We sat silently staring at the setting sun. The sky had taken on a deep purple hue. This was the moment to gaze deep into each other’s eyes but we preferred to focus our attention on the caramelizing horizon and wave a wordless goodbye to a retiring day.
Another day gone by without attaining much! That was what he must be thinking. After twenty five years of co-existence I could read him so well.
He, however, complained that I was cold and distant. Actually it was more of aloofness -a kind of boredom born out of a monotonous existence. Nothing touched or bothered me anymore. Nor could I cling to anything for long. Often I would segregate myself and watch unobserved the gimmicks of the crowd around- a detached spectator.
He sighed and turned towards me. His eyes were pleading. I got up and rolled him inside. A few years back a gruesome accident had confined him to the wheelchair. A sad plight for a man once so handsome and energetic! But life had its own quirky ways of settling scores.
I settled him in the library and tucked the blanket around. He wanted to thank me but I shushed him. It was not required. Words were such an intrusion! Though I knew he tried to hide things from me.
When he was having that stormy affair with his secretary he would often come home late blaming it on a workaholic boss and his exacting ways. But I knew he was lying. His every gesture gave him away. The torrid alliance continued for months and then came to an abrupt end. The girl left the country quite suddenly. He was heartbroken. I knew he pined for her. He still did. Probably it was something more than physical temptation. Perhaps he did truly love her. But loyalty was not her best virtue.
Sheena, my only friend, often goaded me to revolt and walk out of a marriage which laboured for the namesake. But how could I? Orphaned at the age of ten, brought up by foster parents who did not care much for education and forced into an arranged marriage at two and twenty, I had no other choice but to carry on “being married” to an unfaithful man. I had nowhere to go, no income to sustain myself and nobody to fall back upon. So, the mat lay uncomplaining on the doorway, resigned to fate.
Then suddenly life took a U-turn. The anonymous letter threatening to apprise her husband of the goings on did the trick. What a glorious idea it was! I managed the snaps too…the intimate ones…most damaging. A month later she was off to New York for good. But not before the delivery of the lump sum amount now safely stashed away in a private Account. It was not a very hefty sum, not at all, not for her at least, not when her husband professed to have a flourishing business abroad. It was a minor penalty for disrupting an innocent woman’s conjugal bliss – just a little parting gift to make life comfortable for the betrayed. Of course, she could never guess who the actual recipient of the booty was. It was so neatly arranged. Blackmail could have been a lifelong instrument of gainful negotiations but, you see, I was not given to avarice.
He took it badly. Those headaches, I knew, were just excuses to drown his sorrow in booze. He was grieving. It seemed forever…and then that horrid accident…..Oh! Let’s not go into the details. It’s too complicated. But someone…somewhere…somehow had to put a stop to his wild escapades….No?
Time to cook dinner!!!