Welding Anniversary!


:::Preface:::All stories are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist, except in the mind of the writer.

I woke up to the alarm buzzing on my cell phone.
6.00 am.
“Praise God, O my soul!  I will praise the Lord as long as I live..,” I whispered the verse of Psalm 146 as I sat up in bed and pushed the curtains aside to peep outside at the day breaking.
The picture of a new day always gave a sense of satisfaction. I breathed the morning air and gazed at the eastern sky as I smiled with contentment.  
“Life’s so beautiful,” a thrill ran through my body at the wonderful sight -- igniting a strong urge of possessive feeling towards my dearest wife that I'd feel when we first met and fell in love. 

I wanted to hold her in my arms at that moment. But then, a lot had changed between us.
“It is hardly a few years since marriage,” I thought, “but the romance in our life is fading?...”
The aroma of breakfast filled the room while soft music played over the system. She was already dressed up for work. I looked at her in the mirror giving finishing touches to her eyebrows. I kept looking at her.
...But she did not bother to even notice I was there!
“She has become a robot,” I presumed recalling Rajnikant’s movie of that name. “We are strangers living under the same roof!”
She squinted at me as I turned with a sigh to have another glimpse of the morning sky. The sun had already risen and the early rays were stealing into the room from beside her. It was as if her body itself was emitting the rays. Her skin looked radiant and her long, black hair sparkled in the light.
I smiled with happiness as I secretly enjoyed her sight. She was my most prized possession.

But did she care about it? Of late, I'd sensed a change that had come over our life...
“She cares for me no more than the furniture in the house,” my concern was more than the untold worries of the day lying ahead.
“The enthusiastic and syrupy girl whom I had met and married, had turned into an alien – a machine without emotions,” strange thoughts flooded my mind.
I hummed a soft tune as I did my chores and wondered what she had arranged for breakfast.
“I can’t deny that, she prepares something special, always.” I said to myself.
I came out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel and as usual found my clothes lying neatly on bed. I noticed that my favorite shirt had been placed there.
“I know her too well. She must have chosen this absent-mindedly. She is not the type who would care about silly things like favorites and things like that,” I thought.
I slipped into the shirt and found that the very first button was missing.
“No doubt she had taken this out lazily or else she would have noticed the missing button,” I concluded.
“A button on my shirt is missing..” I yelled -- loud enough to be heard by the neighbors. Infact I was in such a fury, I wanted to scream like tarzan banging my fists on the chest.
“Am busy, could you wait for 5 minutes..” she responded from the kitchen – soft and tender.
5 minutes?
I remembered our early days of marriage. She would come running at my first call. And now! She was busy.
I glanced at the clock and saw we were getting late.
“Never mind, am changing the shirt.” I answered and reached for the cabinet.
I was going to take out the first shirt but on second thought reached in again and searched through till I found the rich, blue colored shirt, which she had gifted me only recently, on my last birthday.
Somehow, I wanted her to notice me and compliment.
With my heart pumping as if I was going on my first date, I dressed hurriedly and walked into the sitting room, fine-tuning my tie.  She walked in at the same time carrying the breakfast tray. I picked up the newspaper and looked at her out of the corner of my eyes.
She didn’t even notice me sitting there.
As she left the room I cursed myself for taking so much trouble in dressing stylishly like a filmstar. I put down the newspaper and sighed, routinely taking a bite of the toast.
“What is wrong with her?” I muttered under my breath and tried to take another bite. But my breakfast was done; I had no more appetite left.
I had a disturbing time at work that morning which was distinctly noticeable.
“Why are you moving in the seat like a helicopter stuck on a tree struggling to be freed?” Sidney, my next-cubicle colleague questioned, “have you been fighting with poor ‘babhi’?”

“No, nothing like that Sid... tell me howz your wife and daughter...”

“Mother and daughter are in great shape, ever-plotting against the poor husband and father – that’s me,” the chap moaned pointing at himself.
I smiled but said nothing.

“Tell me, why you are making such a long face?” Sidney persisted.
“Well, it really is nothing. Am just feeling a bit depressed.” I answered.

Sidney halted at his work and eyed me -- curious as a cat, perhaps expecting me to put an elephant on the table or press the ‘play’ button of a Ramayana serial.
“Alright, alright, don’t look at me like that.. It’s just that.. it’s just that..”  I kept quiet and looked at the laptop screen, pretending to be busy working.

