The Store-Bought Table

Photo by Normanack from Flickr
Photo by Normanack from Flickr

Akhila pausing in her sewing (she’s embroidering a shawl for a brand new baby, due in a month from her eldest’s mushroom-faced wife), looking out the window for three boys who should be home by now but aren’t, blinking, stitching, thinking: she knows she’s the one behind her husband’s success so far – it’s not vanity, she’s always come up with the designs –but how are they going to cope now with Pariket’s sudden blindness, which he calls divine providence telling him something (but what it’s telling him he doesn’t know); how are they going to keep it up, she thinks, who’s going to buy from a blind carpenter no matter how highly-regarded he once was, and she looks down, she’s slipped a stitch, her hands are starting to cramp, and she wonders if maybe she can help: there are surgeons in the city aren’t there, and she has two perfect eyes, while he (who needs sight to make money) has none.

Pariket the carpenter leaving for good, packing everything he’s decided is his into cardboard boxes, getting two of his sons to help load the truck with his television and radio, his rack of imported suits, the ornate chest of his mother’s jewellery, and glaring at his eldest son, who’s standing by the ugly one-eyed Akhila, not lifting a finger because he says what his father is doing is monstrous; Pariket’s new hazel eye falling on its watery twin in Akhila’s lined face and the empty socket that used to be its home and him feeling revulsion head to toenails, stumbling, swearing in American that the goddamn woman couldn’t leave well enough alone; then he goes out into the terracotta sunshine and thinks of Kala – waiting at his new home with dinner on a store-bought table, two eyes and a white-toothed grin in her beautiful smooth face, probably hungry to hear the latest gossip on his crazy one-eyed ex-wife – and he smiles.

Eye for an eye, indeed.

Peter Clarke

About Peter Clarke

Peter Clarke was born in the Oxford and graduated (MA Creative Writing) from the University of Southampton. His stories have been published in The Cadaverine, Pastiche Magazine and The Fiction Desk.

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