The streets were flying by. We had passed them countless times, holding hands as we went but nothing else ever caught my eyes. I only saw his face; smiling at times, tired at times, stubborn at times, and also angry at times.
I let out a sigh. He stepped on the gas, and we were accelerating. I kept my eyes on the streets, not looking at him.
We passed our favorite restaurant. We couldn't afford to go there often those days. We went there on my birthday. Also, it was where we celebrated the achievements in our university life; after sleepless nights of hard work. Hard work never exhausted me or left me drained as my emotions did.
He let out a sigh. I kept gazing at the streets, a million memories flooding my mind and my heart aching even more.
It was his fault. It's always his fault. He had changed. He doesn't love me like he used to. The only thing that occupies him is work.
We used to camp a lot those days, we went on many trips, and we explored the world together. He doesn't want to do that stuff anymore, he doesn't want to spend time with me.
Those days he couldn't stay more than one week without seeing me. He would somehow make time for me. Today I met him after seven months, and he found some reason to start an argument.
There was a reason why I chose to come to this city where we first met; this place is full of memories. But now every nice feeling is ruined.
I worry if this relationship won't last much longer. Can I forget him? My eyes start to sting, tears about to fall. I can't cry now; I can't show that I'm weak.
* * *
This place is full of memories. This is the city we met. I remember how her smile robbed my heart right the first day I met her at the university.
We had walked across these roads a million times, hand in hand. I didn't want to let go of her hand. I can never let her go.
She sighed, I just can't stand to see her sad like this. My foot hit the gas, and the car got accelerated.
We passed our favorite restaurant. We couldn't afford to go there often those days. We only went to celebrate the achievements in our university life; to treat ourselves for the hard work. Also, we went there on her birthday.
I remember how I skipped dinner for a couple of days to collect money to take her there. Whenever I saw how happy she was I knew that I would have starved for months for her. Why didn't she understand how much I loved her?
I let out a sigh. She was still looking away, sulking. "Don't you miss me?" she asks. I say that I do. "but every time I say let's meet, you say that you are busy."
Yes, I'm busy, love. I'm working so hard. I'm aiming for a promotion. I want a salary increment. You know that I have to look after my mother. She's sick and she can't work. She raised me with many difficulties and now it's my turn. I also want to marry you soon, and I want to keep you happy like a queen; in a way my father never did for my mother.
I never voice my thoughts. She knows me well. She had to understand me. I can't repeat my story over and over again.
I met her after seven months, and I really wanted it all to go well, but she would find some way to start an argument and hurt me like she often did these days.
I worry if she would leave me. Can I forget her? I hear a soft sniff. She's crying making my heart ache more.
* * *
Two hours went by, he's still not talking. Today would soon come to an end, I'll be home by midnight. I won't meet him again for who knows how long? But he doesn't even care about that.
One simple "I'm sorry" or "I love you" would have made everything ok, but he's too stubborn.
"Where should I stop for dinner?" he asks. Dinner?!
"I'm not hungry."
He lets out a sigh, "Just tell me where to,"
"I told you, I'm not hungry! You go and have dinner. I'll wait in the car."
He swipes the car to the side of the road and stops.
"Stop all this nonsense ok? What has gotten into you?"
Nonsense? It's all nonsense for him. Why can't he talk to me like he used to?
I look away. I'm not going to talk to him. He keeps looking at me for a few minutes and tries to restart the car.
I feel anger rising inside me.
“Why did you start this relationship in the first place if you were going to ignore me like this after all?" I demand. He keeps looking at me for a few minutes, his lips pursed.
"It was the most carefree time of my life. I never imagined that things would get this hard." he looked away.
What does that mean? Does he think that choosing me was a wrong decision?
“Do you want to end our relationship?" I ask. I want him to tell me, no. To tell me that we can try harder.
“It’s your choice to make Melany."
What? Does he mean that? Ok fine. If he doesn't want me, I don't want him either. I open my mouth to spit it out, but I see someone leaning over the driver's side shutter.
* * *
She refuses to have dinner. Why can't she let this go? This has to stop. I park the car to the side of the road to talk her out of this mood. But she's stubborn.
“Why did you start this relationship in the first place if you were going to ignore me like this after all?" she asks.
