Salman picked up the red duppatta that Suman had really liked. He remembered this one specifically because it was a very bright red with big gold dots that really went well with a white Kurta that Suman had. He walked along the market visiting all the shops that he and Suman last visited. He liked walking with her. Even if it was just the memories he was carrying. Even her memory seemed to have a strong scent.
He looked at the jewelry store next by and remembered how Suman loved black metal Jewels. She had a huge collection back home. It looked hideous when it was on display. Somehow not so much on Suman. He often wondered if it was the jewelry that adorned women. Because Suman adorned them when she wore them.
Salman looked at the Men’s wear shop nearby. It almost always had bad shirts and T shirts. However he remembered how once Suman picked out a black and red large horizontal striped shirt. He had been to the shop maybe a dozen times and has never walked out with a sale. Women did have a way with shopping. Finding the best among the worst too! Suman definitely did. He wondered if she did a thesis on how to shop effectively and efficiently.
He then crossed baby’s day out, the new baby store in the market. The shop was done very aesthetically. They had nice baby themes and colors like pink and blue to go with the store. Salman was surprised when he learnt that pink was not one of Suman’s favorite colors. During their courtship, he assumed it would be her favorite color and got her a Kurti in pink. He was stumped when she said she found pink too girly. She accepted it though and said it was a nice pattern . She loved black. It is majestic she would say. He understood what she meant when she wore a long black dress when they went out for dinner on their first anniversary .Beauty became her.
The old second hand book store excited Suman. It was amazing how well read she was. She read everything. From comic books to spiritual texts. She read the Gita. When they got married, she told him she wanted to read the Kuran to see what his religion preaches.
He often felt she was the exact author backed role sort of a person. She was the right mix of right and wrong. She felt happy doing the small things. She wanted to be mean to inefficient government employees and annoying credit card offers. She was the right mix of fun and seriousness. There was a never a dull moment with Suman. It was a roller coaster, he was always waiting for more. Waiting.
Salman finally walked past the market and walked in to a house that looked like it needed a lot of renovation. He walked straight in and opened his bag and took a check out and gave it to the person who seemed to be in charge of the place. She looked at the check for a minute and gave out a stifled gasp.
“It isn’t fair Samlan” said the lady
“It is what Suman would have wanted Anita. Please accept it. Suman always wanted to contribute to this orphanage and all she could manage was her time, but now she can do something monetarily. Please accept it and use it for their education” said Salman
“But Salman, the time was so much more precious, than these mere pieces of paper” said Anita.
Salman smiled, a smile that made a futile attempt to cover an ocean of sadness “Don’t underestimate the power of those pieces of paper Anita. It is how people are valued today”
Salman walked away through the market again. He read the letter that came today morning in mail.
“Here is your wife’s life insurance policy amount sir. We are terribly sorry for your loss, We hope you find peace”
He crushed it and tossed it over the dustbin. As he walked past the market again, it was hard to say if this was where Suman went last week to do her shopping to buy diwali clothes for the children in the orphanage. It was hard to believe that this was where a couple of bombs went off ripping apart lives of hundred and countless thousands like himself who were forever doomed to live with just memories of their loved ones. It was hard to believe that had there been no bomb, he would be here with Suman this week, checking out baby clothes for their just conceived little bundle of joy. Indeed it was hard to believe.
The newspaper on the adjacent tea stall read “Religious groups blame one another for the recent shopping market bomb blast”.
Salman thought to himself that somewhere everyone had become a Hindu , A Muslim and a Chrisitian and in the process stopped being a human. He walked. Walked past all of Suman’s favorite shops carrying her scent with him ,waiting for the nightmare to end,waiting for some semblance of normalcy to catch up with him, waiting for the eternal wait to get over.