The night was quiet and gloomy and the sky was overcast with dark clouds carving menacing shapes. I turned back and loitered through the balcony to the master bedroom. I could not help staring at the quaint wall clock that had stopped on numerous occasions but today it seemed to be staring at me in the eye and in the eerie silence I could hear the clear ‘tick tock’ sound that reverberated through the house.
“It’s eleven”, I almost whispered to myself and felt a rush of fear gripping me all over. Why hadn’t my husband come home? What took him so long? His mobile was switched off too and I never bothered to take down the phone numbers of his frivolous friends. I wondered why he was friends with those lecherous men in the first place. I mean, he was one hell of a guy. He was intelligent, witty and kind. He made sure he showered me with gifts, every now and then whenever he came back from work. Though, lately, I stopped him from doing so. Why waste time and money on such frivolities after five years of marriage. I mean, I know you would picture me as a cold and thankless woman, but trust me it wasn’t the case.
I used to be enamoured by such displays of affection. But, then I realized over a period of time, all that mattered in a relationship was, your loved one’s presence. If he is there by your side, then that is the greatest gift.
A loud gut wrenching sound of lightening shook me from my reverie and I inadvertently gazed at the clock again. It was half past eleven now. Where on earth was he? Did I hear a soft knock on the door? When I was about to dismiss it as my imagination, the knocking became louder. Why wasn’t he ringing the bell? Oh, the bell had to be fixed. It had malfunctioned after the neighbour’s fiendish children played the horrible prank for around fifty times.
I rushed to the living room and it then dawned upon me that someone was actually banging the door. I went towards the door and stealthily peeked through the key hole. He was standing right there. My husband stood there and he had a big bouquet of pink roses in his hand. He knew I loved pink roses. There was something mystic, something surreal about pink roses. They were not like those red roses that seemed to proclaim your intense love for someone as if screaming from the rooftops. Love is subtle. It should entail passion and longing but I felt it ought not to be loud and flashy. And somehow for me pink roses were an apt symbol for how I pictured love.
My husband knew how to make it up to me whenever he came late from work. The moment he handed me those pink roses I used to feel all mushy and warm. Yes, that was the effect those flowers had on me.
As he knocked the door again, I quickly opened the door. I could brood later. I had always been a brooder. I loved my own company so much so that for a long time I did not want to marry. I felt fulfilled and was apprehensive as to how anyone would fit into my world. It was so till I met my husband. As clichéd as it may sound, he swept me off my feet. It seemed as if we were meant to be together. I realized then, that if you love someone, it did not matter as to how different you were. We had a few shared interests but other than that, we were quite different.
“Where were you? Why were you not opening the door? What took you so long? I was worried.” As he reprimanded me, it occurred to him that he was the defaulter here. He was the one who had come late. He smiled and handed me the pink roses lovingly.
“You think you can do horrible things and then get me these flowers and be saved from my wrath”, I exclaimed. “Yes, you are damn right woman. That is what I presume,” he answered with a glint of mischief in his chocolate brown eyes. I smiled and we hugged.
“On a serious note, it is raining heavily. Why did you have to go all the way to that florist who sells pink roses bouquet? You should have come back home as soon as you finished your work at the office,” I told him.
But he seemed least bothered by what I said. He always went out of his way to keep me happy. I was the only child of my parents. My father had passed away when I was a still a toddler. My mother raised me single handedly. I was extremely close to my mother. But, her untimely death a year ago had shook me. I had least expected this. And I had sleepless nights thereafter. I even had to see a counselor who helped me cope with the loss. My husband stood like a rock during those days of agony and suffering and held my hands throughout. I couldn’t be more grateful to him for his constant presence in my life. Since then, he became all the more thoughtful and nurtured me like a child.
I went to the kitchen to warm up the dinner that I had made for him. We had made it a point to have dinner together, no matter how late it would get for him to reach home. He liked having dinner in the bedroom, plonked in front of the television. It made me furious, but I had made peace with this habit of his and we sat there watching re runs of ‘friends’. Life was blissful. I had nothing to complain about. As we sat eating, I heard a noise. It appeared as if someone was knocking the door. I asked him if he heard it too. But, he didn’t seem to hear it. The knocking kept getting louder and louder. It was still raining cats and dogs and I wondered who could be at our doorstep at midnight. I told my husband that we should go and see who was there at the door. But, he suddenly seemed distant and aloof.
Was it me, who was hearing the banging of the door? Was I imagining things? It couldn’t be so. I got up with a start and ignoring my husband’s pleas went towards the main door. Yes, someone was actually knocking the door vehemently. I shuddered with fear as I took one glance at the clock which told me it was almost half past twelve. I was too scared to open the door. But, slowly and steadily I peeked through the key hole.
I saw a man standing there. He seemed familiar but I could not make out as to who he was. Strangely, he did not intimidate me. I did not know what came over me and I opened the door. The man stood there, staring at me for a while and then he barged inside while I looked at him questioningly. He turned towards me and took my hands. It took me by surprise. Who was this man and why wasn’t I afraid of him? And why the hell did I open the door for him? These questions loomed large in my mind and I was deeply puzzled and delirious. I felt wobbly and just when I was about to fall, the man held me.
“You did not take your medicines today? Did you?” he questioned. I did not know what he was talking about. I asked him who he was and if I knew him. I also called out to my husband to come to me. But, I was in a kind of trance. My husband did not make an appearance from the bedroom, which was strange. The stranger got me a glass of water, and a couple of tablets, which he made me, gobble quickly. I could not fathom as to why I followed his orders meekly without an iota of resistance. After a few minutes, I felt sleepy and then I felt numb. I was asleep.
“She must have forgotten to take the medicines yet again. I had told her over the phone to take her medicines as I had a meeting today. I think she must have forgotten about it. And she is having hallucinations about her dead husband again. Poor, Shreya, first her mom passed away. Then within a year, her husband Rajat met with an accident while he was coming back from the florist shop. But, she has been my childhood friend. I have always loved her. And I couldn’t leave her alone while she was in this state of emotional turmoil. I married her and though she is gloomy and lost on some days, the doctors say, she is steadily improving. But, she has to take these medicines till the time, she does not recover completely. I should make it a point to come home early. Shreya needs me. Let me take her to the bedroom so that she can sleep comfortably. Thankfully, the bed is made up.
But, where did these come from? I thought she hated these”, he said as he stared at a big bouquet of fresh pink roses that stood in a vase on the night stand.