The gap between them in the double bed was huge.
She turned around to watch him sleep in the other corner with his back towards her. She had a sudden urge to reach out and hug him from behind—ruffle his curls a little and doze off back to sleep. But, she didn’t. She kept staring as her eyes welled up a little.
It’s been this way for a while now. The everyday bickering, blame games and threats. Exactly two years back when they had decided to move in together in this house, the double sized bed used to look like a joke. Both used to sleep tangled with each other—the kisses wouldn’t stop, nor would the smiles. What changed?
She looked at the wall clock. The dim night lamp in the room helped her read. 3:25 am. She stared at his back for a while more, then turned around and slept off.
“Why didn’t you wake me up at 7.30 am? I have a con-call today with the U.S client goddammit. Why can’t you even do simple things these days?”
She crinkled her eyes open and quickly shut it because the direct sunlight was bathing the bedroom in a warm glow. She again opened it slowly and tried to process what he had just said.
She saw his face right beside hers. He had a frown and looked grumpy.
“Yes?” he asked again. This time, the voice was sterner.
“I am not your alarm clock. And, do not talk to me in that tone,” she said while trying to get up.
“UGH,” he exclaimed while throwing the pillow away from him, as he stood up and went away to the washroom.
They finished breakfast in silence. They got ready in silence. And then they locked the house and went different ways to office. In silence.
Silence has become an integral part of their lives these days. So much so, that it doesn’t even feel weird any longer. Initially, she used to wonder—why aren’t we talking anymore? Should I ask him about his day? How come we finished an entire meal without even saying a simple ‘hey’? But these days, she somehow feels comforted because of the silence. Because silence means—no arguments, no fights, no name calling.
She came back home a little early that day. And by advertising agency standards, 10.30 pm was early. He wasn’t home yet. Because yes, IT companies were no less.
She changed and went to the kitchen, and almost after a month, thought of cooking a meal. Ordering in dinner had become a routine too. She thought about that one night they had tried to cook dinner, and how kneading the dough together had swiftly led them towards the double bed in the bedroom. She almost smiled to herself at the thought.
When was the last time they had made love? She tried to think but couldn’t even remember. Wow.
She tied her long straight hair up and started to take out the pots and pans. Almost after an hour of slogging, she laid his favorite food on the dining table and went to take a shower.
After a while, she could hear the main door open and his footsteps approaching the bedroom.
“How was the call with the client?” she asked him after coming out of the shower. He was plopped on the living room sofa watching the ongoing India v/s England test series.
“Okay”, he replied curtly without taking his eyes off the TV screen.
He was in his usual boxers and tee-shirt and she noticed he has not shaved in almost 3 days. There was a glass half-full of whiskey on the table and he had a burning cigarette in his hand.
“Dinner is ready. Let’s eat,” she said and left.
At the dining table, she made an effort to talk once more.
“Do you like the chicken? I made it.”
“Because you like it.”
He looked up now.
“All of a sudden? Did the sun rise in the west today?” he smirked with his half-smile.
“It is our anniversary today!” she finally screamed, tears rolling down her cheeks.
She got up from the chair, went to the bedroom and banged the door shut.
He walked in to the room two minutes later and sat on the other side of the bed.
She was crying.
“I am sorry,” he finally said, after a moment’s pause. He was looking at the bed cover, head down.
Two minutes passed by in silence—but it felt like eternity.
He got up and went to the side she was sitting.
He held her chin up, looked into her watery eyes and repeated again, “I am sorry,” his voice heavy.
“What has happened to us? Why?” she finally asked, her voice cracking between sobs.
“I don’t know, but I love you. You know that, right?”
“No. I honestly don’t anymore.”
His eyes were red too now.
“What?” his voice was low and shaky.
“Maybe we should take a break, you know? I should go and stay at Neha’s for a few days.”
“A break?” his fingers were now digging into her shoulders, his voice had sunk really low.
“Remember the times when we used to stay up till dawn talking to each other on phone? The times you used to surprise me even a week before our anniversary? I miss us. I do,” she said. Her eyes had started to dry up.
“I.. I can’t live without you, baby. Please.”
“I can’t live without you either. But don’t you think it is better than staying like this?”
He got up and went to the balcony and lit a smoke.
Memories started rushing back to both.
The first day they had met at a friend’s housewarming party. The day he had professed his feelings for her. The day they first made love on that extremely hot Bombay afternoon. The day they had decided to stay under one roof. And, the day they started growing distant from each other because of silly fights.
He came back after a few minutes. Tears streaming down his face. A very unusual sight.
He just came and hugged her without a word. Her body tingled. She hadn’t felt this sensation in ages. She hesitated for a while and then gave in—and hugged him back tightly.
They stayed in that embrace for what seemed forever, till he pulled back and told her, “We will get through this. I promise to keep the toilet seat down and not put the wet towel on the bed. I will help you with making dinner and not get insecure about random boys. Just, please don’t go away.”
She smiled and started to say something.
But before she could, he pressed his lips on hers and kissed her. It felt like the first kiss. First it was soft and gentle, and then it became passionate.
Before they knew, the double bed witnessed entangling of them limbs after a long time. Even though the ceiling fan was on in full speed, there were droplets of sweat on their entire face.
She laid down her face on his chest and softly said, “I hate you.”
He clasped her hand tightly and looked into her eyes, as both their lips crinkled into a smile.
The sun shone a little brighter the next morning.