|(Photo courtesy: Priyanka Singh; Model: Datri Sodha)|
Nandini sat folding, unfolding, refolding the little piece of slightly yellowed, rectangular paper. Her trembling hands trying to get each fold right and equidistant. Matching the corners and edges each time. It was important that the folds be just right. She was an architect. She liked symmetry. She needed symmetry. Things had to fall into place.
Behind her, the clock tick-tocked on the wall. The once bright yellow wall paint now cracked and coming off around the ceiling and the corner to the left of the clock. Nandini didn’t like to look at that wall, even though the large window on it looked out into the society’s beautiful park. The visage was always colourful. The society’s caretaker was fond of flowers and had strategically planted the trees and shrubs, so that there would be blooms of different hues all through the year. Nandini didn’t notice the white jasmines, pink, white, blue and purple lilies, and the bright orange marigolds that lined the boundary, the bright yellow of the amaltas trees breaking the otherwise green lush. She sat with her back towards the vibrant summer palette. Her ears shut to the chirping of birds and children alike.
Even the time on the clock on that wall was perpetually wrong. She never looked at the clock either; it was just there. She never quite figured out why she never got rid of it, she thought, as her fingers worked that piece of official paper. First fold. Tick. Second fold. Tock. Third fold. Tick. Hard-press the crease. Tock. A small little square. As tiny as the plastic hand of the baby doll kept atop the cupboard across the floor from where she was sitting. Raghav had bought her the doll seven years back—their first week anniversary. Nandini had LOVED it. It was so lifelike—bald head, crinkled, chubby hands and feet, wide, dreamy eyes, a cooing mouth. She had tended to it as if it were her own. Now only Raghav looked after it. That was pretty much the story of every little thing in the house that they had lovingly built together.
They loved kids. Unfold one. They’d tried for their own for many years. Unfold two. The reports lay strewn around her. She was summer cleaning. Unfold three. The doctor had said she could never become a mother. Some operation had gone horribly wrong.
Raghav’s jacket lay crumpled on her lap, as she finally opened the rectangular paper down to the last fold for the first time in seven years. A single tear trickled down her cheek and on to the receipt from the abortion clinic. He still had it. The date was a week—to the day—before their parents had miraculously approved of their relationship. If only...
(Writer's Note: This was my first attempt at fiction. Feedback, criticism, suggestions are most welcome :-) Thanks for reading!)