Sunday, January 12, 2014

His & Hers... Affairs of a Marriage



His

He knew he was trapped. He was walking, or rather stumbling, through dark. Was it a room, a tunnel, or a corridor, he couldn’t tell. He had trouble breathing. He tried to loosen his tie but realized he was not wearing any. He squinted his eyes to see better, to make out the place where he was at, but to no avail. He spread his arms to feel a wall or something… anything… but his fingers didn’t touch any solid surface. It seemed like he was in a void without air, without light, without warmth. He realized he was shivering, his teeth were chattering. He made up his mind to get out of this miserable situation. Cautiously, he concentrated on just putting one step in front of the other. It seemed that he had been walking, shivering and coughing, for an eternity in this cool, damp, dark, and never-ending nothingness. He was just about to give up when he saw something… just a smidgen, a tiny orb of white light glowing from far away.

Is this my imagination? Is my mind playing tricks?

He didn’t want to raise his hopes to have them shattered again. He started walking faster. That little fragment of translucent glow was enough to renew his energy. He clambered on. Without wavering, without faltering, he moved ahead. The little orb turned into a big ball radiating dancing energy. He could feel the heat emanating from it. He knew instinctively this was it. This was the way out. This was the light that he had been waiting to see for so long. This beautiful luminous glow will dispel the darkness. He knew that as he stepped into its warm reassuring glow, the numbness he had felt will evaporate. He started running. He was close enough now to see that someone was standing in the glimmer.

Waiting for me.

 He could only see a silhouette but he knew, without a doubt, who that would be. She was standing with her back towards him. It seemed his years of waiting, eons of yearning had all come to an end.

This beautiful happily-ever-after end.

 He was just a few feet away, when he slowed down. Panting, he walked slowly towards her. He placed a trembling hand on her shoulder. She turned to face him. She looked exactly as she did years ago… he looked into her warm brown eyes and whispered, ‘I have been waiting for you all my life!’ He took a faltering step close to her. She was smiling now… her dimpled smile. She placed a soft hand on his sweaty cheek, leaned in to give a light peck on his lips, and without saying anything turned away from him. As she started walking, he yelled, “Don’t go! I love you! Come back…!” He started to hold her arm to stop her, but as he touched her again, she turned into innumerable tiny crystals reflecting light suspended in thin air. It seemed as time itself had stopped. And then, as suddenly, the crystals disappeared into a whiff of smoke. His world was again plunged into darkness. He was again in that cold blankness. A deafening, “NO!” escaped his lips. He started running towards her when he felt someone, or something, hold him back. The nails were digging into his flesh; he tried to shake of the prying talons when he heard someone calling him. He opened his eyes wide awake. His wife was sitting next to him, looking at him with concern.

Or is that doubt?

“Are you all right? You were having a nightmare.”

He sat up straight. He felt uneasy under her unrelenting gaze.

Does she suspect something? What all did I say?

“You want water?”

He shook his head.

“What were you dreaming about?”

He murmured, “I don’t remember.”

His wife kept staring at him trying to make sure if he was okay. To him, it felt as if she was trying to read his mind. After what felt like hours, she finally smiled, a little tightly he thought, and leaned across to kiss him, 
“Good night. Love you.”

He managed a small smile before lying down again. He knew she was not the woman in his dreams. He knew that he didn’t love her anymore. In fact, he hadn’t in a long time. They were complete opposites. While she loved to talk and share her feelings and go out and make friends, he liked to sit at home, preferably by himself lost in his dream world or in his books. Going out and meeting people had never interested him.

I wish my wife understood me as she does.

He was in love with his ex who had suddenly walked into his previously-miserable life six months back and had turned it upside down. She was the light, the laughter, the love in his meaningless existence. They communicated without speaking a word. He loved hanging out at her cozy one bedroom apartment sharing his views, discussing books, and drinking endless cups of freshly brewed coffee. He loved that he could just lie there, in her arms, without talking for hours. Their silences were as comfortable as their riveting discussions.

