The Lonely Bench

The Lonely Bench

Smita walked in pale-faced, a bit reluctantly, to avoid the curious eyes of the mourners. She did not wish to reveal her identity. There were murmurs in the room and she wanted to sidestep controversies. She wore oversized shades and carefully adjusted her turquoise blue scarf that covered her head. She felt someone press her shoulder. She panicked and turned around with a jolt and saw a dark man looking at her grumpily. He held a scarf and a diary in his hand. Without saying a word, he handed them over to her. He was the diener who would be performing the last riots. She was puzzled, how did the man recognize her? She held her prized possessions and ran out of the mortuary with a muffled cry. It would break her heart to see the unresponsive body of a man she was so much in love with.

As she walked unsteadily, her mind raced back to that uneventful morning just a fortnight ago. On her insistence, Ronit had come to see her for the last time. They both knew their affair was not leading them anywhere. They had sustained this relationship for over a decade and could no longer compromise on their loyalties towards their partners. Smita had begged him to relieve her of all the promises they had made to each other. She had no clue that it would be his final goodbye to her.

Before Ronit left,  he said in his deep baritone voice, “ It’s not going to be easy for me to live without your fragrance. As a memoir, I need a piece of your clothing that carries your scent .” Smita knew he referred to his favourite blue scarf she often wore when they were together. She could not refuse. Teary-eyed, she handed over the scarf and her precious diary to him. 

Their favourite place used to be the bench under the mahogany tree by the river. She would lay her head on his lap as he lovingly ran his fingers through her long silky hair. She was a poetess and the poetry she wrote, had a bit of him in them. As she read out a few lines from the book, it filled him with pride. She cherished these poetry sessions as they were sealed with his kisses.

Today, as she sat on that bench once again, alone this time, she missed him terribly. As she inhaled she felt his presence. She could not control the tears that were flowing down her cheeks like a perennial stream.  As she flipped the pages of the book and turned to the last page she found an autographed picture of herself in the same blue scarf he held when he breathed his last. He had not let go of her till the last moment. The diener had saved her embarrassment by quietly handing over his belongings to her. She kissed the diary and made a silent wish to the shooting star that magically appeared just then.
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Nisha Tandon
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