The woman rushes to their spot,
her glares hide the fresh bruise on her right eye.
she adjusts her dupatta to hide another one on her left shoulder.
she is late, he must be there already,
she walks as fast as her little legs could carry her.
He is dressed in his regular blue checkered shirt and black pants,
she smiles and she calls upon Allah in gratitude
For the past twenty-five years his face has been the only respite.
she hurries towards him, and notices the growing wrinkles on his face,
The loosening of the skin of his hands, the grey hair on his head,
the burden of passing years was showing
She remembers the days when the flame of youth burned bright within them,
they had met at Marine Drive on a rainy evening,
taken shelter at Ramdin’s coffee shop and indulged in a conversation.
He was a Hindu, stuck in a loveless marriage,
Marine Drive had become their usual getaway, Ramdin’s coffee shop their altar,
Sometimes, they also enjoyed papdi chat with their coffee.
. . .
She sits down beside him, gently resting her head on his shoulder.
he looks at her bruises and winces,
her man, that monster
How he wishes he could save her!
If only they, the society, could accept them
Marine Drive is bustling; with couples, peddlers, dawdlers and hawkers,
kids playing with balloons and tourists taking selfies,
People conversing over a pav bhaji or vada pav,
their delicious smell lingering in the air.
He takes out his phone, a dilapidated Nokia 105,
Mere sapno ki rani kab ayegi tu. . . starts playing on it,
She removes her glares and the dupatta, lays naked her bruises and closes her eyes,
A tear trickles down her cheeks, she smiles through it,
He is her balm; definitely
She holds his hand and they savor their coffee,
as roaring waves break on the shore,
the sun sets on the horizon leaving a tinge of crimson in the sky,
They get up slowly, from their reverie,
She kisses him on his lips.
heading in opposite directions,
they would find each other at the same spot the next day at the same time,
They have spent twenty-five years; in each other’s silences,
domestic animosities, office-conflicts, the monotony of household chores,
the loveless marriages
everything was pushed away
in those minutes
A cup of coffee and a sea of silence.
Somjeeta Pandey currently resides in Kolkata, India. She is an Assistant Professor of English at Gobardanga Hindu College, a state-government aided college, in West Bengal, India. She is also a part-time PhD scholar at the Department of Humanities and Social Science at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur. Her poems have appeared in The CQ: A Literary Magazine and two of her poems will be published as a part of the anthology Faces to the Sun: A Mental Health Awareness Anthology, scheduled for a November, 2020, release.