Its evening, sun is about to set for the day. Orange color is spreading all over the clouds as this is the way sun plays holi with them. Birds are chirping happily and have already started going back to their nests. Few of the houses already have lit their lights before sun could completely disappear. It’s a small town where everyone knows everyone. But today there is someone has come to see Cynthia, she hasn’t seen for many many years. It’s Rafiq. Cynthia is not her real name. It’s Shabana. Half Christian half Muslim is she and it is Islamic rituals that she still follows even when she was married in a Christian family. Now since she is alone after her husband Cyrus died in an accident at work when a big piece of wood fell on his head about 2 months back. She never has missed him as she never loved. For all the years she was married to him, their relationship had always been only the physical one. She never felt emotionally attached to Cyrus even when he always loved her so much. It is not that she does not emotionally feel attached to anybody at all. She did love a guy when she was 16, she still does and it’s Rafiq. For 15 years when she was with Cyrus, she always used to think of Rafiq and imagine him while having sex with her husband.
And today when he really is here in her house, sitting in front of her on sofa, sipping tea, at the other side of a thin curtain, she can’t imagine her happiness. She loves it when anyone calls her by her real name. He was in town for business and when he heard of her husband’s death, he could not resist himself to share the condolence. He’s 35 and unmarried, he always tells his friends and everybody that he does not have time to get married because of business and family but in reality he loved Shabana and could not imagine marrying anyone else. He was afraid that he won’t be a good husband if he marries any other girl. He can not forget that night when they were naked all night in an abandoned house in the neighborhood, 18 years back, neither could she ever. Before they could realize the depth of their relationship it was very late. Since then he has always been waiting for her all of his life. But today he is here not for her. He is here only to display his condolence, nothing else. Before coming to meet her, he knew it will be tough for him to control his affection and feelings after seeing Shabana but he trusted his determination.
She has just finished the evening prayer after taking a bath, smell of her wet perfume is all around. Rafiq’s heart is racing; he is struggling hard to catch his breath when her perfume is filling into his nostrils. He smells the tea instead to avoid her perfume which was dragging him towards the same desire he has been hiding inside from years. There is some strange spark in her eyes, and she is staring at him from behind the curtains while he wishes to hide himself under his skin and run away. He knows that it’s not his fault that her husband is dead but he can not help himself from feeling guilty. However at the other side, she desperately wishes to tear down the curtain and sit in his lap just like a child, just like she used to, 18 years back but it’s the rituals that she can not even cross that thin layer of curtain. Widows are not supposed to go uncover on a stranger for at least 6 months from their husband’s death as per her family rituals.
They both are glued at their places; don’t have any idea as to what to say, how to tear down the curtain.