“See our kids look happy,” Raju smiled.
The happiness, however, didn’t reflect on Madhu, his wife’s face. “I hope you remember we have got nothing to feed them tonight.” Her voice was but a muffled inferno.
Raju looked at the sewing machine in the distance, a layer of filth blanketing it. Tears brimmed in his eyes, heart pained with a stabbing sensation. It’d been a little over a month since the lockdown had begun. He swallowed the urge to break down at the thought that the age-old machine might not even work after all this was over.
“Over,” Madhu cried aloud, as if reading his thoughts, “everything will be over, I tell you! We will die.” Her words staggered. She covered her eyes with the edge of her saree, that drenched in no time. “I just hope the kids…”
Her words waned in thin air.
Raju gave her a blank, silent stare. His eyes lost focus on the wretched woman. He felt strong indignation but soon the gnawing helplessness washed over. It wasn’t her fault after all. It’d been two days since they’d had a proper meal. Wordless tears rolled down his cheeks. His sight of the joyous kids blurred away.
The man got to his feet, hands reaching into his pocket. A crumpled paper denoting the last bit of money that they were left with rustled in there. He swallowed with dread.
“Madhu.” His calm voice bellowed. “I know I’ve failed you and the kids. But the fact is nobody needs me now.” Tears formed a lump in his throat. The composure wavered. He proceeded to the door and holding it open, added, “be rest assured that as long as I’m alive, the kids won’t sleep hungry.”
Raju rushed out, determined. Madhu shivered, caught somewhere between hope and apprehension.
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