After Noor, by Rohit Karir
At 92, time is ticking.
Sometimes Bhaskar thinks about God’s favorite work, method, and pastime. Runs a lottery, galactic patience, and drops hints is his best guess. He could have used a clue when he was 26: don’t kiss that girl who holds your gaze, wears summer dresses, and has a flickering personality.
Within weeks they knew a porcupine had married a jellyfish.
Malini became more miserable at the realization than Bhaskar. It was gloomy, occasionally amusing, to watch their guests when they realized it. Malini and Bhaskar overcame life’s challenges but rarely rewarded them with love for each other, settling for shared achievement.
Amid the simmering heat of folly in their home, they were blessed with Noor, who deflected most jarring notes sung by her parents, and grew up to be cheerful with enough craters to make her a formidable woman.
Answers didn’t scare Noor. While recovering from a car accident that left her with broken bones and visceral injuries, she said to her father while looking at her mother, “People wised up to one another can stand apart yet be together, you know, just as lives.”
Her raised eyebrows demanded a recommitment from them.
Malini and Bhaskar realized they had spent so much energy drawing lines that they had become a border.
Before Bhaskar turned 58, when Malini’s preoccupations settled perceptibly and Bhaskar acknowledged his failures of internal guidance, they made a door through most fences of compulsion and began breathing together. Noor called them senior citizen valentines.
Bhaskar looks at his pale hands, freckled with brown spots. The creases on his face are sagging, but his gait is steady. At fourscore and a dozen bonuses, the girl he kissed still sits by his side.
Time is ticking, and they have had their full.
Rohit Karir is a journalist and freelance writer based in Noida, India. Paragraph Planet has published his micro-fiction, and he’s working on a collection of flash fiction stories. You can find him online @RohitKarir.