Neena’s face reflected on the right-hand side-view mirror. It looked as if a beam of light rays just came and struck on the base of the mirror.
The evening breeze softly rustled on the neatly pinned folds of her saree and gave him a glimpse of the narrow strip unhidden between her fitting blouse and her thin waist. Her thin waist reminded him of the hour-glass shaped drum called Damaru or Udukkai or Uddukku. Udukkai is a small drum which is about one foot long.
The middle part of the drum, which is called waist, is narrow. The folk singers in Tamil Nadu used Udukkai during their oral narrative. It is even used by the fortune tellers and priests in the village temples when they invoke their favorite deities or spirits to drive away the evil spirits. The Udukkai acts as a talking drum which can communicate messages to the spirits to drive away the evil. The Udukkai is also believed to have magical powers which can give spiritual power to the performer when he foretells the future. Only men play this instrument, as the instrument is believed to possess mystic powers.
The instrument has two small strings with knotted ends. The drum is held between the thumb and the forefinger. It is rolled from side to side as the knotted ends of the strings strike the centre of both the sides alternatively and produces rhythmical notes.
Neena’s narrow hour-glass shaped waist invitingly attracted Arun’s attention on that day. His mind silently compared it to the details he knew about Udukkai and this made him smile to himself. Though Arun thought no one noticed his secret glances toward Neena, one day she caught him looking at her.
Like soft tendrils struggling in the air to get a hold and attach itself, Arun’s secret glances pitched Neena to an invisible hold that made her feel relieved at times.
‘Some one is still there in this world to appreciate me and my features.’ With a sigh, Neena breathed heavily.
The days whenever she traveled along with him made her day and unknowingly developed affection toward his presence. Days rolled on without any thing specific. Both of them were hesitant to speak their minds out and it went on like a silent mime. Every gesture they understood and their minds started to incline toward each other.
Sometimes, Neena would wonder how he could make her experience heated flushes and cold chills simultaneously and let her sweat in the evening breeze. The impact of seeing him once again hit her like a lightening bolt. She felt damp in her hands and her legs felt weak. She struggled to balance and felt dizzy all at once. Neena could feel his secret glance while she climbed down the bus and stepped onto the road. She reached home as if in a trance.
After washing her face, she lighted the Kuthuvillaku in the pooja shelf and then prepared some tea for her. Sipping her tea, she looked around the room. Unusually the house looked silent. The television was not switched on and her mother sat busy in the corner of the room cleaning the leaves of the greens she got for cooking. Neena immediately understood why it was so.
The group of people who came there last week must have sent a negative reply. For her it did not look something unusual.
‘Ma always expected the unexpected,’ with a chuckle she spoke to her mother.
Brimming with tears her mother looked at her.
‘I will have my prince to take me away.’ When Neena visualized her happy ride on a majestic looking white colored horse on the Chennai roads, she could not avoid smiling.
‘Don’t you feel for this’? Neena’s mother asked her curtly.
‘Why should I? He doesn’t deserve me.’
When Neena replied back, her mother shocked her with an out burst of tears and sharp words.
Neena’s mother did not realize at that time that her words would drive Neena to take the extreme step. The next day dawned as usual. But not for Neena.She gave the ultimate shock to her mother by ending her life with a painful note.
‘Anyone can blame but not a mother.’ Neena’s note faded away with her mother’s tears.