as he looked at the empty chair on the side of the cappuccino cup. “She will come, I know she will,” he reassured himself.

Their marriage happened all of a sudden. One day as they walked together after a romantic dinner the rains came all of a sudden. They both ran, holding hands, as they took shelter under the arched building by the street. It was the library where they had met for the first time.

“Will you marry me? ”he said looking right into her eyes, still panting from the running.


“Marry me, please.”

“Ohh you know.”


“I said yes.”

It was a quick and sudden marriage. Too sudden for some of their close friends who couldn’t make it in time for the big day. But there was a lot of flowers cakes champagne and laughter that day. Everyone was happy. The world seemed a sunny place that day.

The rain kept falling steadily as he looked outside the window of the coffee shop. “Maybe this is delaying her,” he thought as his eyes looked at the washed out streets outside. He hadn’t touched his espresso.

The trouble started after the first few months. The gap between their expectations and reality widened rapidly. Communication was at a premium as they both slipped into their respective silent hells. Their silence fought battles with each other when a word of understanding or care could have made things different. They didn’t.

Eventually the separation too came rapidly. Just like their courtship and marriage.

“This cannot be the end,” he tried to tell her.

“This cannot happen to us”

But they couldn’t deny reality. They had to part their ways and knew it would be hard on both of them.

“Let’s meet whenever we feel we can get over the past,” they promised each other.

It was six years now and the attempt at forgetting the past still seemed futile.

Like every year, he waited for some more time. Hoping. Expecting. Praying. But she didn’t come. Like the previous years he left the money on the table along with two untouched cups. He left the single red rose he would bring every year for her on the table. He walked away from the table with a heart slightly heavier than the previous year.

And like every year, she stood by the side of the coffee shop as she watched him walk out and walk into the streets till he got lost in the crowd. Like every previous year she didn’t have the strength to overcome the past and enter the coffee shop.

“Happy anniversary darling,” she whispered softly as she wiped her face and turned away.

Copyright (c) Pratik Majumdar

Blue Moon

You can throw away things

You can throw away the person

You cant throw away the memories

Strains of Dean Martin’s Blue Moon wafted across the air, as he sat by himself on the bench by the lake. He could hear his family laugh and make merry in the cottage nearby. He excused himself from the family dinner to be by himself for a while. Blue Moon always reminded him of her.

He took his wallet out of his pocket and very carefully removed a folded piece of paper that looked old and delicate. The folds were really old and tear marks appeared along the folds. Gingerly he opened the piece of paper and placed it on his thighs. He stared in to the waters as he recited the contents of the note without looking at it even once. When he was done, he gently folded the paper in its original form and placed it carefully inside his wallet.

“You didn’t tell me you were married !!”

“I didn’t want to lose you.”

“That’s your excuse? I thought you’d come up with a better one, you creep !!!”

“I really don’t wanna lose you !!!”

HIs thoughts went back to the fateful day when his cover was finally blown. He had successfully hidden it from her for over two years but finally he was caught. To say that she was upset when she found out would be an understatement. She slapped him incessantly across his face in her anger before throwing herself on his chest and crying. He tried to console her, make her understand, but nothing he did at the time mattered. This was a betrayal of the highest kind, as far she was concerned, and there would no looking back after this.

“I want to talk to her, tell her everything about you. She must know who she is married to.”

“Please listen to me baby, let me explain to you. Then you are free to do whatever you like.”

He knew the effort it took him to calm her down that evening. How he managed to drag her from the restaurant to the hotel room, in order to avoid a public scene, only he knew.

“My wife…she’s been paralysed for the last 7 years and a manic depressive at that. Only I know how I deal with her. When I met you I felt I finally found solace some meaning in my life, but yes, maybe I should have been honest with you upfront. I’m willing to pay the price now.”

It was the oldest trick in the world but it worked. Like a charm. She grew closer to him. Her guilt at her anger on him, resulted in more love and affection than he could imagine. He told her to write down all she was feeling, just her emotions on a piece of paper. She ranted her unhappiness out on that paper.

