Hands washed, cleaned, not satisfied the process is repeated again.
This was the eleventh time,
he silently kept track.
These ablutions had caused embarrassment, guilt, shame earlier.
Now, it was de rigeur.
He washed his hands, mechanically, over and under, over and under,
the soap suds lathered up and lost steam.
Washed off yet not satisfying.
His family lived uneasily.
A frantic wife of a husband with
OCD among other things had
petered off to a resigned-to-her-fate one.
Children who avoided any contact or identification.
Geriatric parents trapped in their own demented world
impervious to his.
A sickeningly mundane family,
almost socially invisible but for his condition.
The jibes, taunts of the chitteratti
had all but subsided.
He relived that day in the ticker tape
of his mind.
He held on to him, clasping his hand
He tried to haul him up.
“Why are you doing this? Don’t do this, bro.
Just hold on, just hold on.”
“I was her favourite. She loved me.
Then you arrived.
With your poverty and poetry and love.
Now she can’t see beyond you.
So, I plucked her out and squashed her.
You can have the leftovers, when I am gone,” He sneered.
He opened his palm. Splash!
He didn’t know how to swim.
He walked away, trapped in the action.
He now washes his hands
And hopes to wash away the memories too.
Ruma is a senior English faculty in a premium institution in Kolkata. Teaching is both a profession and a vocation for her. It is but one of the hats donned by her. An amateur painter, a budding poet and a compulsive story-teller, currently she is in the process of writing a compendium of short stories and poems. An alumna of Loreto School, St.Xavier’s College and Calcutta University, an intrepid traveller; a typical ‘Bangali’ in matters of food; an example of the argumentative Indian; an inquisitive learner to boot – she is the quintessential Renaissance woman.