Its been a few hours now, the crowds have left, the scented candles long blown out, now a mere whiff remains, a suggestion of the scent and of those people who were here just a while ago. A suggestion remains of the wine they had, cigarettes they smoked and if you listened long and hard enough, even snatches of their conversations still stayed in play, etched as if in the very fiber of those walls.
Amrita reached over to open the windows; the smells were getting stifling, more dangerous than the swarms of flies she knew that would soon descend. The fan was on high, its rusted hinges, a source of comfort. There was a faint breeze outside, the leaves moved just a bit and if you hadn’t caught the furtive motion, there was no other way to know that it was even there in the first place. Sort of like hiding and seeking, one that she was increasingly becoming familiar with.
With a sigh as long as time itself she straightened up to begin tackling the cleaning up. There is something perverse about the contrasts just at the end of a party; the air falls silent as if too got tired after the evening’s excitement. The lipstick marked glasses remain in testament to things that were said or almost were. Depends on the glass in question. Ashtrays of course had their own stories too, but like the butt, all signs of life were now gone. All that remained was that stale air. And bits of nibbled cheese. And a spot on the rug that no one wanted to own up to and one that she just noticed.
She began to pick up the bottles and started emptying the ashtrays into a big plastic bag to leave outside the door for the bai to pick up in the morning. She wondered what Mary would think when she sees all the alcohol bottles and cigarettes. Her lips would curl in displeasure for sure but would soon be replaced by a gleeful grin as she’d realize the stuff she’d have to tell Mrs. Kumaran living on the floor directly below.
Amrita being single and having regularly entertained every weekend for the last few months well late into night, sure meant she was talked about a little. A lot if her own bai, has anything to say about it! As she is sure to remind her everyday and chide her, "Amma its time you found a nice boy. You are marriageable now and if the fruit gets over ripened and falls off of the tree even birds won’t eat it”. And then she would ominously add, “Only rats will eat. Is that what you want? A rat boy?” and thinking it came out too harsh would quickly add, “you are so nice Amma and people thinking wrong things, find no Amma, a nice boy…” and would walk off into another room to dust, to rub off some of its unseemliness, that she thought could only come from girls like her. Thirty six, single and living alone.
It was with that morbidly hilarious analogy on her mind that she continued onto her room to finally change, wash off the make-up, and call it a night. The final vestiges of the party cleared. And the proverbial slate clean for another day, and another night. And to a whole new year to follow tomorrow.