Mahesh sat quietly, waiting for the doorbell to ring. She would get back home anytime, he knew. Today, he wanted to speak to Smita and share his worries about a life that had gone off the rails in the last few months.
The two of them had been married for a few years – a happy, fulfilling marriage it was until he resigned from his job of a corporate executive, wanting to be his own man. His plan hadn’t worked. He had experienced a series of lows that he had stored deep inside his mind, becoming increasingly distraught and depressed. Several efforts to strike independent business deals had fallen through. She didn’t know about his attempts and failures, and believed that he just didn’t try hard enough. The two of them argued often, with Mahesh unwilling to share his side of the story.
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No time for words
Today, however, he would speak, let it all out. He had to explain why his earnings had gone down the way they had, he knew that if he didn’t speak, his enthusiasm for fresh pursuits would flag. He just had to talk. The bell rang. He opened the door, and smiled at Smita who walked in, looking tired after her day at work. The girl smiled in return, but it was a courteous acknowledgement with a raised eyebrow rather than a relaxed response. She walked towards the bedroom with the little cocker spaniel following her, stepping out of it only when she wanted to have her dinner.
Another day went by – a day scarred by one more professional failure, and silence in the personal space. The only person who heard him out, he thought, was the little dog. It was annoying, and heartbreaking. Relationships can go to pieces when egos collide. That’s what was happening to his marriage. It was breaking down.
He loved her to death, but didn’t have the courage to share his worries. The choice of silence was a path leading to the end of it all, but he chose to tread it without thinking of the end. She interpreted his silence as lethargy, and lost her cool at times. The same sequence of events repeated itself time and again until she left the house.
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I won’t take the first step
He didn’t stop her. She had taken the decision, and she had the right to do what she believed. After she left, he spent his days in mournful silence most often. He reached out for the computer and telephone for a while every day; but then, he needed to do some work to pay his bills. At times, he cried. The dog rushed towards him when he did, and tried to lick the teardrops off his face. But he didn’t call her up.
She had left. She’d been wrong. She should be the one to act, and she did. She sent him home-cooked food, the domestic help who worked in his flat and hers bringing the warm lunchbox to him. It was lovely – she was a brilliant cook – but he was annoyed. Why was she sending him food after leaving him, he asked himself? The answer hit him swiftly: she shouldn’t. He picked up the phone, and told her how he felt. The food stopped coming. The distance grew further.
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A slow ending
She left the city, and found a job elsewhere. As she found comfort in a new professional environment, he was hit by the death of his uncle who had brought him up. Hospitalisation for a potentially serious heart-related ailment followed. The loyal dog left him for an unknown destination. He was forced to dump a contractual professional agreement, because the employer had been arrested for questionable activities. The company had stopped paying for several months, compelling the decision.
Smita knew about it all, but didn’t respond – except for that one time when she rushed to his hometown after his uncle passed away. Living in a newly found world, she seemed to be convinced that he wasn’t a part of her future. The promise of a pretty life at old age had made way for the hideous threat of divorce, not what either of the two would have wanted they had started out.
Maybe Mahesh should have accepted the food that she once sent with a smile on his face. Or maybe he should have gone and met her, if only to thank her for her sweet act. Maybe she should have asked him whether he was chasing people for work or sitting idle all day, waiting for miracles. A few things should have turned out differently – not long ago.