Story 108

She woke up five minutes before the alarm, lay in bed watching as the seconds hand inched forward. The only two sounds in the room were of the fan – proving there was electricity; and, her husband’s snoring – proving that he was alive.

The alarm buzzed, and she switched it off. She sat up straight in bed and folded her hands in a prayer. Then, she turned to look at her husband who was sleeping peacefully undisturbed by the sound of the alarm. She bent closer to him and planted a kiss on his forehead.
He was tired as he had just returned from a business trip, though that had not stopped him from telling her how much he had missed her. He told her three times and then rolled on to his side of the bed and slept.

Her body ached. It was not the fresh start of the day she had been expecting. She had been happy to see her husband back home, she had been happy making love to him, but the soreness of her body took away part of the pleasure. She stretched, tied her hair in a loose bun and climbed out of the bed. She picked up her Mangalsutra from the night-stand and put it around her neck on her way out of the bedroom.
After picking up the milk bags and newspaper from outside, she walked to their daughter’s room to wake her up. Instead of waking up her daughter, she slid into her daughter’s bed and wrapped her arm around her daughter. Five minutes, she told herself.

She opened her eyes after half an hour. It was her mistake that her daughter was going to be late. Under these circumstances, other parents might have hurriedly woken up their child and rushed through rest of the activities with super-speed – causing their child to panic for no fault of theirs. She took a deep breath and calmly woke up her daughter.
Once she was out of her daughter’s room she picked up speed. Handling hurried situations was not new to her. She boiled the milk, made dosas and sandwiches, while her daughter got ready and stepped out for breakfast. The school bus came when her daughter was still having her breakfast, so she went to the door and told the bus driver to go ahead without her daughter.

“Papa will drop you to school” she told her daughter.
“Papa will not do any such thing.” Her husband said as he walked out of the bedroom dragging his feet. He knew she did not like it but that did not stop him from doing it. She took a deep breath and calmly replied, “She’s late for school”
“Because of no fault of mine.” He replied as he sat down at the dining table and looked at her. “I am hungry” he said when she did not move.

She took a plate from the shelf,  filled it with two dosas, small bowl of sambar and a sandwich and placed the plate in front of him. She brought him a cup of tea and a cup of bournvita for the kid. Then, she walked to the bedroom to change her clothes. When she walked out her hair was neatly tied into a ponytail, she was wearing a salwar-kameez and had the car keys in her hand.

She stepped out of the house with her daughter while her husband continued eating his breakfast while reading the newspaper. She slid into the driver’s seat and opened the passenger door for her daughter. That’s when she saw him in the side-view mirror, standing at the balcony of the house on the opposite side of the street. She knew the house had been rented recently to some young man but she had not seen him before. He spent most of his time inside the house. No one knew when he stepped out of the house, when he got his groceries, when he did his job – if he had a job.

“Mom! We are already late.” Her daughter’s words put a halt to her thought-process and she started the ignition. She dropped her daughter to school and bought some vegetables on her way back home. Her husband was idling around the house since it was his day off. She took a quick bath, wore a saree and was on her way to the puja room when her husband wrapped his arms around her and pulled her closer. He knew she did not like it, and that’s why he enjoyed doing it. He kissed her on the neck and then let her go. He walked to the bathroom to take a shower.
“You forgot the proof of our marriage in the bathroom.” he called out to her. She stepped into the bathroom and picked up the Mangalsutra she had kept on the wash basin. Her husband had already started to shower.
“Want to join me?” he said trying to get her attention. She shook her head in reply and walked out of the bathroom.

“So unromantic” he yelled at her as she walked out of the bedroom and to the puja room. She then stepped out of the house for Tulsi Puja. She finished her puja and closed her eyes to pray. When she opened her eyes she saw him. He had been watching her. The moment their eyes met, he stepped back into the house and closed the door. She was baffled by his reaction. She shook her head and stepped back into the house. It was going to be a long tiring day and she was not 100% mentally prepared for it yet.
She walked to the kitchen and started preparing meals. Her husband was out from the shower and was watching TV. The rice was in the pressure cooker and she was about to cut the vegetables when she felt her husband’s hands around her waist.

“You smell good.” He said as he kissed her neck.
“I missed you so much” he said kissing her jaw.
“Come to the bedroom” he said and started to walk towards the bedroom.
She switched off the burner after the final whistle of the cooker, closed the main door and walked to the bedroom. Her husband had opened the suitcase he had taken with him to the office tour. He took out a package from the suitcase and handed it to her. “I bought this for you.” He said.
She took it and thanked him. “Open it” he said, and she obeyed. It was a negligee.

“Wear it” he said and moved closer to her. He slipped the Pallu of her saree from over her shoulder and took off her saree and then, he walked to the bed and watched her as she undressed and put on the negligee for him. He smiled.
“You are so beautiful” he said and patted the bed signalling her to come and sit next to him. She started to walk towards the bed and that’s when she saw him again for the third time in the day. “Shit” she whispered. She had forgotten to close the bedroom window. He was watching her, he had seen her in the negligee. It took a while for him to react. He closed the window of his room and she closed the one of hers.

They lay in bed after love-making, it was a lazy afternoon. She would have loved to sleep-in the whole day, but she had to get up to finish making lunch. By the time lunch was prepared her husband was already waiting at the dining table.
They finished their lunch in silence, she cleaned the plates while he watched TV. She decided to take a nap before starting her second half of the day. She had just climbed into bed when her husband joined her. He kissed her on the lips and wrapped his arm around her and fell asleep almost immediately. She was relieved that he had not initiated sex. She had been taught by her mother to never say no to the advances of her husband and always fulfil his desires. “I will teach my daughter differently”, she had promised herself the moment she had held a baby girl in her arms. She lived in the time and at a place where going against the will of the husband was considered a sin, but she was not going to let the tradition continue for her daughter’s sake.

She woke up when she heard the constant ringing of the doorbell. She climbed out of bed and rushed to open the door. It was evening and her daughter was back from school. She opened the door to her daughter and involuntarily looked towards the house on the opposite side of the street. The door and the windows were closed.
Her thoughts went back to the afternoon incident. She felt a weird fluttering in her stomach when she thought about how he had devoured her body with his eyes, through the negligee.
“Mom!” her daughter yelled. “Let me come in”. She did not realize she was still standing at the door, her hand blocking her daughter’s way in. She stepped back and let her daughter inside the house.

Time for second innings, she told herself as she closed the door behind her.

... Story 109.

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