There was something unusually serene about the room that morning. The white curtains swayed in the wind and I could see a glimpse of the green outside as I lay there on our bed, touching the part of her pillow where her head should have been beneath a mass of curling hair. I walked upto the window, pushed the curtains aside and looked at the view outside as the sun hit my eyes.
She always looked lovely standing by the window each morning, sipping a cup of tea that she clasped with both her petite little hands and looking at the lush green outside. But she won’t be able to do that today or tomorrow or… I did not want to think about it, it would be too difficult to think about the days that would follow.
I thought of the day I had ahead of me and all at once, I felt an inexplicable feeling in the pit of my stomach that began to envelope my entire being; I sat down on the bed and let the feeling pass.
Her absence was overwhelming; I got up and went into the kitchen to make myself a cup of coffee. I had never had to step into the kitchen in all these years that I had been married and now that she was gone, I had a feeling that I was in enemy territory. I slowly found my way around the alien atmosphere and ruffled through the cupboards with that unfathomable feeling twisting me more and more inside.
I hadn’t had a cup of home-made coffee since the day I had been married. She drank tea in the morning and that became our morning drink. It’s one of those things you do when you are married for that long, you like everything the other person likes, you care about everything the other person cares about, you share everything with that significant other… None of that mattered at that moment.
I didn’t have anything to care about or share; and I didn’t have to drink tea because she wasn’t there. The feeling squeezed me more and more from within and I felt myself shouting, shouting to no one in particular for I was alone now.
I walked into the dining room, coffee in hand and saw the remains of the consequence of her absence from the previous night. I stared at the half empty bottle of alcohol that was left on the table and it suddenly hit me stronger than ever; she wasn’t there. She wasn’t in the room, she wasn’t in our home, and she wasn’t breathing the same air I was breathing. And again, that inscrutable feeling that seemed to drive my actions consumed me as I reached for the bottle on the table and surrendered myself to the spirit.
The phone rang loud and clear and reverberated all around the house. It was late evening by the time I got up from the couch with an awful headache and looked around the living room.
The phone rang again and this time, it seemed to get louder and louder with each ring. I tripped on the empty bottle of alcohol which was now on the floor by the couch as I staggered to pick up the phone. I heard Hari’s voice, magnified a thousand times in my head say, “Dude! Are you Okay? I’ve been calling the whole day and I was really worried when you didn’t answer. Are you alright by yourself? Do you want me to come over? I was thinking I could – “
I hung up. I did not want him there. I did not want anyone there. Why did no one understand that I just wanted to be alone? I wasn’t a child, I could handle her absence. Her absence, the one single thing that seemed to redefine my reality, took me over with a feeling so intense that I could hardly contain it.
It was all too sudden, no one anticipated it and yet, she was gone, wasn’t she? She was gone and what was left was that feeling inside of me that I was struggling to come to terms with. The thing was, no one could blame me for the way I was feeling. After three years together, after two years of marriage, her absence was a new phenomenon.
I walked back into the bedroom and lay down on our bed. The room looked different as I lay there by myself, taking in the colors of the room that somehow looked brighter, the song of the birds outside the window that seemed louder and the smell…the smell of alcohol on the sheets, on myself.
She would never have allowed me to drink during the day if she was around, but she wasn’t there. She would never have allowed me to wake up at noon or drink coffee or fall asleep on the couch in the middle of the day, but she couldn’t do anything about it now because she wasn’t there.
I got up off the bed and jumped and screamed and punched the air as that enigmatic feeling that was a culmination of happiness, joy, freedom, awe and excitement came over me again.
I sat back down once I had put myself together and reached over to the bedside cabinet to find the note that had brought me such divine bliss. There, written on a yellow piece of scribbling paper in her neat, cursive handwriting were the words that spelled my freedom: “Dev, I have to leave to visit a friend on short notice. I’m just gone for the weekend. Please behave yourself. If I find some skinny blonde in my bedroom when I get back, I swear I’ll divorce you”.