He slams the door loudly on his way out. I hear the car start. The snarl of the engine reveals his anger as he accelerates down the driveway and out of our compound.
Out of my life, too.
I sink down on the sofa. The tears haven’t begun yet, but I know they will.
How could he do this to me?
Our tenth anniversary was just last week.
Is there anything I wouldn’t do for him? Have I ever given him any reason to even think of leaving me? Hasn’t our life all these years been happy? True, we have fought, but didn’t we always make up easily?
He was my best friend in college, the man I could tell anything to, the person who I could share anything with. It felt so natural to get married to him.
When I first came into his household, it was all very strange. A large family in a big rambling house, where a private moment is at a premium and you couldn’t hear yourself think above the noise of the children running around. Not like my little family at all, where Mom and I could take a break and talk to our heart’s content whenever we felt like it.
Related reading: I didn’t want to be his dirty little secret
When I first told Mom about this, she said only one thing. If you love him, nothing else will matter.
It was true. I tamed his cantankerous uncles, soothed his excitable aunts, pampered his volatile nephews and nieces and became one of them. I tried to love his mother as much as I loved Mom and she reciprocated.
And I could see, from the light in his eyes, that he appreciated it all.
He always got along well with Mom. I always loved to see them joking and laughing with each other whenever we visited.
The week before Mom died, they talked in hospital. He told me afterwards, that Mom had said that she was worried about her sons, but not her daughter – because she knew that he would take care of me, whatever happens.
You were wrong, Mom. He isn’t the man you thought he was.
When did he change? And why didn’t I notice?
Maybe I was too wrapped up in what I thought was the real world. Watching our child grow up, taking pleasure in his achievements, building us a home where all of us felt secure.
He didn’t give me any sign, that is the worst thing about it.
How could he have kept it secret for so long? Did I know him so little not to realise the warning signs? Where did my so-called sixth sense disappear?
When I finally knew, we had our showdown. For more than a month now, there’s been a tension between us – a pressure that I could actually feel choking me. I managed to keep the rest of the household from knowing anything was wrong, but I can see that our child has sensed it.
Today, it was almost as though we planned it. When the rest of the family went for the wedding, I opted out. He came back from office and we had our final talk.
He told me clearly that this cannot go on, that he needs space to choose once and for all who is going to be his future and who is going to be his past.
All my pent-up frustration broke loose. I screamed and ranted at him. Told him to leave and never come back.
And the man I thought would never leave me, would always take care of me, just went.
It is almost afternoon. Time for the family to come back home.
It is almost time for me to face the rest of my life, without him to hold my hand.
He is never going to return. I know. There are going to be no comebacks.
And the tears are finally here. They begin to flow down my cheeks, unhindered. I sob, great retching sobs, sobs commemorating the loss of my whole life as I knew it.
A car moves up the driveway and stops in the porch.
It must be them.
I wipe my face and go into the kitchen, trying to act as though everything is all right.
I hear footsteps behind me, but I don’t turn around.
And then his arm encircles my waist in that old familiar way and I know everything is alright.
He has chosen. And it is me.
(As told to Sudheer Nair)