A Routine of Apology by Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar
I’m sorry I burned your lunch. Before I left to volunteer at the local high school, I set the mung beans in the electric cooker with an eight-minute timer, stuck a post-it note Lunch in the Instapot by the coffee-maker. Expected to be back in 90 minutes but was delayed by a student who wanted me to review his college application essays.
Returned home to a burnt-bean odor, the mung blackened and shriveled in the cooker. I’m sorry I left the Instapot warming button on. A half-eaten bowl of shredded-wheat cereal sat on the sink mat.
You must’ve heard my footsteps approach the study but you continued looking out the window. I’m sorry about lunch, I said. No reaction. I’ll make you something, I continued. At this, you swiveled the chair—your gaze mute and cold as if you were looking at a statue—and said, Make sure you at least stock up on oat cereal and soy milk if lunch is going to be gravel.
I’m sorry we ran out of oat cereal and soy milk. Let me also apologize for this morning. I’m sorry my 5:30 am alarm awakened you—Shut the damn thing, your words a slap across my face. I’m sorry my elbow poked your eye as I scrambled for the phone. I must’ve been tired with perimenopausal flashes and fatigue to not hit the alarm before it rang out.
Throughout the day, I’m sorry I didn’t answer the doorbell promptly, didn’t pick my sweatshirt from the couch, didn’t turn on the porch lights at dusk, didn’t replace batteries in the remote.
At night, I slump in the shower—the routine of apology pressing me down, the warm water stinging. You could’ve cracked two eggs into a frying pan when you found the mung burnt but you choose to crack other things.
I walk out of the bathroom, without toweling my body, without drying my waist-length hair, straight into the bed and let the water soak the sheets under you. I’m not sorry.
Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar is an Indian American writer. She was born in a middle-class family in India. Her work has been published in online journals as well as print anthologies. She has been nominated for Pushcart, Best of the Net, and Best Microfiction awards. Her writing can be found at https://saraspunyfingers.com. She can be reached on twitter @PunyFingers.