Next morning, Aruna was woken up the familiar barbeque aroma. She checked her bedside clock, it was 9:20 on this warm sunday morning. She picked up her phone and checked Ajay’s FB page to see if he had reached his destination. There was a check-in posted by him a few minutes ago at the Melbourne International Airport. She knew he would only call once he had reached his hotel. She picked up Ajay’s evening robe, that she had kept near her all night to feel close to him, put it on and walked to open the windows for some fresh air. It was quite warm after a cold wintery rainy night. And she could see the landlord grilling meat on barbeque in his backyard. There were two more men and one lady, they all looked in their 30s and were having fun ,chatting animatedly and laughing. His mother was no where in site. Aruna loathed non vegetarian food, specially pork and beef and when her place started to smell terrible as she came out of the shower, she realised that opening the windows this morning was a big mistake. She grew nauseous and made herself a cup of hot infusion tea. Sitting on her dining sipping her cuppa, while reading the newspaper, she heard some noises from downstairs. When she made an effort to hear, she realised it was his landlord’s voice that was the most loud in the argument. The other voice was that of a lady, not of his mom though, because this lady was using some good English words as well. Perhaps it was the lady she had seen in his backyard a few minutes ago. The other two men, or his mom were not heard. With what she could get of the feud, Aruna understood it was something about this upstairs place that she had moved into. This girl was probably Nico’s girlfriend and wanted him to move upstairs with her, but he had already signed a year’s lease.
She heard the downstairs door bang then, and saw the girl leaving in her sexy two door sports BMW. Which girlfriend would anyway like to live in that mess that he has downstairs, Aruna thought upon recalling her brief view into the house from outside last morning. But why wasn’t the mommy taking care of the house below….may be she was too old to do that, Aruna put her thoughts to rest then. She got ready and then took her car keys, her grocery list, and headed downstairs, locking the main door behind her. When she drove her car out of the garage, she saw the old lady standing at the same place, looking deep into the orange orchards. Aruna dipped her car windows and waved at her, but she wasn’t looking. “Of course she would have heard my car pulling out of the drive way, how rude of her to not wave a hello, may be she judged me last night” Aruna drove away to the grocery store with yesterday’s events hovering on her mind.
Aruna stood shocked & scared on the stairway when she returned with her overflowing brown bags only to find her main door up the stairs ajar. She clearly remembered locking the door behind her when she had left. Burglaries were rare in Limassol, how could Ajay have come back to surprise her, not possible even he flew on a rocket, The landlord had a spare key, may be he had come to fix up the missing blinds, but this was no way of barging into without resident’s permission…Aruna’s mind was coming up with all sorts of scenarios. With brave steps she entered into the house. There was no one in the lounge or kitchen or the hall way. She put down her brown bags just next to the door, and stood there trying to hear for steps or someone talking. She even picked up an expensive vase from a stand that was right next to the door, just in case. Just then she heard a lady hum a tune. It was coming from the third bedroom, that had once been the kid’s room. With the vase still strong in her hands, she came to the door of the room and was furious to find the landlord’s momma trying to arrange her grand child’s things back to where they were. What are you doing? Aruna shouted, You cant come in just like that, Hello?, putting the vase steadily on the floor of the bedroom, but the landlord’s momma didn’t pay any attention and just smiled at Aruna. Aruna was now fuming, she marched straight into the kitchen to call the landlord from the intercom. No one picked up downstairs and when Aruna reached for her mobile in her purse that was still lying around outside the door, she realised that momma landlord had left. Outraged she called the landlord on his cell phone, and he didn’t answer that as well. She dialed Ajay’s hotel number then, which he had given her when he had called a few hours ago while she was at the grocers, woke him up and blurted out “ How could she do it, Doesn’t she have any manners, I cleaned up that whole room and she messed it all up again, how dare she misuse the key, why the hell isn’t Nicos picking up my call, am gonna take that key away from her, I swear!! and while still not getting a hang of what his wife was screaming for from a few thousand miles away, Ajay said sleepily “Calm down hun, its fine, just calm down, talk to Nicos and it should be fine” He was too jet lagged to understand any of Aruna’s dialougue.
Aruna tried Nico’s number a few more times and when he didn’t answer, she thought to catch him downstairs when he returns in the night. She stood in the balcony, waiting for Nicos to return that night but he didn’t. Finally, she gave up, and left a message for him on his phone narrating the incident and the inappropriate behaviour of his mom and that she would not tolerate it if she ever does that again.
She made some Maggi Noodles for herself and then sat on her comfortable lounge to forget about it all. She had already taken off the baby’s things again into the box and rearranged the room. She turned on the TV, her favourite show “ Air Crash Investigations” was on. She loved this show and started watching intently. Today’s episode was about the Helios Airways Flight 522, that had crashed into mountains, north of Greece, whilst flying from Larnaca, Cyprus. Lack of oxygen and running out of fuel had brought about the eventual crash of this ill-fated aircraft with 121 people on board. And then what Aruna saw, swept her off her feet. In the footage shown of the family people on the Cyprus airport, trying to get one last information on their loved one’s journey, she saw the Momma Landlord crying in full pitch and the sub titles said “ My daughter, her husband and my little grandchild were on that plane, Please save them, For God’s sake they had just gone for a small vacation, How can this happen, I love my babies, Bring them back Please!”
Aruna couldn’t feel her legs, she could feel her heart beating louder than a train, She couldn’t believe she was living in a house which was inhabited by three poor innocent people who lost their lives in an unexpected time. No wonder she had been feeling eerie, and she had thought it was just the moving stress.
That was not the end, what Aruna heard next on the show was unnerving, they showed the picture of a family member of the air passengers who had killed herself failing to come to terms with losing her children all so suddenly. Aruna couldn’t believe her eyes – the picture she was watching was of the old lady, the Momma Landlord. She felt her heart sink, as the phone started to ring, She didn’t dare pick it up and it went straight to voicemail. Aruna’s vision blurred as she saw the Momma Landlords sitting right on the other end of the sofa, smiling at her….and far away in the distance she could hear Nico’s voice on her phone “What, My Mumma? Are you crazy, my mumma passed away long time ago, what’s wrong with you?” and then the fading noises of ambulance was all she heard before she heard anything any more, nothing at all.