It has been a long day. One of the longest days. One of those days that makes you keep glancing at the clock, wondering if it is stuck. She loved her work, she really did. It was simply hard to remember that sometimes. She scuttles out of another squabble between two hospital staff members that claim they cannot work with each other. The stench of spoilt rice and curry in her office reminds her that she missed lunch again. She quickly takes two panadols because there’s still two more meetings left in the day.
As light recedes and the traffic heightens, she takes her leave. Phone still in hand with a patient complaining about how he was billed unfairly, she walks to the car. She’s about to excuse herself when the phone call automatically connects to the car’s Bluetooth system. Silently cursing the advancement of modern technology, she pulls out of the car park. She is on the way.
At a stop light she begins to review her to-do list, mentally ticking off tasks along the way. She’s almost home now. Then the phone buzzes with a text.
Out of milk.
She groans and turns the car around again.
By now the sun has tucked itself behind the dark clouds, clocking out until tomorrow. The security guard sits half asleep at the entrance as she turns into the apartment. She waits for him to open the gate, but the man only turns more unconscious. As his head droops to one side her hand reaches for the horn, ready to greet him with a sharp honk before she hesitates. An involuntary sigh escapes. She exits the car and opens the gate herself.
The moon makes an appearance for the night shift. She walks slowly, lugging the grocery bags along with her office files. Only a brief pause along the way to make sure the eggs aren’t in a precarious position. Almost there. The phone goes off again, buzzing ceaselessly just as she reaches the lift. Begrudgingly, she places the bags on the floor to answer the fourth last-minute office call that day. Her head is spinning as she tries to think of a way to hang up under ten minutes.
“Why don’t you drop me an email and we can settle this tomorrow?”
“But madam, I will be on leave tomorrow so I can’t madam.”
Another involuntary sigh escapes. The conversation persists. About twenty minutes and a couple more sighs later, she is at the front door. She shifts the load onto one side while poking around her handbag for the keys. So close. She pauses and closes her eyes, unwittingly picturing what the house would look like. But not what the house would really look like - what she wanted the house to look like. She pictures the floors swept clean and freshly mopped. All the laundry she left on the rack this morning folded and put into the correct cupboards. The dishes that were hurriedly left in the sink washed and dried. Her dinner neatly packed, ready to be reheated in the microwave; what a dream.
Key now in hand, she braces herself and unlocks the door to take in the mess. The sounds of the TV blares as she makes her way to the hall and drops the bags onto the counter. Some soft “Hello’s” and a “Why are you so late? I’m hungry” greet her so she dives straight into the kitchen. Then she finds the dishes still soaking away since daybreak. After that, the laundry. Next, the floors.
The streets are empty now, most lights are out. Pouring herself a glass of water, she finally takes a seat at the table but everyone else has already eaten.
She takes her time. This is her time. She made it. But then she remembers,
“Aiyo akki can you take out the trash, darling?”
“Why do you want me to do it? Is it because I’m the girl? Why don’t you make malla do it? That’s sexist.” She sighs at her daughter, but her face breaks out into a weary smile. Then she takes out the trash herself.