“I feel a lot lighter”, she said as she hugged him.

“I knew this would make you feel better honey”, he reassured her as he hugged her back.

He knew he had to let her go now. He had managed to cool things off for the time being but there was always the danger that one day she would find out the whole thing. He couldn’t take the chance,

It was a winter’s evening a couple of weeks later that they met again. By the lake. They sat in her car and drank till they were both tipsy. She had dozed off in the driver’s seat. He carefully removed all traces of his fingerprints from the car. His gloved hand gently placed the vodka bottle on the passenger’s seat. The arsenic laced ice cube had done its trick. He gently placed the note she had handwritten a couple of weeks ago inside her pocket, as he gently began pushing the car towards the lake. Even if the cops got a washed out version of it, that would suffice. He had kept a photocopy of the letter in his wallet too.

As he walked away from the lake that evening, he heard the car in neutral finally find its way into the waters. He had to walk a couple of miles before he got a cab. He had left his phone in flight mode in his office. He knew mobile networks could be traced to the exact location.

He read the news the next day in the papers. Both he and his wife expressed shock on the news. After all they knew her socially.

“She was way too lonely. No family, no friends. Just an oddball.”

He kept quiet and nodded a yes as he sipped on his coffee, turning the page to the sports section.

“Maybe its time I let her go completely”, he thought to himself as he got up from the bench by the lake. He removed the folded piece of paper once more his wallet and tore it up in small pieces, he flung the bits to the water and turned his back on the water and walked away. Just as he had done that winter’s night.

He was walking towards the cottage to have a dance with his wife, as he hummed Blue Moon to himself.

Copyright (c) Pratik Majumdar

Orange Moon 2.0

(This is a follow-up to my earlier short story Orange Moon which can be found here at

Will I See You Tonight

On a Downtown Train

Every Night, It’s Just The Same,

On a Downtown Train

Rod Stewart, Downtown Train.

The mall was as crowded as it was expected to be on a Friday night. He was sitting by himself on one of the tables at the food court with a laptop. He needed to finish his story and contrary to most writers, he thrived in such crowded places to concentrate and write. He had his headphones on and was typing away effortlessly as the words kept flowing out. He only took a break from typing as one song ended and looked up to survey the manic mall madness that happened all around him. As Van Morrison sang Tupelo Honey, his eyes went back to the laptop to continue. 

His writing was interrupted again by a familiar whiff. He turned around to see where it came from. And then he saw. Walking past him and sitting on the table across.

It was her. It was Maryam. 

He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He was seeing her again after nearly 12 years. That beautiful face. Those almond eyes twinkling away, her auburn wavy hair bouncing as she walked past him and sat. And that smile. Which still could light up the entire food court. He had to pinch himself to know it was real.

His mind raced back to those days in his old town. Of the days when he’d go running to the music shop in the neighbourhood to buy cassettes. Just an excuse to see her. He never listened to music those days but kept on buying cassettes to be able to meet her at the store. He remembered his heartbreak the day he found out she’d left town. And the bigger heartbreak at his discovery of those messages she’d written to him on the cassettes. His thoughts came rushing back to him at that instance.

He kept looking at her almost as if a trance. She had aged but so beautifully. And her smile made her look younger maybe. She was wearing a white chikan salwar-kurta with chunky oxidised jewellery around her neck and matching bangles. He couldn’t see a ring on her finger. He was about to get up and walk across to her when something stopped him.

Two children aged similarly around 7-8 came rushing towards her table. They each had ice cream in their hands which they were offering her. “Take mine”, “No, mine”, they both hollered, as if in a competition. She smiled at them ruffling their hair, and took a bite from the younger one’s cone. Both the children sat next to her, hugging her from each side. A moment later, a tall bespectacled man, around his own age, came and sat opposite her, carrying a tray full of food. They all started eating together.

