Unsuitable affinity 

Also inspired by –
“If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.”

Mo Willems, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

I look at my iPhone. It is 5 pm. I open contacts and scroll through if I can call anyone to talk to. The clanks in the kitchen is hitting the crescendos along with water flowing out of the tap.   

Soon the cook leaves the apartment saying, she’ll be back tomorrow. I lock the door, go into the kitchen and see what she has made. The kitchen is sparking clean and all the dishes done. I open the box and give into the freshness and aromatic stew and idiyappam. I grab a plate, fill it up and sit in my usual place in the dining table.   

Completely satisfied with the burst of flavours in my mouth, I remind myself to appreciate the cook.   

I make few spills these days, I am bit wobbly when I’m excited. After cleaning up the table and the kitchen counter top I head out to the balcony.   

I sit there and look into my phone. It shows 6:30 pm. I watch the kids in my apartment – play cricket, some kids running around and some riding bicycles. The only time I can step out for a walk to the apartment garden area is morning before 7 am when the kids are fast asleep. They seem to be fast and reckless. I dare not walk to the park crossing them.   

I look at my phone again at contacts. I would love to talk and probably visit someone or better yet someone visit me. I mentally reject all the relatives and friends- close and distant.   

The conversations with them leave me in the past with my wife’s memories. Everywhere I turn there’s sadness ready to sink into my shoulders and grief grabbing both my legs.   

I decide to watch TV, but these series don’t interest me, I change few channels and stare at the screen for an hour.   

I look at my phone again, scrolling up and down. Just then it rings, my youngest son asking me about my day as he’s driving back home to his family. I mention about that delicious stew my cook had made and I could sense he wished he could just eat some right away. After the chitchat he hangs up.   

I stare at my phone trying to disconnect the unspoken sadness, helplessness and tiredness with my son. I heart swells up.

I scroll through the contacts to talk with someone.

I decide to call my youngest son’s friend Vishva. A good person to call for an casual chitchat.

He used to be naughty in his school days and then he gotten into engineering, got married and then divorced his mentally ill wife. Last I saw him was when my wife passed away 15 years ago. He stayed for the funeral. I can’t say he made me feel better, but I can feel the longing to get in touch with him. Could I have done what he had?

I decide to call him.

Last I spoke to him 4 years ago for few minutes.

I dial his number. He doesn’t pick. I try again – he does.

He quickly blurts out, Hello Uncle! All’s well?

I reassure him that all is well, I could hear the traffic and I ask if he was driving. He says he can talk and phone is connected to his car.  

I took my time to update him on the latest happenings which was – nothing, so I went back in time spoke about the life. During the conversation Vishva says to my surprise that he’s not in touch with my son as much – as life has taken them to different cities and my son’s commitments. I ask him if he remarried. He said he is enjoying his life and his freedom. He travels all over the world, participates in competitions – marathon, triathlon and many others. I cut him short and start talking. I continue until he says he needed to go, he was home.

I give him permission to go and then disconnect the call.

I stare at the phone. Call ended 27 minutes and 21 seconds. I step into the balcony and evening breeze refreshes me. I settled down into my comfortable chair and close my eyes.

When we first took my wife to a doctor, our children were 14, 16 and 18. The children were feeling embarrassed and awkward inviting their friends home and having family trips. It is her obsessive need to repeat herself, crossed the line of normalcy. She was naive, simple and annoying. I had gotten used to her and my work kept me away for long hours. We had two house helps to take care of kids and the home. Everything was smooth or so I thought.

As she aged, her quirkiness became intense and we had to medicate her to keep her calm and then she developed mental illness. The doctors never gave a clear name and definition of her condition. I didn’t care to know.

I cared only about how to care for her. 

Over the years it became difficult.

All help was part time – house helps, children, my siblings, her siblings or innumerable relatives.

It had to me – full time.

It took a toll on me but I was strong for her, my children and for myself.

I had to make sure my children had a family of their own and make sure they live their life.

I thought about Vishva. He found out early on about his wife, he didn’t have babies and they got divorced.

I’m sure I can find a friend in him – a camaraderie.

I look for my phone, it was next to my chair on the window sill. I sent a message to Vishwa asking for his address so that I could visit him.

I woke up in the morning, made myself an instant coffee and went through the newspaper.

I came back from my morning walk, showered and waiting for the cook to make me breakfast. I was thinking what I could do for the day and remembered to check for message from Vishva.

No messages.

I call him to get the address the phone rings but he doesn’t pick up at all. I get into Whatsapp to send him a message. As I type I see him online and disappear.

I abandon the message and call him again, it keeps on ringing…
©®Meera San


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