It was a warm spring day. The bees were buzzing over the blossoms blooming like cherubic cheeks in warm golden sunshine. The lush green foliage was caressed by the breeze like a lover caressing the soft skin of his beloved. It was a perfect spring day, the day Alina turned into a shadow.
It began gradually, the change creeping up on her so Alina didn’t take much note. However, one day, her words fell from her tongue and were carried away by the breeze. She found that her family couldn’t hear her. Or wouldn’t hear her.. Could or would didn’t really matter!
Desperate, she talked to Aarav, her husband of two decades, but all she got in reply were monosyllabic hmms as answer, from behind the newspaper. She asked her son Harsh to clean up his room but the mess stayed, ignored like her words. She told Manya, her daughter, not to wear such revealing clothes to her college but Manya went out wearing the same, Alina’s words slipping over her bare smooth skin.
Once alone, she tried screaming to see if someone could hear her screams. The aunty next door, with her nose in other’s business and eyes on the neighborhood, ignored her. Alina could hear her own screams fine. But whether those screams crossed the threshold of her larynx or died within the nooks and crannies of her mind, she couldn’t determine.
Once Alina was convinced she was no more audible, she stopped speaking. There was no use in wasting words, thoughts and energy when no one could, or would, hear what she had to say. Alina had expected her family, especially Aarav, to be bothered by her silence. It was a rude shock to realize, not only was she inaudible, she was invisible too. As long as the food was on the table and the house clean, no one bothered about her presence. She had become like the furniture in her house, useful but not seen, however, polished the surface.
Alina cut her hair, but it went unnoticed. She bought a blue banarasi suit for Diwali and wore it with her bridal jewellery. Aarav didn’t come home that day. She changed her perfume, but the whiff emanating from Aarav’s shirt was different. She took to wearing lipstick constantly. However, the shade on Aarav’s handkerchief was a sensual pink and not her sensible maroon.
Her grown-up children had carved out their own life. Even Aarav had changed. Their love was just a shadow of what it was earlier. Alina felt unwanted, unneeded.
One day Aarav turned up with a beautiful girl as sprightly and as dazzling as the perfect spring day.
In the midst of sunshine, only darkness shadowed Alina’s world. Her broken heart then gathered all the darkness outside and inside and she turned into a shadow. And she went forth from that day, lurking in corners, darkening dreams and sowing gloomy despair in the hearts of the faithless.
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