It was yet another of those sleepless nights, silent and cold as death. The air in her bedroom stood stagnant the way it had done every night over the past countless years. She, like many an occasion before, prayed that the silence remained. That, however, went unanswered soon as he broke it with gritted teeth, hurling yet another round of chosen abuses at her. She remained quiet just as she resolved to do long back.
The air, still and heavy with silence for long, now seemed to grow colder with every hissing word he muttered at her. She realised, yet again, that she had ran out of tears long back, and anger as well. Now what remained in her could possibly be described as a soulless body, she told herself. This thought offered her some comfort. It protected her like a shield, she wanted to believe. Yet, much to her dismay, she soon felt the warm salty trickle down her cheeks, pressed against the pillow; the pillow that was carefully placed at the farthest corner of the bed away from its other twin, the one which he leaned against at the other end of the bed.
She tried to distract herself, and toyed with her mobile phone, soon realising that it did not help at all. Absent mindedly, she browsed through the stored games, saved pictures, caller lists. She wondered if she had a single name in that list who could make her collect herself back at that moment - someone who might have a few words for her that could make her slightly more willing to carry on with living. She vaguely remembered the young faces of a few friends who admired her as a girl years back in school and college days, who made her feel as if on her depended the destinies of their rest of lives. She wondered what they might have to say if they saw her tonight. She wondered if any of them, now responsible husbands and doting fathers in their individual lives, would possibly have a shoulder she could borrow just to cry upon for a few moments, before she would numb herself yet again and restore back to her routine next morning, albeit a little more soulless if at all any soul still lived in her.
Earlier, on such occasions, she would feel a pang. She would distinctly feel unloved and deprived, and that would hurt her. Lately, she was devoid of any ability to feel any such feeling. However today, she felt she was closing on the threshold. She felt as if the growing silence would deafen her, would eat up her inside in pieces. She secretly feared that this inability to feel that she secretly nurtured was now growing inside her like a cancer, and she did not know what would become of that. Today, somehow, she felt a need to reach out to someone, whoever; to share, to vent it out, badly;
She was sort of semi-conscious as she typed out a short stray message to one of those acquaintances of whom she was very unsure what to think about. He stayed just a few blocks away on the same road, and was one of those many acquaintances turned friends that she knew. In fact, she remembered, he was rather one of her husband's many friends who she had befriended in the process of her marriage, just as instinctively and unconsciously as she had let go most of her own friends.
She was still unsure as she typed out a quick "How are you?" and pressed the Send button on her phone.
He was quick to reply.
- "I'm good. But hey, something tells me you aren't."
Well, of course she was miserable. But could she tell him that? More, how did he already know?
- "Why? I am good too."
- "Not sure I buy that."
- "Why not?"
- "Well, now I know for sure. Tell me, what's wrong?"
His tone was strangely demanding and comforting at the same time.
- "I want to see you. Now." She said, still unsure of what that meant, and of the courage that conjured up those words on her fingertips.
Fifteen minutes later, she came down to the car parking at the basement as he had asked her to, still in disbelief of herself. He was already there, waiting for her. He wrapped his arms around her like a mother-bird's wing embraced its baby that had lost all its strength in cracking open the shells that caged it, that can barely flutter its wings but can hardly dare to spread them wide into the sky. He held her as if she was allowed to be as weak as she was, without being any insecure. He held her so for many, many moments, until she gathered the confidence to look him back at his eyes. She wanted her eyes to speak gratitude, but in the way he looked back at her, gratitude would be an insult. She suddenly gathered a belief that she could ask that of him. That the space between his two arms was the most rightful place on earth she has ever known, and that she need not fear that she may lose that ever.
- "Did I bother you too much?" She still asked.
- "No. You just came home." He smiled, reassuringly.
Thus began a whole new story.
The world named it infidelity. To her, it was rebirth.