He sat down on his chair, unable to turn his eye away from that table. The heartbreak he had forgotten for all these years, came back to him in a new form. At the back of his mind, he’d even practised how he’d behave if he ever bumped into her. He knew the chances were minimal of that happening. But even then, who knew, maybe…

He had stopped typing now. He felt as if there was a corkscrew up his heart, just like Dylan had once sung. He felt a strange mix of exhilaration and disappointment. How could I expect her to be single after so many years, he tried to reason to himself. This had to happen.

He could hardly type a line from then on. From time to time he’d look sideways at the table across and see them. The happy family enjoying an evening out. He didn’t know if he felt happy or sad seeing her this way. Part of him wished he hadnt seen her at all. 

As Van Morrison crooned Crazy Love on his headphones, he saw them get up. The younger of the two children had dozed off and she was carrying him on her lap. The elder one held the fingers of the man as they walked away from the table. There she was, walking away from his life yet again. Again no word was spoken. After all these years. He just didn’t know how to react. An old twinge from the past came and knocked at his heart all over again. Why? Why? He asked himself. He knew there’d be no answers. 

His eyes went back on the table as they left. He noticed a small packet had been left behind. He jumped from his table to reach there before someone else occupied the table. He had to return the packet to them. Maybe she would see him and maybe even recognise him, he thought. He picked up the packet on reaching the table and in his excitement it fell from his hand. He bent down to pick it up and froze. 

Peeping out of the packet was a Rod Stewart CD. 

His heart was beating like a freight train. His mind confused with a million thoughts, as he slowly took the CD out of the packet. There was a small note with a familiar handwriting.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw you at the mall today. Typing away earnestly. I thanked someone up there for making me see you after all these years. Am in town to be with my brother and his children for a few days. I hope you get this note and call me. My number is…”

As he stepped out of the mall with his laptop bag slung across his shoulders he noticed there was a skip in his steps. He felt a happiness inside which he could not describe. He had read and heard about miracles occurring. It’s just that when it happened with him, he was numb with happiness to feel it. 

He looked up at the sky and smiled at the orange moon. He was humming Downtown Train as he took out his mobile to make that call…

Copyright (c) Pratik Majumdar


Jim Reeves played on in the background. The winter breeze blew all along, reminding him of the time of the year. The time inexplicably made him blue. Christmas carols, fruit cakes and pies, turkey meals and candies…that inevitable bluesy feeling. This year, he felt a change was needed…

He put on his parka and beanie and stepped out. The wind slashed through his face like a cold knife, cutting him all the time with marked precision. He shut his eyes, his hands in his pockets as a little shiver ran across his body. He quickened his pace, all the time not knowing where he was headed. The streets were brightly lit up all around. Red and green lights dazzled all around. Santa and his reindeers and mistletoes and trees and other decorations gave such a happy look to the entire place.

He walked alongside the pier, his body now gradually getting used to the wind and cold. He was enjoying it now. He blew out smokes and loved watching those steam circles. He felt young again, almost like a child as he blew in rapid succession trying to get the perfect circle. The pier was empty with hardly a soul there. It was usually packed on weekends with people, families, couples and youngsters thronging the place, Vendors selling their merchandise and ice cream trucks and hotdog stalls. Today however the place had none of these. Everyone was home celebrating with families. He was perhaps the only soul hanging around there that evening. Somehow he felt a strange kind of peace within him, being there at that time. He wiped the snow off one of the seats by the river and sat down. He took his hands out of his pockets and rubbed them to generate some heat. His eyes were fixed on the glistening waters. The lights gave them a lovely sparkle. He broke into a smile almost instantaneously as he stared blankly into the waters.

She took her hand off her parka and placed it on his hands, resting her head on his shoulders. He put his arm around her, pulling her close to him. They both sighed almost simultaneously and then kissed.  

The six friends laughed loudly and cheered as he struggled with the champagne bottle, trying to open it with a pop. And when he finally managed to do it, the cheers got louder.

The little child played along with his toy reindeer as they sat on the bench, watching him with a mix of pride and joy in their eyes. He was just four and so incredibly adorable.

