Friday, February 26, 2016

Don't Come Back

It could have been just another Monday morning. They had breakfast together. They talked about bills, kid’s PTA meeting, extended family, a trip and even chuckled over a news-column. He got ready to leave. She walked him to the door, his arm around her waist. Before opening the front door, he leaned towards her to kiss her. She moved back. She opened the door.
“Don’t come back,” she told him.
He looked surprised. They stared at each other for a while. She closed the door.
She walked around the house, tidying, trying not to think. Sandbags against a tsunami, what a cliché metaphor, she thought.
She thought of calling him on his mobile, “I was joking.” Or, “I don’t know what came over me.” He would accept it, she knew.
I must pack, she told herself. Move elsewhere. Lawyer…? She shuddered.
The landline phone rang; then, her mobile. She did not pick up either.
It could be him. Or, he has called her folks. She was not ready, she decided.
What’s wrong with him? Do you think you can get a better husband? Get real, he has to work, he has to travel. You get at least couple of days every month, don’t you know how it was with my husband, years! Are you crazy? What do you want?
She was not ready for all that. She did not have answers. She knew she might not have answers even much later.
Maybe, it is exactly because of that she must be doing the right thing, she thought. If she had an answer to all that, she would have been happy with maintaining status quo, she reasoned. No, she does not know him, not enough. Life might go downhill but that’s better than sitting on a ledge admiring a beautiful scene day and night.
She picked up a handkerchief lying on a sofa. It was his. She walked to the balcony of the thirteenth-floor apartment. She dropped it. It fell like a stone. Was it heavy with snot, she tried to recollect.
She raised her head. A man on a balcony in an adjacent building was watching her, frowning at her. She made an apologetic gesture, also indicated that she would pick up the litter.
Then, she saw him drop a handkerchief. He had unfolded it. They watched it float, drop, rise and drop.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Not Really A Funny Valentine

Most of Saturday evening was gloomy. When he called at five, to ask me if I would join him at his club, I thought it would be the usual bawdy evening with high spirits.
I found him nursing a mug of beer long gone flat, arms on the table, head down, possibly deciphering every scratch on the wooden table. I ordered a fresh round of beer and waited till I had downed my first long gulp.
“Ok, out with it,” I said.
“Huh?” he looked up.
“Hey, I expect it to be like this tomorrow but I am not in the mood for it today,” said considerate moi.
“Tomorrow, that is exactly my problem,” he gave out a long sigh, reached for his mug, finished half of its contents, “bloody Valentine!”
“That’s the spirit,” I raised a silent toast to him.
“Do you remember how I was around this time in 2009?” he popped the rhetorical question and continued, “Man, I had lost my job, my wife left me, taking the kids with her, I was down, really down. Do you know how it is like in that state? Vulnerable, oh, was I vulnerable. I could have really fallen.”
I did not interrupt.
“But, she came along, a true God-send,” he said with a far-away look. “I will never forget the Valentine’s Day that year. She gave me back my life. She taught me the real meaning of love. Two three years went so fast.”
He moved ahead with the plot.
“I got a great new job. My wife returned with the kids.”
“Aha!” I exclaimed. “And, she had to go.”
He shrugged and nodded.
“Then, what’s the problem?” I asked.
“I am doing really well in this new job; promotion after promotion, bonuses beyond my expectations; that too now, when every economy is down.”
“Uh-huh,” I preferred him down in the dumps.
“Do you know how it feels like to be Superman? Man, you feel invincible. Others feel it too.”
He was really rubbing it in, I thought.
“Ok, what did Superman do?” I smirked or snarled.
“What could Superman do?” another rhetorical question. “She came along, didn’t she?”
“The old she…?” I asked.
“No, a new one I met a year back at a conference. Circumstances, man, just circumstances…”
“Now, will you tell me what the trouble is?” I was gloomy by then.
“Well, the wife and kids are still around,” he explained.
I nodded.
“And she has turned up.”
“The old she…?”
This time, I had hit bulls-eye.
“And it is V-day tomorrow,” he seemed truly sad, “Which one, man?”
“Well, there’s breakfast, lunch and dinner…” I ordered another round of beer.

It’s nearly a tradition, to post something related to V-day on these pages: