|Anirudh watched his wife Christy prepare herself for her lover. She always dressed with great care for these occasions. Today she had put on an elegant knee length suit and little make-up. Her long blonde hair was tied in a bun and she was wearing the usual perfume she preferred for these meetings. Perhaps, it was her lover’s favorite. He could not help feeling jealous when she waved him a goodbye and left for her tryst with him.
“She was looking beautiful, “Anirudh thought. “Her lover is lucky,” his mind wondered, taking in the pleasant sight of the lake from the side window of his office, located on the second storey of his house. He sighed and returned to his laptop. He had a project deadline to meet, and he intended to use his time well before he picked up their daughter, Jodie from school.
Christy returned only late in the evening. Anirudh had brought Jodie from school, fed her, helped her with her homework and was watching her favorite cartoon show with her, when she walked in.
She greeted both father and daughter. Anirudh could sense that something was amiss.
“I have a headache, “she said in response to Anirudh’s quizzical expression. “ I will rest awhile. You guys carry on, “she said before climbing upstairs to their room.
She did not come down for dinner. Anirudh went up to ask her. “I don’t feel good,” she answered.
Anirudh touched her forehead to check if she had any fever. “I am okay, it’s only a headache,” she explained.
Anirudh could see from her eyes that she had been crying. He knew she wanted to be left alone. He served dinner to Jodie and put her to bed, before returning to his wife.
The room was dark. He switched on the lights and sat down on the bed next to her. “Christy, dear, you sure everything is okay?”
She turned her reclined body to face him, and raising her head, rested it on her hand as she faced him.
“Want to talk about it? It might make you feel better,” Anirudh enquired in a gentle voice. He really loved his wife, and though there was someone else in her life, wanted to help her.
She was silent.
“It’s him, isn’t it?” he tried.
“Today was his birthday,” she replied, her voice choked with emotion.
“Tell me about him.” He was curious to know the man who had his wife’s heart.
“What is the point in digging up the past?” she responded.
“You never know. It might make you feel better. ,” he offered.
She got up and sat on the bed. “You sure you want this,” she asked. He nodded in assent.
“I first met Doug in a train. I was travelling with my father. He was sitting on the opposite seat. He was quite a dish, if I can use that term.” For the first time that day, Anirudh observed happiness in his wife’s eyes as she recollected their first meeting.
“Describe him,” Anirudh asked
Her eyes lighted up again. “Tall, athletic build, blue eyes and blonde hair,” she was smiling. Anirudh understood how Jodie got her blue eyes and golden curls.
“Suddenly dad complained of chest pain and his face was looking horrible. Doug was reading a book, and he saw what was happening. He offered to help. He help us get down at the next station, arranged an ambulance and accompanied me to the hospital,” she continued.
“What next?” Anirudh was curious now
“Fortunately, it was nothing serious. Dad stayed in the hospital for a couple of days. Doug visited every day.” Her eyes were sparkling now.
“The day dad was discharged; I left a note at the reception with my number. When he called, I was the happiest girl on earth. We started seeing each other more often. He was funny, passionate and romantic. He was proud of his job with the army.” She sounded happy and exuberant.
She paused for a moment before continuing, “His happiness knew no bounds when I informed him that I was pregnant. I moved in with him. Jodie was born 8 months later, and our life was like a fairytale.”
She paused now for a long time before resuming. “Then Iraq happened. His country needed him. Jodie and I saw him off at the airport. He returned six months later in a coffin.”
She was calm now. She had told her story to her husband and she felt much better. He wanted him to hold her. Anirudh took her in his arms and caressed her hair.
Anirudh knew that Captain Douglas Tyler would always be the first love of his wife and perhaps, she would never ever love him. But it didn’t matter to him because his love for her was unconditional. He knew that she was the only woman on this earth with whom he wanted to spend the rest of his life. And maybe, one day she would love him too.
Christy, who lay by his side, was also thinking.”How can I ever make you feel my love for you? You think I was crying for Doug. No, I was crying because I hurt you. I saw the hurt in your eyes when I left in the morning to meet Doug. I made a promise on his grave today that I would never ever visit him again.”
Anirudh, held Christy even closer. She felt comforted. “Honey,” he said, “Next time you go to Doug’s grave, can I accompany you. You always come back so sad from his grave. I would like to be around you this time just to care for you. But only if you think it is fine.”
Her voice drowned in her emotions and she could only nod her head in assent. She caressed his cheeks and hair and took a silent oath to forever love and care for this wonderful man more than her own life.
Word Count: 995