Days went by, scrubbing the floor and quieting her heart. She would work throughout the morning, and lay still all night, thinking about the last time she had laid eyes on him. Those soft touches and those silent whispers came back to haunt her at the very peak of the night, when her heart couldn’t endure the bleeding and her body, the yearning.
She looked back to the day her husband, her beloved husband, had opened arms to an unknown fate, and showered her with promises that he would return, yet wary in the heart of hearts whether he would make it through. Truth be told, she had never wanted him to go away to the war, but how could she say so? Being his wife, wasn’t she meant to provide all the strength and support she could? So, she put on a brave face, awarded him with a smile, and sent him away with a flying kiss.
Days passed, and she received his first letter. The pages turned to tattered leaves, as she turned the paper in her hands over and over again, until she had memorized the words and imagined his voice speaking in her ears a thousand times. The letters kept coming in long gaps, as the days kept flying by and by. As the rest of her body kept on dwindling, and shriveling, and weakening, it was the fire in her heart which kept growing alive. Her conviction in his return was stronger than her conviction in her own ability to live through the long wait. And yet, seconds passed, days passed, and months too flew by.
Finally, the day arrived. She woke up early in the morning, a rapturous glow to her cheeks and a bounce in her foot. She parted her hair, braided it, wore her best frock and put on just a touch of lipstick. The food had been nearly exhausted, but there was enough to cook him a meal he would remember for the rest of his life. After all, he was returning after months. Months! She had to look her best and prepare the best dish she could. She tried calming herself, talking to herself, but words failed her. Her heart took off in delight and the best thing she could do to calm it was sit in a corner, head in her hands, thinking about how soon he would be back. Giggles escaped her every once in a while, and she quieted herself, as she kept counting seconds. Afternoon approached, and her heart fluttered. He would be home anytime!
Stillness, fear and worry took over her as the afternoon passed by and there was no sign of him. She went and peered at the small, broken, only clock they had, and saw that it had been two hours since the time he should have been back home. She sighed, and then, realizing the gravity of the situation, fell back on the bed. Clawing her hair, she patted her now pregnant belly, slowly rubbing her hand around it. She went and sat down on the porch, facing the front lane, tapping her foot and clutching the hem of her dress.
As night began to fall, the tapping of her foot stopped and she wrapped her arms around herself, taking in a deep breath, and then gulping in air. Forcing herself to stay calm, she went inside and looked at the clock again. Brow creasing in disbelief, she banged her fist against the wall. How could it be 6? He was supposed to return at around 12 o’clock, then how could it be 6 o’clock?
She went and sat down on the bed, head and shoulders slumping and then suddenly, her head quirked up. She rushed out to the porch, and then slid down against the wall. Stretching her legs in front of her, she leaned her head against the wall and closed her eyes. She would sit there, she would wait there, till he returned. Time flew by, and then suddenly, she jerked and opened her eyes. She took in her surroundings, saw that it was pitch black outside and went in to look at the clock again. 11, it said. She sighed and sat down on the bed, the first tear escaping. Soon, she was wailing, clutching her belly and jerking her shoulders.
After the fit was over, she stood up, went to the basin, washed her face, straightened her hair and went and lay down on the bed. Unable to drift off to sleep, she kept her eyes wide open, when she heard it. A crunch. The noise of footsteps on gravel. Her heart hammered in her chest and she put her arms around her belly. She sat up, straining to hear the noise. The noise kept coming nearer until it was right outside the door. The door opened from outside, and there he stood.
After a moment of broken silence, she let out a cry and flew into his arms. His shoulders, his cheeks, his hair and his neck, she couldn’t get enough. She smelt him, kissed him and let out wails of happiness now and then. Immersing in a pool of love and contentment, she let out a sigh, and closed her eyes as she laid her head on his shoulders.