Ashwini looked around, the house looked good enough. And she felt very very proud. Furnishing one’s own house was so satisfying. But she had this odd feeling that she was not alone in the room.
Ashiwini and Alok had shifted to this house along with their 7 year old daughter just a week back. It had been their dream ever since their marriage to have their own home. For that they had sacrificed any other dreams that they had had. They had never been for any holidays, had never lived exorbitantly, had scrimped saved and along with a loan from the bank had bought this house.
But Ashwini felt another presence in the hpuse. Alok rubbished her doubts as her over worked imagination. As such dead people very often visited her in her dreams and advised her, this too must be an extension to her dreams, was his argument.
But that was not true. There indeed was a fourth member in the house. Trupti had lived in that building when it had been a villa, before it was demolished and these apartments came up. She had been a seventeen year old teenager when she had been killed in a road mishap. Her parents had not been able to live in that house without her and had sold the house and moved to their village. But Trupti’s soul had remained. Most of her aspirations had remained unfulfilled and so she had remained in this world refusing to leave it.
ANd so she frequented the flats in the building. She loved to see the middle class people with their simple joys. But most of all she loved to be at Ashwini’s. It was such a loving family, so close knit and then Ashwini was such a fab cook that Trupti could just sit in that home smelling the ‘smells’.
And so today Ashwini was making kadi chawal. Now that was Truptis favorite and she slurped. Ashwini heard that distinctively and looked around. ‘Don’t be afraid Ashwini, its me Trupti’.
And Ashwini dropped her ladle. ‘Who…………?’, she said. There was nobody else at home, both Alok and Ashika had gone out and she was afraid.
‘Don’t be afraid,’ said Trupti and told her story.
‘Ashwini asked, ‘what do you want?’
‘Nothing really, I just want to be a part of this family. I won’t disturb you, will just come and go whenever I like’.
Ashwini just nodded, it might have been a yes or a no.
When Alok returned she told him the story and he laughed, ‘What an imagination you have Ashu’, he said.
‘No, its not her imagination, its true’, said Trupti.
And Alok was shocked. ‘Err we need our privacy, ‘ he mumbled.
‘Don’t worry I will not bother you in your intimate moments’ said Trupti and that was the end of the discussion.
And so it continued Trupti would come and go and would converse with Ashwini. One day there was an argument with Ashika and Trupti asked why they were not buying what she wanted.
‘Trupti if Ashika had her way she would want new things everyday, we cannot afford it. Do you know how expensive it is nowadays. You go out once and when you return there is nothing left in your walled. The monthly provisions, her school, bus fees, our loan EMI leave us with nothing. There is nothing left to satisfy her whims.’
And on another occasion She saw Ashwini limpng to her home, ‘Why what happened to your foot.’
‘Nothing, the straps of my chappal snapped’, she replied.
‘You should have bought a new one,’ said Trupti.
‘No budget for that this month, anyways I have another pair, will have to manage with that for some days,’ she replied.
‘By the way, why don’t you make kadi chawal nowadays, nights you just make rice gruel nowadays.’ asked Trupti.
‘My dear Trupti, do you know how expensive everything is nowadays. For us to survive we have to resort to eating gruel in the nights’, she yelled. ‘We are not like you isn’t it, float here and there, smell and be happy. For us living eating, all need money’.
Trupti was silent. She loved this family. Their love, their unity amazed her but their daily battle to survive against the odds pained her. And so she decided to move away. At least she could give them the privacy they required. They had enough problems to face, at least she would spare them the presence of a ghost.
A ghost had the good sense to leave a family in peace, when will our government try to reduce prices and give people some peace? Or are they worse off than ghosts?
Just a nonsensical story. But how is the common man supposed to live in such escalating costs?