 He yanked his hands off hers. He was seething and didn’t care what she had to say. He didn’t know when he stopped listening to her and had gotten off and walked away.

Memories played inside his head almost like a movie, with each scene appearing in front of his eyes vividly. He sat there by the pier on the same bench as his subconscious played along, almost despite him. Even the trickle from his eye that found its way out seemed to have a mind of its own. He just sat there, gazing at the waters, as all that he had lost flashed across his senses

The moon was up and above, shining brightly, brighter than the city lights.

He didn’t know for long the lights dazzled and sparkled that night. The strains of laughter, cheers and carols floated cross the air for long in the night. When they stopped and when the moon went down he didn’t know. His lifeless body rested on that pier bench that dawn. Just as lost as he had felt earlier the previous evening.

Copyright (c) Pratik Majumdar

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse.

It was the second thing he had seen that day which reminded him of her. First, there were those gorgeous eclairs nonchalantly left on the dining table. And now this.

It was odd that he found two things that reminded him of her in a spate of 24 hours.

He found the envelope, tucked inside the Virginia Woolf book. It was her favourite book, he remembered. But he had never noticed either the book or the envelope before. He saw it today as he was cleaning up and rearranging his book shelf. There were too many books and he knew he had to get rid of some of them. Ms Wolfe’s masterpiece was one such book. He never cared much for her writing. And it reminded him of her anyway.

He got off from the short stool he was perched up on cleaning the books. He put his glasses on as he gently opened the envelope. The paper was crusty with time so he had to be careful whilst opening it. There was a small note inside, in that familiar handwriting he recognised instantly.

You…someone who is at once the closest part of myself and yet miles apart from me despite being under the same roof. Our love has seen many springs and many winters but now it seems autumn is setting in. I can’t seem to enter into your heart anymore. There is a wall, a barrier that has developed. Little moments of silence, like bricks of non-communication and cement chunks of mistrust has crept in making this wall unbreakable. I have tried to remove it, prevent it from coming up but have failed. Did you even try? Or did you willingly allow this to come up between us? I don’t know. Maybe I will never know. Although at every point of my life I wish I did know. I remember the times when we…

He didn’t know when those tears found their way out of his eyes and dribbled past the thick glasses down his cheeks. He kept the note on the side of the sofa he was sitting on. He arched his head back and shut his eyes for some time. His entire life flashbacked in front of his closed eyes. His sophomore years when he first met her. The time when they fell in love. When they decided to start a life together. Their highs. And their lows. The love. The fights. The disagreements. The distance. And the eventual separation.

He got up from his sofa and stared out the French window. It was nearly three years since they had parted. And like most partings, it had not been a happy one. In their happier times they would even joke about these things. “If we ever get fed up of each other we must give each other at least 3 years before we move on with life. I think that much time is deserved, don’t you think so”, she laughed as she said this, burying her face in his chest. His usual response would be to hug her tighter and kiss her on her forehead. “Why on earth would we want to separate?” That was a question he had learnt not to ask. He knew he had to play along this “little joke” of hers.

He kept the Virginia Woolf back in the book shelf and began to think. “How did the book make an inexplicable appearance in his collection?” He knew almost all the books he had on shelf. And because it such a favourite book of hers he would’ve certainly noticed it earlier. Something about the whole thing intrigued him. Made him think. He called his maid and asked her if “memsaab” had come over to the house in his absence. She couldn’t seem to remember. And then she said that one day while coming to work she “thought” she saw memsaab “driving away in a terrible hurry from the building”.

He looked at his maid with eyes that twinkled happiness after ages. “Thank you thank you thank you” he kept on repeating as he held her shoulders and shook her repeatedly. She stared back at him in disbelief, surprised at his unusual behaviour.

He let go off his maid and frantically dialled her number from his mobile. The voice at the other end was a calm and composed one.

