It was one of the chilly months of the year when every bone of your body shivers rhythmically and your mighty teeth chatter to chime in. Well, my body felt as much, so I donned a black thick woollen coat and a scarf as buttress against freezing wind blowing outside. Earlier, I was planning to slip my head inside a cowl but it would have looked inappropriate.
It was not any run-off-the-mill event for which I dressed up like a royal lady.
It was something which sent a chill up my spine, a mere thought of it gave away sensation of snakes dancing on my body, something I wanted to run away from but the thrill which it brought along gave a breath-taking satisfaction.
Effortfully, I pulled the heavy wooden door, and with my chin curled up between my shoulders, I stepped inside. Within seconds, someone, a lady perhaps, as I comprehended from the sugary high-pitched voice that flew across my ears, came from behind and blindfolded me with a silky fabric. I ran my fingers over it to feel its soft seamless texture.
Thank you, I said.
“You are welcome, Mrs. Sheila Roy, to the right please. You can hold my hand and I will escort you to your table,” said the attendant.
Her bony fingers touched mine with care, not putting much pressure, just enough to not to lose the grasp. I walked with resistance as she pulled me in right direction.
“Is everything all right, Mrs. Roy? I know it is a bit uncomfortable to walk with blindfolds while putting trust on anyone but your loved ones, rest assured you are at safe space. Just relax,” she said and then chuckled to see how nervous I was.
Yes! I was nervous. This was my first blind date. Being unaware of what you may experience with your senses other than sight is exciting as well as draining. You have to stay conscious for your only powerful connection to the outside world, your eyes, cannot be spared for that moment.
On my way to the table, I stumbled on the edge of a table of one of the diners and also accidently stepped on someone’s foot; a woman whined and shook her foot to get rid of my weight. I got scared for her anger laced voice suggested that it might have triggered her to beat me up. fortunately, her husband or boyfriend, whoever he was, cajoled her into staying put. “Sweetheart, don’t let petty things ruin your mood. Just let it go.” These were the words of the gentleman. From that moment onwards, I braced myself up.
I was extremely nervous and vistas of unhappy events rounded up in my mind. In our 15 years of marriage, we never felt the need for experiencing everything from scratch.
“Let’s do it once again. Just the way we did it when we were 21 years old,” said my husband. My ears were still ringing with these words. LET’S DO IT ONCE AGAIN. This man always has solution to every problem. His eyes rekindled when I acceded to his request. I can’t get enough of his optimism; he makes things work instead of giving up. But, GOD! Why did I give up? I have been searching for answer to this question from past five days, yet lurching in oblivion.
I didn’t know when it started, until one day, I said something which would startle any spouse and throw him or her in disarray; that day I realised that I had been acting this way since time immemorial. I remember my heart bounced with joy whenever I heard him getting back home from office before the usual time. I used to dance to express joy and dressed up on every Sunday for a scheduled luncheon with him. Where did all the excitement go?
We faced a momentary disturbing phase when I lost my baby due to miscarriage. Above all, the news of me being labelled as barren for rest of life was devastating like anything. But, somehow, we overcame that, too. What went wrong?
As I sat on one of the couches from the living room, I mused over this never-ending situation and understood that we, or should I say “I”, perhaps got consumed by monotony of routine. To get rid of this boredom, I picked up reading. I started with horror fiction and then slowly moved to other genres such as romance, sci-fi, and historical fiction. This is one of the drawbacks of being a house wife: sometimes you just get so overwhelmed with the feeling of doing NOTHING that you actually end up simmering with frustration. But, what did this have to with my husband? He never asked me to leave my job. It was my choice.
Like any other day, I wrapped myself with a towel after taking bath and moved outside to find my husband sitting comfortably on the bed with arms behind his head, like a boss. I instantaneously jumped on my feet and rushed back inside and asked him to move outside for I had to change. For him, and as well as for me, this response was bizarre. Without uttering a word, he made his way out of the room. This was not the first time he would have seen me wearing nothing but my flesh. Why would I chicken out at his presence?
The same day, in the evening, he cooked the dinner without asking for any help. He does that whenever he is upset. Till date, I have not understood the real reason for why does he choose cooking over confrontation. Perhaps, cooking gives him sense of absolute independence. Perhaps. We ate in silence. I, particularly, dropped my gaze to my plate and pretended as if no one was around. From the corner of my eye, I saw my husband staring. Before he could ask anything, I pushed my chair and went straight to the bedroom and plunged into a deep slumber before he could join me. I felt bad for him. Why didn’t I apologize for my behavior? Was I satisfied with the response?
That day, I experienced an epiphany that I had developed an indifferent attitude towards my husband. Poor Man! In these 15 years he never asked for anything but my company and I would treat him like a garbage in return.
Five days went by like this : we would wake up, brush our teeth, take bath, change cloths privately, consume breakfast in silence; he would stare at me, I would focus on food, he would leave for office , I would sleep like a log during the day, I would read Kafka on the Shore, he would come back from office and ring the doorbell, I would open the door, he would try to make eye contact and I would withstand doing as much, he would cook dinner and place everything on the dining table, he would stare at me (trying to make eye contact), I would pretend ignorance, and before he could say anything I would hit the hay.
