He had been ringing the bell for ten minutes without much luck. He has had a bad day and this was the last thing he expected – struggling to get inside his own house.
Finally she opened the door for him.
“What took you so long?” he asked.
“Oh sorry, I was sleeping” she replied.
He walked past her, threw his laptop on sofa and sat on a chair. Disgust was written all over his face. He wasn’t looking angry, he was fuming.
“What happened? Why are you looking so upset?” she asked.
“These bankers, these bloody bankers, I hate them. They didn’t disburse the loan today as well. We are losing money because of them” he said while throwing his hands in the air.
“Calm down. It will get sorted out”
He looked into nothing for a few seconds and asked her “Hey, can I get a cup of tea please?”
“Yes sir, why not. That’s why I am here, to make tea, to make dinner, to do this, to do that. That’s why I am in your life. That’s what I am in your life” she said with a stone dead face.
They says that sharks can smell blood, astrologists can predict future and SIR Jadeja can implant the seeds of respect in batsmen for his bowling hence they get out bowled without offering any stroke. There is one more thing that they know but don’t say – an intelligent and experienced husband can sense trouble.
He was intelligent and had five years of experience in being a husband. He knew something was wrong.
“What happened?” he asked. This issue needed immediate attention. Everything else could wait.
“Nothing” she replied in same tone.
“Tell me. I know something is wrong” he asked back.
“If you know something is wrong, you should also know what is wrong”
“I don’t know what is wrong. That’s why I am asking you”
“If you don’t know, I am not going to tell you. You should know what is wrong”
Five minutes of silence followed. He was making his mind run like a tracer bullet to find out what was wrong.
“You don’t love me anymore. You surely don’t love me the way you used to before marriage” she said.
Love? Last time she used this word, I ended up buying a pendant worth 50,000 for her. Something is surely wrong. His mind was acting fast.
“No sweetheart. I do love you. I have always loved you. Tell me what happened” from now on, every word was going to be crucial. From now on, he was on a knife’s edge.
“You know what day it is today” she spoke after five minutes. Her expressions didn’t change.
“It is 14th of February. It is not our anniversary. It is not your birthday. In fact I cannot recall any significant event related to this date. Only thing that should have happened was our disbursement which those idiots didn’t do. I hate bankers” he said.
“That’s the problem with you. You have changed. It is Valentine’s Day today” she said with a tone of anger in her voice. Tears in her eyes were waiting to get the marching orders.
If you are telling a colleague of yours that your boss is a loud mouthed martinet who is nothing but a lecherous parasite, must be fried alive in olive oil till he turns red, then served to crocodiles while he is alive and suddenly find your boss tapping on your shoulders, you would achieve something not many humans have capability to achieve – absolute blank headedness. That’s what happened to him. He knew he was dead and buried.
But that’s where experience comes handy. He knew he had to fight back. Surrender would mean a brutal massacre. He quickly opened his mental notebook and picked up all the weapons. Within in a second, he was ready.
“What, Valentine’s day? It is today? Oh, off course it is today. That’s why you are angry”. This one is going to be easier than last time when I had forgotten the anniversary.
“Yes. That’s why I am angry. Before we got married, you used to gift me roses, chocolates and what not on this day. Now, you don’t even remember this day”
“Well, that’s obvious. Isn’t it? We have been married for five years”
“So? Things change after marriage? I think love is immortal, it is ageless. Alas, there is no chemistry between us now as it used to be.”
“Darling, we are married. After marriage, there is crockery and there is grocery. There is no room for chemistry” he had to play his cards well, really well.
“There is more to life than grocery and crockery. There is love. Unfortunately it isn’t happening”
“Sweetheart, it is life. It doesn’t happen the way they show in movies”
“What doesn’t happen?”
“Love is no accident. It doesn’t happen. Love has to be made. And we have made it, plenty of it” he said with a wink.
“Yes. As a result of that, we have made a baby too” she said in a sarcastic tone.
“Isn’t he lovely” he said while pointing towards their one and half year old son. “Heeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyy……..” he shouted and ran towards the baby.
The baby was jumping on the laptop with full force. Had it not been in the bag, the laptop would have joined the list of those who sacrificed their lives in the name of future.
“How many times I need to tell him? I don’t know why he thinks my laptop is his trampoline” he was complaining to her.
“Isn’t he lovely?” she asked while giggling. Satire would’ve been an understatement.
“Yes he is lovely. But my laptop is expensive” he said while putting his laptop in a safe location.
“That’s what I mean. You have become too materialistic and that’s boring. There is no romance left in you. Rut of life has killed it.”
“Yes, I have become boring. In fact I am boring. Life is boring. Love is boring”
“No it is not. It can be exciting. You know my friend Simran, the one who makes you and your friends drop their jaws. Her boyfriend gifted her white gold necklace. Tonight they are going to a disc. You know how long they’ve known each other? Hardly a couple of weeks”
“Oh yeah, Mr. Moneybags. I saw him buying an entire pack on the medical store last night. Trying to woo the voters by distributing freebies so that you can win in the elections, it is called politics” he said in a firm tone.
