Image Credit – Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com
The sun was still stretching itself up, on an early morning sky when a bunch of dark clouds began gathering around it. Soon, the day, which was about to get sunny, turned overcast, forcing everyone to wrap themselves in thick layers of fleece and wool.
‘This is the weirdest change, I have seen in weather,’ complained Rajaram, the bone-chilling winds numbing his exposed palms as he regretted not wearing gloves.
He had ridden the cycle a few hundred metres when this abrupt change in weather pushed him to take a detour to ride back home, cover his head with a new cap, and put on the gloves; he had carefully hidden inside the drawer a few days ago.
‘This cold will bounce back,’ his wife admonished, while he was getting rid of the gloves for this season. However, he was sure the retreating cold wouldn’t return and even couldn’t believe things to take such a drastic turn in a relatively warmer February month.
The numbing cold, however, forced him into a behaviour, he never was keen to act upon, especially in front of Kalyani, who quietly stared at her husband for a moment before pretending to get busy in her work, so he could pick up the gloves while she played with the vegetables.
This was her way to let him save face. Rajaram carried on finding gloves. However, he did glance at her wife while entering and probably prayed for her to remain busy, hoping to hide his actions and avoid future embarrassment.
She, however, aware of his act, planned on pulling her husband’s legs when he would return or on any other suitable time and day, especially, when he would refuse to agree with any of her suggestions or pronouncement, she thought, as her face broke into an impromptu smile.
‘You were right, the cold is back with a gusto,’ he announced, while walking past the kitchen, as she listened to him with shock and amazement.
Putting back the peas, she was playing with on the kitchen counter, she followed him, hoping to hear more, while still unwilling to believe, what her ears just heard.
‘What did you say,’ she asked loudly, as Rajaram opened the door to step outside?
‘You were right about this,’ he spoke again, a little louder this time, his hands stretched, pointed up at the sky, the palms now safely ensconced inside the protection of the warm woollen gloves.
Kalyani was lost for words for a moment, as she nodded her head, still finding it difficult to believe what her husband was saying.
This was not his usual behaviour, she thought.
‘Are you ok, do you want to wear the jacket, Akash got for you. You had not worn it even once’ she asked tentatively, unsure if he would agree to this suggestion.
Rajaram looked up in the sky again before moving his gaze at the bicycle standing proudly outside the gate, dew dripping from the triangular metallic frame after accumulating in plenty in a short span of time.
The sun was still hidden behind the fog and cloud when his eyes tried searching for the bright star on a gloomy sky.
He then nodded his head, while continuing to stare at his bicycle, indicating he would like to wear what Kalyani, his wife for the last 30 years, was suggesting him.
A subtle smile immediately surrounded her chubby round face as she turned around to pick up the large brown jacket, perfect for weather like this.
The parachute material on the outside ensures that the water doesn’t seep in. At the same time, the thick padding inside keeps it warm even when the temperature reaches sub-zero, announced Akash, their son, while gifting it to his father. Today, however, it was about 2 or 3.
Her hands, till now playing with the vegetables, began searching for the jacket inside the large almirah. Rajaram always thought the blazer was too expensive and deserved to be worn only on a special occasion. However, no event till now could match the price of the expensive piece of this imported wearable.
She had to spend a few minutes manoeuvring through the large stock of apparels crowding the cupboard as her eyes stared at other stuff, prompting memories and forcing her to visualize previous remembrances.
The red saree reminded her of the last time she visited her sister in Jaipur. The black cardigan, of her trip to the doctor, when Preeti (Akash’s wife and her daughter-in-law) gave birth to their first grandchild, and the grey stole, gifted by her husband, was the only gift she ever received from him, on their 25th marriage anniversary.
The recollections of the past erased the concept of time for a while; she didn’t realize how much time; she had taken. However, when Kalyani walked outside, the clouds had suddenly vanished; the fog was gone, and the sun was shining brighter than it had ever shone in the past few days.
The chill disappeared, and so did the gloves, as Rajaram, placed them on the shoe rack in the porch, and was about to shout to not look for the jacket when Kalyani finally appeared, holding the jacket in her hands, her eyes glancing at the unusual sunlight and then at the long face of Rajaram.
‘It was buried deep inside,’ she tried explaining, quickly realizing the time she had taken to find what she was now holding in her hands. Her face reflected the regret of spending too much time gloating on the memories while the weather conspired against her outside.
Rajaram stared at her face for a while.
Her eyes were squinted, the left hand was dangled beside the waist, while the right gripped the jacket and was pointed at her husband. She was intermittently glancing at Rajaram and the coat; his face though refused to show any emotion.
After waiting for some time as if teasing and prolonging her agony, Rajaram finally spoke.
‘Give it to me,’ he said, stretching his hands towards Kalyani.
He wore it for the first time and suddenly felt and looked different.
The long, inexpressive face turned jubilant, as his eyes glanced at Kalyani once before his feet began walking outside to reach for the bicycle.
Kalyani’s gloomy face immediately erupted into a loud smile as she stared at him, the vigorous pedalling of the bicycle and the melodious trin-trin of the bell, still reverberated in the background.
A loud sigh followed the long stare which continued till the cycle disappeared from her sight.
The eyes suddenly spotted the gloves lying on the rack, prompting her to walk down a step to pick them up. The smile broadened as she smelled them, even as her feet dragged her back inside the house.
The smile suddenly became her best friend.