I have been lying in this drawer for over 2 years now. It’s musty and cold in here. My keys strokes have rusted and the ink in my ribbons has dried up. My parched body parts would trade anything for just one drop of oil. The office has been closed for a while now. The dust mites that flew here spoke of a lockdown for the past 8 months because of Corona Virus. However, this office was closed several months before that. I think he doesn’t live here anymore. Who is he, you may ask? He is my owner, my sole user for over 35 years.
37 years ago, I saw him nervously count his notes and coins carefully and handing them over to my previous owner. It didn’t seem to bother him I was a second hand product. His dominating wife chided him for investing in such a basic piece. For the next 35 years, she never touched me even once. But he and I spent long hours in each other’s company. He would lovingly change my ribbons regularly, oil my parts and ensure that only good quality paper was placed through my rolls.
My keystrokes supported him and turned into a voice for his thoughts. The impact of his words resonated through the city and he received a lot of praise for his works. I used to listen to him speaking to people over the phone boasting of his achievements.
After a few years, he passed on the typing job to his teen daughter. It delighted her to help her doting father and spend time with him. He would dictate at jet speed and she kept up typing furiously without error. He would never scold her or admonish her, quite opposite her mom who was quite a shrew. For some unknown reason, the matriarch targeted this daughter and never felt she was good enough. The office was in a separate room in the bungalow and she would holler from the next room about how this daughter had left work incomplete. The daughter was very conscientious and continued her work while politely replying to her mother each time. Never once did I hear her complain to her father about her mother’s behaviour. The man also ignored his wife’s taunts and would focus on his work.
I still remember the first time he paid his daughter for typing 25 pages at a single sitting. He said it was the best work she had ever done. She squealed in pure joy when he placed INR 125 rupees on her sweaty palms. She left the room with her booty and immediately left for an outing with her friends. She felt so rich. After she left, her mother entered the room and started shouting. She took objection to him paying her such an obnoxiously exorbitant amount. He calmly replied that he would have to pay a typist INR 20 rupees per page and paying his daughter 5 rupees per page was a great profit. The woman kept arguing on how he could have got it done for free from their useless daughter.
I never understood that woman’s problem. Why was she so toxic towards her daughter? Her daughter cooked, cleaned and looked after everyone at home. She always aced at her studies, took tuitions in her free time and enjoyed popularity at her colony and college. Everyone except her own mother seemed to love this girl. The lady poisoned her husband and kids against this daughter. Seeds of deep-rooted hatred for this daughter were sown in this ugly manner. The woman often used the office phone to gossip with the relatives about this daughter’s wavering ways. Personally, I never found the girl offensive. She always seemed dutiful and committed towards her family.
Years passed and finally it was the day the daughter was going to be married. The woman, her elder daughter, son and this man left for the wedding hall, leaving the bride alone at home. I remember her weeping quietly at the office. I wanted to come out of the drawer and give her a big hug. It was her wedding day, but no one was speaking to her. The boy was a handsome, intelligent boy from a middle-class home. His family and he were simple people who welcomed the girl with open arms. This didn’t go well with the woman or the family.
Over the next 20 years, the woman and her elder daughter plotted and planned emotional torture along with the man and the son. I was privy to all their secret meetings because they took place in the office. Listening to their hurtful comments and mean remarks broke my heart. To me, the tortured one was worthy of sympathy. However, the woman who gave her birth never saw it this way.
Over the years, the desktop took my place, and I missed being used by the younger daughter. The elder one had joined her father in the business and removed the younger one just the way one swats a fly. The man was losing health, and it never bothered his family. Well, they showed that they cared but never implemented their care. The son would always shout and insult his father and the elder daughter would be stuck to the mother always. She would want things her own way and dominated her way into the financial and other matters of her father’s home. There was a dispute between her and the brother but for the world, they presented a united front.
The man would spend long hours in the office fiercely typing at the desktop and expressing his thoughts professionally. Never once did he express what was going on inside his sore heart. I didn’t know if he missed his younger daughter. There was no way for me to find out. Once in a while, he would fish me out from the drawer and use my services. It would delight me to add value to his life and work. I sometimes felt he used me only because he was missing his younger daughter.
One day, he fell very ill and was taken to the hospital. He came back many days later, visibly weak. He sat at the table and stared at me for a very long time. After some time, his son came into the room spoke condescendingly to his father and whisked him to another room. The younger daughter would come and visit her parents once in a while. Despite being invited for lunch, I know that she would cook, serve and clean up. The mother always gave old, tattered stuff to her younger daughter and treat her like dirt.
Whenever the family was in a health or emotional crisis, the younger daughter and her husband would always rush to the rescue. Despite being lower in financial status and ranking they would ensure that on birthdays and joyous occasions they showered the best gifts on the family. Despite this, they always invited hostility from the family.
I would quietly witness all their atrocities from the office and could never say a word. I wondered why the younger daughter continued to be nice while her family tortured her. When nothing worked, her mother started befriending her younger daughter’s relatives on Facebook and started getting herself and the man invited to their private functions. She would ensure that they got five-star treatment and gave a hard time to everyone around. Despite this, neither the daughter nor her in-laws side protested. They just went with the flow.
When the man’s health took a turn for the worse, the younger daughter invited them to live him her humble home. It didn’t go very well with her mother and siblings. The dust mites from the office clung to their clothes and came back with stories that would make my heart shudder. This time, the younger daughter and her husband tolerated for about 2 and half months. I am told that they finally had to ask the woman to leave with her ailing husband at midnight. I don’t really know if this was the right step on part of the younger daughter but then, who am I to judge. The dust mites said that the woman was at fault and was hurling abuses and accusations at them. Neighbours gathered even as she lifted a knife in her hand to attack her daughter. Before it would become a police case, the neighbours advised them to ask the woman and husband to leave.
The dust mites sobbed and narrated how the man was apologetic towards his daughter and son-in-law. He was weak and kept begging his wife to stop shouting and saying hurtful things to the girl and her husband. She started throwing things at him also – it was as if a demon had possessed her. The man angrily told her in a weak voice that she had lost her right and position as a mother on that day. She left in a huff threatening that she would ensure that she would tarnish their reputation and leave them on the streets.
The man tearfully bade goodbye to his sobbing daughter, and son-in-law. He kept apologising to them and showering his blessings on them before he left. That was the last time she saw her father. They moved to another city and the trips to the primary home became lesser and lesser. All that I had with me were my memories of the man and his hard work. I wished that he would get better soon and come back to me. I yearned for his rough, dark finger tips to work on my keyboard. I longed for his caress and care. I wondered what happened with the family. I am told that they completely moved their base to that other city.
One day, the dust mites came in with the son who seemed visibly upset, he was rummaging through all the cupboards trying to search for something. The dust mites on his jeans settled close to me and informed me the sad news. The man had quietly passed away in his sleep and the brother had merely informed the younger daughter’s husband about it. When they tried to reach out about funeral arrangements, he hid the information from her and took advantage of the distance between the two cities. He sent a car for his elder sister and ensured that she got picked up and reached the funeral on time. The other sister, he just didn’t bother about. In fact he and his elder sister used this opportunity to spew hatred and build a negative narrative around this girl.
There is no one who will narrate the reality of this girl right now. No one who would understand her pain. The negative narrative is strong against her and all the sympathy lies with the woman who lost her husband. The girl must be in deep shock, I have no way to find out. I wish I did.
I wish someone would put a paper through my spools and I could type out the reality of this story and send it to everyone. Just like the man, his words and thoughts have also turned silent. I remain the most ignored piece in the closed office. I wonder what my fate will be.
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