The Dank Corner

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He stood looking at the fading green door. He knew his father was somewhere inside. He knew it was about time that he joined him too, but he didn't want to face his father just yet.

Gingerly, he forced himself to enter through the door. His eyes turned to that corner in the living room instinctively. Against his wishes he hoped that he wouldn't have to see his father sitting there. But today was just not the day of liberation. His father was in the dank corner again. He was sitting cross-legged on the floor. His head bowed down in deep meditation. 

Nandan knew better than to observe his father. He went into the attached kitchen to wash his face. It was almost time for dinner in their small faded home. Nandan looked into the kitchen sink. It was full of unclean dishes. With a heavy sigh he turned on the tap and start washing them. It was in times like these that he realized how much he missed his mother.

He missed his mother not because she was good at these things. But because he never paid any attention to what she did when she was around. And now that he has ended up doing her jobs, it occurs to him how patient she was with his father. Just when he was about to light up the stove to start preparing dinner he caught a movement out of the corner of his eye.

His father was standing motionless. His eyes were sunken graves and his face was the graveyard. Nandan took a step back from the stove. His father took his place silently and lit up the stove. The yellow of the fire was reflected in his remorseful eyes. The image of his wife in a bright yellow saree floated in his mind for a moment but he swept it away.

Nandan's father stole a look and searched for signs of distress in Nandan's face. Finding none, he refocused on making dinner. He'd already shared enough piece of his private hell with Nandan. The poor chap needed a break. After all, today was the fifth death-anniversary of the lady of the house. And the number signified something more than the sorrow it evoked.

Maybe today was the day of liberation, Nandan thought as he watched his father's expert fingers chop up the onions. He left the small area to gather his thoughts on this transformation. It was only by pure chance that he wasn't in the kitchen when his father properly smiled for the first time in five years. The smile was what made the dinner delicious. Just like how Nandan's mother used to make it.

The next day the sun shone a little brighter. The home seemed cleaner and smelled of nothing. The whistle of the pressure cooker actually made Nandan happy. And when he rushed to the bathroom to get ready, he saw his freshly clean-shaven, impeccably dressed father combing his hair. His father gave him an all-knowing nod.

On the dusty street leading from their home's gate one could see both of them walking silently. Nandan was on his way to the college. His father was on his way to finally get a job again.

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