Father was grumpy, why did he have to wait so long to be King, dressed like this finally for the competition. Mother was her usual smiling self. The kitchen fire was where she scowled and everyone thought it was because of the smoke in her eyes. Her daughter- in -law, my wife Sarita, was different. She did not scowl either but you could see it in the tightness of her lips, the concentration not to let her irritation with lesser beings show. She made everyone feel like that. Not me of course, she could not do that, never, I was her prince, her lord.
Sarita, my wife, was the organizer, I left everything as mundane as this to her. For this show she had made sure that everyone was ready on time, had learnt their lines. We had to win this competition. It was an annual show held amongst us, the traders of Mumbai. Winning this meant recognition and money. I participated just for the money, nothing else mattered. Of course, my daughter's insistence was also a reason. For my wife, I did hardly anything. She got most things done herself.
I sat placid in the front, not embarrassed about being dressed like this. The show must go on and money in the pocket was worth a little bit of dressing. In any case, I was the prince in the family, so now I got to dress the part. I wished Raksha was here next to me, her warmth would have made this outing so much more exciting. As my cousin she often sat near me and no one commented. Not too close, but in the safety of our relationship as cousins, we got away with a lot.
The horse neighed and broke my thoughts, we were nearly there. I looked around, the cars had begun to honk. We seemed to have created a traffic jam. It was time for me to get out and take matters in hand, but I saw Sarita jump out before me. Sarita, my wife, the family organizer and troubleshooter, was explaining to the crowd why we were travelling in a horse carriage dressed the way we were. The people who had gathered around in anger began to fold their hands in respect. Soon, the traffic parted for us. Our various cousins and relatives had filled the carriage to overflowing. They now waved to the people in passing, enjoying the attention.
Father's scowl just got deeper but he did not speak nor move. He was King and the seat was enough to contain him. I dreamt of Raksha while mother continued to smile in the distance. Such family outings are rare but bring us all together.
turn the page: Spool of Life
notes on the process