August 27, 2009

Till Death Do Us Part

When they fought, he would make up. And eventually, in a few minutes, she would relent, and the world would be perfect again.

So when he left home to buy a strip of medicines that she needed, locking her inside the house like he did when she was cooking and not free to come close the door behind him, she did not sense anything amiss. She let him go. She decided to make up once he came back. She would be calmer, he would be calmer and the world would be perfect again.

Ten minutes, Fifteen. Twenty. She started panicking. She reached for her cell phone, dialling his speed dial and heard the familiar ring-ring. Only, this time, it rang not only in her ears, but also in her bedroom. He had forgotten his cell phone home. Paranoia set in as she leapt out of the bed and ran to the door, pounding it, pulling until the handle wobbled. But it didn't budge. She ran to the balcony, wondering if she could leap out and reach the terrace, find her way down and go look for him.

She grabbed a rosary, chanting his name, back and forth between the door and the balcony, looking out for him, his retracing footsteps, the sound of his vehicle. When she saw the familiar, relief would break in, before realising that the footsteps were a stranger's, approaching other doors, other lives. Fresh waves of hysteria would break in and threaten to break her will.

Anything if you let him come home, she gasped, her eyes on the altar, the god she worshipped smiling down at her.

Her eyes darted around the house they had built, the things they had filled it with, each meaningless if he did not come home. She thought about the assigments pending at her work place, all valueless if he did not come home. She saw the discarded bit of toffee wrapper he had left on the floor, suddenly so precious, the last thng he touched before leaving home.

She thought of his mother, his family, the baby they had still not had, the plans that had still not materialized, the house they had still not built, the plans they had made together, suspended in time, caught in an unbreakable time warp. She rocked back and forth, back and forth, huddled and curled up on the bed he had slept on once, when she poured a bottle of water over his head and he had chased her round the house.

And under that hysteria, the paranoia, was a voice telling her she knew this, she knew death, he was a familiar friend, this was not the unknown she was facing, this was not the fear she had not been warned of. This...this was an old friend come to revisit...perhaps, perhaps, maybe in passing, maybe to stay.

A calm gradually settled in, silence took over, a silence so thick, she could cut it with a knife. A silence so thick, she thought she would drown in it, as the sobs subsided and she thought of ways to get out, find him, and bring him back...or find him, and then find ways to end her own life.

The silence frightened her more than anything else, the realisation that she could think of death in a neat flow chart-like way was alarming. It brought on a fresh wave of sobbing that threatened to tear her down and rip her apart. She wound the rosary tightly around her wrist, hoping it would sear and burn through her pulse and end her life when she heard a familiar ring again. Her phone. She shot out of her curled up position and headed for the bedroom and her phone, jabbing the 'answer' keypad and whispering a raspy 'hello'.

'I can't find it anywhere. Should I go a little ahead and see if its available?"

She broke down in wails, her voice breaking and tearing, while he grew increasingly alarmed on the other end.

"Baby, what happened?"

"Come home. Now!" she rasped, hanging up after he said a hurried 'yes'.

She wept into the phone and promised to never, ever fight with him. She had come dangerously close to losing him and her sanity and nothing demanded that she go through the same again. She cried for five more minutes before getting up to fry his eggs.

When they sat down for dinner, it was an unusually quiet affair, his stealing concerned glances at her, her lowered eyes trying to force the tears back into her eyes. One big tear rolled, 'plop', into her plate.

He smiled. "That is going to be one salty affair."

She looked at him and forced a smile. "Whatever," she said.

Whatever it takes to make you come back.

12 comments:

Priyanka said...

Love it...each small mundane thing seemed so magnified and important to do at that moment...
I can just imagine what he must have gone through on his way back home after that bit of hysteria on the phone...

Have you read O Henry's Gift of the Magi??

Mehak said...

this is so beautifully written. :) You should write a novel - I'll be the first to buy it!

The Wandering Minstrel said...

@Pri: No I haven't! But I have read his 'The Last Leaf' and adore him enough for just that one story :) I will find Gift Of The Magi :)

@Mehak: Thanks Mehak. The novel is on its way and these are short stories from the novel :) The day you see the spirit of the stories change, you will know the novel is close to finish :) shall keep you posted.

Hamsini said...

Beautiful. Period.

rashmi said...

Wad to say...it brought tears to my eyes. I can feel the choke in my throat.
I have felt the same regret so many times..n promised myself not to fight but cudnt carry it for long. Love Quarrel is essential you see :)
U r a great writer Ree..

Priyanka said...

Reema...Reema...Reema...get your hands on that story!!! I had that in my Xth syllabus...I threw away all the other books but I've kept the short-stories, simply because of the Gift of the Magi!
READ IT!

The Wandering Minstrel said...

@Hamsini: Thanks :)

@Rashmi: Thank you Haddi. Im honoured that you liked it so much. And yes, those fights are obvious...just this post to remind life and its learners that sometimes, it might get too late...so, no fight is worth more than 5-10 minutes :)

@Priyanka: yes yes yes! I swear, promise, over the earth and waters of this city i inhabit, that i will! :)

the pink bluey.. said...

:)

Saumitra said...

how abt putting down what happened at his end when he heard her sobbing on the phone ?? i bet he went through the same things that she did for him.. ???

The Scatterbrain said...

oH i KNOW THE FEELING SO SO WELL!!!

Goli said...

"She thought about the assigments pending at her work place, all valueless if he did not come home"
So many times we do that, work work and work and then forget how important is family and other things and later realize the same thing.

It is wonderfully written :). Keep writing.

Mayur.P said...

Very well written..detailing is magnificent..not at all surprised given dat u draw so well..things mentioned might seem mundane to others but those who were or are currently in love would surely know the value of small..seemingly irrelevant stuff..Amen