The yellow-blue pillow covers carried Nandita’s thoughts to the friendship band Sanjeev gave her 9 years ago. “Those were the days!,” she thought, almost aloud. But her face gave no indication of the joy of that thought. She looked sad and wishful. And her fingers, knotted out of anger, nervousness and frustration, revealed the story of what had happened between then and now.
Sanjeev was taking a shower and she was waiting on the living room sofa, prepared to broach the subject of their loveless married life. A thousand thoughts whirled about in her mind. Some happy, some not-so-happy. It was as if she was being thrown about in a tempestuous wind. And she was frightened which way her life will go.
At last, after some 45 minutes, Sanjeev emerged, water dripping from his broad shoulders. He looked at her and then looked away. As if she did not exist.
“Sanjeev, I want to discuss something,” Nandita blurted. She surprised herself because she had intended to wait until Sanjeev had dried, combed and reached the dinning table for his breakfast.
Sanjeev, with a shade of irritation, “Can it wait until I get dressed?”
Nandita, still shaky with her false start, “Yes”
Sanjeev disappeared into the bedroom, out of her sight but very much in her thoughts. Minutes slipped by.
“Why is he taking so long?,” Nandita thought.
“It is because he does not want to talk. That is how it always is with him. I am the last in the queue for his time and attention,” she answered to herself.
Sanjeev was struggling to locate his crimson t-shirt. And the idea of Nandita waiting outside did not help focus his mind on where he had kept the garment. After a few frantic minutes he finally found it, neatly folded and placed along with his other clothes.
“That is not where I kept it! Why must she keep re-arranging my stuff when she knows I dislike it?,” he thought. He did not notice that the neat folding helped create space in the wardrobe or that it kept the garment’s crease just the way he liked it.
He hurried with getting ready and walked into the living room, glancing sideways at the dinning table to see if his food is served.
Sanjeev, “You haven’t set the table yet?”
Nandita, in an explanatory tone, “I did. But since you were taking longer than usual, I kept the food back to help keep it warm”.
Sanjeev, almost shouting, “Why do you need to do that? You know I am OK if the food goes cold. Now hurry up, I am hungry.”
Nandita, “It won’t take a minute. Why are you shouting at me?”
Sanjeev did not answer, picked up the newspaper, and sat down at the table. He did not even look at her.
She arranged the food and took a seat opposite to Sanjeev. He had not changed much since they first met nine years ago. Both, in outward appearance and the person he is. Those warm eyes were as attractive today as ever. It is just that the warmth did not get expressed in little deeds and actions like it used to. It seemed he was holding back his real self and all that she was presented with was this man who sat before her now. And this is not the Sanjeev she met, fell in love with and married!
“What are you dreaming of? More clothes to buy?” said Sanjeev, breaking her reverie.
“No,” she replied.
“What was it that you wanted to talk about,” he asked, staring at the plate before him.
He knows and wants avoid it, she thought. But today she wanted some answers.
“About our married life,” she said.
“What about it?” he cut in.
“There is something missing in it. This is not the life we imagined, is it?” she said, half-heartedly. She was already feeling lost.
“You have an enviable house, chauffeur driven car, two lovely kids, and excellent living standard. What is missing?” said Sanjeev.
“That’s not why I married you!” Nandita replied with a hint of anger in her voice.
“Love is missing. Companionship is missing.” she added.
He kept silent and looked out of the window. She waited. The sudden quiet was uncomfortable; like the silent space bounded by clanging of swords.
Continued as part 2 here