He took a deep breath. He would have to make a decision and soon. He can’t let her leave him again. He just cannot. He opened his eyes to look at his wife who was lost in her own thoughts, smiling to herself. His wife, his contrary. Their silences were deafening, their discussions yelling matches. But, how do you walk out on your ‘life-partner’ of 8 years. He knew he would have to break her heart.

Better hers than mine.

 

Hers

When she came into the room, she saw him flailing on the bed.

Another nightmare.

She sighed deeply, unmoved. She had grown quite accustomed to her husband’s active nightmares where he seemed to murmur something and do a lot of thrashing about. She had learned, over the weeks, to ignore them and they slowly passed away. Instead she sat down on the couch near the window and looked at the view… at the glittering dancing lights that dispelled the dark night, at the glimmering full moon that cast a soothing white radiance all around.

Just like he casts a warm reassuring glow in my dreary existence.

She blushed. She remembered how she had met him by chance at an art exhibition where her husband had refused to accompany her, as usual.

At the most unexpected of places imaginable.

She laughed in spite of herself. Placing a hand on her mouth to drown out the sound, she felt like a teenager again, sneaking around behind her parents’ back.

Indulging in an illicit affair… Biting into the forbidden apple!

Her cheeks reddened. She remembered how they had selected the same piece of painting and how he had graciously decided to let her have it. How they had bumped into the snack bar ordering the same sandwich, and how, then, they had decided to share the meal. She also remembered, as a warm flush crept up her cheeks, how she had discreetly twisted her wedding ring off her finger. They had talked all through the evening… about everything and nothing.

No personal questions please.

By the end of their rendezvous, they knew everything about their likes and dislikes but didn’t know that she was married and he was engaged. That information trickled out later, a couple of weeks later. She looked at her husband with disdain. He was murmuring something. She had stopped loving him much before the art exhibit. Maybe she never did love him. She twisted her wedding band around her finger, absentmindedly.
She was trudging along her miserable loveless marriage as she had nowhere else to go, until now. Last month, he had told her that he had broken his engagement and he expected her to do the same. She did want to break it off too.

But, how do you tell your husband of 8 years that you want out?

They never had any children which made matters easier, he had pointed out. But, she couldn’t just up and leave him. ‘Why not? You don’t love him do you?’ He had asked as they lay together, in each other’s arms, in her conjugal bed. She stood up and sat next to her husband.

Of course I don’t love him, but he still does.

She heard him murmuring something about love and not leaving him. Her ears perked up.

What if he knows? What if he suspects that she is having an affair?!

She listened intently to make out what he was saying but his murmuring stopped. He was sweating profusely. She shook his arm. He tried, in his sleep, to push her away. She grunted and shook him harder. He opened his eyes and sat up. She looked at him trying to gauge if he knew anything.    

 “Are you all right? You were having a nightmare.”

He sat up straighter but didn’t say anything. She couldn’t make out anything behind his mask of a face. She had never managed to read him.

Maybe that was the problem in our marriage. His blank face.

It infuriated her to no end but she remained calm.

 “You want water?”

He shook his head. She decided to be direct.

“What were you dreaming about?”

He murmured, “I don’t remember.”

She sighed and kept staring at his vacant eyes hoping to read his mind, looking out for any sign – a twitch, a look – anything that might tell her if he suspected anything. After what felt like hours, she smiled tightly and, as had become her habit, leaned across to kiss him, “Good night. Love you.”

She lay down on the bed and closed her eyes. His face swam in front of her. The face that she could read like a book. She knew when he was happy, sad, upset, stressed. They didn’t need to talk to communicate. They did it through eyes and soft lingering touches.

Not like him who hides every little emotion from his own wife!

She looked at her husband sleeping peacefully. She turned her head towards the window, smiling to herself, and thought about the first time he had cupped her face in his hands and kissed him – passionately – as if he needed her more than life itself. She still remembered the feeling of being wanted, of being needed; the feelings that had been laying dormant deep inside her for the last so many years that he had stirred back onto the surface.

With just a kiss.

 She made up her mind to leave her husband, to end her non-existent marriage. She knew that might break his heart.

Better his than mine.

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