Looking out at the window, she saw darkness and nothing else. She sighed and got out of her rocking chair slowly, ready to go to bed. Her old knees creaking and cracking as she did. She had been alone for the past forty five years so the sudden thunder clap had no effect on her. She had stopped being afraid of creaks and squeaks a long time ago. She walked slowly to the sink, kept her mug in and turned away from it. The soft kitchen lighting had an eerie effect on her face, the shadows showed her wrinkles in greater relief. She stood still for a while and then turned back towards the sink, she had second thoughts and washed the mug instead of leaving it for the morning when she would need it for her tea. She put it upside down on the rack above the sink for drying and the droplets of water fell noisily in it. In the silent house this small sound was magnified and sounded more like a gong ringing. She looked at the droplets for a while, turned around for the second time and finally turned off the light.
She was ready to go upstairs to the bedroom but she did not have the strength to walk this much yet. She sat in the big armchair in the centre of the living room in which she had been sitting for the past 69 years. Now it was like a part of her, even the arm chair was used to her curled up in it. Next to this faded red and gold armchair was a small wooden table and on it was an old photo album. The kind that has black pages and faded black and white pictures are stuck in it with decorative borders on them. The pages were curled at the edges. She looked at the album, sighed and picked it up. She kept it on her lap. The cover was hard bound and grey. The word ‘Memories’ written in curvy writing had faded to nothingness, just like in her mind. She opened to the first page as fast as her stiff fingers allowed her.
The picture on the facing page was of a beautiful young woman and a man with a thick head of hair. She touched the man’s forehead with her fingers and the black and white picture suddenly filled with colour in her minds eye. She saw his smooth milk chocolate coloured skin and jet black hair. His brown eyes which had so much of depth in them that she drowned every time she gazed into them. She remembered the day that picture was taken. It was a sunny day so they had gone boating at the lake. It was just the two of them and the ducks quacking around their boat. She was wearing a white frock with pink flowers. The same pink was in her cheeks. They were newlywed and so much in love. The person who rented them the boat took this picture. It was a close-up of just their faces staring into the camera for all eternity. She kissed the picture for the umpteenth time and put it to her chest. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. After he passed away she had been devastated for months, the well wishers and relatives slowly slipped away and then they never asked about her state again. She helped herself though the pain till one day looking at his photo didn’t hurt, it just brought back fond memories and she finally started smiling.
She did not turn to the next page. With his youthful face fresh in her memory, she closed the album and slowly got up and shuffled to the stairs. She climbed one step at a time and finally reached the landing after two whole minutes. She took a break to catch her breath and then shuffled to her room. Her four poster bed was high and bouncy. There was a white comforter with purple flowers on it which was spread on the bed and there were four big pillows, just the way he liked it. She had put a footstool on the left side bed because she could no longer climb on the bed without its help. She got in the covers and faced the right side of the bed. She still imagined that she could smell him there, feel his presence. She gently ran her hand on the sheets on his side. It was like a nightly ritual, she put her arm on his pillow and closed her eyes. She was content and happy with her life. It was predictable but she was fine and she was grateful for the memories of the few years she had with him. She was at peace and the next morning she woke up and had that cup of tea like the last morning and the all the mornings before that.