She sprung up from sleep for the fourth time that afternoon which was very unusual for a typical housewife like her who used to wake up in the odd hours of morning and work like a magic machine till noon. It seemed to her that  her buzzing cell phone had granted her a reply, perhaps, an answer to the question she was struggling to put up to her husband.


But the screen just flashed the time; and now, a sign which indicated the low battery.


Bani was a very traditional lady, whose husband went for a nine-to-five job leaving her by herself at home to spend time with the television set. She hailed from a middle-class family of Gujarat and was married to another middle-class family in Cuttack.


Her mother had taught her, when she was very little, that women were not supposed to work and how they were put on this earth with the one and only motive of serving the husband with a head bent down. And Bani, some because of  the background she was brought up in and some because of the introvert nature she instilled, had followed her mother’s teachings too well. She thought twice before speaking anything in front of her husband even after two years of their marriage.


Her conversations with her husband were confined to that of the food to be prepared and the grocery items to be bought. Sometimes they exchanged shy smiles on the dinner table when her husband would compliment her for the delicious food and that was it. Shlok, her husband, would try getting all romantic and mushy with his wife, but Bani would always give him an uncomfortable look and suddenly remember an important household chore to be completed.


But that was different.


That one day, mustering up all the desired courage, Bani had fired her husband with her dream. But Shlok, unlike the regular, had not replied to the message and this was killing every inch of Bani.  Her thirst seemed to quench due to repentance and body seemed to collapse due to fear.


*Buzz buzz*


She woke up again.


*Battery critically low. Connect to a charger*


She opened the last text message sent to Shlok and re-checked the delivery report, just to be sure.


“Why would Shlok not reply? Didn’t he read my message? I hope he is not offended. Why did I even think of writing that silly question to him? Have I lost my mind? Ma had told me not to be so selfish,” she almost slapped herself.


On not receiving a call by Shlok like every day when he started for home, she was sure she had disgraced her husband. She decided to prepare his favourite dish as a token of apology.


Just when she entered the kitchen, she heard the lift stopping at her floor.


“The neighbours are not in town. The maid has left already. Who would it be? Shlok?” she almost skipped a beat.


When she felt a key entering the keyhole and turning in the ideal motion, she was sure her husband was back home. Her face was flushing with fear and guilt. Shlok entered and brought with himself, a sweet smell.


Roses, she wondered.


He directly moved towards the kitchen for he knew his wife would be busy with the dishes. Even though they had barely exchanged heart-to-heart conversations, Shlok had observed his wife enough to know about the tiniest of details about her.


Shedding away all the shame and awkwardness, he spooned his wife from behind and presented her a bunch of roses.


“Relax, baby.”


“Why didn’t you reply to my message?” she fired.


“Because I wanted to look into your eyes and tell you that even though we are a married couple, you are not shackled to me. You are free to make your own decisions and choices. You don’t need to seek my permission.”

“So, does that mean…..”


“Obviously it means that you can work at the bookstore!”


“Please say that again?” she almost screamed.


“You can work at the bookstore, my love. Whatever you do is going to benefit us in the end.”


“Benefit us?”


“Yes, obviously. You will shoplift…” “…Jeffery Archer for you,” she completed him, with instant tears oozing out her eyes. For the first time in their two-year old married life, Bani hugged her husband in broad daylight without a slightest hint of discomfort.


“How do you know roses are my favourite?” she whispered.


“Just like you knew Archer is my favourite,” he whispered back kissing her forehead.


They had found their day of love.


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