Saturday, November 03, 2012


By her admission, the difference had simply been just retaliation. Earlier, she used to keep silent of his transgressions, his exquisite demonstrations of male superiority, and his summary drubbing of whatever childlike or experimental she ventured in the way of a new beginning. This had shut her out of all new endeavour, and simultaneously supplied a convenient excuse (in his reckoning at least) for continuing her turpitude. This last failing she did not register as such, for she was alone in his house, and they were many, all training their eyes and ears and senses and intellects upon her, who had her own business to conduct, her own life to push forward.

     Whence we come to an important difference—‘You enjoy yourself, don’t you?’ she’d asked him a few days back, meaning, not excesses, but real moral and physical satisfaction, a feeling of self-righteousness—and he’d assented in his characteristic fly-flitting way (what did it matter, it was just words).

He counted his days in a somewhat bizarre way now. He was running away from a depression, or rather receding from one, and it was just that he had stopped feeling that somebody was watching his every action. It was not really even ‘somebody’ (meaning, her). It was like a moral check, like he had to cross-check at each instance when he felt he was slipping into something concerning the opposite sex. It was always just words, mostly harmless social chitchat, but every time he went back after having a good time something in his family life would end up badly broken. Either the kid would put him to grief over something, or his wife would wear a leathery expression and browbeat him as if she knew the reason why he had a song in his heart. Either way, it was torture and he had to learn again to disregard it.

     He thought about options. The first thought would be about [*]. But then, he’d made no attempt to call her after she’d left for her pilgrimage. Yes, he’d wished her on her birthday and his wife had looked in his mail and found. It later snowballed into something magnificently belligerent just two days after. In the ensuing fisticuffs, he’d been so enraged that he lashed out and tried to pommel her belly, which was getting ungainly fatty these days. And she’d just returned his attentions by parrying the blow, nudging close and clawing up his face nice and proper. He had to wear smidgens of sticking plaster on the side of his nose and above his upper lip to keep up with his dandy image and avert an unwelcome query into something else for which he’d a less damaging answer. He really did not care for the truth or untruth of the answer he’d give, and he had a good mind to be frank and tell the truth, but then, he liked his wife better than most he’d meet at the office and along the way. She deserved better, and he never gave her what was due her. So he stuck to his story. And in the end, at the office, when the questions inevitably came, the answer made itself evident. He’d suffered the cuts from a little play-acting with his daughter.

     He knew he wasn’t fooling anybody, but then, these questions, once asked, just need some answer and not the truthful one. It still rang in his mind though: the fiery chill at the side of his nose and her ringing swear words: ‘go to her, your [*], go, go l**k her (*)!’ and just before that he’d flexed his muscles thinking himself opening up like the Predator before the alien, and got the comment that he was Bruce Lee, a leaking, incontinent Lee strewing watery shit right behind…and that was what made him jump at her.

It wasn’t yet behind him. They’d chatted over Internet after that, small exchanges, and even made love (she was ever the rubber doll). So it was all back to business. But then again, most households conduct business this way, don’t they.

     As she’d written something which he knew and even took sides with. ‘Earlier, I was silent. I’m not, any longer. That’s the only difference.’

                                                  And how he wished it were just that.