It was still drizzling outside. It was nine on the huge moth-eaten clock hanging on the wall opposite him. “Great”, he thought. He had missed his morning walk. Again!
The cold alone killed his bones but the rain made it much worse. The gout, arthritis, every one of those little nuisances plagued his aged body much more joyously in this season: Winter. He sighed. The doctors said that a morning walk would still keep going strong for years to come. There was not a chance of that happening in this weather, was there?
Maybe he should not be living in the hills in the first place. Maybe the plains would get the cold out of his system, warm his nerves and enliven his senses.
He looked around. Everything looked blue. Bitter. Miserable… Was it age? He had fooled himself long enough with that but the ever-lasting scowl on his face appeared long before the wrinkles did.
He longed for a time machine. He would give anything for one. This could not have been what the universe had planned for him. He had it all in his youth – friends, fans and success. He was equipped to own the world! Alas! He was fated to be doomed like Tithonus: Great and glorious till damnation came in the form of a Goddess…
Did he ever really love her?
Of course, he did.
Hell, he was crazy about her! When he was with her, everything else around melted into oblivion. The fragrance of her hair, her soft glowing skin, her smile… oh, her smile… it made him feel like it was just him and her beauty in the entire universe and nothing else had even begun to exist.
But she was always… apathetic. She had never responded passionately to his love, nor had she condemned his feelings. He had considered himself lucky, initially – she was not one of those drama-queens. But that was until all her smiles ceased and an everlasting expression of agony sculpted itself onto her beautiful face.
“What happened?” he would think. “Is anything wrong?” he would ask. “No, nothing!” she would reply with a touch of surprise in her mellifluous voice. Movies, candlelight dinners, flowers, foot-rubs, he had tried EVERYTHING. He had gone around consulting friends, reading magazines, perusing books, for a remedy, only to be smacked in the face with a plastic smile and a word of thanks from her end. He had felt helpless back then, like a toddler lost in a maze: Alone and confused… miserable.
“And all I was in ashes”.
He rose heavily, holding on to the armrests of the chair. It was time he arranged the books in the library they had. He loved books. He was rather proud of his collection. In a childless, loveless marriage, the library was all he had, at least after his retirement. So irrespective of how long it took or how tiring it was for him, he looked after it himself. He cleaned out the disheveled shelves, placing the books by the same author, together. Out came an orphaned nameless one. Lost in the world of books it took him a while to realize that it was a diary, his wife’s old personal diary. She stopped keeping one ages ago. She resorted to reading his books now, which was the reason behind the messy shelves. He tossed it lightly to a nearby chair, missing, it crash-landed on the floor spilling its guts out. “Tut-tut”, he bent over shakily to pick it up and his name instantly caught his eye.
Reading someone else’s diary is immoral, irrespective of how old it is. But curiosity doused the flames of righteousness.
Ian asked me to marry him. I can’t say that I did not see this coming. Actually, I’m surprised it took him so long. I said yes. Was that stupid? I mean, I do like him. But when I’m moping over another guy for every second of every day, maybe it was not the cleverest thing to do. But then, the guy I love has been dead for two years.
Oh Diary, I miss Ray so damn much! Every moment I’m thinking about how things would have been that exact moment if Ray was still alive! How am I supposed to get over him? My love did not leave me; he was taken away from me! We were perfect! He was an angel. His eyes, his smile, his comforting touch… how can I forget any of that? He loved me! He would do anything for me, to see me happy. There was nothing I had ever wanted more than being with him. I too would do anything, be anything for him. Why was that so unbearable for the Gods above?!?! Am I not their child? Can they not see me happy?? Why would they bring me into the world if they only wanted to break my heart and leave me broken, miserable forever? It has been two years and I still feel this way. Well, why would I not? He was the one for me. My entire world revolved around him. Without the Sun, how can Earth possibly go on? I wish I could change it. How I wish for a time-machine. Do such things not exist? I would give my all to find one, to return to his arms and lay their blissfully and erase the excruciating last couple of years.
Sometimes I wonder if I am supposed to live. When I awoke the next morning after the accident, and found him steel cold on the hospital bed, I was screaming inside – A cold, skin-curling scream that only I could hear. I can still hear it in my head at times. At that moment I felt like… nothing! I felt like I was nothing, just a thin wisp of something immaterial, bodiless, hardly a soul. I felt like everything was a mirage, I felt like I myself were a mere illusion, susceptible to being blown away into nothingness any moment. I can’t really explain it because it doesn’t make sense to me in the first place.
Then Ian came along. It’s the dream of about every girl in the University to be with him. And he wants nothing but me. I should feel lucky, I guess, but I don’t feel anything at all. Maybe if I had not met Ray first, things would be different. But I do like him. Maybe he is my second chance at happiness, at life. I’ve got to try and see, haven’t I? And people do say that we should be with the one who loves us rather than the one we love.
Ian told me the story of ‘Wuthering Heights’ a few days back. I’m just scared I’m making the same mistake that girl did.
“Hey, are you reading ‘Wuthering Heights’ now?”, he enquired entering the bedroom. He had finished with the library.
“Oh yes, I am so sorry I forgot to tell you that I took it”, she replied softly. She looked perpetually exhausted. Sitting up on the bed she said, “It’s on the night-stand. I’m not reading it right now, got a killer headache”.
“Come here”, he said sitting down beside her. Placing her head on his lap, he began massaging her temples. The look of astonishment on her face was priceless. He smiled to himself.
Maybe he should have been mad. Maybe he should have flown into a rage and accused her of destroying his life. How could she just experiment with something as delicate as a marriage? She knew that if things would not work out she would have made the mistake of a lifetime. And that was exactly what happened. It was a selfish, irresponsible thing to do. But somehow, knowing about it comforted him a little. After all these years, the toddler had finally escaped from the maze. Maybe it did not make much of a difference now but it still helped to know that she was just as heart-broken and miserable as he was. At last he felt a connection. It was not of love or friendship but a sort of kinship of two broken-hearted individuals. It was strange but he was at peace now. It would be less painful to live out the rest of his days knowing that he was not alone in his misery.