Should she dress-up more smartly? Has she taken their relationship for granted? Should she confront him about his indifference?…
The woman looked at her reflection in the mirror. She carefully tried to insert the stray lock of hair in her bun. She adjusted somewhat limp cotton saree-palla on the shoulder, sucked-in her flabby tummy and with a graceful stride went to open the door.
The man, around her age, glanced somewhere above her head and went inside. The bags in his hand full of vegetables looked heavy. She tried to take it from him. He refused her extended hand of help and dumped the bags gratefully on the dining table.
She offered him a glass of water to drink. “I so carefully starched and ironed this baby-pink saree which he used to like so much and pestered me to wear it every time we went out. And now he hasn’t glanced at it even once. All efforts wasted,” she thought.
She smirked her lips and sat down in a huff. It’s so long since he had said the three words that assuredly brought sparkle in her eyes. She has noticed that these days he was avoiding physical intimacy also.
A frown creased her eyebrows. What’s the matter? Has he lost interest in me? The mere thought clenched her heart. A shiver of panic slithered throughout her body. Is it possible? She had heard this type of gossip so many times in the neighbourhood park. Yeah, it can happen to anyone… men will be men… no, no… not my man. We were meant to love each other for eternity. This cannot happen to us… these things happen to other people.
She gave a cursory glance at her reflection once again. Should she start applying kajal in her eyes to make them brighter? Well, he always hated make-up. So what? These days people adopt so many things to maintain a relationship. Should she dress-up more smartly? Has she taken their relationship for granted? Should she confront him about his indifference?… Do you still love me? Do you still want to be with me ? No, no… it sounds so melodramatic. Should she keep quiet and suffer in silence? Well, she was not the type to hold her tongue. She pursed her lips pensively…
She looked at her hands, all wrinkled. Slowly she untied her disheveled bun and started combing the snow-white hair. Arthritis had taken a toll on her fingers. She was having difficulty holding the comb steady with her shivering fingers. The man impatiently snatched the comb from her hand and started combing her hair gently.
“How many times have I told you to cut your hair? What is the use of keeping this rat-tail?”
“Fifty years back you never agreed to shorten my hair.”
“Fifty years back you used to make carrot-halwa the very first day the carrots appeared in the market,” and then he mumbled inaudibly, “and now its two weeks since the carrots have appeared on the rack.”
“Oh… that is the reason you are going around in a huff,” the woman threw light on his ambiguous behavior.
“What else did you think?” with the support of his cane he got up slowly.
“Well, it doesn’t matter…”
In the mirror, she caught the reflection of her toothless smile.
(Beena Raghavan is a teacher and a homemaker.)
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