I looked at the clock for the seventh time and tried to peer at the hands in the foggy gloom conjured by my rheumy eyes. I couldn’t decipher the hands in the gathering darkness, but I knew that it was nearing nine. She always gets back before 7. It was getting late enough to be worried.
I once again stepped into the balcony and looked down. Except for a drenched street dog that was lying down miserably near the gate, there was not a soul to be seen anywhere. Rain water had puddled under the lamp post. A breeze ruffled the mango tree in the courtyard and a few twigs fell down and broke. Thunder rumbled in the distance. Did I hear a soft knock at the door? I turned back and hurried to the door, and waited. I was upset with her but didn’t want to show as if I missed her. I willed the knob to turn, but it steadfastly refused to. I returned to my sofa grumpily and watched Tom trying his best to kill Jerry. I always loved cartoons.
Thunder rumbled again distantly and rain started pouring in sheets. I pitied the dog and turned on the sofa, toasted in the gentle heat of the room heater, which monsoon in Panvel demands. I looked at the cold bowl of soup on the table and mused. The other day I heard from someone that age is just a number. I haven’t yet felt my age, but, tonight my joints were creaking like those rusted hinges in a horror movie.
Though the clock was still undecipherable, I knew that it was beyond ten. When you spend a long life trying to defy and defeat time, you learn to understand it. You don’t need a clock for that, all you need is a metronome in your head, which counts the minutes which you already spent while fighting the arch enemy Time. Someone stopped outside the door and I tiptoed to it again, ready to bolt back to sofa and sulk, when I was sure of her. The person walked away with hesitating steps. Another lunatic idiot, courier boy or a drunk call center employee, who lost his way.
I dozed off and suddenly woke up with a start. Old age doesn’t only have its own privileges, but its own burdens too. Sleep eludes most of the time and arrives in fits and starts, whenever she deigns to grace us with her presence. Like a queen, it arrives whenever it wishes, immaterial of our location or position and refuses to visit when we beg to it. I knew that she had left my dinner for me and I had my drinks in place. The room was comfortable and I had someone, who loved me. So what if she was a lot younger than me! Love doesn’t believe in age. But, like all aged people, my mind had this tendency to wander off at tangent and fret over implausible things, like her fidelity etc.
O reader, you are a total stranger to me, who might be looking for an excuse to saunter off from my presence and who is least bothered to the wailings of an elderly; but while I have you, let me unburden this horrible nightmare of mine, which haunts me to no extent! Of all grave wounds to a loving heart, the gravest is the infidelity of one’s beloved. It’s a known fact, my friend! I have reasons to believe that she isn’t loyal to me.
Once she got enamored with a guy, who was much younger than me. She had the effrontery to invite him to our home! I mean, there has to be a limit! I always was fiery as a young man. Old age had failed to mellow me. I confronted the Milk and Honey boy and shook him by his throat till his teeth rattled in his head. He tried to fight back, but that Chocolate Boy was no match for a old street fighter, who learned to fight with the scums of the underworld. That was the last we saw of him. She was sad for few days but rallied around again, as I predicted. Time, the Great Healer heals all heartbreaks.
For a loving heart, the fact that the beloved is looking around for better model is as good as death. A person can tolerate everything, except that infidelity, which causes the heart to bleed in torrential tears through one’s eyes. Some passive guys take it meekly and waste away their lives by drinking and writing ghazals. The active ones like me start their own steamroller and flatten the competition. I thought that she will be flattered by me smashing her new love. She would be proud of my love and dedication towards her! Unfortunately, my study of human mind wasn’t so complete then. She hated me for attacking that vermin!
Some people are philanderers. You can give them a billion rupees, still they will try to pass on a fake one rupee coin to the blind beggar at the bridge. The fact that they cheated gives them a kick which no narcotic in the world can match. Give them all the love you have, still they will look around for more. Like a cat, they don’t hunt because they are hungry. They hunt because they enjoy the pleasure of a hunt.
She was one such specimen. After that, we had a random influx of younger guys, whom I threatened off. She was afraid of me now. The rowdy guy, who won her heart by his sheer daring was suddenly a pariah. My heart broke. I went to her and stared in her eyes and tried to explain. She brushed me off. I realized that I lost her. I even decided to leave as it seemed better to leave than live with her!
It’s easy to talk about leaving. We all say that we will die and leave the world, but we are found sipping coffee the next morning. I lacked the guts to leave. Next morning she was still there for me, with a worried look. My heart went to her! I ran and cuddled her. We both cried.
Since last four weeks, she has been acting strange. I had seen the unmistakable lovelight in her eyes. It’s very difficult for a female to hide love. They glow. Her glow extinguished my own feeble flame. I was sure that there’s someone else again. I was resigned now. It’s impossible to tie someone in love if they are hellbent to escape. I decided to leave in the morning. There comes a time, when the most cowardly also decide to take a stand. Things were not always like this!
The clouds thundered ominously. I had always hated thunder and lightening. Somehow, they reminded me of that clarion of the Archangel Gabriel, which will raise us to our judgement on apocalypse.
She had first met me around 10 years ago and immediately fell in love with my rugged looks. I was an uncouth and rugged traveler, who lacked finess, but was street smart. Somehow this had appealed to one of those primeval feminine instinct, which likes the males of the specie to be simple in head, courageous and tough. She fell for me and we started living together. She was very young then. It was a psychedelic dream for me! It’s strange to find a loving care, when one isn’t used to it. It took me a very long time to adjust to a home and a female. I shouldn’t tell you this, O Stranger, but we slept together daily. The love initially burgeoned, then blossomed. Suddenly I was lost in a jungle of pink colored orchids, all of them heart shaped.
Love makes one do strange things. I learned manners, which I thought impossible! I learned to bow. That was a feat, which is an impossible task for a proud character like me. I always maintained that veneer of civilization upon me, till she brought that abomination! Then suddenly I reverted to my crude warring self! The Chocolate Guy never looked back after he left his burning trail!
Wish she was as loyal as me!
I looked at the plaster of paris sculpture of the ancient Carib god Chac Mool at the side board. His stone head was turned ninety degrees to the left, towards me, so that his warrior face, topped by a big stone helmet covering his hair and with protuberances jutting out from his ears, glared malevolently, the corners of the mouth drawn into a ferocious grimace at me. I stared back with equal malevolence. Always hated this character! At least, he didn’t require food and was cared enough! He didn’t have to compete with newer models! I went to the old Chac Mool and knocked him down with an angry swipe and watched his ugly face being shattered with satisfaction.
Someone walked to my door. The footsteps were familiar. Suppressed rage was boiling in me! I slowly went to the setee and sat down on it, and stared at the door balefully.
A key rattled tentatively and the door opened. She was standing there. Fully drenched. She saw me sitting on settee and ran towards to me.
“Oh, my darling! You were still waiting for me?”
I was angry and turned my face.
“Sorry, love! Momma missed her train! And, it’s such a nasty weather! I didn’t get a cab from station too! Had to walk the entire way, but, look whom I met! You will love him! He’s so cute!”
She pushed a small furball before my nose! Women!
I hated the kitten, but, at least, it wasn’t another puppy!
My tail wagged happily.