The Drive Home


rings of the Audi logo on the steering wheel. This was the worst part of a driver’s job; he never knew how long he would have to sit with his thoughts.

The empty lamp-lit street stretched out in front of him, adorned with large villas on either side: some simple with paved yards instead of gardens and some rebuilt - too late to even call anyone back home, and Um Khalid had not told him what time she would return from visiting her father. His mind drifted back to what had been keeping him up—how he was going to tell Um Khalid he wanted to move back to India at the end of the year for good.

He was sure she would try to convince him otherwise; he had been with the family for thirty years after all, and her yesterday that he wanted to ask her something, but she had been too preoccupie­d and had not replied. He hoped she would be in a good mood this time.

Go next year, he heard her say, her voice reverberat­ing in his head. What’s another year?

would they want to keep him here anyway? Maybe he should say so. But no, it sounded rude…

‘I cannot, Madam,’ he said out loud to himself, with as car to stretch his legs and started to walk down the pavement to work up his courage, and then he breathed in wisps of a distant yet familiar fragrance. He looked around and located the night blooming jasmine and its white blooms hanging over a wall, exuding the fragrance from the home that only creatures of the night were privy to.

The blooms took him back two decades earlier to his days after their wedding. He had already been working in the Gulf when their marriage was arranged by his family. The newlyweds had sat under a similar jasmine tree in the public garden. She had told him how much she loved their smell; how raat ki rani was such a perfect the night. Before returning to Kuwait the next day, he had cut a few stems and given them to her to grow at home, hoping they would remind her of him. They had never grown.

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