I watch the tide of darkness seep in through the periwinkle curtain against the pane of my bedroom window. The birds have stopped chirping. There is no sound except the occasional vehicles that honks on the stray dogs. Nothing has changed. Only that I have retired and my arthritic limbs impede my movement.
I wait for my wife in the semi-dark room sipping on a cappuccino. Today morning when the joyful screams of swallows aroused me from my tranced out state I saw her leaving with a big towel in her hand feeble like a starving animal. She barely talks nowadays. The body which once struck me as a seductive yell of womanhood, now it’s only a wisp of air. Although I never inquire about her expansive network of siloed events, I know she goes to the lake every day, one of the several man-made reservoirs with a hydroelectric dam at its end. She goes there with her colleagues, a troupe of literature lovers and the former professors of Auden University.
I hate it.
During summer months the lake overflows with raucous screams of unsupervised pleasure. Children splash in the shallows and elders engage in multi-voiced drama. But after an accident in which a group of people were rammed over by a truck, the place lost its glamour. Now only canopies of thatched straw and foliage shroud the loamy ground. It is definitely a quiet place far from the urban echo. Occasionally a cormorant’s shrilled cry mars the silence.
She’s back. My wife stands at the doorway and looks at me without a smile. We have learned to progressively distance ourselves with time and not encroach on one anothers’ private lives. But I regularly try to re-knit the frayed threads of our lives as a couple. I ask her, “How was your day?” She doesn’t reply. I take a deep breath and register the familiar smell of drying silt and salmon emanating from her body. I watch her as she stretches herself on the bed and turns over, she looks unimaginably blue and the apples of her cheeks have faded.
I wonder what they discuss in their routine meeting at the lake. Last time when I talked to her she said they were working on some “translation” project. I hope they have completed it by now. I wonder if she can see me from there.
I leave the window slightly ajar at night so that I can observe her leave for the quarry lake in the wee hours of the day. I lie in bed next to her and bring my face closer to observe the alluring calm on her face. I plant a kiss on her cold cheek. She neither reacts nor reciprocates. It doesn’t matter, we were doing things on her terms. She is a changed person after the accident. But she knows she is important to me.