The Empty House


By Sreya Sarkar

“Gargi, are you here?” Atish hollered, expecting his wife to yell back, but all he heard today was the consistent ticking of the Cuckoo Clock.

He had brought the Swiss souvenir home years ago, but forgotten all about it until now. It made its presence known by its even tick-tocking—accentuated by the silence around it.

His eyes scanned his home. They had moved into this house fifteen years ago when he joined University of Florida’s Physics Department as new faculty. Gargi had welcomed the Gainesville sun after years of nose-numbing winters in Boston.

The house felt different today. There was neither the smell of fresh cooking nor his wife’s lavender perfume wafting in the air. There was neither Bhimsen Joshi nor Chopin greeting his ears. A detached coldness collided with his presence and all of a sudden, the four-bedroom house seemed too big for a couple with an empty nest. Their twins had flown from the roost years ago. Urmi, in Boston, was finishing her Masters in Computer Science. Rahul was finally hired on for his dream job at an advertising agency in New York City. Atish had hardly noticed them growing from teens into adulthood. Like most domestic chores, he had delegated his responsibility to his children to his wife. Now moving aimlessly through the rooms, he remembered the cramped apartment he had shared with Gargi in Boston during their early years together. There was hardly any space to move around there, yet enough to love each other thoroughly.
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Raised by a civil servant family and voracious readers, Sreya Sarkar nurtured a wish to write from an early age. She completed her undergraduate studies in Political Science at Kolkata’s Presidency College and post-graduation from JNU, New Delhi. After her second Masters in Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania,  she worked in U.S. think tanks and published non-fiction articles and op-eds for newspapers. More recently, her short stories have appeared in both Indian and American magazines. She currently lives in Boston with her husband and eight-year-old son.