“You finally called. Glad you found it on time. It would have been over three years next week and then….” she smiled looking at a picture of the two of them in front of her desk. She looked upwards and mouthed a silent “thank you” as she kept the phone down, her face mirroring a happiness that was similar to his.

Copyright (c) Pratik Majumdar

The Proposal

They were sitting on the rooftop of his flat, the view of the city traffic from five floors above was a fascinating one. They watched the cars move almost like in a silent film. The sound was minimal at that height. They sat with their feet dangling from the parapet, hands entwined, a glass of wine on each side of them. Their silence that evening was blissful. 

After a while she rested her head on his shoulders, her eyes shut. He felt nice and snug too, although by now he was itching to go down. The thought of the two of them, both a few glasses down, sitting on the parapet, was making him a tad uneasy. The neons around the city came on at that instance, coinciding with the goodbye of the evening sun. 

He had been waiting for this moment for a while now. Maybe a little over six months. How does one propose? Where? When? Why? Of all these questions the only answer he had was to the last one. He knew she was the one. After nearly half a dozen broken relationships he finally met his dream woman. The one he wanted to wake up in the morning with, for the rest of his life. They had been together for just about a year but it was enough for him to be sure. How to go about it, was the tricky complicated bit. 

He loved the smell of her hair as she perched herself a little more snugly on to him. He put his arms across her bringing her closer to him. She sighed and murmured something and he saw a slight smile of satisfaction run across her closed lips. 

He didn’t want to shift an inch at that instance. They were perfectly poised on the roof that summer evening. 

“How do I? How? How?” He kept wondering. As always he had a hundred plans hovering around his head regarding how to go about it. Maybe a trip to Paris and then as they walked across the Shakespeare Book Shop, he could pop the question. Or maybe while walking by the embankment in London, holding hands looking into her eyes. On his knees with a ring in his hand, in a remote Greek island seemed like a great idea to him too. Then of course a cursory glance at his bank balance changed all that. His apartment rooftop and cheap port. That sounded perfect. 

His thoughts made him smile and he gave her a slight squeeze. She stirred a bit and then looked up at him. Her brown eyes half-closed half-opened, her hair slightly ruffled and that smile a bit broader across her luscious lips. Her eyes were twinkling as she looked  at him. The city was lit up and appeared brighter when she smiled. The noise of the evening home-going traffic had increased significantly. He kept staring at her beautiful face as the surrounding neons gave it an ethereal glow. 

“Will you marry me?” he asked simply.

She kept looking at him, smiling. He was beginning to get tensed as he had expected a quicker response from her. 

She looked at him for what seemed like ages and finally replied. 


Now there are some definite answers and some expected answers one guesses to a proposal. “What” certainly isn’t one of them. 

He kept looking at her not knowing what to say. She smiled at him and said “I’m way too buzzed now, so you have to speak up louder honey”. She rested her head on his shoulders once more, this time putting her arms around his neck for support. 

He kept looking at the evening cityscape all lit up and glowing. He got off the parapet carrying her in his arms. She snuggled more comfortably in his lap as he began to climb down the stairs to get to his apartment. 

The proposal? 

He knew he had to wait for some more time before he could muster up the courage or plan the right time. Again. 

“And no port next time”, he promised himself as he gently lay her down on the bed. 

Copyright (c) Pratik Majumdar

The Mixtape

He felt an inexplicable fury inside of him as he switched his phone off abruptly. His friend at the other side of the call might have found it strange, but at that point of time he didn’t care. He was too mad. He couldn’t believe she would be this way, after all these years.

He sat down by the window of his studio apartment. He looked out from his third floor to see the downtown traffic. It was peak rush hour and the traffic seemed manic as always. He was however more aware of the noise that he felt from within…that of seething rage and intense anger. “How could she, how could she” was all he asked himself.

They had been separated for over a year now. 9 years of marriage and one 8-yeard old daughter were out of his life forever now. They had been drifting apart for a while but the last couple of years were terrible. He seemed to have an incredible lack of patience when it came to understanding her. Or at least that’s what she said every time they would have a meltdown. He knew secretly that little things about her irritated him more than usual and his stock of patience was rapidly diminishing. He never admitted it to her, but somewhere deep inside he knew she was right. Why he felt that way he never understood.

