She mumbled as the inequality of the winter breeze grifted her. A car passed her by inches as she dragged her bag across the pavements. The thoughts in her mind did not concern her anymore- they were now set on her one and only, whom she had left with a cold cup of tea and a colder heart.
She had seen the twelve divisions of the year just vanish into the waters when she came home to find bills and impending dues in the mail. Living together, far away from the warmth of family had eventually caught up with them. What were they but teenagers seeking to make it out in the world? Well, that was an illusion that had soon disappeared into the vapours.
Now looking at the caitiff face of the landlord, all thoughts seemed despicable.
“Where are you going?” the landlord asked, investigating her bag. “When will you pay my rent?”
She looked at him with teary eyes, hoping to turn his negativity into pity.
“I do not have any. We’ll make it, I promise. The next month, we’ll have it for next month,” she said.
“Next month, next month! I am sick of next month! When will it come?” he blasted.
She wilted and ran from him; he screamed her name and then some curses.
That winter could not have been harsher, with the world collapsing and the shadow of debt swallowing them in, it all seemed way too hard.
She walked up to the bridge and sat a moment there, reminiscing.
“You know, we’ll be outta here. And then we’ll have a house, a few pets and we’ll be one happy family!” he said with his arms in the air, and then around her.
“Oh yeah, we will,” she replied.
But when they actually looked up houses, they found nothing.
“This isn’t much. But we’ll get there. Few more months to get some money and then we’ll be living the good life!”
He said that but his enthusiasm too faded away with the advent of reality- that they will never be happy.
“Gosh, we’ll get there, dear. Do not lose hope, okay?” he kept saying, despite the fact that he was starting to disbelieve what he himself was saying.
And as the days passed, they lost more and more things out of life. Soon, they were going to run out of food too. Losing hope, they started to play out the lottery and kept losing every time. They had promised not to, but she went on and bought one last one.
Frustrations started to pour like the water from the bad ceiling. Every night, they fought and there was always a bottle breaking somewhere and screams and shouts and tears fell from the cheeks, unnoticed.
But this was the end of it, she thought. The last fight, over everything up to now.
“It was all a mistake,” she finally said what she wanted to.
He was heartbroken at her words, hoping she hadn’t said that.
“Please don’t…” he started to sink.
“I’m sorry,” she mumbled and now she sat at the bridge.
She took a deep breath and a final voice shed a tear which disappeared into the clear blue waters beneath.
She came home that night, late from the wanderings. She was greeted with yet another piece of white office paper with another payment reminder. She had come to take away the last of her things but she came only to see the house lit with candles.
“They cut the electricity today- we’re way overdue. So I…” he said and displayed with his arms, the heavenly lights.
She stood there, unknown to what she was to do. She crumbled the paper and let it fall to the floor.
“Look, I–” she was about to speak of the paper when he cut her off.
“Enough, I am the man of the house!” he said and took her arm to welcome her in, “and I am telling you, No more bossing me around and no more worries, woman!”
He had cleared off the floor and made a soft cushion with the papers they had been collecting. He made her lie down and took off her tensions.
“Clear out, breathe! Breathe!” he said as he lay down with her.
They both lay silent, with her trying to muster up courage to deliver the news.
She just took a breath to speak when he started.
“I know, this is not what we expected. I know, we were expecting a happy life in a beautiful home with a happy and a healthy life. Not this, I know very well, this is not what we expected. This is nothing we could have ever thought of. This place is disgusting, the ceiling makes it rain all day, the floor could collapse any second now, and the cupboards will run empty and we’ll starve to death,” he said and paused for a time, and they listened to the rodents that squeaked outside.
“But!” he broke out, “but, we have these four walls. They make only a house, and you make these four walls a teenie-tiny, filthy, broken house, a home. Yes dearie, a home.”
She was speechless and everything swept right out of her troubled mind.
“This is not anyone would want to be, anywhere. But I would want to, because you are here. You are here and that makes this place the beautiful home that I always wanted.”
And weight of water behind her eyes was too much to bear.
“Oh no, no. Don’t cry now. The ceilings are already leaking!” he said and the room was filled with sobs and laughter altogether.
“Money, honey, is something we don’t need any more. We got too much debt,” his words were responded with a very open-faced expression of how-can-you-say-that.
“But I–” he just would not let her speak.
And she quietly surrendered, to his simple philosophies and his careless cogitation about real life and the fact that life indeed was happy.
While they made shapes in shadows with the candles all around and decided to blow away before the whole cardboard apartment caught fire, the crumbled piece of paper was a complete change of fate.
Lying on the floor, it read:
“Congratulations! You have won the Lottery……!”