Friday, November 02, 2012

Short Story: Loneliness

I look out of the window. A stray dog is barking, shattering the silence of the night. I spot him some way away. He is not alone. It’s mating season, and his lover seems to need persuading.
I watch them settle down with a pang of envy.
I envy him more than the sex.

There he is, under the open sky, without a space to call his own. But not alone.

I walk back to my computer and find something to read. The empty bed that hogs much of the room has no attraction for me.

Amar comes over in the morning to check on me. He even brings fresh vegetables and bread.

He checks in on me most days. On Sundays, Shilpa comes over too.

They often ask me to move in with them. They say they worry about me.

But I like living here, in this house that was yours too. Here, I am alone with your memories. Nothing distracts me from you.


Do you remember, when Amar was small, we used to have friends over once he was in bed? And we would all sit and talk and drink till morning.  

You were so scintillating then: your beauty glowing, your words drawing everyone’s attention with their calm reason.

When did things change? When did we get so caught up with looking after Amar and work and everything else that we forgot to talk to each other?
 I write to you every day, letters that I file away in my computer by date: password-protected, so that Amar won’t find them when I’m gone.

I often feel you are reading over my shoulder, every word.  

I went to Amar and Shilpa’s for lunch today.

Amar cooked. He even washed the dishes later, for Shilpa had to hurry away to her club meeting.

You would have been proud of him. I remember how you used to make him help you around the house, hoping he would pick up the skills his father lacked. I remember you complaining at how little I did, or tried.

But I wasn’t a bad cook, was I? I often cooked dinner when we had friends over. They loved my cooking, didn’t they?

But you still complained: about the mess I made in the kitchen, the amount of oil I used, the wine and music I needed to get me started…

I wonder sometimes, if I had helped at home more, would you have been happier with me?

It has been eleven years since I found that note when I got home.

I still wonder, why such a short note?

I have come to terms, after all this time, with everything else.

The fact that you stopped loving me, that you couldn’t bear to be with me anymore.

That you fell in love with someone else.

That you just went away one day, to live with someone else halfway across the world. Without a word to me of how you felt until you had already gone.

But did our twenty-eight years of togetherness mean not that much to you, that you could leave it all so easily?

I wonder sometimes if you chose that way because it was easier… because if you kept in touch with me it would be difficult to stay away?

Once when Amar was angry with me, he burst out that it was all my fault, that I should have seen it coming for years. That I drove you away.

Shilpa made him hush up.

You know, I was wrong about her. She is a really nice, considerate young woman. You were right, as usual.

Sometimes, late at night when it seems I am alone in the world, I go over Amar’s words again.

I wonder if he was right. And always conclude that he wasn’t.

For if he was…

No, that does not bear thinking about.

Let me think about… remember when I took you on that long drive in our first car, up that hill, to watch the sun set?

Every year after, when I asked you what you wanted on your birthday , you always asked to see the sun set from the hill again.

Tomorrow evening – this evening, really – I shall go there again. And feel your hand on my arm as the sky grows rosy.
Maybe then I won’t need to write to you.

No comments: