I woke up late today. It was ten in the morning. As usual, I turned to my left but found her to be missing.
Immediately I began searching. Fear made me breathless. I ran as fast as I could searching as many rooms as possible: the living room, Ansh’s room, the dining room and the kitchen. Everywhere I could think of, I searched without success. Suddenly, it also struck me that along with my wife, my son was missing.
Heart racing, I restlessly wondered if she had left me. Won’t she come back to me? Tears filled my eyes blurring my vision. I had to blink several times to clear them and grapple the dreadful feeling of seeing my whole world crash.
I started screaming her name loudly while pulling fistfuls of my hair. In helplessness I sank to the floor shaking to come to terms with what could have happened.
That was when my son’s chatter, followed by my wife’s voice, made me look up. They didn’t leave me! A grin of relief broke out on my face. They didn’t leave me. They didn’t! Standing up I almost ran to them.
Wearing my favourite saree, she looked nothing short of divine. My chatterbox of a son was talking as usual while his mother smiled at him.
I embraced them both feeling like I was in heaven. I don’t remember the last time I hugged them, perhaps four years back. I missed them so much.
“Please don’t leave me, I blurted out letting them go when I felt her stiffen.
“Papa, are you crying? Why? My son asked me while my wife looked away. Bending down to his height I held him in my arms.
“Nothing beta, I thought you had left me all alone. I was scared that’s why. Please don’t leave me. I whispered the last few words while looking at my wife. Again she didn’t even meet my eyes.
“Oho papa, don’t cry. We won’t leave you. Never. Today is momma’s birthday so we went to the temple,” My son explained.
Again, I looked at my wife. Today was her birthday? I didn’t even remember! It dawned on me that for the last three years we didn’t celebrate her birthday. Standing up I took small steps towards her. I tried to wish her but courage failed me.
“Umm…ha…ha…ha…had your breakfast?” I said. Damn, what was that? Shit, I have failed. With just one brief glance at me she immediately left followed by Ansh.
I tried to wish her but every time fear gripped me. Plenty of chances arose only to be wasted. In the end I thought of gifting her something special? I purchased a most costly and in demand saree for my wife.
Akhir, she is so special for me. It would arrive within three hours so I had to wait. I decided not to go down and face her for the fear that I would be unable to say a word.
After three hours, the parcel finally came. I ran to the door and took it.
I searched for her to find her in the kitchen preparing dinner, where her mere presence made my son happy.
I waited for dinner to be over and for her to put our son to bed before she came to our room. Clearing my throat I tried to wish her once again but once again failed. She looked at me for a bit before attempting to step aside from me.
That’s when I took a hold of her hand. She struggled to free herself therefore I held on a bit firmer. Eventually, she stopped struggling.
“I bought this for you,” I said showing her the parcel.
For the first time she spoke to me, “I don’t want anything from you,” She stated.
“What? Do you know what this is? The whole world is fighting for this damn saree which I’ve purchased just for you, and you’re telling me you don’t want it? I asked feeling confused.
Flaring her nostrils slightly, she glared at me. “Didn’t you hear me? I. Don’t. Want. It.” She repeated.
I let go off her arm at seeing that angry face. Her arm was red where I had gripped it tight. It was probably hurting top.
“What did you think? Did you think if you gave me some money I’d fall to your feet again? You wanted to buy me with a gift? she accused rubbing her arm.
No, I thought. Not at all! I wanted to say I love her. I wanted to explain that I only wanted to give her the best of the world because she deserved it. I couldn’t though. As a man of few words, these failed me. Shit.
As she looked at me with those hurt eyes, I felt pained. I made her cry on her birthday and that made me tear up. I couldn’t bear to stand there anymore so left along with my car keys. Her tears made my chest feel suffocated.
After several long hours of driving absentmindedly I returned home. I wanted to give her everything but I realised truly I had nothing left to give.
I found her sleeping like a new born. Sitting beside her I moved the fringe covering her face. I let my fingers travel to her cheeks to cup them and allow myself to bend forwards to kiss her forehead. I deliberate let my lips linger.
“Happy birthday Jaan. Listen, the reason I bought you that saree wasn’t to buy you. I swear. You deserve the best, that’s why I bought the saree that everyone else wanted. Ever since you came onto my life I’ve been successful and it’s all because of you.
Mat jao, please mat jao. If you’re not here, then it doesn’t feel the same. Seeing your face first thing in the morning and the last at night is what it’s all about. Us. It’s about us. I want us. I want you, me and our son.
Please Jaan, please stay. Please,” I beseeched her sleeping form.
I knew sleeping deeply, she wouldn’t hear me but I felt more peaceful telling her these truths.
Wiping my tears made me realise that I’d been crying as well. I was about to move when the calendar stopped me and broke my heart slowly.
It was marked “2” today. Already two days have gone, leaving only eight days left…
TO BE CONTINUED…
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