On sixth day, on Sunday, he confronted me like a gentleman.
“A new restaurant has opened up in our locality. I have heard a lot about it. Few of my colleagues have tried it. They reviewed food as excellent. But I don’t want to go there for food. They actually blindfold you before you place an order just to make you aware of hardships of blind people. It’s basically a campaign for eye donation. But I want to try it as a blind date. Let’s try and experience everything from scratch. Let’s go outside and feel the thrill.,” explained my husband. This time it was him who stayed away from making eye contact and I was crying for his attention.
I shook my head to convey my acceptance, but since he wasn’t looking, he assumed that I was confused. He repeated himself. “Let’s try and experience everything from scratch. Let’s go outside and feel the thrill.”
That would be nice, I said.
NICE! Urghh! I should have thought of a better word. I should have said “I am excited” or “That sounds great!” or anything else better.
“Okay. We will leave at 6pm and then we will see how long the ambience of that restaurant pleases us,” he said.
I nodded to his response. After breakfast we moved to separate spaces - he plopped himself down on the couch in the living room to watch a pre-recorded football match, and I sprawled across the king size bed for a siesta. This was the laziest Sunday afternoon I had spent after a long time. Anyways, my eyes snapped open when the clock perched on my bedside table blared mercilessly. My heart was racing, and it took me few minutes before I regained my composure. That’s why I prefer waking up to light. Alarm has always given me heart attacks.
My husband was getting ready in dressing room which had a long spacious wardrobe to contain his infinite number of suits, shirts and trousers. I crossed the room to get a glimpse of his appearance so that I could dress accordingly.
Once we both were ready, he softly knocked the door of the bed room and told me to come outside wherein he would be waiting in the car. I felt awkward for in past 15 years he never felt the need to knock.
We reached the restaurant just in time – at 6:30 pm. He moved inside after pulling the car over in the parking lot.
I will take few minutes. I have to make one call, I said.
“Okay, I will go inside and check everything,” he said calmly.
At the outset, I thought that he would force me to come inside or he would wait here with me instead he offered me some much-needed space.
I roamed around in parking lot for few minutes and heaved out deep breaths to collect serenity.
The attendant snapped her fingers near my ears to break my reverie. “Mrs. Roy, shall we move? You look stressed. Would you like to sit down for a while?”
I asked her to take me to the table.
“Mr. Anil Roy, I have brought your prized possession all safe and sound. She is at your right, there you go,” the attendant said with a hint of humour.
As we reached our destination, noise of a chair scraping along the floor made me understand that perhaps my husband rose from his position.
“Thank you, Ana. I will take it from here.” He spoke gently.
Thereafter, Ana gracefully handed over my control to my husband. He clutched my fingers and moved with precision. Once he was sure, he made me sit on a chair. From the position of his arms, which were lying lengthwise across the table, I gauged that I was sitting exactly opposite to him.
He took my hand and kissed it softly. My little mouth stretched itself to a smile.
With eyes closed, I forgot everything else and felt his presence. His gentle touch, graceful voice, sound of him taking sips of wine and munching on salad, everything made me feel his presence profoundly.
“You know it is okay for not feeling oneself sometimes. You can share anything with me here. I think it would be easier now that your eyes are closed. But you need to put your frustration or any ill feeling somewhere. It is important. You stay alone most of the time, frustration is natural. Do you want to keep a dog or any other pet for company? Would you like to call your mom to stay with us? just tell me what can I do to make you feel good,” he asked. He caressed my right palm sporadically.
I wanted to say a lot but I did not know the exact reason. I kept quiet and resumed eating quinoa salad.
“I remember you once told me about your interest in gardening. We can make it happen in our terrace. Would you like that?” he asked, thereafter gulped down the last of his wine. He summoned the attendant by pressing a button mounted on his arm rest. He ordered more wine.
I think gardening will be perfect, I said.
I had to say something to give rest to his overactive mind, which was struggling to figure out solutions.
I love this man.
I was once told by one of my professors that the most difficult task in this entire world is to listen and understand someone. People these days have become so self-centered that they choose to react than to hear out. No one wants to inundate themselves with unnecessary information. We are living in an era wherein we pay money just to make another person listen to us which can be done by our own. She asked all of us to be grateful for finding someone who is ready to make time for us just to provide a safe space to vent out.
I had this safe space on left of side of my bed like forever and I never acknowledged its presence.
With darkness everywhere, I could appreciate his presence. I felt grateful for I have someone special to hold onto. Someone who would never leave me high and dry.
How beautiful it is to find solace in someone’s presence. I almost forgot to admire beauty of being blessed with someone’s company. In that moment, I realized that I unintentionally turned my significant other into insignificant other.
“Sheila, tell me what do you like most about this restaurant?” he asked.
Your company, I said.