Because I wanted you by my side forever. I wanted to spend my life with you. I didn't have a clear idea about all these responsibilities then. I thought you'll be happy with me.
I wanted to tell her all that. But do I need to? We have been lovers for more than 4 years now, doesn't she know me by now?
Her eyes are filled with tears. I never intended to hurt her like this.
"It was the most carefree time of my life. I never imagined that things would get this hard."
"Do you want to end our relationship?" She asks. If she's unhappy with me, if she can be happier without me; I'll let her go. Even if that would ruin me.
“It’s your choice to make Melany," I tell her.
Someone comes and knocks on the shutter before Melany can say anything. I let out a sigh of relief.
It was not a place to park cars we had to move. So I tried to restart the engine, but my effort was in vain, something was wrong.
* * *
The car won't move an inch. We managed to move it to the nearest garage. The mechanic said that it would take at least a day for him to repair it.
Manul called my parents and told them that he'll drop me home safe. We decided to go home by bus.
Although I refused dinner, my stomach gave me away by rumbling. Manul chuckled but we didn't say anything to each other. I was too embarrassed to speak.
He went to a nearby restaurant, and I followed him not only because I was hungry but as it was too dark to stay outside by myself on an unknown road with no human insight.
We waited in front of the restaurant to see if a bus would pass by. There was no sign of a bus for another half an hour. Manul went back to the restaurant to ask about the bus schedule and came back quickly. It seemed that no bus would pass this road at this time. The good news was that we could find a bus stand after a half an hour walk.
I didn't mind walking in the night, with a cold breeze brushing my face. It was a clear night and a million stars winked at us from above.
He took my hand. I looked at him. He was looking at the sky. A gentle smile playing on his lips. I was feeling calm too. The night had robbed me of the heat and anger of the day. We didn't talk, but the silence was comforting.
Finally, we could see many lights burning in a distance and we knew that we were close to the bus stand. We looked at each other, but no one talked. I wanted to say sorry. Does he feel sorry too?
Soon the babbling voices filled our ears. As we went closer, we could hear the sound of trucks coming in with vegetables and all sorts of goods, and all the shouts of vendors.
The bus stand was situated near a market which was famous as the market that never sleeps. The place was full of activity all twenty-four hours of the day.
We could see the bus stand in the far corner and we hurried towards it, passing many stores that sell all kinds of goods.
Suddenly through the corner of my eyes, I could see something moving, something like a dark veil. I quickly looked in the direction. To my utter horror, a swarm of cockroaches have invaded the streets. Hundreds of big ugly cockroaches, were moving swiftly in my direction! Cockroaches are what I fear the most in this whole world. I quickly jumped into Manul's hands, shouting at high pitch.
I didn't know that I was shouting too loud until I realized that all the sounds of the market were silenced by my shout.
My legs were wrapped around Manul's waist, and he was looking at me with wide eyes. I didn't care that everyone else was looking at me. Even dying was better for me than having cockroaches running all over me. I wrapped my arms around Manul's neck tightly and I closed my eyes.
I felt that Manul was shaking, was he laughing? I opened my eyes to look at him. Yes! He was biting his lips trying not to laugh out loud.
"Miss, a cockroach is 50 rupees. Will you buy one?" I heard someone say. I looked down at the cockroaches. They were stupid toy cockroaches running all over the place, and the stupid vendor was flashing all of his teeth at me and smiling looking very much amused.
Manul could take it no more and explode laughing. He was still laughing when we finally got onto the bus.
* * *
Finally, I was able to stop laughing. Melany didn't say anything. But I saw her smiling as we walked towards the bus.
Maybe I should stop being an idiot.
"Melany, you are both my strength and weakness. Please don't let me down. I'm trying to build us a better future, and that's why I'm so busy. It's not that I'm ignoring you."
She looked at me and smiled, leaning her head over my shoulder and taking my hand in hers.
"I don't expect so much from you. Just stay by my side."
Everything went well after all. I felt him brushing off strands of hair that fell on my face. He often kissed my forehead. I kept my eyes shut and pretended to be sleeping as the bus moved on.
Maybe hereafter I won't dislike cockroaches so much.
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