They gave it one last serious attempt for the final year or so. They went to marriage counselors, therapists and even a few close friends to discuss their relationship and try and better it. It was a lost cause but they both tried. However finally when it snapped, the inevitable happened. A lot of angry, bitter outbursts in public, a dirty custody battle for their daughter, a of lot of dirty linen washed in public. Their split was ugly to say the least.

His life spiraled down after their breakup. He left his job and took to writing from home. Soon he shifted from their cosy, suburbean house to a small studio, compact enough to store his books and records. He had a single bed which took up the rest of the apartment. He did the occasional freelance to make ends meet. Mainly for his drinking, which had increased. Apart from that he had no expenses to talk of. He hardly went out, met people or spent on other things. Six months earlier he heard about her second marriage. It was to the same fellow in her office. He remembered many a fight they had about him. She always insisted he was a friend and nothing more. He doubted his intentions from the start. He almost felt vindicated when he heard of their marriage. “I was right after all,” he thought bitterly. He also thought of his daughter. “I wonder how she will take to him,” he wondered out aloud at times. “A stranger, a new man could never replace her real father”.

Some evenings he missed them both a lot. He wished he could go back in time, make amends and have them back in his life. His drinking increased considerably those nights. He would pull up a mix-tape, they had once made together. “The soundtrack of our lives,” they would say, every time they sat together and heard the tape. He would remember the times when the two of them sat and heard it together. In the later years their daughter sat in between them while they heard it. Life had seemed picture perfect then. Now when he heard the tape it would make him sadder than before. Lonelier than ever.

He got up from his bed and walked out of his apartment. He was carrying the mix-tape in his pocket. He wanted to fling it on her face and call it quits forever. He had had enough. Memories flooded his mind as he travelled by the metro to reach his old house. “I gave her the house. I might as well give this tape away and end it once and for all.” He thought to himself angrily as the train whizzed past the subway stations. When he got off he walked briskly towards his house. From a distance he could see her husband. He had just driven the car close to the main steps of the house. He felt a wave of anger run through his body as he saw him.

And then something strange happened….

He saw her. Her face looking it was lit up by a million suns. The glow on her face. That smile, that look. He kept looking at her. Mesmerised, as he was nearly 10 years ago. There was a bump on her tummy that was hard to miss. And suddenly from behind he saw their daughter, running towards her mother, carrying a bunch of colourful balloons that she handed over to her. She wrapped her arms around her mother’s tummy, their laughter echoing all over. Her husband rushed up the stairs, not wanting to be left out of the warm hug mother and daughter were sharing. The three of them laughed as they reached the car. Mother and daughter took the backseats as he happily sat in front and drove off.

He kept standing by himself at a distance from his old house, as the dust from the road, blinded his vision for a while. He soon realized it wasn’t the dust alone. His eyes had filled up. He took one long last look at the house and sighed. It would be a long subway journey back to his apartment.

That evening as he reached his apartment, he put the mix-tape in a brown envelope and kept in safely up in the trunk in the loft. “Soundtrack Of Our Lives” was scribbled on top of the envelope. He knew he wouldn’t be opening that trunk for a long time now.

Copyright (c) Pratik Majumdar

The Silk Stole

Susan woke up hearing a shriek from the next room. She turned around to see her husband fast asleep. She was amazed how he hadn’t heard the shriek. He was actually a light sleeper unlike her.

She got off the bed and rushed to the next room. Sarah was sitting up on the bed with her legs folded inside her, her arms wrapped around her knees, head buried. She was shrieking still.

“What happened what happened”, Susan asked her younger sister as she held her by her shoulders shaking her slightly. “Over there”, the sister pointed towards the corner of room behind the curtains, her fingers trembling with fear. She saw the shadow of a man with something in his hands. In a flash Susan was on to the the man as she yanked the curtain open to see her own husband standing there. He had a silk stole in his hand and glint of pure evil in his eyes. “Surprise surprise”, he smiled as he began to strangle her with the stole.

