It was a cold winter morning, when she woke up with a start. She touched the bedside clock which announced 4.30 am. An unexplained unease kept her awake. She got out of bed pushed her feet into the slippers and drew the robe over her. 

Maya lived alone in the cottage just where the forest trail started. At one time it was a happy place living with her baker parents. They ran a small deli which churned out delicious pancakes, waffles and fresh bread. She had always woken up to the smell of baked goodies from the small kitchen oven. Woodcutters, hunters, families on their way to the forest would stop by for a steaming cup of coffee and the delicious items. 

But, this was in the past. With the same unease that she had woken up, she put on the kettle for some tea which she thought would make her feel better. And then she heard that sound. She could now faintly recollect what had made her get up so early with a jolt. It was a long forgotten memory – an offbeat tune which brought back a flood of memories and she held a chair to sit down. She felt the goosebumps on her as she strained to hear the sound trying to confirm whether it was truly out there. 

Mayaaaaa, he would call her out, cycling down the road. Hearing his voice, she would leave her chores and rush out. Mother would be ready with the basket for the daily deliveries. Maya and Akash would pack everything in his bicycle’s basket and she would jump on the front bar of the cycle. They would then both head towards the village and drop off the supplies. 

This morning, she could clearly remember that day. They had just finished the deliveries and were returning on Akash’s cycle, he as usual singing an offbeat tune that irritated her, which she never mentioned. A trolley trailer came from nowhere and tossed them both in the air and the last that she could remember, was blacking out by the side of the road.She woke up and panicked. It was completely dark and she screamed. She could feel her mother’s warm hand holding hers and her father’s tears on her cheek. The doctor said something like – seems she has lost her eyesight and then she blacked out again….Akash never came home after that and she lost that one joy that she felt every morning. 

With her parents long gone, she had often felt the need to be with that someone who could comfort her as she groped in darkness with a stick guiding her to the village church.  

Now, with that tune coming closer and closer she grabbed her stick, opened the door and stumbled as her stick hit a stone. And then it happened, a strong hand held her before she could fall and she heard that long forgotten voice saying – ‘Hello, is it me you are looking for ?”
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Anjali Dwivedi
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