I stare at you and loath your presence. Your hair sticks out every which way and as you pant, you look hilarious. The perfect halo that used to be and that you never failed to flaunt has been replaced by wisps of limp strands. No amount of coaxing hides the shiny pate that is all too visible from afar. I’ve seen you combing them with military precision in the hopes of getting rid of the waves that only crest at the two sides leaving a smooth valley at the centre. That is actually your good hair day. Unfortunately, today is not one of those days.
My eyes glide over your flabby torso. Have you noticed how the roots of your chest-hair have started to go grey? I surmise you haven’t. You are vain enough even at this age to have undergone the rigorous ritual of removing those thick, curly body hair. And you’d have enlisted me for the job for I’m nothing to you but a domestic help.
You groan as you heave your bulky body from atop me. You’re done for today. Work accomplished. I can detect a triumphant smile on your face even in this semi-darkness. Now you’ll roll over on your side and snore. You never stopped to ask me if I was done. Not even in the initial days of our marriage. You’re too strung up to waste your words on a simpleton like me, isn’t it? Do you even take me as a human being? Oh you do. Three nights a week you consider me human enough to ride me like a rodeo-rider. Rest of the time I may well be a piece of furniture who doesn’t receive a single glance from the owner.
I stifle a sob that threatens to slip out of my parched throat. I extricate myself carefully from under you and tiptoe to the washroom. The queen-sized bed is dwarfed by your huge frame. You allow me but a sliver of a portion to lie on it. What you don’t know is that for several years now I do not share the rest of the night with you. You are so lost and so oblivious to my presence, that my absence doesn’t dawn on you. So be it.
Crawling on my haunches, I step out of our shared bedroom and venture into the luxury of the other room down the corridor. The door is ajar as usual. I step into the cool interior and smile. On the bed I run my eyes over the silhouette of a petite figure. I sit down on the crispy sheet and stroke her hair lovingly. She stirs a little and smiles in her sleep. What is she dreaming? I hope it’s something really good.
I snuggle beside her and hold her in my arms. She smells of baby power and milk. I cuddle her some more before losing myself to sleep.
Our daughter is the only reason I bear with your tantrums. How else do you think I tolerate a bully like you? You’ve been the worst husband to me but you’ve been the best version of a father to our daughter. This is not a lifestyle that I’d have chosen for myself but for now the odds are against you. For now.
© Jonali Karmakar
© Jonali Karmakar