As he laid back in his chair, heat exuding from his ears, he looked up at the fan. It wasn’t moving. The surface of the fan gleamed due to the light. He was having trouble breathing. He could feel his ears turning red. He rubbed his chest. The silence in his cabin was pounding at him. There was no one outside on the office floor. They’d all left for home. He could have gone home too. But to whom? And when had he last gone home for someone? Wasn’t it always because he needed food and sleep?
His wife had left him yesterday. The woman he’d been married to for 20 long years, who’d brought up two of his children, who’d never asked for a single holiday in all of those years, who’d been an idol of docile and submissive, left him. And he’d seen no change in her. Just like that, she left. How long had she been packing? How had he missed the change in her? When did his work take over his life? His kids had called him so many times since morning. He didn’t know what to say to them. He still hadn’t managed to call her even once. He felt too ashamed to. Instead, here he sat, staring at the fan, wondering if the sacrifice was worth it.
He was rummaging through old letters his deceased wife had written him during a long marriage and before. He also found his first and only Valentine Day card from thirty years ago.
Tears welled his eyes immediately when he read and re-read the sender’s name etched in crayons. He called her. This would be his first conversation with her in more than two years. “I want to take you out for dinner today. Will you be my valentine?”
She wasn’t sure if she should even receive the call but she did. “Me? But, Daadu. Also, today is the 21st of January,” said his recently divorced thirty eight year old grand daughter.
“I found the Valentine Day card you’d made for me years ago,” he said, not going into further details.
Eyes closed, she pursed her lips and barely managed to say, “I’ll pick you up at seven PM today,” before tears brimming with happiness rolled down her cheeks.
Her eyes teared up as she wrote another long, lying letter to her mother. A letter which would give away nothing of what was happening to her, which killed her bit by bit from guilt every time she thought of her mother.
Her mother had always been her best friend. She still was. But this time she couldn’t share her happiness with her mother. Or her pain. She looked at herself in the mirror across the bed. She saw her blurred self lying on the bed, papers piled up neatly on a hard bound dictionary. She covered her bosom with her saree. The red marks around her neck didn’t need a mirror as a reminder.
She was in love. With a man not her husband. She was in pain. With a man her husband.
To be contd…
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He had no inkling of what he’d done. He’d prised her apart, promising to always guard her, and had at the end, left her open, wounds fresh and bleeding.
She couldn’t see how heavy a burden she was for him, how hard he’d been dragging her before he succumbed to his own magnanimous promises.
She was his best mistake, he, her worst.
Picture Courtesy : Pinterest.