Islay Keen stays in the city. She has two children. A girl and a boy. The boy is plumb. The girl is thin. The girl is artistic. The boy, a mathematics wizard. She sends them by private auto to the school which contain a few other children from the same school. The children will get in at different stops on the way. The auto driver is her neighbour. He stays in a colony adjacent to her own.Islay Keen works in a private office. She is the assistant to a bossy man who thinks with no valid reason that the world owes to him. This is a special state of being. You can see such elite gentlemen at airports or supermarkets, breaking the queues and getting the order or ticket. I leave this topic to the psychologists among my readers.In like manner, Islay Keen persevered through the working environment because she had a family to take care of and she is the sole breadwinner. Her husband is a sick man. He would seldom be able to go to work. But he is a decent man. He has a warm smile and after waking up from bed in the morning, he smiles at the neighbours. At daybreak, the neighbours will be routinely walking to the park He stands at the balcony and smiles at them. Smiling is a good activity. It beautifies the curves of the mouth. And it adds honour to the face that does it. In an interview, people who are smiling have more chances of getting through. The world revolves around smilers. In case you can smile on your deathbed, you are a winner. So best smile over glare.
When she married she did not know that the future would be so, her husband had a day job in another country and after the accident in the factory, he came home invalid and sick, though the insurance gave him some money which he spent for buying books. And he wrote stories from morning to noon, tales of warriors or heroines that lay unpublished or are unpublishable, at least now. In the afternoon he took a nap because imagination made him more sapped than actions. He foretold her that one day he will be a great writer, though he is still that great writer just unacknowledged for the time being-‘ Humanity has not risen to my expectations. However, today, though I am not a good writer, I can be a good man.’ And before marriage, he often took some poor neighbours’ children to school and bought them brittle candies and promised them that he will buy them storybooks when he has more money. The children believed him, because he was good enough and maybe better than the best around them. But unfortunately, the accident took away the hopes of him as well as the kids. It is a terrible irony in life that those who have a good heart seldom have means to put their feelings in the three-dimensional sphere…
What were we talking about – Yes, Islay Keen of 31st apartment, Eleventh Cross, Cantonment Road, Behind Power Station and the Crocodile Pond, East City.
In the university eras, Islay was a good cyclist. She and Shanti Kishku were the only two girls in the whole college to take part in that sport… In the conservative college, the students’ parents did not allow their girls to take part in cycling sports. They instead took part in volleyball and tennis. Her college was run by a religious community to which she belonged. She could not get many top medals in the intercollegiate competitions though she was good at cycling, because other colleges had good coaches and they were lenient in practice timings. But she did not grieve that. Even after her wedding, the cycle was kept preserved in the thatched shed by the house. When her son was born, she wanted to take him on the bicycle and show him the village and town. She waited for the third birthday, but when the third birthday came, her husband said, ‘it is not safe to take the kid’. So she paused for another year and on his fourth birthday, she made a cushioned seat in the central bar and took her son and gave him directions to catch tight on the handlebar. Her hubby did not dispute this time. She took her son and while riding explained to him all the things that might have inspired his curiosity on the ride. It was as if viewing the world from an entirely another angle. But a tense situation happened on the way. At a curve, a lorry raced fast and she had to use all her expertise of the instrument to avoid the mishap. None of them slipped, and she parked the vehicle by a tree and tarried there for fifteen minutes trying to recapture the disaster that was sidetracked. After that, she did not take her son on the bicycle. When her husband asked her one day if she was not taking him out on the bicycle, she just said- ‘It is not very safe’. She did not tell her spouse about the averted accident. Her partner peered deeply into her eyes but did not tell anything…
One day, Islay Keen’s neighbour Shanti Kishku visited her house. She is smart, coming from another town. She runs a boutique. She offers some new items. She gives presents as a proposition of the business, a top for the child and an excursion wrap for Islay. Moreover, they are old mates. Since both had their lunch, they engage in leisurely talk. They speak for an hour. By then out of nowhere rain is pouring. The women take a gander at the water drops outside the windowpane and proceed with their light palaver. Before long, Shanti Kishku gets a call from her life partner and leaves. It is evening time. It is time for Ishlay to go to school and pick up her children. Today is Wednesday and the auto driver won’t come, as he has another part-time job. Islay goes to the school and gets the two kids and she sends them by the city transport. She sees them off at the bus stop in the wake of getting them espresso from a close to the eatery. The coffee shop has little legroom, at any rate clean. She eats two Osmania bread rolls and the kids eat four. It is a bill she can bear. By then she goes to the office. On Wednesdays, she had taken special consent to go late to the workplace. But she will slave away overtime. Today, she has another appointment. She goes to the Lot Market to get her gold bijouterie pawned and get the cash. The agent is sharp, in any case, genuine and he catches on to old customers and gives more cash for them. She is insouciant and she plans to go to a film. A night show in a good theatre. The workplace will be over by 9 p.m. There is security. So there is no problem. Today she won’t take her children or her partner. Children will be safe at home with her husband. She talks with her friend Shanti Kishku over the telephone.It is 9.30 pm. The two women now marshal the queue before the theatre. She sees her accomplice in the workplace. He questions with his eyes quizzically. Islay grins and a brief time frame later ignores the chap. She makes a joke to her friend. They both laugh. The film will begin soon. And they are conjuring up the story in the celluloid. Furthermore, out of the blue, it downpours and the two ladies go to a covering shed close to the main structure. They smile again at the atmosphere and the glorious night sky.