A story written in about a 1000 words on a prompt: You find an open wallet on the street and look inside to find something that surprises you.
“You don’t want to me start, do you?”
Mom said as she turned to look at dad who had just said something that didn’t go down well with her.
Ravi has been seeing this look ever since he can remember. His many attempts to unravel that mysterious look, which seemed to shut his dad up, never bore fruit. Mom had always tried to pare down that stare and disguise it from the kids; but that didn’t really work once Ravi and his sister grew up. Whenever this happened at a family setting, where all of us were either at dinner or watching a movie sitting bunched together on the couch, Dad would stretch his arm to touch mom and that seemed to put the fun back in Mom.
“Hey! Who wants to play Cluedo”?
Mom always found a way to keep the four of us going. Dad never found time off work, but when he did, Mom made that day special. She was either cooking something we loved to eat, listing out movies all of us could watch during the weekend or clearing the dining table to set up a board game. When Ravi was in school, she would find enough time to sit with him to explain his lessons and help him with homework- always with a smile and encouraging words, that made life seem easier. She had the power to slow down the clock. She fitted in more to the 24 hours than most mortals could. And that helped Ravi through school, his music classes, his football practice and his college; even his love life. It was when he was at Stanford that he had time to sit down and appreciate the time that his mom had given him which allowed him to excel.
Ravi’s tousled hair crowned his smooth clear jaw line and you could tell from a distance that he had a well-built body within that lemon-yellow shirt and khaki green chinos. Rasika met him while at Stanford and he was a year younger to her. When Ravi called her this morning and asked her to meet him at the Starbucks down the lane, he had said today was going to be special. She just had enough time to get her hair shampooed at the salon. They manicured her fingers while they were doing her hair. She had dressed in a dark green gown which Ravi had bought her. It contrasted well against her skin tone; Ravi had said. She was ready for him.
“Hey! Rasika”. Ravi never shortened her name.
Rasika stood up, her arms outstretched. They hugged. She always liked it when he placed his palm on the small of her back – just there where she couldn’t read much into. And that uncertainty sent shivers up her spine.
His Caramel Latte was already on the table. He took a sip as he was sitting down. He was excited and some of the coffee spilled on the table. Just as Rasika was wiping it off with a Napkin, Ravi said
“I spoke to mom -
Here comes his stories about his mom, Rasika thought. Again! It was cute and all, but she couldn’t understand how someone would speak so much about their own mother and not be bored of it. This was the only thing she wished Ravi did a little less of. Just as she was about to say, “Not now Ravi”, she heard him continue.
“- about us”. Rasika wanted to take their relationship further but Ravi always said he wasn’t ready.
She couldn’t finish her coffee. She didn’t want to. They just sat for a while in silence, a huge smile interrupting Ravi’s handsome face. Rasika was trying to take deep breaths between her “Oh My Gods!”
“Let me buy you that ring we had seen”, Ravi tried to bring some sanity.
Rasika’ s heart hadn’t yet stopped galloping. Her tongue still stayed tied. She pushed her chair back and stood up to walk towards the door. Ravi followed.
The jeweler was just across the road. He caught up with Rasika and held her by the elbow as they dodged cars and humans to cross the road.
“I still can’t believe it”, Rasika was saying just as they reached the jeweler.
Ravi smiled as he opened the door for Rasika but before she could enter, a lady speaking on her mobile phone was walking out of the door. They stood by to let her pass and her kajal lined eyes met Ravi’s with a nod of her head. She had unrestrained wavy hair that seemed to spring with each step, restrained only by the large sunglasses on top of it. She had a white loose kurta on with dark big pearls around her neck. Her ear hoops touched her shoulders. She had two bags on both shoulders, and a very colorful scarf seemed to bracket her attire.
Ravi followed Rasika into the store and there on the floor he saw an embroidered wallet. He picked it up and it came open. What he saw shocked him. He rushed out of the door chasing the woman who had just passed them by.
“Ravi” Rasika shouted and took off after him. He was a long way ahead.
It wasn’t hard to see the lady walking on the other side of the road. Ravi caught up with her just as she was about to get into her car.
She turned around and looked at Ravi as if she seemed to recognize him.
“Who are the people in this photograph”, Ravi asked her showing the photograph he had just seen inside the wallet. Ravi managed to just pull the wallet away in time as she was trying to grab at it.
He was breathing heavily and sweat shone on his forehead. His voice was now trembling. “Who are these people”, he screamed out.
“That is my son and his father. And now give me the wallet”. She plucked the wallet off just as Ravi’s grip around it loosened and it was about to drop.
Rasika caught up. “That can’t be” he said as the woman got into the car. Rasika put her arms around him as he bent down supporting his hand on his knees.
Ravi looked up to see Rasika look back at him as if asking what just happened.
“She had a photograph in her wallet. In it, there was a man whose hands she was holding as they were sitting leaning against each other and on her lap was a boy. That man was my father”
As Ravi straightened to look up, he saw the woman walk towards him.