“Man... I know what you are... You won’t speak...” Sidney remarked, “You are no different than the world... Well, we all like to hide our skeletons in the dark corners of our hearts, taking solace in others’ misery... No man wants to talk the subdued talk... Well, bro, I can see that your heart is in your boots right now. Get the bricks off your chest man, there is goodness in doing so...”
“It’s about my wife..” I wanted to spit out but I didn’t. Although Sidney had hit the nail on my head, I didn't wish to let him see the egg on my face. I thought it wise to leave my ‘problem’ in the lap of Gods. But then, I could feel the volcano in me, waiting to erupt. Everything seemed over.

“There is no love left between us,” I cried bitterly within, as I tried to put some 'spade' in the work. “She has changed fully, she has turned into a cold statue. There is nothing I can do to please her now, I hold no special place in her heart anymore.  She doesn’t argue with me, all right. But she has lost every feeling for me altogether...”
“Or perhaps I was over-sensitive? She loves me all the same but she may not be finding time to express it...?” I thought and thought and thought -- till lunch-break.

I finally decided to take her out in the evening and watch the undercurrents of her behavior. Closely. For one last time before I jumped to any ‘heartbreaking’ conclusion.  I smiled, imagining her childlike excitement even when I offered her a cotton-candy and walked side-by-side with her discussing the weather, family, problems at work,..  everything and anything...
“We can have a quiet dinner at a restaurant, and get home past midnight,” I thought recalling our earlier days that I cherished, “We need to touch-base with each other...”

“We could have a wonderful time,” I could feel butterflies fluttering inside my stomach at the thought of a romantic evening out. I was firm in giving it a try and reached for the phone. But even before I dialled, it rang with a familiar ring tone set for the caller. It was her.
I answered anxiously.

“I have a terrible headache, dear,” she said without even exchanging pleasantries. “I am already home. Don’t wake me up when you get back... Okay?”
I sagged into the seat like a pack of hot-boiled noodles and formed my own conclusion to satisfy the feeling of profound disappointment, and thought no more.

The day dragged on and on, and seemed like eternity. Work kept cropping up, badly needing my attention. Just as I was about to leave office, I received her sms.
“Am alright now....Tomorrow’s our Wedding Anniversary, hope you remember...” she wrote.

“How can I forget if I don’t remember?” I sms-d back in a bid to make her smile.
No sooner I had put the phone down, there was another sms from her: “Am sure it must have slipped from your mind, as I have been slipping from your mind?.. Come home early. Let’s go out somewhere, I need to buy you a gift...”

Thinking she might still be in bed, I returned the sms with a brief, “Ok.”
Within moments, there was another text: “I try, dear, to give my very best to you. But many times I am not successful. Still, I want you to know that I care for you and love you the same way as before and if possible more than that... Am fixing your shirt button now...”

Now, I was overcome with emotions and sat gazing at the note. My heart smiled. But then, was she showing me this ‘cupboard love’ to woo me into buying an expensive gift on the eve of our wedding anniversary?
Well, I was not thrilled. Although I always dreamed of buying her a diamond necklace set, I wondered if I could afford that for another quarter of a century? In any case, what gift would I buy that was perfect, priceless, and more sparkling and lasting than diamonds, and above all -- fall within my beer budget?

I was in a dilemma whether to text her back or call. Certainly, I did want to rouse her headache and ruin the sweet moods that she was in. Before I made up my mind, she sms-d yet again: “I want you to know, this anniversary,... that you are the soul of my life. There’s nothing I want except your support and your presence beside me. I want you to know that I love you... a lot.”
I stood staring at the cell-phone not believing my eyes. A big lump of emotion got stuck somewhere. With an overwhelmed feeling I realized that her love still existed and burned unceasingly. I swore at myself for doubting her heart.

“Where would you like to go?” I sms-d quickly.
“Anywhere dear, just want to be alone with you... You are the only one I want to be -- rest of my life and grow old with...You bless my life!” she returned the text in an instant.

“Then I know the best place...,” I thought as I walked to the car. “There is no better place than home...”
Wow, such breathtaking messages!

I was already flying in the clouds when the phone blipped yet again just as I started the engine. I couldn't wait to check. “Another exotic sms and I could be cruising into outer space for sure,” I chuckled as I sliced the cell-phone screen to read.
“Don’t get excited,” she wrote, “those were your sms-s of last anniversary... Hope they are as true as you are...Anyway, I treasure them all.. Hmm,  let me beat you in wishing first this time -- in your own words: To the light of my life -- Happy ‘Welding’ Anniversary!

Another story Click: Breaking News: An amazing achievement!
:::My dearest esparansa:::

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