Macaroons & Memories
Prakash got up and went inside and lay awake most of the night, got off the bed as it began to rain softly walked out to the central hall to the old teakwood chest of drawer by the wall, darkened with time but still glossy as ever
Turned on the light and then turned to his daughter's room across the hallway on the opposite side, it was bolted shut on the inside
He opened the top two drawers first, stacks and stacks of papers neatly arranged in two sets in every drawer.
Receipt books, tax returns, municipality inspection papers, health department inspections, minor repair bills
Accountant receipts, audit commentary employee salary information, hand written notes and receipts.
every drawer was choc a block
He shut it all and went and sat down in the easy chair in the front verandah
An occasional car passed by, the open grounds across the street where the street market was held on Thursdays was a mess with garbage everywhere
The weather was beautiful
He went back in counted all the cash he had fishing inside the shirt pocket "Over 23,000"
He had never had this kind of cash at home
He went back to the drawer and looked at the stacks held by red cord looking for years, 2017, was slim and underfed
2016 was thick
2015,... 2014, 2013... as far back as 1982.. yellowed and musty
His daughter tossed and turned on her bed on the floor, feeling the detailed intricate carving of the leg of the cot with her slim fingers.
The fan was yellowish the petals a weird oblong shape.
everything in the house smelled like her mother to her jasmine and mom
And coconut... she loved coconut
Coconut didnt have a smell?
And the thought alone was enough to begin the slow burn as her every pore re envisioned Ashvin poised over her his eyes glinting with mischief
She had returned one evening from being in the British Council Library, it was a great place to study
She returned after 9, mother and son were watching TV then
He craned his neck to make eye contact, there were beautiful dresses draped on almost every sofa the duo werent sitting on
His mother had brought them with her to show her son, some were for herself some were for Leela
His mother smiled politely making no attempt to remove them
He reached and emptied a spot by grabbing two outfits by their hangers and draping them on to his right
"Sit" he invited
She lingered not sure
Quickly removing her glasses as an afterthought
"We were just watching home videos" he urged
She set her mirrorwork tote on the side and slid up on the seat, close to the arm rest, he had his arm on her back rest
"Did you come by bus?" her MIL began
"Yes. There are many buses to 100 feet Rd" she smiled
"Its good, atleast you didnt take an auto" Mandira sighed
"I do sometimes" "I dont like tryingt o talk with bus conductors, they dont
speak much Hindi or English, I have to speak kannada I dont understand sometimes" she explained
Mandira yawned expressing disinterest
He turned "did u havea good day?"
"If reading two 150 page articles is a good day then yes" she smiled
"What would be a fantastic day?" he asked softly
Ignoring the TV playing ignoring his shifty mother
"Umm.. reading a whole book?" she smiled
"Woww" he gasped
"Can I change that?" she asked after trying uselessly to pay attention to the TV
"Depends" he grinned
"Well fantastic day would be when I no longer have to study" she smiled secretly
"Oh yeah... how could I forget that" he nodded conspiratorially
"You look tired" he said after a pause
"You are not supposed to say that to any woman" she said primly
He threw his head back and laughed heartily
His mother raised the TV volume unhappily
"Sorry Ma... just cheking in" he waved pointing to Trisha
"I am sorry... you look great but well studied"?" he grinned
"Maybe" she nodded
He showed her who the cousins were, the new babies, the homes were gorgeous the clothes beautiful
To her it seemed like it was a Bollywood movie, sprawling lawns grand staircases
"He is Ashvin's favorite, Rachit" Mandira waved the remote as Trisha found herself coloring self consciously
"They all probably look the same to her Ma" Ashvin claimed
"You are not all the same" she said in a tone that reeked of "I am from Konkan not an idiot"
"Thanks" Ashvin's lips twitched...
His mother hoping to put an end to TV watching unwanted uninvited DIL yawned audibly "Lets watch the rest tomorrow" she ordered and turned the TV off
Trisha nodded politely preparing to stand up...
His mother bend down kissed her son on his cheek wiped his cheek off
"I hate that shade" Ashvin cursed self consciously
"wait until the woman you love wears it" his mother winked and cracked herself up
"Good night Trisha... I am happy you got back safe" she poked..
"Yes it is" Mandira mocked
She went in and bolted her door
Trisha got up and picked up her limp bag a brown paper sack with butter stains fell off
She picked it up and stuck it in her bag
"what did you bring?" he asked
She took it to her room he followed
"You were saying that day you like coconut so" she said still hesitating to pull the sack out
"You bought something?" he asked stunned
" Bangalore bakery sometimes have this they have ginger and cardamom" she pulled the bag out
He walked over grabbed the bag and pulled one out ate it slowly staring at her
"Its from small bakery on St Marks Rd" "You know just some shop" she explained
"They are great" he said helping himself to the second one
"Really? I was not sure if you like small shop stuff... you know.. like"
He paused on his third lowered the cookie "Did you just judge me?" he grinned
"No" she said blushing
"YOU JUST JUDGED ME. You thought I dont eat street food" he waved the half eaten cookie
"I didnt... means.. I thought you wont know where its available" she blushed further to cover up her first lie
"Trish" he warned huskily
"Ashwin" "I meant"
He walked up to her she fell on the bed
He bend down on her chewed inches from her face... the crumbs fell on her face as she shut her eyes trying not to groan
"Did you have any?"
"Many" she gasped
"Let me check" he whispered his ragged breathing appearing like he was just running miles, adrenaline rushing, the fine control he was exercising, his muscles bunched up.
"Trish" he whispered hoarsely
The excitement climbing to dizzying height, brought his mouth slowly down to part over hers, for a luxurious, delicious slow uninterrupted kiss.
"I cant tell if you ate any" "I need to check some more" he whispered breathlessly, licking off the crumbs on her face...
Trisha rolled over on her bed, belly down, choking her breath as she began to cry hugging the broken leg of her cot with one arm...
Outside Prakash pulled out the stacks labeled 2006 and 2007... and sifted through them like they were playing cards
without undoing the red cord.., he did that thing a few times and then on the third try paused mid stack... and undid the 2007 stack's binding cord,
releasing the imprisoned papers.