Updated: Nov 26, 2020
I shut the refrigerator door very carefully. Meghna is dozing off peacefully on the couch, and I did not want to wake her up. I light the stove and place the pan. The microwave beep would most likely wake her up. She is an extremely light sleeper. I consider brushing the pan with some oil, but the paratha in my hand seems to have enough of it already. I mean, duh, Meghna made them last night. One can very easily tell our parathas apart by simply touching them. I place the paratha on the pan.
Within half-a-minute, it's done. I barely heated it, just enough to make the paratha not feel like leather. I take a bite. It's perfect. Not too hot, not too hard. I leave the pan in the kitchen. I'm hungry, and nothing comes before food at this point, not even my wife's complaints about an untidy kitchen. I chew as I walk towards the couch. I look at her face. She looks extra cute when she sleeps. I decide to offer her a bite as well. I tear a piece and hold it close to her mouth. I hover the piece over her nose for a while before I lightly press it against her lips expecting my darling wife to just open the mouth and gobble up her oily creation.
She doesn't. Instead, she pushes my hand away and jumps up, evidently scared. I look at her, half-scared myself. She is sweating as if she just worked out, nothing like the calm face a moment ago. I hurriedly sit close to her, holding her hand. I place the plate aside and hug her.
"Hey, did I startle you?" I ask. "I'm sorry." Meghna bursts into tears, her nails now digging into my palm.
"I... umm..." she chokes between syllables. "I thought... I felt... For a moment I felt it was someone else." She lowers her face on my shoulder.
I can almost instantly feel the shirt's fabric grow wet on my shoulder. She is crying. She is shuddering. I am holding her close, trying to make her feel safe, trying to absorb some of that shivering.
"Do you want to talk about it?" I enquire. She shakes her head. For a moment I feel maybe I should press her further about what scared her, or who she thought it was. But I don't.
Some demons, I decide, are bested best when left alone and forgotten...
Written and Illustrated by Aninda K. Nanda
Proof-reading and Suggestions: Satamita Hazra