Arman R. Khan
I wake up next to you, sleeping, peaceful. On any other day, I’d look at your still figure, and swallow back the tantalizing expectation that you had passed on in your slumber. Then, I’d see your chest heaving as you breathe. My usual mornings started with the disappointment.
But today is different. Today, I’ll lay awake beside you for hours and watch you sleep. I’ll drink in your beauty and reminisce our formative days. I will think about everything that has put us where we are now. I’ll rehearse the lines that I’ve written over and over in my head, albeit I’ll forget them once I try to talk to you. Today, we’ll decide.
We met shortly before Zeba apu’s holud, seven years back, when she made us rehearse dancing together for the holud program. You, a third-year English student at a private university, and I, a newly employed blah-blah analyst at one of the country’s growing telecom companies. How happy I was to be dancing with somebody as pretty as you. And when I learned you were not seeing anyone at the time, I would’ve done a back-flip if I knew how to. The rehearsals led to me asking for your phone number, which led to the daily, and later nightly, phone conversations. We started dating, and in a year, took things up to our parents. Your parents were happy to have found an established suitor for you, and mine to have found a beautiful maiden for me. We got married shortly after your graduation.
The first few months were just downright romantic. I’d come home after a tiring day to the scent of your cooking, feeling blessed to have found a bride like you, and being satiated in fleshly ways almost every other night. But things changed as job offers started pouring in for you. You took the job of a lecturer at the very university you studied in, and you got busy. You went to bed early so you’d wake up in time to go to your job. You’d come home late in the evening, exhausted like I. But unlike mine, work didn’t stop for you even at home. There were always some answer scripts to grade, or lecture sheets to prepare, or assignments to check. Gradually, your cooking stopped, and so did our nocturnal adventures. I missed it all. I missed you.
And then one Friday morning, three years later, you told me that there would be a third in our family of two. Oh, what a time it was for us. Your knitting habit surfaced and your cooking habit returned. We’d lay all night in each other’s arms, staring at the ceiling fan, speculating and planning for the child. If it’s a she, we’ll name her Rosaline. But what if it’s a boy? And so it went. Until the day I returned home to discover you crying in the bathtub. It took me just a moment to realize what had happened. I had held you close, in the bathtub, all night, and I cried and you cried.
I thought it would bring us closer, but it only drove us apart. You got busy again with your work, as did I with mine – a futile attempt at alleviation. And bit by bit, day by day, we fell apart. The distance kept growing until we couldn’t even stay in the same room together, and sharing the bed was the hardest part. I grew insensitive, you naïve.
It was then that I met Farah at an official dinner. Don’t ask me how, but I discovered myself in her bed, looking for a comfort in her that no longer existed in you. That set my contempt for you in motion. The months turned into years and I woke up next to you, hoping to see Farah, hoping against the oddest of my wills that you had died, that I can be united with Farah once and for all and rediscover the happiness that this marriage couldn’t provide anymore. But slowly, very slowly, I started to realize that it was I who was the bigger fool, that you too had sought comfort in a different person’s arms just like I had, that you too felt the same about me as I did for you.
At first I was mad. There were mornings I wanted to wrap my fingers around your neck, so you never woke up. Soon, however, realization dawned upon me. I was as guilty as you were. I had chosen as poorly as you did. Maybe it was time to call the quits.
But today, I wait for you to wake up. Today, I confess. Today, you confess. Today, I’ll tell you that I need you, and that I want a second innings with you, and you alone. And today, we’ll make a decision for good.
[Inspired by Blunderware’s “Moshari’r Ei Din Ratri”]