“Oh you and your filthy mind. You know my friend Rosie, one who makes you and your friends drop their jaws. Her husband gifted her heart shaped pillow which has her name stitched on it. It is so cute.”
“Yeah, I met her husband. He was cribbing about paying Rs. 2000 for a pillow which isn’t worth Rs. 100. Making a customer’s mentality your slave and then selling dirt at exorbitant prices, it is called business.” he said in a firmer tone and continued “Oh by the way, I don’t know about my friends but none of your friends make me drop my jaw. Only lady who is capable of doing so is you and only you” he knew he was winning but he did get a lesson. He needed to be extra careful while looking at Simran. A thing of beauty is surely joy forever but under wife’s observation, it can be lethal.
“Leave it. You will never understand me. You will never understand love” she said.
He knew this moment would come. This meant he had won the battle of logical arguments. All that was remaining was war of airtime – and time to strike had arrived.
“What? I don’t understand love. I know all about it. You know what is love? Do you” his tone was becoming sterner “You know, I have no interest in politics, none at all. But whenever I talk to my father, I discuss politics with such interest that I come quite close to beating him in his interest in politics. He loves to talk about politics and I love him”
Suddenly she had become quiet. She was simply looking at him. He continued “You know, we have known each other for ten years and have been married for five years. I can safely say that I know you more than anyone else, better than anyone else. I know you even better than your mother.
But whenever your mother goes on and on about you – how you were as a kid, how you are now, how good are you in this, how good are in that, how lucky I am to have you as my wife, I just listen to her and nod. That’s because she loves you and so do I.”
Emotions on her face were changing. He knew he was on right track “ You know, whenever I come home I listen to cribs about your workplace - your boss is a loud mouthed martinet who is nothing but a lecherous parasite, must be fried alive in olive oil till he turns red, then served to crocodiles while he is alive, I just listen to you. Not that my boss is any different, but I think you need a vent out more than I do and I listen to you. That’s because I love you.”
A tear rolled down her eyes.
He knew his trophy was there to be taken.
“I love you too honey. But I just thought….” she said.
“What did you think?” it was his turn to attack.
“It is Valentine’s Day today, the festival of love. I thought we must celebrate it”
“Oh common, my parents never celebrated it. In fact they didn’t even know that something like this existed. I am sure the case would have been same with your parents too”
“But there time was different. That age was different”
“Is that so? I thought love was immortal, it was ageless” he mocked her.
“Still” he persistence was weakening.
“See, we celebrate Dussehra because on that day Lord Rama killed Ravana. It was an occasion. We celebrate Diwali because on that day Lord Rama returned home. It was an occasion. Holi is celebration of an occasion, so is Janmashatami, so are all other festivals. We celebrate occasions. Is love an occasion? Not for me at least. An occasion is about a moment, the moment. Love isn’t just a moment, the moment. Love is about continuation. Love is like breathing, like heartbeats – they go on till we are alive. It is love, not politics or business. At least not for me”
She came near him, put her head on his right shoulder, rested there and slowly said in his ears “I love you”
The battle had been won. It was time to rule “Same here. Now can I have a cup of tea please?”
“Darling, I have had a long tiring day. I was so tired that I dozed off as soon as I came home. I have been sleeping for past two hours and have a bit of headache right now. Can you make a cup of tea for me, please” she said with a smile. The tables were threatening to turn.
“Okay. I will do.” he said and got up. Although it was like losing your won ground after you had been declared victorious, but holding ground meant more fight. He was exhausted.
He switched on the TV. They were showing India-Australia 2011-2012 series on Star Cricket HD. If there was anything more pleasing to eyes than Sunny Leone’s performance in Jims 2, it was seeing Channel nine’s coverage in HD. However, he preferred watching Star Cricket (without HD) where highlights of WC2011 finals were shown. Reasons, ladies and gentlemen, were obvious. He moved towards the kitchen.
She followed him.
“Why aren’t you watching Star Cricket HD? The quality of broadcast is just brilliant. Instead of that, you are watching WC2011 finals highlights – you would have watched it more than 2011 times.”
“Well the cricket series Star Cricket HD is showing, we lost badly in it. After such a long day, I would like to sleep with happy memories”
“You just love to watch cricket, don’t you” she said and tapped slowly on his right shoulder.
“Yes I do”
“I am so thankful to all mighty for giving me a partner like you. You understand me completely. You really know what real love is. You know what real love is. You really know what real love is”
“Thanks a lot her highness. That’s too much of reality for one sentence”
“Oh God” suddenly it looked as if she was Cinderella who had forgotten to go back in time.
“Thank God for using the world reality. I am going to watch Big Boss. It’s the final today”
“But I am watching cricket” he pleaded. He knew this is one battle he was going to lose no matter what.
“Oh really? Taking solace in a distant past because you find the recent past painfully killing, it’s called denial” she said took control of the TV remote.
And as it happens, in the fight between reality and love, reality won.
PS: It is a work of fiction. But just in case you find any similarities between your life and this piece, remember – truth is nothing but well-disguised fiction and fiction is nothing but loosely bound truth.