“This is all I could bring for you.” Muthu said. Anubhuti stared at his guilt ridden face and then glanced at the small pot of rice in his hand.
A whirlpool of emotions threatened to wash away her bold stance. She took the pot of rice near the fire place and began to boil the rice for lunch.
Muthu stood watching her pull the end of her sari and quickly wipe away tears. Her hands moved skillfully around the utensils as though calming her nerves.
It had been months since he last spoke to his daughter. “She must be 16” he thought. Her skin was flawless but was sticking to her bones. Her stomach looked stuck to her back. Her bright eyes were now dry with agony.
Anubhuti blew the fire with the remnants of firewood. The stock of firewood kept for monsoon was depreciating. She worried what would happen if the rains don’t stop this month.
She once again looked at her father who sat on their coir cot in a pensive mood. After months she had seen him sober. She wished her mother was alive to witness this day. The thought of her mother burnt a deep hole in her heart. She had cared enough for her mother but could not save her from tuberculosis. Her drunkard father spent all their savings on his poison and slept in the dinghy all evening.
She reminisced the time when her father was once a rich fisherman. Anubhuti thought about her younger self when she used to play hide and seek in her father’s boat. She was carefree about her future. Her father was her hero who sailed great miles and returned with gifts for her from harbors of other cities.
Some evil might have fallen on their happiness. A storm hit the sea. The violent sea destroyed her father’s boat and its crew members. Her father was not on the ship due to some other business. Her father suffured huge loses and he was paying loans through his nose. They lived a hand to mouth existence and soon her mother was detected with TB. They used all their savings and jewellery to revive her health but she succumbed to the disease. Muthu was a beaten man long before his wife died. He had given in to alcohol.
As he watched Anubhuti going around the same way like his wife a thought struck him.. “She is all I have.. I cannot lose her.. I must give her another chance at a good life..”
He put on his chappal and swung a lungi around his waist. He took out his fishing net and hurried to the shore.
“Where are you going?” she shouted out.
“Prepare for curry.. I will return with some fish and crabs..” he shouted back.
Anubhuti looked at the disappearing figure of her father. She smiled.. There was hope after all..
Emily watched in silence as her husband Richard sat with wooden pieces , hammer, nails etc.
He looked up at her. His eyes brimmed with tears.
“You..you came back.. Did you forget anything?”
She thought about Samuel, her first love. She had left Richard never to turn back. Richard was no match for her. She was a beauty in her community with her large brown eyes, long flowing hair, pink lips which won hearts when they broke into a smile, her slender figure that grooved in grace as she walked sent shivers through the spine of young men who desired her.
Samuel was in every way charming. He had a engineering degree. He had a broad and strong built with a boyish smile that made her fall head over heels in love with him.
Emily wanted to marry him but her father was against the match. He forcefully fixed her marriage with Richard when Samuel was out of town. Emily was heartbroken at the absurd nature of her father. Her father threatened to commit suicide if she disobeyed him. Left with no choice she was married to Richard, a carpenter by profession. He was an average looking guy with a practical approach to life, but he dearly loved Emily.
Emily never let him close to her and Richard waited for her to accept him.
Emily looked at Richard and then turned away in guilt. Richard followed her into the yard.
She burst into tears.
“Emily what happened?” he asked with concern.
“I met Samuel.. told him everything.. He says he doesn’t want anything to do with a second hand thing..” She stood in the rain drenched and he couldn’t take his eyes off her .
“You are not second hand..you will always be mine Emily..” he gave her a kind smile.
He drew closer to her and slightly touched her lips with his. There was hope afterall..