“Annuu…” I shouted for the third time looking for the white shirt in the cupboard which I pressed last week to wear for the PTA meeting.
“Raj, I am getting ready in Pihu’s room. The shirt would be in your cupboard third shelf, please check” she was aloud.
I leave the collar button open and spray a deodorant giving a final check in the mirror.
“Daddy, you look so cool” Pihu was smiling and running towards me holding her handkerchief in one hand.
“Do you like Daddy in a shirt or in tshirt?” I played with her nose.
“Lets go Raj we have to reach in time” Annu appeared from the room dressed in a bottle green dress which she had purchased recently for the housewarming ceremony.
While driving in the car, Pihu was playing with Annu in the back seat. I adjusted the mirror to check the view and they both looked happy while playing together. To avoid the awkward silence I played the Radio FM and looked again in the mirror. The RJ had accepted the request from the guy who requested to play the “Bol na halke halke” song for his girlfriend. Annu always loved this song and in the early days she used to sing every time when I played it but this time her attention was towards Pihu. When we reached the school for the Parents-Teachers meeting, Pihu’s friends’ parents complimented us that we looked cute. We smiled at them and looked at each other. Sometimes the truth from the third person makes us realise what we are actually blessed with. No wonder Annu still looks gorgeous but she has stopped looking at me with the same warmth she held a few years back.
Pihu’s teacher was impressed by her grades, she was doing well in her studies. She was still in 1st Standard but she was smart in her class and made us proud parents. In the evening while dining I held Annu’s hand when she was busy stirring her soup and asked if she wanted to go outside to watch a movie or if she wanted to go for a visit to a museum to which she replied that “Raj, let’s stay home. I have some work and don’t want to roam anywhere. You and Pihu can plan something” she had learnt to refuse politely. We don’t fight these days, we treat each other with silent treatments. If I am silent she never bothers to ask me what is wrong with me and why am I paranoid. When she is silent I hold her hand to read her mind and eyes but she takes back immediately as if I am some stranger.
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It was our eleventh anniversary in a couple of days and I wanted to bring that lost spark again which was the foundation of our relationship and marriage. I booked the movie tickets for us in the same theatre where we watched our first movie. “Raj, please switch off the lights” she tucked herself inside the bed without looking at me. “Annu..” I extended my hand to grab her hand but she turned around wishing me Good Night. I wish we could speak our heart the way we did in earlier days. At Least fighting with each other could create some noise, we would blame each other for all the wrong, weighing opinions on who was right and wrong but it hurts more when there is more noise when two people who love each other turn silent. The thing is they have to pretend to be a happy couple from the outside when they know that they can’t fix things from inside. I jotted down this thought in my Google Keep Notes, nowadays it’s easy to flaunt your pain – all you have to do is open any social media and jot it down so people can like it and the comments would be it’s very relatable but I kept the pain to myself because everyone thinks we are a happy couple so let them think.
While tossing on bed I wondered if she ever misses me or us. The worst part of a relationship is to pretend that you are happy and you have to live with the person even when you know that the other person takes you for granted. When I googled it yesterday, it said this is called the Self-Denial State of Mind where you are not ready to accept that everything is over and the so-called LOVE does not exist. Was I missing us or was I missing the feelings we had for each other? “Raj, you have an urgent meeting tomorrow, please go to sleep” My mind ordered me like an officer and I obeyed it, closing my eyes.
A Few Days Later…..
“Happy Anniversary Annu” I hugged her from behind when she was dressing up for college. She was a professor in a college. “Thanks Raj” she lost the grip to hold my hand. “Close your eyes” I whispered slowly in her ears. “We are not college teens anymore stop it” she pretended to adjust her bindi to avoid the conversation. “Oh common, we are not that old Annu” I held her hand tightly facing her now. “Raj, I am getting late for college” she tried to avoid eye-contact. “Please Annu..its our anniversary” if any third person might have listened to me, he/she might address it as BEGGING. “Okay, please be quick” she said robotically. I was quick enough to remove the gift from the drawer, I wanted to capture her expressions so I placed the mobile in a way that would capture the precious moment. “Open your eyes”.
