With the first beam of morning rays that tickles my senses to awaken me for the day, memories come splurging down my brain from everything around me ceaselessly reminding me about how badly I wish to wake up next to that man who was once my husband, again. I had practically come to terms with the fact that if there was a man whom I could let into my most fragmented inner circles, and allow him to crawl so deep beneath the surface that I actually start to enjoy the pain and pleasures that come with it, it could only, only be him. And then it dawned on me that I was indeed in love with this man in more ways than I had thought possible. The separation was more or less a self-inflicted torture, and it kills me to recollect that it was entirely my idea. But the distances, the knowledge that he is no more a heartbeat away engulfed me in grief. Over the days, I only grew more desperate, more non-sensical and more miserable. I realized I was devastatingly in love with his being, and a hundred things about him- the innocent murmurs he made when he slept, the smell of his laundry, , the rough patches of pimples on his face ,the linings of his hair that had started to turn grey ,the circles under his eyes I fondly kissed many odd mornings, even the way he always folds his right leg while watching TV. I was in love with the idea that I knew so much about him, that I knew the most intricate and finest details about him that no one else would could ever know. And it wouldn’t be an underestimation to confess that the very possibility of learning to live without him was nothing but beyond possible.The bickering and falling had indeed numbed my senses for a while, I confess and I am as sorry about it as one could ever be. But in his absence,in the hardest way there could be, I learned that the suffering only made me miss him more dearly and want him more desperately.
It took me quite an inner battle to gain the courage to decide that I had to return to where I truly belonged. As I walked into the apartment that was once ours, it instantly struck me that every last piece of furniture was exactly where I had them to be, and that he still watered the plants I brought home and that he still wouldn’t clear the mess off the dinner table. I asked myself several times if something about the place has changed over the months I had missed out here , and the answers that came from within were essentially in my favor. The only obvious change, yes, however was probably the adolescent appeal to the house. The air was thick around the hallway, replete with patches of cigar, weed and alcohol everywhere. Was he in pain? The image of my man with an empty face, subdued tears and a wounded heart threw my senses into despair. And knowing that I could be the reason was a lot to to take for me at that moment.
As soon as I was in our bedroom, I crawled on to his favorite side of our bed and pressed my face harder on to his pillow. Clutching at the thick fabric of the quilt that kept him warm in the nights he spent in my absence, I arched on to press every segment of my body harder on to it, in a desperate effort to feel the miniscule part of his being he had left here. What I felt there, I could never tell you. But know that it beats words, completely. I knew I wanted to hold on to this state for a while longer and wail out in pain, and wet the fabric of his quilt with my tears like I do every night these days, spending the cold nights alone, and not having him to hold me close. I inhaled deep and hard to register the odour of his manly self into my brain once more. It was different now, not just was it his sweat and perspiration anymore, it was muddled with the odour of his cigar and alcohol. And a pervasive odour of his new perfume entwined with the tang of his own dampness.I knew I had to get some air before I would suffocate in this air that was telling me stories no man could tell me.
I couldn’t stand the wait any longer. I wanted to make up for the months and days and hours we had lost now. I was exhilarated and the feelings above words, seared into the cavities of my lungs, and I tell you, it was both painful and liberating at the same time. More painful. Less- very less liberating. And I asked myself the big question- what had gone wrong? I remember that an year down the big wedding, he had almost forgotten to laugh, the magic had worn off and we were increasingly behaving like roommates. He had ceased to live and had begun to passively exist and I had missed him even when he was right next to me, but then and I could kill for a glipse of even his faintest shadow now.But then, I was still young and rebellious and did not know what to do about it and considered the moving out most viable of all. In these days, II often longed to see him laugh – I remember it was the most intoxicating thing ever. The kind of laugh that warms your heart. To watch his lips curl and eyes brighten and muscles relax, and when he did that , I could just watch him forever. He was a bewitchingly handsome pain, and is yet the most charming and fascinating of them all, and I am guilty of my own tantrums that had pushed him away from me.
I imagined all possible ways his mind could work, but it was hard enough trying to imagine how exactly he would react to anything then, while we were still young and in love. And today, after what I had done to him, I had zero reasons to expect him to be thrilled about the visit.The man always, always thought too much and felt too much, and it was almost impossible to comprehend the thoughts in his head. He was a mystery to his finest piece. And today, if he was to find me here, would he be happy? Would he notice that I was wearing his fond red dupatta? Would he rest his head on my chest and cry out once more, like the day I left? Would he demand explanations or seek answers I didn’t have ? Would he let me stay? Would he be shocked ? Would he not? I closed my eyes to remember the feeling of having him next to me, and the longer I stayed, the emptier I felt, I got nothing and I knew that my own desperation was playing tricks with me to test my patience.
I sat for a few more minutes before I could get up agin. In the mirror at a distance, I saw the reflection of the desperate woman I had become over my months of solitary confinement. And soon, I was hallucinating, I saw that looking back at me were a kaleidoscopic apparition into a million broken images of a woman who had once been his shy eager friend who later became his lover, his fiancé , his bride, his wife and a his partner who had vowed to never strand him this lifetime. And one August morning, without warning, I had walked away from him, not willing to give him a chance to seek explanations or reason as to why this had to happen. In my head, I maintained that the reasons were good enough, and for that I paid a huge toll. The images slowly began to fade away and in the end, they convulsed together to look back at me in my current form- me- who was no more his friend, no more his lover and no more his wife, worse still, no more a matter of consequence at all. I stared at my empty face, empty neck and empty soul long enough to start to feel the muscles of my face spasm a little, and to see the crystals of tears starting to level up the sides of my tiny eyes. I didn’t shut them, fearing the smallest of the droplets might fall down my chin, because I knew I couldn’t stop the avalanche that was to follow if I let the first tear slip.
I felt a slight relief to note that he let my big black bindis remain on the rim of the frame. But then I saw something I wish I hadn’t.In between the big black bindis were tens of small red bindis. And I never wore red ones ever. I continued to stare at them in disbelief and it suddenly occurred to me that I had been foolish enough to not see that he could never have watered my plants. And that the smell of perfume that filled the air around me was unmistakably feminine. And with the thought, I skipped several beats in a minute and the blow to my nerves had been hard enough to send cold chills down my body and I was zoned out for as long as I could think of. Until the doorknob clicked and opened and I heard the laugh I had longed to hear for in years. And walking into the room with a wide grin was the man who was once my husband , his eyes sparkling , his lips curled into the widest smile, and I noticed that the circles under his eyes had now disappeared, his hair looked dark and full and he looked several years younger than he was when I walked out on him. And clinging on to him passionately, looking at him in the eyes with an expression so profound to be described, was the reason behind his adolescent smile. She let loose her hands that were clutching his shirt immediately and turned away meaning to leave him alone to confront me. As if in a reflex my husband’s hands caught hers and then I realized that his smile had disappeared and his face turned pale and empty as soon as he saw me. And that in life, it is not always fair to expect second chances. I walked away slowly, holding on to his wide smile and sparkling eyes , although none of it was meant for me.