The ceiling fan twirled around.Monotonously. She gazed at it, thoughts following its motion. Moving in circles. Returning invariably to the same point. It was then that he caught her attention. At far end of the ceiling, in the dark corner he lurked. Silent. Spinning his sweet alluring net. The flies that were buzzing around the tube light seemed to be completely off guard of their potential destiny.
Cliche. She hated cliches. She stared at it, stoic. Then got up, took the long pole (which she had specially bought for the purpose) and approached the corner. Smack! He fell from his sticky throne to the dusty ground, twitched once and then laid still. Satisfied, she went back to bed. The mirror opposite, reflected her. Thoughts started their games again.
The circle stopped at a childhood. Small hands clasped the window bars and looked outside. A car was passing through the gate. She watched it slowly diminishing before her eyes. Distance slowly engulfing the blue car and the dreams that went with it. When the intellectual pursuits of her 'post modern' mom clashed with that of her dad's, they decided to part ways. May be that was one of the reasons, she preferred hostel life. It spares one from a lot insensitive displays of affection. Thoughts of her mother had the lingering smell of cigarettes and the deep redness of lipstick which was nauseating. Thoughts of her dad were mere sounds of footsteps, of stuttering boots that climbed upstairs at the dead of the night, unbalanced. The only time she saw them together, smiling, was at the occasional parties they hosted at home, demanded by the deep urge to climb up the social ladder. They held hands, laughed at each others jokes, exchanged courtesies. A perfect happy home.The perfectness of this happy home confused her as a child. Grown up thus, now the memories of home were shadows on the wall, raised cups, raised voices, broken glasses, bitterness and void.
Circles again. Thoughts paused at a restaurant table. The brown ceiling fan gained momentum and changed to one, cream coloured, with floral patterns.Two brimming eyes stared at hers. It reflected the desperation, pain, helplessness and the hope in a friendship thickened by time. Shalini carelessly drew circles in her coffee with the spoon. 'Anupama,' she said,' I dont know how to face this. I am lost.It is too huge a sum for me. I dont even know how to make half of it. Where will I take my parents God !She was slowly breaking down to sobs. Anupama looked out of the window. Sighed and watched the small drops of perspiration scattered on her friend's brow. She held her shivering hands and squeezed it. Something poked Shalini. Surprised, she looked into her hands to find an ATM card. ''2890'', murmured Anupama, and got up to leave.
The circles brought her to a railway platform at a distance of two years from the restaurant table. She stood alone on the platform of Delhi station absorbing the newness of the strange city. She wondered what kept Shalini so long. Her phone then rang indicating Shalini calling. Relieved she picked the call. She heard her friend's heaving voice on the other side. She seemed to be on the verge of tears. She said,' Pammi, My mom is in the hospital man. In ICU. I have to leave for Banglore as early as possible. I am so sorry man. Buy I..'. Anupama consold her friend and asked not to worry about mom. After spending around twenty minutes convincing Shalini that nothing will go wrong, she got into an auto. She wasn't sure where she was going but told the driver quite confidently to go the nearest YWCA. The traffic on the road was maddening. The honks and horns was getting on her nerves. The auto stopped at the signal.Then something caught her eyes. There was a huge spa on the other side. The red structure was notoriously conspicuous among the off white buildings that marked the lane. But what caught her sight was not the spa, but the person who was climbing down its steps in a sparkling green sari. Years had successfully changed Shalini, but not enough to make her unrecognizable.
The room bell rang. Thoughts came to hault with a sudden break, almost causing Anupama to fall flat on her nose. She opened the door to find the sweeper lady standing outside with an envelope. The writing on it looked vary familiar. It was an invitation from her dad- for a wedding. Her eyes strayed over the invitation, the golden letters in bold stuck their tongue out and laughed at her. Somewhere at the fag end of her memory lane, the 56 year old groom kissed her on the cheek and the familiar smell of whisky spread in the room. The little girl raised her hands to be lifted, to be held in those arms and the smell slowly drifted away, farther away, away until nothing remained. Sounds of footsteps faded out.
The invitation shivered in her hands. The letters blended, the paper tore and from its womb it came- a big black spider. Sacred she screamed and threw it away. It crawled to her. Like an amoeba splitting into two, four and many more. All around her the spiders rained. Stickiness. Skin soaked in the slimy secretion. The dead one at the corner twitched again. The floored filled with spiders. She jumped on the bed and watched them growing in size, the hunger in their eyes, waiting to chew her flesh. They smiled, their voices were sweet. The legs swayed in unison, beckoning. She pulled the sheet over her head and closed her eyes tight. An hour passed. And there was silence.
Slowly, carefully she removed the sheet from her head. The room was bright as before. The door, partially closed. The floor was the same and on the corner the dead one lied motionless. She stealthily approached it. Touched it with her feet. Claws seemed to move for a split second. Impulsively she placed her feet on it and crushed it. Slime oozed on the floor. She stared at the disgusting yellow liquid that linked the spider to her toes, emotionless. She took a paper and rubbed it off, the slime and its memory. The flies on the light above seemed to nod their head in appreciation. If only killing spiders were an easier business, she thought.