She checked the time on her watch as her eyebrows shot up wrinkles appeared on her forehead. She was one hour late from school and thoughts raced in her mind of how her mother was going to be mad at her for being late. She recalled the last time it happened, her mother didn’t permit her to go anywhere for a month. She wrapped the shawl around her as she clenched her teeth and started walking. Delhi tends to drop a few degrees in October itself.
Passing by a store she checked herself in the mirror. Reality was far away from her expectations. Her eyes were sunken in their sockets and the fine lines under them were clearly visible. She sighed as her thoughts drove her to what she used to be earlier. A pretty cherubic face which would light up every time she would laugh. Now she sees shriveled up skin bathed in despair. She sighed at her own reflection as she continued to walk in solitude.
“Natasha!” She heard someone calling her from behind. She looked back as her gaze rested on a friend of hers who lived next door, yet they had not met since weeks. Rhea and Natasha had been friends since they were toddlers. But time had distanced them. They hardly talked now. Their memories had been etched in her mind. And when they talked, it was more of a formal meeting between two long lost friends.
“What have you been doing these days?” Rhea asked with as she rubbed her palms.
“Nothing much. Just study a little.” Natasha replied as her face was expressionless. She was reminded of all the times when Rhea and she were Best friends and would spend the entire day together. Things were drastically different now. Rhea had got new friends and Natasha engaged herself in studies and painting.
Rhea got the hint. Silence became their accompanist in the rest of the walk.
“Hey, where are you going?” Rhea said as she saw Natasha turning into the lane.
“What do you mean? I’m going home! Mom must be waiting..I’m an hour late.” Natasha replied as she rolled her eyes.
“But you don’t live here anymore! After Aunties’ death...” Rhea paused.
Natasha it seemed had been pushed into reality. For a while she had forgotten that her mother was no more in this world and now they had shifted to a new place where she knew nobody. Tears rolled down her cheeks as the picture of her glorious past splashed in her mind. She turned around and became ready to complete her journey in solitude again.
“Can I drop you home? Like old times.” Rhea said as her face reflected remorse and guilt.