Three People, Four Plates Part III has been edited by Rushi Bhimani.
I couldn’t believe it. Antara aunty? Why was she acting like this? She was mom’s best friend. Something has to be wrong. If she does know something, why wouldn’t she tell dad? I am going to go, meet her tomorrow. Enough is enough. I need to get answers. I cannot live with this mystery all my life.
It’s Sunday afternoon and dad is fast asleep. It is as good a time as any, I decided. I sneak out quietly. It is time to clear this mess up.
I knock on the door but no one answers. But I wasn’t going to give up so easily. I kept knocking, until a middle-aged woman opened the door. Her eyes shone while she looked at me, and her face portrayed a warmth that reminded me of my childhood. Other than a few wrinkles, she was the same Antara aunty who used to come to our house with lots of chocolates and teased me a lot while she pulled my cheeks.
Those days are long gone, but when I think about them, I get a little nostalgic. It is always there, a constant companion.
I couldn’t help but wonder, does mom look any different now? Would I recognize her? Would she know it was me? After three years, how much has she changed? How much does a person change in three years anyway?
“Where is mom, Antara aunty? Is she with you? Why hasn’t she bothered to contact us in all these years?” I blurted as soon as I zoned back in. I stared into her eyes, waiting for a reply.
She looked at me, and a tear rolled down her cheek as she opened the door to let me in. There was a pot of tea on the table surrounded by a sofa and some arm chairs. I sat on one of them, still trying to figure out what was happening. She said, “Your mother and I have been best of friends. Be it good times or bad, she always stood by my side. She was a really good friend, a friend everyone would love to have in their life.”
As she spoke, tears continued to roll down her cheeks. She got up and went to her room. I didn’t know what to do. I sat down and waited for her to come back. She came back down in a few minutes with a diary in her hand.
I saw an envelope tucked inside the dairy. There was something written on it. As I had a closer look, I instantly recognized my mom’s handwriting. I stopped my attempt to read and was trying to curb my overwhelming emotions as I realized it was letter by mom. I could hardly breathe.
Breaking my silence, Antara aunty said, “I hope this provides you with some answers. All I ask of you is that you do not think any less of me for hiding this from you for so long.”
I couldn’t speak. All the answers were finally in my hands, and I didn’t know if I really wanted them or not. I was not sure whether I wanted to disrupt my hopeful nights and days.
Without uttering a word I ran out of there. Out of the lobby, out of the building and on the street.
I kept running. It was when I reached the park that I realized nobody was chasing me. I went and sat on a bench. With a blurry vision and trembling hands I opened the envelope.
“To my dearest Sid and Ved,
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