What Once Was Love.

The alarm shook Rita from her bed.

But it hardly managed to startle her, for sleep had escaped long back and the effort to fall under the spell again was less than minimalist, in fact, almost non-existent since a year now. Since the time the blanket had begun trapping warmth of just one individual. Since her pillow shared less of her dreams, more of her deep, dark contemplation. Her naked footsteps sighed echoes against the walls of her apartment in Bandra. Her coffee kettle screamed readiness for a drink for one while a slice of toast soaked what was left of companionship. But, there was another used cup at the kitchen sink. It housed traces of black tea. It did little to spike Rita’s curiosity.

She opened her laptop. Checked selective mails as an AVP of an MNC would. Replied briefly and closed the lid. She ignored the 165 friend requests on facebook. She even ignored the 17 mails which she had received from two of her close friends asking her to step out, to spend her time on them. To move on. Yes, mostly to move on. But letting go was an act that needed deft execution. Procrastination only turned it to a quick sand. You see, the swanky apartment had witnessed several parties that retained colour till the deep hours of the night. The house, once cheerful and fragrant had lost much charm. What grace was left behind was slowly fading away in Rita’s wake. There were traces of love on the walls, on the couch of the living room and in the shower, but they were like fermata of the dying musical chord. Three hours after her alarm clock warned her about the break of the day, Rita stepped out of her house for work and as she was at it, the landline phone bell went off. As it did, she hurried at gaining distance from the house. She never answered the landline, not since she picked the receiver up to call up her mom and overheard Nakul, her loving husband of 4 years talking to another woman. He was asking her to hang up.

And that other person, in her husky voice, was mentioning how much she loved him. Repeatedly. That was 2 months ago. Rita had never confronted Nakul since then. She spoke about this to no one but a few selective friends. She stopped cooking his favourite dish or wearing the liner or holding his hand. He didn’t notice. But she had noticed two coffee beer mugs in her bedroom when she returned home late one night from the office. He almost didn’t care. Nakul overnight trips became more frequent, and urgent, and sudden. Something had to be done, there were things to be said or done or ended. There were lines to be severed. Somebody had to say something, anything. Somebody had to break the silence which swallowed all conversation.

The alarm clock waited for the next morning’s trigger.

Based on Between by Vienna Teng


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