She pulled the red ribbon and opened the gift wrapper quickly. “Oh My God. Thank you so much Raj you never fail to make me happy. I’ve wanted a smart watch for a long time” her eyes twinkled with joy.
“My pleasure” I kept looking at her eyes.
“There is one more surprise in the evening” I uttered joyfully.
“Really? Wow I am waiting for it” she wore the watch and clicked the picture to upload it on social media. “Best ever gift by Hubby” the caption itself was catchy.
“Okay, Raj let’s meet in the evening. Happy anniversary to you too” she sounded casual and walked off the room.
The waves of excitement flowed in me while waiting for the evening like the ocean is excited when the sun is setting. When you are excited, time supports you, it runs fast seeing you content. There was just an hour left and I had started wrapping up my work. Today I just wanted to be happy. The minute and second hand were playing with each other, chasing each other like the new couples when they make love. I imagined us making love, maybe Annu would say “Spare me Raj” giggling and I would look deep in her eyes. Those moments are precious when I let our eyes do the talking – they reveal something new when words fail to explain. “Annu, have you left the college?” I couldn’t keep calm. “No, Raj. I will be late. I have an extra session today. I forgot to inform you in the morning”. “Really? What about our surprise Annu? The excitement started to vanish. “Raj, let’s talk when I get back home please” her formal reply feels like I am taking a tour of the desert – where there is a little precipitation of love and life.
I did not mention in my office about the cancellation of my plans. I silently logged out. While returning back to home only the music could keep me sane. At home I played with Pihu,”Daddy which colour should I fill?” she was lost in choosing the colours she had to fill in the drawing book. “The leaves should be green Pihu” I handed her the green colour. “Daddy, can’t I put yellow colour in the leaves, I have seen many green leaves turning into yellow and falling on the ground” her lips broke into a wide smile. “Pihu, you can fill any colour as long as it makes the picture look beautiful”. “Daddy, I love you” she sat in my lap and kissed my right cheek. “Daddy loves you too Pihu” I hugged her tight. Her little hands were good enough to feel supported. “Daddy, can we have popcorn? I am hungry” she slides her hands to her stomach, “Come come let’s go” we playfully went to the kitchen to make the popcorn. I played her favourite Angry Birds video to make her popcorn tastier. “Daddy you make the best popcorn” she winks at me and feeds me one popcorn from her bowl. Pihu falls asleep once her stomach is full, that’s how kids find happiness in small things, unlike adults they never sulk in the feelings. A sudden knock on the door shifts my attention to look at the wall clock which we had received as a gift during our housewarming ceremony. It was 7:30 PM, and a second knock alerted me that I should open the door fast. “How much time do you take Raj?” Annu was right infront of me , she folded her hands with a strict gaze in her eyes. “Pihu is sleeping” I lowered my voice and went straight in the room.
“I had booked two tickets Annu for a movie date” my voice was low but the pain couldn’t keep calm
“Raj, we can watch it tomorrow. We are not teenagers now” she was again hiding her expressions in the cupboard
“Annu, we are not that old. Today is our eleventh anniversary and I wanted to make it special” I held her hand to read her expressions
“You are always busy Annu, it is always about your college, your students and activities in the college. I don’t find any “Us” in those conversations. I air quote the Us to make her understand that we share a huge part of our life.
“You are overreacting Raj” her face was not holding any expression. Neither she was feeling bad nor she was telling me to stop it. How can someone stay neutral?
“I am not overreacting Annu, I am just reacting because I feel things and unlike you I am not someone who is emotionally unavailable”
“Raj, please leave my hand. You have held me tightly. I don’t understand why you are behaving like this.” she looked into my eyes this time but I could not find the love for me.
“Am I doing anything wrong Annu?” I held her shoulders.
“No Raj, you are not wrong and I am not right. We are just growing old and things don’t remain the same when you are living with someone from the past 13-14 years. I find all such things silly now, a movie date, a visit to a museum – it just doesn’t give me that excitement which I find in my students” she took a long pause and continued “Everyday they ask me something new which makes me a better professor”. “I think we should change the topic Raj and yes I have ordered the food” she leaves the room without my acknowledgement leaving me puzzled. Should I fix something or should I live with this?