His eyes pierced through his spectacles and glared at the wall clock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. His heart paced. Tick. Tock. A few more minutes, he said to himself. Tick-tock. His eyes followed the second’s hand. Tick. Tock. Maybe when we look one second at a time, time really does slow down, he thought. Tick-tock. How long? Tick. Tock. His leg quivered. Tick. Tock. He crossed his legs. Tick-tock. Was it time already? Tick. And then he got up.
A minute later, he removed his foggy spectacles off his nose. It left a sweaty and glossy trail behind. Above, the steam covered his forehead and below, his nose shone. A tiny drop of vapor-sweat found its way to his nose from the wrinkly temples and furrowed eyebrows. ‘God, this is something!’ He thought while that tiny drop accentuated on the tip of his nose. ‘Am I done?’ His hands hesitated and as his left one touched the side of the kettle, ‘Arghh!’ he jumped away and screamed and off fell that tiny drop of sweat-vapor. He rubbed his burned fingers with the right, and as his nerves sent signals of pain, his feet danced like his 6 year old son dances through his urinary-rush. Then his brain kicked up and he sped to the sink. As the flash of cold water soaked his burnt fingers, that’s when he sighed a temporary relief.
Later, he got hold of a knife. Enough now, I’ll to get this done real quickly, he thought. Cluck. He missed it. He held his hands firm and tried again. Snip! He was good to go. Snip. Snip. Snip. Cluck. He tried again. Snip. Snip. Swoosh! And ‘Aaaahhh!’ he jumped. The knife fell with other vegetables. ‘Ah!’ he danced again. Held his thumb. Pierced his lips. And turned to the sink gain. In the evening as his kids came back home, he pretended nothing happened. He saw them: one with uneven braids, hair coming out all over, non-ironed skirt; and another encased with mud-ridden creased t-shirt and tousled hair.
His daughter smiled her milk-toothed smile as she saw him. He looked funny. He had his night clothes on, his dark hair were lightened with flour, his t-shirt was half drenched with water and his spectacles were missing. She removed empty tiffin-boxes from her and her brother’s bags and returned the money left from breakfast to her father. Then she ran to the kitchen, her stomach yearning food and eyes searching for hot curry and steaming rice. She gaped open-mouthed at what she saw: the spilled milk on the platform, rusty colored milked in a cup, semi-chopped onions, blood covering the edge of a knife, vegetables on the ground, unused utensils all over the kitchen, spilled flour, soaked rice and daal, drops of blood circling the floor and unwashed sink. She swallowed the sight she saw and turned around to look at her father. It was now that she saw a Band-Aid covering his right thumb. Then she ran to him and embraced his huge torso with her tiny hands and asked, ‘When is Mummy coming back?’
‘Just one more day, beta.’ He said.