It had been raining all day. But that couldn’t stop the traffic bustling at break neck speed in the dead of the night. It had been like any other night, every other night. And there she slept on the couch, in their living room. Curled up like a puppy in the cold, her nightdress shining in the dim light of the TV. That is the way it is every night, she would wait, to have dinner with him. And every night, she would doze off in the couch itself, with the TV glaring at her, loud and bright...On some nights, she would sleepwalk to her room (yeah, it was always ‘her’ room and ‘his’ room, they wanted to live like individuals even after tying that knot, a year ago.); and sometimes she would spent the whole night on that couch itself.
Today, she had decided that she would talk to him, yeah, discuss their relationship that was going down the drain. See, you need to put in voluntary efforts to keep your marriage running. Our good old love, doesn’t work these days. But even then she couldn’t put up till he came back, tired like a child, she was.
He tip-toed into the house, saw her fast asleep. The clock said 5 minutes to 1. 1 in the morning!
He didn’t want to wake his wife up. He felt pity for her; she was sleeping like an orphan! He picked her up and took her to ‘her’ room. Lay her on the bed, covered her with the quilt, and was about to leave, when he heard her, “When did you come?” he turned back to find a sleepy girl, rubbing the sleep off her eyes, and trying to get out of bed. “I will just warm up your dinner, gimme a minute. You go and change.” “No, not hungry, gotta catch some sleep…, goodnight!”
This was another part of the daily story, he would dine out, forgetting that someone could be waiting at home, to sit across the dining table together once in a month and revive the dying emotion they called love.
‘This was too much! She was waiting to talk! And look at the way this man, was avoiding it all.’ she thought. “You aren’t hungry, but I am.”, she yelled back at him. Taken aback by this kind of an unexpected outburst from his always-so-calm-n-composed-better half, he walked back to her, sat beside her. “Why haven’t you eaten anything? When did I ask you to wait?” he whispered.
‘This man deserves to be kicked out of my heart, look at his guts, man, I am hungry, get me food first, you ungrateful idiot!’ she thought.
He read her mind, ‘There, she is fuming, the pressure that had been building for months, whistles off tonight.’ “Wait a sec, sweetheart, I will get you the stuff in a minute!”
‘Sweetheart? My foot! I am too old for you flirtatious tricks my dear husband! I am your wife, I know you only too well!’ today, she would give him a piece of her mind. Years ago, in college, the way things worked, when they were friends, friends too shy of each other. She had always loved him. Was unaware of his feelings though. She took the utmost amount of care to see that he wouldn’t get to know of her undying love and crap! A girl should never tear her heart open. She had her mind all set, to do away with him as another silly yet serious crush, she was so sure, he wouldn’t reciprocate. But one day, it took him a truckload of guts to put aside his ego and tell her that he wanted her, as a pre-requisite for his life ahead! Too much in love, to wait and listen to the rebuke of wailing parents, they married despite the differences that arose…And here they were, in this two bedroom apartment crammed up in some collapsing metro in India, with jobs in MNCs, drawing decent salaries, and not in love. The ‘Workaholic-moneyed’ !
He returned with the stuff..grr..dinner! Placed it on her lap, as she kept staring into his eyes, as her eyes shone with tears. Once upon a time, he had fallen for these eyes! Unbelievable! He tried to enliven a sleeping sentiment in his heart, tried to feel their love. But to no avail. “Do I cook so awful, that you have to eat out every other night?” He kept mum. Stoically put a morsel in her mouth. Chewing it slowly, she asked him again “Why? Answer me? Do you even remember when we had talked properly, the last time? I leave this place, before you are up, and you come back to find me asleep. Is this the life we had promised each other?” Tears rolled down her eyes. He kept feeding her. “What’s wrong with us? Why can’t we live to be happy? Content? Like my parents do? I will be moving out in a month or two, and god knows when will we get to live together again, why are you doing this to me?”
And when he was done with feeding this unruly girl, he moved out into the kitchen. She wiped her tears, and called out his name, one last time, loud enough to wake the neighbors, clinching her fist like an irritated kid.
After five minutes, when he returned to her room to switch off the lights, he found her already dreaming. Food had quietened the hungry kid. He noticed the way she had changed in a year, she had grown a lot thinner, he remembered the way she died to shed weight earlier. Girls generally gain after marriage; his wife had contradicted all theories. This city and pollution had given her than tan also. She was no gorgeous beauty men run after, but her eyes! Man! When she closed them, they looked like two leaves put to sleep. And in the midst of all this lovelesness , it dawned on him that he still couldn’t do without this pre-requisite for his life…
And he hurried to bed. He wouldn’t budge from a bed before an eight-hour sleep he knew!