Some may cheat even though they live under the same roof. Yet, being miles apart doesn’t fade others into straying. The idea of committing yourself may fill your mind with fear and horror. Yet, one fine day, someone will change you from a pathological flirt into a one-man woman. Some people look for loopholes in their wedding vows to justify their falsity. Yet, others don’t even need vows to stay true to their partner. Commitment is a funny thing. Yet, some people take it very seriously.
Anil looked at his wife across the dinner table. She was busy serving food to their kid. He wanted her to at least give him a glimpse, so that he could wink at her. After staring at her for 2 whole minutes, he finally gave up and started eating. That is when she started her nagging, “Why am I the only one who has to make all the compromises?”
He looked up, and asked, “What happened? Rough day, sweetie?”
“Don’t you sweetie me! I’m tired. So tired. Of all of this. I had to wake up in the morning to the irritating barking of the neighbor’s dog, and then your son here decide to throw a tantrum. Then..” He phased out after two sentences. He felt guilty about it. But all he could feel is a weird numbness which he felt while his boss expressed his disappointment over his work. All he could see was his wife’s lips moving.
“I’m asking you something. Tell me what I should do about the milkman’s problem.”
“Do what suits you best.”
“Now, you won’t even help me? This marriage is a disaster.”
“But, you never take any suggestions I give you. You do whatever you want to do. I don’t understand why you even bother asking.”
“You are the worst husband ever.”
He opened his mouth to retaliate, but saw that his son was cowering in his chair afraid of what will follow if he shouts. He just looked down and kept quiet through the rest of the yelling.
Mihir arrived home late. He saw his wife sleeping with her head on the dinner table. He got irritated at the sight. ‘Now she will feel bad if I tell her I already had dinner.’
“Honey! Wake up!”
She awoke with a start.
“Oh, you are home! Let us eat then.”
“I already ate outside with my colleagues. You shouldn’t have waited for me.”
“I was trying your phone for so long. You didn’t answer at all.”
“Oh Please! If I’m not answering, then isn’t it clear that I was busy.”
“Can’t you send a small message at least?”
“I don’t want to have this conversation right now. I’m really tired. I want to go to sleep.”
Mihir’s wife ate her dinner alone in silence. After throwing away most of it, she went to the bedroom. He was still awake working on his laptop. On seeing her, he gave her a sheepish look, and said,
“I’m so sorry, honey, for talking to you like that. Are you still mad? It is just that I’m really overworked. Don’t be angry. Come to bed.”
Sonam looked at the beeping phone. Ugh! Another call from her husband. She tried to concentrate on the meeting, and continued with her presentation. An hour later, when the meeting was over, the missed call count was 8. She took a deep breath, and called him.
“Hey honey! I saw your missed calls. Is everything okay?”
“I was just checking up on you. I wanted to know how was your presentation.”
“You literally disturbed me during my presentation! Just to check if my presentation went well? What is wrong with you? Is there something else you wanted to share?”
“Nope, nothing. I’m sorry I disturbed you so much.”
“Oh gawd! Don’t say sorry now, and sound like a hurt puppy at the same time. My presentation went well. I will see you in the evening.”
“Oh! I’m cooking today. I love you. Take care.”
She disconnected quickly and sighed. She wished she could get some space and time off from being with him all the time.
“Anil, is that really you?”
He looked over his shoulder and saw his ex leaning over the bar counter.
“Sonam? Wow! What are you doing here?”
“Having a drink. How are you? It has been so long. What are you up to these days?”
After a lot of small talk, catching up on the mundane things in life, and 4 drinks later, he felt happy like he hadn’t felt in years.
“So, married to the richest guy you could find, eh? Just like you used to say. Awesome you are!”
“Yes! And, I’m so happy for you too. You married for love. Just like you used to say.”
Maybe it was the wine, maybe he was feeling too emotional that day, but, Anil couldn’t help saying,
“If I had married you, then it would be marrying for love. I don’t even remember the reason I married her.”
Sonam looked at him in shock. After all these years, he had finally said it. He had loved her too. And, yet here they both were, regretting it. Regretting their respective marriages. She started crying.
