Quality time….how exactly do you spend it? This was the question that was eating into Sunaina’s mind since she had read the morning papers. The paper that day had a whole section on ‘Lifestlye’ explaining how unattached spouses have become in a modern way world. The punch line of the article emphasized the need to spend quality time with each other. And this was what, was disturbing her. Almost the whole of her waking up hours were spend with Abhi. Abhi who? Sunaina’s partner for life and the name is just ‘Abhi’ not a shortened version of something longer like ‘Abhimanyu’. His parents were way ahead of their times and had decided to name their only son in a modern manner, thinking that any longer name would in evidently be shortened to a shorter version. Thus a short and stylish name retained in its exact form!
Abhi was an understanding and caring person and Sunaina did not particularly have issues with him. The issues were with their relationship. After five years of marriage they were used to each other, just as you become used to brushing your teeth every morning. But there was a silence….a silence that lasted between them when they did not get topics to talk about. Having close by offices they commuted together mostly. The journey was certainly better than the destination but seldom did they talk, talk like they used to when they were not married. Well times were different then…and now topics usually veered around office. As in who ditched whom in office to get a promotion or how bad the work culture had become in office with no scope for fair play. The best topic was ‘The Boss’…both of them could carry on for hours on this topic. Another quintessential topic, which both of them passed onto the other was ‘the need for a baby’.
Among all this what was lost was the understanding, the patience, the zing and of course the romance. Life was timed and divided into slots for all important things. But that was not the reason why they got married. They got married so that they could be with each other, share that exclusive bond which was now been tugged at by various other issues like work, who will sacrifice whose career for the other and of course a joint investment policy called ‘Baby’. Sunaina was determined to turn the tables and give it one more shot. The day in office was not busy and she spent it planning a small date with her hubby. A Coffee date…..although Abhi would cringe at the loss of time and the uselessness of the activity but still she would pester…
‘Let’s leave a little early today… Say around 6? Can you make it?’ Sunaina tried to sound as sweet as possible over the phone. Maybe taken by surprise or just shocked Abhi uttered: ‘Yeah, why not!’ Sunaina did not waste any more of the precious time and hung up saying ‘OK, see ya then’. Abhi was a little scared, to be precise…was it another shopping spree…the ones he detested so much and wanted to yell and tell her that although he loved her he did not think that shopping was some kind of sport that had to be indulged in weekly once… at least. Was it something he had forgotten…his mom-in-law’s Bday or his in-laws Anniversary….and this was Sunanina’s sarcastic way of making him feel sorry. He checked his calendar, he has missed nothing….then what was it? Leaving the office, which was their actual home so early, felt odd.
Freshening in the men’s room a crazy thought crossed his mind…Was Sunanina pregnant? Maybe she just found out and wanted to surprise him….he was confused…how should he react to the news…as far as he knew Sunanina, like all women, she was complicated. If he became too happy she would think that now he was more interested in his offspring than in his wife, and if he became worried she would burst out into tears that tell him that he need not worry about money always…she was perfectly capable of taking care of her own child. Abhi was sweating now…..he decided on a small but genuine smile on getting the news and sensing her reaction he will increase or decrease his smile. Phew….what a situation. Of course…all this would happen only and only when she was pregnant.
Sunaina fumbled in her huge handbag for the mascara that she had carried to office last month for attending a colleague’s marriage party. Work pressure had been too much and she could not make it to the wedding and the mascara had remained in her hand bag. She found it, applied some on her lashes, touched up the Kajal and a little lipstick. Was it a bit too much? Not that she was not conscious about her looks….she was one of the best dressed girls in office. Only thing was… she had forgotten when had she last put on make-up for Abhi….it was a little out of place… she grabbed a tissue and wiped off the Lipstick and settled with a little lip-gloss. She hurried past the elevators, took the stairs and waited at the front gate for Abhi.
The car sped along the nearly empty road. They were a little too early today for the office-returning crowd. Abhi was a little nervous to ask and so was Sunaina. It felt a little like their first date. Finally Abhi summed up the introduction: ‘Why suddenly early?’ Sunaina was hoping he would notice the extra care she had put in to freshen up before meeting him; however his question startled her from her thoughts. She replied: ‘Why? Were you busy?’ ‘No…No actually I was thinking if we are heading straight home or somewhere else?’ quipped Abhi. ‘Oh…actually I was thinking of trying out the coffee shop near our place. We seldom go there… seems to be a nice place to me…What do you think?’ asked Sunaina. Being married for half a decade Abhi knew that the answer to this question should be ‘Yes’ in order to maintain family harmony!! He agreed likewise.
The coffee shop was a little off route for most people so it was almost empty. Even the guy at the counter was not expecting anyone, nonetheless was happy at the sight of a couple, who looked like they could pay the bills! The menu was long and Sunaina searched for new items, which she had not tried before. She was not the one, up for experimenting but Abhi was…and he was a little taken aback seeing his strong willed wife do things his way….however to her utter dismay none of those items were available. They had to settle for two large Cappuccinos and muffin. Sunaina was already feeling let down by her plan…and thinking of calling it a day. The coffee was served and they sipped in silence.
‘So…say something?’ Abhi stared at her to realize that the ball was in his court….he thought of just asking her straight if she was what he thought her to be…pregnant that is…but he decided against it. ‘I..’ with that the power went off and the shop was plunged into darkness. Sunaina instantly caught Abhi’s hand in her own and pressed it hard. ‘Don’t get scared… its ok’ cajoled Abhi….the chord was struck; Sunanina slowly loosened her grip and held his hand with fingers entwining his. The guy at the reception had gone out to look into the matter, he came in to announce that the Back-up power supply had failed and it would take some time to repair. He dashed out with a torch in hand.
Who was in a hurry anyway?? By now the two pairs of eyes were getting adjusted to the darkness. Sunaina stared at her husband of five years and saw the receding hairline on his forehead and the worry lines too, not too evidently though but the silhouette certainly. Abhi thought how soft her hands still felt against his. He traced the line of her face in the darkness…she was certainly pretty. She kissed his hand; Abhi was not surprised at being usurped of the actions that a guy was supposed to do …. Sunaina had always been like that… strong and self-willed…that was what made him fall in love with her….her independence and strength to be different. No matter how much he had fought with her in the past years accusing her to be just those and hence unfit for marriage, he secretly knew he loved that zing about her. The lights sprang back to life but there was not much movement around their table.
The guy from the reception rushed in to make the bill lest the power went off again. He called out: ‘The Bill Sir?’Abhi did not move, just replied saying: ‘Not as yet…two more Cappuccinos please…’