The bad part about being good at something is that there is no limit to how good you can be. As you push your limits, your talent slowly turns into your work and it piles up and the exit gates start closing up. He had quit five jobs in the past as and when he could no longer find time for himself but, now that he was married and a baby was on its way, he couldn’t afford the freedom and luxury of that nomadic lifestyle. He told his wife that it was something work-related and just fled the city so that he could unwind and lull the storms boiling up inside into silence.
Ramesh Singhal was otherwise a very reasonable man. Average built, fierce competitive eyes and an arched grin giving the impression that everything was under control. He flexed his arms often and walked with a certain wobble that made people make more room for him in queues, public places, cafeteria etc. He was aware of the excess of space that he hogged in his manners during his public discourses and was proud of the ingenious method he had created. He could not stand being pushed around and had even feigned handicap or illness to be treated specially. Friends he had; but the kind that cannot be counted on. His marriage was an arranged one and was more of an affair of convenience as the girl was a nice proposal and his parents saw her to be fit for him. It would be wrong to say that Ramesh couldn’t love anyone more than himself or that he was a self-centered person, but he did leave little room for others to think otherwise.
Sunanda was a loving wife and it seemed that she had slowly come to terms with Ramesh’s over-indulgence with himself. In the early days of their marriage, Sunanda tried hard to form an emotional bond with Ramesh. She would strike conversations, look into his eyes to spot the place where he was broken, some past event which had made him the way he was. She even suspected that he had an affair going on but then as she read the family members’ behaviour toward him and realized that her husband was one of a kind. Ramesh too, tried hard to do things that would seem romantic or show that he cares; Sunanda would randomly find some laundry folded, bed made, roses by her side as she woke up, sometimes even breakfast too but, there was just something that Ramesh could not do. She started pitying the poor chap and was quite understanding when these random acts of kindness slowly wore away. They would talk often, laugh and eat together but they hardly knew each other as people. Ramesh was least apologetic for this yet he was worried lest this lack of concern might be considered as selfishness. The way Sunanda took to his ways, he did sometimes worry that there was some pain that was gnawing away her personality. He started thinking about her and he was changing. Most of his thoughts which used to be about him, were now about her.
The office workload had crippled his mind and he couldn’t see this vicious circle breaking in the future. He feared that Sunanda would fall for someone else, commit suicide or leave him. These thoughts had quietening effects on his inner hamster. To get away from all this noise in his head, in a bid to perhaps change himself, he had taken this vacation and now it was raining outside.
He sat in his room, thinking How did he turn from a self-obsessed monarch to a slave of his own emotions? He detested the pathos that had gripped his heart and reminisced on all those times when he had just broken free of them. “Is this pain something natural and was I supposed to embrace it all this while?” he reflected deeply. The hamster voices fell silent. The epiphany ran through his skin and he almost stood up and then sank again in the sofa. He decided that he would tell his wife how much he loved her; the anticipation of making friends with his own wife was so immense that he picked up the phone right away. He tried calling her up but repeated attempts went unanswered. His mind took over. “Is it too late?” “Is it possible that she is with her lover making plans of eloping with him and grimacing at the phone as it displays my name?” Sweat drops huddled up on his forehead. It was as if a volcano was about to erupt. He started packing for his return trip.
Sunanda on the other side was reading a book she had finally found time for. She heard her phone ring but ignored it thinking it was some tele-advertiser. “This is a Sunday afternoon and no one can take away this time from me. This is my time”- she thought. A hamster chirped with joy inside her.
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– Abhyudaya Shrivastava (firstname.lastname@example.org)