Route Two

Image Source: Christopher Clark

Just A Walk

The jingle of the cutlery is helping dispense the awkward silence at the dinner table. She would rarely get mad but if she did, it would be a silently brewing storm. The natural progression of her anger would be oblivious to the world at large but subtle signs were always there. People think I am crazy to let her repression bother me. It would relieve my friends when their partners would bite the lip and not emote frequently. But with her, the rules were indiscriminate. She would repress and forget, sometimes to even her own disadvantage. But if pushed enough, she would implode. The coming implosion was what I feared.

" So..are we going to talk about it?"
" There is nothing to talk about. Please just eat dinner."
" You know I am not going to do that."
" I am .. I am not interested. Yesterday, also at the party, you bought that thing up. It was so embarrassing. How many times have I told you to stop doing that? 
" You always fail to see my side"
" You know what.. I... I am not interested in having this conversation." She gets up and leaves as her face starts trembling.

The biggest irony in the world lies in how quickly we label people with no ounce of self-reflection. For instance, I was quickly branded the anti-social introvert who didn't know how to behave with human beings, always being rude and curt. But slowly I learnt that those who branded me had no clue about real compassion itself. I do not refute the charges that I didn't say Hi or greeted people enthusiastically (I still don't), but I would still reserve genuine humanity or kindness for few, devoid of any conformed civility. On the other hand, the vast majority would indulge in long overwrought civility with no depth. She was guilty of it as well. If she didn't know you, that would last only for 15 minutes. The ability to make you feel at ease as someone who is genuinely interested in you and your views is a rare gift she possessed. If she met a person who shared the same characteristic, it would work like a charm. But if you are one shy and lonely soul, it could also be mistaken as " Hey, she sees me!".

There was no maliciousness or cruelty in such behaviour. It's just that while she had learnt to gel with diverse range of groups and people all her life, she would never let anyone percolate deep within. She would love to talk and still does, but most of it would be aimless noise, with scant details to expose the underlying vulnerability or genuineness. The deep distance and strong beliefs in spiritual detachment would make her come across as a cold, heartless woman or a lover of status quo. This was someone who would fail to handle other people's emotions, maybe even her own. " Let it be" would be her instinctive reply, a phrase I would never accept unless sang by Paul McCartney.

30 minutes of cool down had passed since the dinner and I had no intention of going to bed again the same way we did last night- fuming and unhappy. The loathing for repression which was developed years ago had persisted and it now seemed like a hurdle especially with people who swear by it. I gently knock on the door.

"Hey, wanna go for a walk?"
"Not if you are going to bring it up again"
"I swear on our daughter's head, I will not initiate any conversation."

I intended to stick to the promise. Silence worked like a charm to draw out her true feelings. There was no large group or any strangers for her to create any false greetings or funny stories.

We walked for fifteen minutes in the nearby lanes as cold night breeze greeted us and my anxiety surged. She didn't seem to be in the mood to talk about anything and I couldn't speak. 

" Do you think we are right for each other?" she spills to end my queasiness
" Doesn't seem like it prima facie does it?"
" Nope. We are both so different in so many ways."
" I hate your taste in movies and how you treat them with no significance although they matter so much to me."
"I hate how you can't dance and treat it with not an ounce of the same esteem I reserve for it."
" That is the thing. It's esteem. If you tell me its your passion, I would sit there with pom poms being your cheerleader."
" That's your problem isn't it? Everything is black and white. Everything is either emotional or practical. We can't all be like you. Some of us have to be practical to function in the real world. I don't have time to answer these questions about passions and impulses."
" You are exceptional at your job but that is not it. There is more to life and more to you."
" Even if there could be, you think I have the time? You know how much more I have taken on to support us when your writing payments get delayed.."
I was startled with a deep defensive argument about to surge out but I resisted.
"Look, I am very much aware that you never wanted to be with anyone who earns less than you. If you want, I will take up that TV thing I told you about. The pay is good."
"That's not what I meant Devang. I don't want you take up something which you are not happy with just because of me. I just wish that you would appreciate all that I do a little more and not keep giving me the burden of your expectations about how I should do more. It's been 3 years that we have been married and 5 years with Blossom. Yet, I feel we fight the same way we did when we were young. You know things which are easy for you are hard for me and vice versa, but I respect you enough to not push you."

" I am sorry. I just want this. I don't ever want you to walk away from us. That's it. And that's not a demand but a request"

"It's exhausting."

A new kind of silence envelopes where one waits for the other to change the topic. I see a shiny new shop nearby and smile.
" Do you remember that night? The late night yogurt sojourn? I wish every walk was that perfect."
" God! You have made me so boring! Kya life thi meri, kya banadi tumne." 
I give her a deep frown as she bursts into a tease. The flow of silliness and irreverence started, more from her side than mine as my dilapidated ears which had survived so many monologues braced themselves again.
Both our eyes kept looking at the other though, with a tinge of doubt- Why are we together? What is even common? Our differences differ. Our issues differ. Our likes barely meet and yet, this feels more breezy than anything either of us ever had.

We reach the door of the house where I suddenly turn her towards me.
"I am so glad that I tapped you on the shoulder that morning. I am so glad that the thin trust which prompted me to tell you this has not been betrayed. It's .. too abstract to be said."
She pulls me up close and seals the mumbling lips.
"I know" she smiles.

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Ananya Tales said...

So true.. Writing to me is like therapy.. heals me

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