Tell a Tale prompt for Week 7: Silence
She smiled imagining Arjun’s delight on hearing the news of her pregnancy, and had a sudden desire to be near him. Cuddling up in the couch, running her fingers through his hair, a quick kiss by him and although secretly delighted, she always feigned anger at this. She longed to be with him; recreating images of their last meeting repeatedly, relishing his presence as if he were actually there. Her mind was full of his thoughts when she felt an arm around her waist, “Don’t, Arjun”, she cried out in mock anger, the words slipping out of her mouth even before she realized she was in her home, not Arjun’s. She turned; and although she had imagined this moment of truth and confrontation a million times in her mind, nothing prepared her for the look of sheer disbelief and hurt on her husband’s face.
She was at a loss of words. What can she say to soften the blow, and ease his pain? A gamut of emotions engulfed her. Shame, guilt, defiance, anger, fear, impatience, grief. Guilt predominated. The gut wrenching silence that followed her words seemed to shake her very existence, the existence of their marriage of seven years. The tension prevailed, and she didn’t have the courage to break it. He left the bed to wait by the window. The seconds ticked by and all she could do was wait. Life never seemed so uncertain.
Seven years ago:
Her family fixed a suitable match for her; and after meeting him a few times in company of numerous relatives, they were married. As she sat on her new bed awaiting the man, whose preference of reading old English classics is the only personal detail she overheard apart from his name; and to whom she’s married now. He came into the room and sat next to her. She could sense his nervousness, the silence punctuated with occasional clearing of his throat. He was waiting for appropriate words or moves to initiate their first interaction alone. She smiled at this endearing cautiousness on his part not to ruin the moment for her. Emboldened by the shared nervousness and indecisiveness, she put her hand over his and looked at him. They smiled. Shyly at first, and then burst into peals of laughter sensing each other’s nervousness on their wedding night. And then they talked. Sharing bits and pieces of their lives, sowing the first seeds of love. They talked into the wee hours of morning. Then they made love, collapsing into each other’s arms. They laid there in a warm, companionable silence; embracing each other; contemplating this new start, the future, and the delightful promises and hopes it held now. Marriage was a plunge into the unknown for them, and they were ecstatic at their good fortune of finding each other. Love, laughter, passion tinctured their days. Life was blissful.
Four years ago:
He explored new ventures at work; frequent travels became a part of his life, and the heavy work load began eating into his time with her. She tried to be understanding, vainly convincing herself that this phase won’t last long. But she was wrong. As time went by, the tenderness and love that marked the initial years of their relationship vanished. He seemed like a man possessed to achieve the heights of success at any cost, even his marriage. She tried to talk it out with him, remind him of his responsibility towards her; but to no avail. She expressed her desire of having a baby, but he didn’t have time to take care of a child at this stage in life. He called it nagging and said she was too insecure and dependent on him. He considered her lack of ambition a shame, and ridiculed her for being “just a housewife”, nagging and creating obstacles at her husband’s work. The insensitiveness that marked his remarks that day convinced her of how much he has changed; the man she had grown to love so deeply seemed to have disappeared all of a sudden. She got a job, and started working to fill the void in her life. She worked at a pace that defied fatigue and time, because the deafening silence that prevailed at home, even in the company of her husband filled her with the dread of her life passing away in such horrible monotony, and devoid of the love of the man whose bed she continued to share. Life became stagnant.
A year ago:
She had met Arjun at work, the new trainee under her. He was a couple of years younger than her, but she couldn’t help blush each time he set his impish gaze on her. He was attracted to her and he didn’t try to conceal it, which made her more resolute to avoid familiarity with him. But the more you try to resist something, the more it plagues your every waking moment. She found herself charmed by his youthful enthusiasm, infectious laughter, and his eagerness to listen to her. They talked for long at work, and slowly the meetings shifted to venues outside of work. And even though they shared a platonic relationship, she found herself concealing these meetings from her husband. Friendship serendipitously transitioned into love and soon they were inseparable. He cherished her, and it awakened new emotions and passions in her. Soon the dual lives she led with her husband and Arjun became a burden. She wondered why she was holding onto a marriage when her husband considered her as a piece of furniture, and refused to acknowledge that she harbored dormant feelings of love and care towards him. But as Arjun lay sleeping in her arms, the silence of the night breathed a new whiff of love in her dreary life. She decided to leave her husband. Life was about to change soon.
She waited for her husband to say something. Nothing came. She tried to justify to herself the circumstances that led to her infidelity. This time it didn’t sound convincing to even her. The hurt in her husband’s eyes seemed to have erased her former convictions about her relationship with Arjun. It was the longest night of her life, and in the morning her husband left for work. She packed her bags and drove off to Arjun’s home. Cocooned in his arms, she told him about the previous night and then about her pregnancy. The way his body tensed on this bit of news, made her instantly realize that the worst is far from over, it is yet to come. The numbing silence that greeted her this time didn’t shock her. It was as if deep in her heart she always knew and feared this possibility. After what seemed like ages, Arjun tried to calmly explain to her how he wasn’t ready to start a family, or even get married. She nodded and left his home. This can’t be happening to her, this is not how her life was supposed to turn out. She didn’t know where she was driving, and when she finally stopped the car; she saw that she had driven herself home, the only place she had associated with love and comfort. When her husband lied next to her that night, she turned towards him. No one spoke a word. And then the tears came, as the unspoken apologies poured out of their hearts, the regret of the years lost, mourning the setback their love suffered. She waited, wondering whether he could ever love her again; and this time he put his hand over hers and smiled. They embraced, remembering and renewing their love. This time the silence of the night spoke of realization, and an unspoken promise.