(As told to Joie Bose)
Being alone again after 30 years of marriage
Every day when I wake up the stillness in the house grasps me. It’s been a few months that I am living like this. After being together for 30 years, being single again would be freedom I had always thought. But it’s not. I wonder how girls these days stay alone, never wanting to marry. How can some leave their husbands and stay? I could not. I guess that’s why he left me.
A recurring fear grasps me. What if the flush in the toilet doesn’t work? I don’t know the plumber’s house. I have written down the number of a new plumber who advertised in the newspaper in my diary. But I am scared to call him. What if the new plumber is a thief or a dacoit? Have you seen the number of crimes that happen? Robbery in broad daylight! Murder. Rape. I used to think they will let an old woman be, but no! My husband had shown me in the newspaper, a report on how an old lady of 85 was raped and killed. Yes, I have the number of the police station, but they don’t always pick up the phone. I remember only my husband’s phone number, but if I call, he won’t pick up.
I remember only my husband’s phone number, but if I call, he won’t pick up.
When I called him every day
I used to call him every day before I left the house from the landline on his office phone. Then when mobile phones came he was one of the first to have one. First it was 6 digits, then it became 7 digits and finally 10 digits – his phone numbers. I’ve got them all memorised. I guess I will never forget them. I still dial all the variants. No one picks up. Only digital recorded voices say things. I wish I could hear his perky voice again. I wish he would talk to me. I’d ask him to get me some bread.
I don’t like going out to buy bread. He would always bring a different variety – sometimes fruit, sometimes spiced, sometimes whole wheat multigrain. I have stopped having bread these days.
He would also get me a pastry. I have never asked him to, but he knows I like it. Strawberry pastry or butterscotch were my favourite. I also loved ice cream. We would have the ice cream for dessert after dinner. He would switch on the TV. We would watch movies. In the morning he would news read to me as I made breakfast for us. Bread and eggs. We had bread and eggs every day for the last 30 years. I have corn flakes now. I’ve not had a pastry or ice cream ever since he left. I hope the bell will ring and he will come, with bread, pastry and ice cream. He doesn’t. He won’t. Dead people don’t do that. It’s tough to think he is dead, but if I don’t say it, it doesn’t seem real.
Related reading: What I regret after my partner died
We clicked as soon as we met
I was going back from church one Sunday in the 80s when I had decided to go to the bakery instead. I would buy some ginger cookies for my parents who were both at home. Mother was ailing and father would not leave her, even for Christ. That was where I met him. There was a long queue. He had politely given me his turn. Something clicked. The conversation that began that day never ended till his coffin was closed shut.
We didn’t have any children. I had a disease and no prayers or medicine could make me a mother. So we became parents to dogs. We have had three so far and the last one was taken by our Good Lord three years ago. After that we decided not to keep any. We were both aging. We always thought I would go first, for he was younger than me by 4 years. He was healthy too. I had diabetes and my eyesight has been failing for a few years. But who would think it would be him? I still can’t believe it.
Nancy is my niece and she wanted to take me with her to Sydney after he left. But there are these plants my husband was fond of and I have to take care of them. I know I won’t live long. But every second that I am alive, I miss him.