i treasure our friendship

Sept 12, 2011 11:13pm
They lay facing each other; she is drawing patterns on his chest hair. Tickled; Brad places his hand gently on hers to still the doodling.  The corner of her lips lift in a smile. He draws her body close to his and presses his lips on her damp forehead. Meera arches her back and looks up at him; her eyelids skimming her eyes down and up and down languidly. They had made love for the first time in three years.

He looks at her intently. Almost like he is seeing her for the first time. They have known each other for eleven years and lived together for a little more than four years.

She looks at him as she begins to give in to sleep, taking in his kind dark brown eyes, the tiny red mole on the bridge of his nose, his lips straight and smooth, the day old stubble that he was always careful not to bruise her with, his chest, warm and fuzzy, his arms; his strong arms that had held her a million times, his fingers; square and warm, she knew the thousand ways they could speak to her; their urging at her elbow when crossing a busy street, their picking off lint from her sleeve, their smoothing of her frown lines on her forehead, their deliberate brushing of the underside of her breast , their grip on the pen signing a cheque, their gentle clasp when he felt tickled, yes, she loved them the best, his fingers... and his strong palm. He hadn't changed much except for the softness of his stomach, that she teased him about, saying it was beginning to acquire a nice bounce. She reached up and kissed him and then drifted off to sleep.

He waits until she is fast asleep, and then gently moves her to her side of the bed. He lays back down and props his head and back up on three pillows and folds his arms under his head. The musky aroma of his anti-perspirant reaches his nose. He tries remembering what she looked like eleven years ago, the first time he saw her. Sept 12, 2000, 5:15pm It was at a wedding. In a sea of gold jewellery, silk sarees and jasmine, his eyes were drawn to an ordinary face sans makeup, eyes scanning the crowd, hair cut close to her head, a crisp white organza sari. The stone that he felt he was carrying around in his heart for two weeks..threatened to shatter. He had lost his love of three years, Natasha, to a man with a green card, a title from the time of the British Raj and villas in two metro cities. Why then when he grieved, he chose to sit just a seat away from this non-descript woman? Why did he say "Hi, how long do you think this will take?" When she looked at him, why did he look into her eyes and see compassion. Why had he felt the pain squeeze his heart when he saw her lips smile in reply?

They had run into each other a couple of weeks later at a cafe. Oct 9, 2000, 1:12pm They exchanged business cards and eventually worked together on a couple of projects and then married six years later. Meera had been his shoulder, his legs, and for the first year, his mind. She had been his partner in working to prove to his lost love that he would have been a superior choice, if even it was only social status she wanted to marry. And in the last eleven years he had acquired social status, with a very successful business, a large acquisition round the corner, offices in twelve countries and prime real estate. But he knew that were it not for losing Natasha, he would have been content working as a technical expert at a manufacturing company.                                                    


His thoughts turned to this evening, when was waiting for his wife to join him in bed. Sept 12, 2011 9:56pm He was thinking about this morning when he woke up to a yellow rose and a greeting card on his side table. It was their eleventh 'the day we met' anniversary and like all the preceding years he had forgotton. The card was a product of her favourite local charity. A child's drawing of a boy and girl skipping rope. And within, she written in her straight handwriting "I treasure our friendship of eleven years. Love always, Meera."
"Friendship." he thought. She was his business partner, his wife, his confidant, surely, what they shared for eleven years was more than friendship. She had done so much for him, with him, despite knowing that the achievements were fruits borne of a ghost from the past. As he thought about it, he had realised that the ghost was no more. And he had whispered "Nats....Natasha". No, he hadn't felt a thing, no anger, no hurt, no love, he struggled to remember her face and failed. A sharp pain in his abdomen made him curl up. He was being disemboweled, he thought frantically. As suddenly as it had started the pain vanished and he sat up in bed gingerly. It was quiet in the bathroom. "She must be drying herself." He had thought to himself. He could feel himself breathe, his stomach felt empty, his fingertips were buzzing, his tongue was dry, he felt spaces within his head he hadn't ever felt before. And when she had stepped out of the bathroom. He tried hard not to look, afraid she might see. "Are you alright?" she called out. Her voice warm from the bath. "Yes...I am... alright." He could hear her approach him and he looked up. She was wearing her oversized old blue bath robe, running her fingers through her short hair, looking down at him quizzically. 


"Been waiting for you. I have an early day tomorrow, lets sleep." He had said, looking away.
"Are you sure everything's alright?" She asks again quietly.
"Yes, all's well, honey; bedtime" He had said patting the bed impatiently.
"I am knackered as well, I still haven't finished with the email." She sighed tiredly going round to the other side of the bed. "Will attend to it tomorrow..first thing..Goodnight." She had whispered and soon fallen asleep.


He had turned towards her, watching the shadows on her face and arms from the light coming through the window. He feels a pain lodged in his throat. All these years of the madness to achieve, to acquire, to prove; and to realise now that it had been Meera he needed and wanted and loved right back to the day he first saw her. That day when he saw her in her white saree, unadorned, quiet, watching the ceremony unfold and oh! the softness of her smile. What if he hadn't realised this forever. He shuddered at the thought, oh, thank God! thank God! he had whispered fervently as touched his forehead to hers.

She had woken up with a start. He rolled her on top of him and pressed her face down to his mouth. Releasing her to mutter, "I am sorry, Meera. So, so, so, sorry" She had pushed her hands against him, hard. "Switch on the light." She had said quietly. He had reached out and turned the light on. Still on top of him, she had looked down intently into his eyes and after what seemed to him forever, she had lowered her face to his. "Eleven years!" she had whispered.

Sept 12, 2011 11:20pm And now, he turned to look at his sleeping wife. He reached out to cover her bare shoulder with her blanket and left his hand there. He didn't know this but he was about to sleep the most restful sleep he had slept in years.

© 2011 Padmavani Karkera

Comments

  1. Hi Padmavani, I liked this story, but had to read it twice to actually understand it. It goes back and forth in time and so manages to confuse and lose it someplace. Again, I admire the play of words and you bring the scene alive, its like watching a movie!! Vidya

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  2. Oh yes I agree with you. I am not happy with it at all. The time hops are a bummer! I will let it rest and get back to it in a couple of days.

    A bit M&Bish one might say? :)

    Thanks for dropping by! :)

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