Susan woke up with a start. Her husband was peering over her face. “You had a bad dream honey?” He asked as he softly stroked her forehead. She looked blankly at him and then put her arms around him. She shut her eyes and he kissed her forehead and then turned his back to go back to sleep.

Susan stared at the photo of Sarah by her bedside. It had been five years since the night Sarah was found dead, hanging by the silk stole.

Copyright (c) Pratik Majumdar

The Red Handset

She bought the cheapest paid phone that was available in the store. It was a red handset. “Ma’am there are better ones for you”, the shopkeeper tried to sell the more expensive sets to her. “This will do just fine”, she said as she walked out of the store heading to the nearby cafe.

She watched them from the next table. They seemed lost in each other. At times he’d hold her hand and squeeze it slightly and she’d look at him lovingly. Her anger kept on increasing at frantic pace seeing this open display of emotions between the two of them. Had he forgotten about me altogether? Did he not really love me at all? Was the role of devoted husband, simply that? A “role” that he played to perfection? She was lost in her own thoughts when she was interrupted by a call on her mobile.

“Yes I’m here already. Waiting. Please come fast. And don’t forget to bring what I asked you to”, she said, in a hushed tone, which however could not conceal the anger she was feeling at that moment.

She kept on watching her husband, make a joke of their marriage as he and the woman with him at his table spent precious intimate moments, oblivious to all the people around them. Her entire life kept flashing in front of her eyes. The good times, which all seemed like one big lie now, and those wretched horrible moments, which now seemed to have found a perfect explanation, at least in her mind. She knew from inside their marriage was over.

She felt a firm tap on her shoulder, which startled her and made her look back. It was him. The man on the phone. Standing in front of him. He looked taller than what he appeared on his profile pic. His steely eyes seemed cold and dispassionate. He exuded a cold aura that was as fascinating as it was frightening.

“Sit down”, she ordered, her tone masking her nervousness admirably. “Hope you’ve come prepared”, she asked him, as she looked imploringly right in his firm cold eyes. He simply nodded and asked her to leave. “Leave the packet for me at the waste-bin outside the cafe”, he said. “I don’t want to see you after this”, his tone had a finality about it which made her leave almost immediately.

She did as she was instructed. She went outside and dropped the brown-paper wrapped bundle in the waste-bin right in front of the cafe. She walked a few steps further near the bus shelter and waited there.

Two muffled shots were all she heard. And then the panic-stricken screams. From within the cafe. The tall man quietly walked out, coolly taking the silencer off his pistol putting them in separate pockets. He reached for the bundle from the bin and walked off, disappearing into the crowd in a matter of seconds.

Her heart was pounding like a freight train. As she boarded the next taxi by the curb and headed home, her mind was numb. She knew she had to be home by the time she would receive the phone call, informing her about the “news”.


She smiled wearily as her father in law showed himself to the door. “You know you are always welcome in our house. You’re still our daughter”, he said, as he hugged her tight. She shed a couple of tears as her head was buried in his chest. “I know. I know,” she whimpered.

It had been a hard three months for her, he knew.

 “Call us whenever you feel like,” he said, as he was leaving. She nodded gently, her eyes looking directly at him.

As he door closed, her face changed colour faster than a chameleon. Her expression changed from one of extreme sorrow to that of a victorious gleam. She took her red mobile out and punched the only number that was saved on it. It was him on the line.

“It’s done. All’s been taken care of. The property papers and insurance money will be with me by tomorrow. I hope our tickets have been booked darling,” she cooed on the phone. She smiled at his answer.

She chucked the red mobile in the same waste-bin where she’d thrown the brown paper bundle. She hummed a little tune to herself as she walked back home. She had a lot of bags to pack.

Copyright(c) Pratik Majumdar

The Blue Ming Vase

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