“Oh no! Why are you crying? Is everything okay?”
“Oh, it is nothing. Just that, you never said you loved me. Ever. Even though, I said it so many times.”
“I was too confused back then. And, look at you now. How awesome you look! It did you good to not get married to me, eh? Also, you never cried when we were together. Not even when we broke up. Why are you crying now?”
“I’m crying because it makes me feel sad and wistful thinking about what could have been. I’m not happy, Anil. If I was not with you, it didn’t matter who else I married. It was going to be the same whether I married a king or a pauper, if he wasn’t you.”
“Damn it! Why didn’t you say so back then? You… You… Why are you laughing like that?”
“Remember my favorite song that I used to mention a lot?”
“No. I don’t.”
“Of course. How will you remember? The winner takes it all. I used to always wonder how it feels to live and actually feel those sad lyrics.”
Mihir lifted up his head with an irritated expression on his face, and glanced at his phone. It was his wife. He swore and got off his secretary. She protested, “What happened?”
“Oh, nothing. It is my wife. Hang on.”
“What now!” He barked into the phone.
“Oh! I wanted to know if you are coming home for dinner.”
“No. I have work to do. I will come home late.” He disconnected the call, even before she could respond.
“Sorry, darling. She is such a control freak. I don’t know when I will get rid of her.”
“You will soon. Till then, I’m there, na. I will always be there for you.”
He smiled and got back into bed with her.
“Where were you last night?”
His wife seemed really furious and irritated. Well, she always looked like that.
“I was out with a friend. I’m sorry.”
“You could have just called me and told me. What I get is one lousy message, ‘I will be back in the morning.’ What the hell? You cannot just go waltzing around town while I sit at home doing everything! This marriage is the biggest mistake of my life.”
Anil thought to himself, this is it. I’m done. I’m going to tell her everything. I don’t want to be in this terrible marriage anymore. As he was about to tell her, his son came out of the bedroom, sleepily rubbing his eyes. He looked at Anil, and his face lit up. He ran to Anil, and tugging his trousers said,
“Daddy! I had a nightmare last night. I was so scared. Where were you?”
Anil took him in his arms, and stroking his head, said,
“Don’t worry, beta. I’m here now. Nothing bad will happen now.”
Looking at his wife, he said,
“I’m really sorry. This won’t happen again.”
She gave him a hateful glare, threw her hands in the air, and left the room.
“What the hell, Sonam? I waited for you till late night, and you sent me a teeny tiny message saying you will be coming home in the morning. You didn’t answer any of my calls. What were you doing out for such a long time? I had called up your office. They said, you left early. You are so irresponsible.”
“I was out with an ex. We met at a bar last evening. Then we got to talking and…”
“Oh! Did something happen between you two?”
“What do you think?”
“What do I think? What sort of a question is that?”
“Just answer it honestly.”
“I think nothing happened. You don’t look like a person who had sex with someone else other than your husband.”
“Wow! You are so weird! Do you trust me so much?”
“I know when you lie, honey. I can tell when you are lying. Seriously, why are we having this conversation? I made pancakes. Go freshen up and let’s have it together. And, tell me, all that happened yesterday.”
“Why are you playing this song?”
“Oh, the winner takes it all? I thought it was your favorite song. That is why I added it to the playlist.”
Sonam looked at him incredulously for a few moments, and smiled,
“I don’t think I like it so much anymore. I will go and freshen up.”
Mihir opened the door to the sight of packed bags. His wife was systematically arranging stuff around the apartment. Without even looking up at him, she said, “I’m leaving.”
“What? Why?” He dropped the keys on the floor, and ran to her.
“I’m tired of you, Mihir. This is clearly not working out. You never pay attention to me or the house. You spend most nights outside. And, when you do come home, I think that might be because you feel like shagging your wife for a change. I’m leaving.”
“No. It is not like that, honey. I’m just overworked. Look at me. Do you think I will ever do such a thing? I love you. And, only you. You can’t just leave me. Please. I will do as you say. I will reduce the working hours at the office. I will spend more time with you. Just. Don’t. Go.”
His wife hugged him, smiled and handed him the keys to the house.