Story 111

Continued from Story 110.
The story starts here.

When he saw her for the first time getting into the car, he could not take his eyes off her; not even when she spotted him staring at her through the side-view mirror.
The first time he had seen her, he had been aroused but the next time he saw her doing ‘Tulsi’ puja he was mesmerized by her. She was wearing a saree and looked beautiful, with her wet hair dripping water over her shoulder. When she closed her eyes to pray she looked serene; but, when she opened her eyes he saw sadness in them.

Embarrassed on being spotted staring, he stepped back into the house. He knew it was rude and even though he should have not cared, he did. He did not know the woman, but he did not want her to have a bad impression about him. One of the reasons why he had to stay away from her, a little voice in his head reminded him.

What baffled him was the fact how his body had reacted after seeing her offering prayers. It was an unusual reaction. He had felt like a teenager again – a healthy one. The one who looked at a girl and felt butterflies in his stomach, whose heart skipped a beat on seeing the girl.
He walked over to the wash-basin and splashed some water over his face.

He walked to the kitchen to prepare meals. He had good culinary skills since he stayed alone after separating from the woman he lived with. He missed her sometimes, even now. She had played an important role in his life and he would forever be thankful to her. Had she not walked out on him, he would have perhaps preferred settling down in life with her since she knew about his problem.

Now, he was scared even to consider the possibility of dating. However, seeing this woman had given rise to a desire in him. A desire to know her better. He knew she was married, that she belonged to someone else; nevertheless, he wanted to know her. The smell of burnt vegetables brought him out of his reverie. ‘Shit’ he cursed as he switched off the burner and placed the pan on the kitchen platform.
He had wasted the only food he had stored in the refrigerator. A trip to grocery store was needed but he kept postponing it.

He was getting used to living like this; locked inside the house, staring at the bare walls. He did not subscribe to magazines, he did not have a TV in his house. His only source of entertainment was the game of amazons solitaire.

With the help of a spatula he took the unburnt vegetable in a bowl and scrapped off the burnt part and threw it in the garbage bin. He washed the pan before taking out a packet of paratha from the freezer. This was something he had not been able to learn. He got the dough consistency for making roti/paratha wrong every time he tried making it and so, he finally gave up and opted for the readymade kind. He hated eating it, but he had not choice.

One paratha and slightly burned vegetable was enough for breakfast. He had to do something about lunch and dinner. He could no longer postpone the grocery store visit. He finished his breakfast and cleaned the kitchen platform and the rest of the house.
He walked to his room to get ready to go to the grocery store. He put on his jeans and was about to put on his shirt when he looked out of the window and froze.

She was wearing a negligee. He knew he was intruding into a private moment and he looked away. He turned his gaze back towards the window with the intention of closing it and he got the shock of his life. She saw him. She knew he had seen her in the negligee. Her instinctive reaction should have been to cover her body, but she stared at him instead; too shocked to react. He realized he was holding his breath. He closed the window of his room and exhaled.

He was expecting a specific reaction from his body, but he was pleasantly surprised to find another set of reactions. His hands were shivering, his heartbeat had quickened, he felt weak in the knees and it seemed there was a huge ball rolling around in his stomach. He laughed.

He put on his shirt and stepped out of the house. Grocery time.
As he walked from one vegetable vendor to another, selecting vegetable and buying them; he thought about her. He saw her eyes staring back at him; the look in her eyes like that of a deer looking into the headlights of a speeding car, aware that it was going to hit but too shocked to move. She was clearly embarrassed on being seen in a negligee. He would apologize to her if he ever got the chance, he thought.

He went to the medical store to get the essentials. He thought about her again. This time, he visualized her husband patting the bed with his hand, signaling her to come and sit next to him. He felt a sour taste in his mouth. His hatred for the man had taken a physical form. He felt the bile rise as the man’s action kept replaying in his mind. The man clearly did not respect what he had in his life.

Had he been in the room with her instead of that man, he would have done things differently. He would have taken her to bed himself; instead of inviting her like inviting a whore.

The man at the counter in the medical store yelled at him and he looked at the man, momentarily confused. He then realized the man was waiting for the money. He took out cash from his jeans pocket and handed it over to the man.
He placed a hand over his stomach and laughed. This time the feeling in his stomach resembled a gymnast doing somersaults; but his manhood stayed put.

He walked to the grocery store and gave the man his list of items. He thought of her, this time hoping that the prick was treating her well. She deserved to be treated in a special way. He wanted to treat her in a special way.

He returned home with the groceries and before turning towards his house he looked towards hers. The window was closed and so was the main door. He felt a heaviness in his chest. What was happening to him?
He inserted the key in the keyhole and turned again to look at the window of her house, hoping to see her once before he shut himself in his self-made prison. Then, he stepped in.

He could not stop thinking about her and his pain took a physical form when he cut his finger while chopping onion. He washed his hand under running tap-water and put on a bandage. He served lunch in the plate and walked to the living room. He ate, glancing towards her house occasionally. He wanted to see her, he needed to see her. He wanted to look in her eyes and read her emotions. He could not get over his instinctive feeling that her husband did not treat her well.

He was aware that it was her personal matter and he had no say in it, he was aware that even if he knew she was unhappy, there was nothing he could do; despite all the obvious facts, he wanted to make sure she was okay and that he was wrong.

Finally, fed up of looking at her house, he got up and closed the door and the windows.
He opened them again in the evening and saw her daughter standing at the door. She rang the doorbell again and waited but the door did not open. He grew worried. He wondered what had happened, why was she not opening the door?
He was tempted to step out of the house and bang his fist on her door, demanding for it to be opened. He felt the aggression in his veins. He was being overprotective of the woman he had never interacted with and had in fact, never seen before today.

One day, it had just been one day, but it felt like eternity. The life he lived, avoiding human contact fearing being labeled as freak; it seemed like a long time ago. The man he had become in one day, wanted to step out of the house, push open someone else’s door and demand answers from a stranger’s husband for ill-treating her.

He saw the door being opened and immediately closed his. Being caught for the fourth time staring towards her house would have been a record of awkward. He hoped she would open the window of her bedroom; so, he kept the one in his bedroom open. He did not keep staring at it though. All he needed was a quick glance at her to know that she was okay. But her bedroom window remained closed. He took a deep breath and stepped out of his house. He did not walk straight to her house; instead he walked towards the lane to the left of her house.

That’s when he saw her in the backyard with a bucket in her hand. He hid behind a tree as she kept the bucket down and started putting clothes on the clothes-line.
Her body language screamed pain. He watched as suddenly she grew restless and placed a hand on her chest. She was having difficulty breathing.

He wanted to rush to her, wanted to help her but he was helpless. He watched as she ran inside the house. He hoped her arsehole husband would take care of her but, moments later he watched the man step out of the house. That’s when he decided to follow the man.

... Story 112

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