‘Who asked you to take the car out on your own? Are you out of your mind?’ shrieked Joy looking at Sirin.
Tears welled up in her eyes, she felt humiliated to say the least. How could Joy be so insensitive? Sirin had driven the car to Joy’s office to pick him up after work. She had thought that it would be a nice surprise on his Birthday. But his reaction left no doubt in her mind of exactly how surprised Joy was. Sirin was tired of Joy always telling her to do this and not to do that. She felt like an overgrown child with an adopted parent, who was over-protective of her.
Where had they gone wrong? Was five years too long to stay with someone or was it too short a time to know each other? They were married for five years now. It was a love marriage certainly. Sirin had always felt that they were complete as a couple. Each completed the other. But down the line, something had gone wrong; their relationship had gone from a loving one to a suffocating one. Joy’s idea of caring had taken the turn of suffocating Sirin out of her life. Lost among her thoughts she could hear a faint voice. She slowly came back to the present. Joy was telling her something:
‘I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to shout at you. It’s just that I’m concerned that you may hurt yourself! Come sit in the car I will drive!’ Sirin did as instructed. She looked out of the window at the passing scenery. Maybe she was giving chance to a dead relationship. She certainly needed a break from all this. She could hear Joy say something. But she was not paying attention…. they had drifted apart and she didn’t need a qualified psychiatrist to tell her that. Just a few days back, she had rejected an offer from her office to go for an on-site project for a month. She did not even think about it for once because she could not bear to stay away for Joy for such a long time. But…now…. she felt that she needed to be alone. She needed to be herself again.
‘Let’s drive straight to home…..I don’t think it will be healthy for you and also for me to eat outside today. Remember we had gone out for dinner even last week….’ instructed Joy. Sirin was too tired and emotionally drained to answer. She just nodded in agreement. What was wrong…..why had Joy suddenly become so insensitive towards her. Was he seeing someone else? Was she thinking too much about it? Or was it just a passing phase? It was too much for her now. She needed a break. She prayed that her boss was still ready to consider her interest in the on-site opportunity. Returning home she mailed her boss stating her change of mind.
‘You don’t have to go on an onsite project…. You can’t do that to us?’ shouted Joy to a stubborn Sirin. ‘I don’t have to go but I want to go…’ was all Sirin said. ‘But why….if it is for the money, then….’ pleaded Joy. ‘No it’s not the money….’ added Sirin even before Joy had finished. ‘See… my work is important to me and I need to do it. There are others contesting for this opportunity but I was chosen…so I don’t think I should let go of this’ replied Sirin logically. ‘Fine…if that is all you want…but before that I will have to be in Hyderabad for a week starting day after tomorrow. Since you are not leaving before the end of this month I will be back well within time’.
That’s it…. wouldn’t Joy fight any longer and plead with her; the discussion was over….? What was the point in going away if Joy didn’t care at all….! In an attempt to punish Joy she was actually punishing herself. She felt stupid, to say the least. This was a new phenomenon in their relationship. They avoided fights because of lack of time or simply because of fatigue. It seemed that they had burdened each other with so many expectations that they were always tired of carrying the relationship around. Everything had become mechanical. Things were done because they had to be done. Gone were the days when they had spent hours trying to persuade the other person or apologizing for something silly. Likewise the topic of Sirin-leaving-for-an-onsite-project was dropped…dropped for the time being….dropped because they had become fed up of arguing with each other!
The irony of the matter was that, they fought with each other because of a peculiar reason. The main reason why they had got married was the reason why they fought with each other. The reason was that Joy felt, Sirin was a carefree, happy-go-lucky girl; while for Sirin, Joy was the responsible family-man. And now after five years of marriage, Sirin felt that Joy was too responsible and actually very boring, while Joy felt that Sirin was too casual and actually immature and childish. How can people change so soon? The very reason why they had fallen in love with each other had become non-existent. Both of them were aware of the fact that they had once liked these qualities in the other and now hated each other for these qualities itself.
However, since Sirin always insisted on the rule that ‘Work is work’, she couldn’t ask Joy to stay back and not go to Hyderabad. In that case, he may also ask her to leave her onsite project and stay back. And then, the focus of the matter will shift and she will lose her point to him. She couldn’t let that happen; she would not let Joy steal the emotional limelight from her this time, not in any way. Although irritated, she reluctantly accepted his official trip to Hyderabad.
What was that noise….Sirin was jolted out of her sleep by some noise. She sat up straight and tried to assess the situation. She was sweating…the fan had stopped…probably a power cut, and the clock in the hall had just struck 12…. And most importantly she was alone…Joy was in Hyderabad for a week. It was too boring…fighting with Joy was much better than this peace…. Whatever new happened in office she itched to tell Joy…but talking over the phone was never the same as talking in person…. She had even contemplated a divorce few days back…..she shuddered to think of that now. Her whole existence was filled with Joy’s presence. She hated herself for loving her adversary…for missing the person who was responsible for all her worries. She felt helpless and sad. Was Joy feeling the same? Maybe… but Sirin did miss him and that was the simple fact….irrespective of the fact whether he missed her or not…
She will have to make this marriage work….and what about her on-site project? She cannot even survive a week, how on Earth will she survive a month without Joy? She was worried as how to handle this. Her ego was too huge to tell Joy that she will not go because she will miss him. Miss Him? Was that at all possible after so many years of being married to each other….. It certainly was… that was what she was feeling at that moment. She realized foolishly that happiness, sadness, anger, confusion and every other thing had a meaning…only when she was with Joy. But she could never let him know that. Not in this life at least! With these thoughts clouding her mind, days became noons, noons became evenings and evenings ended in sleepless nights. The week finally got over leaving Sirin relieved to have Joy back from Hyderabad.
Routine life once again pushed behind all sorts of worries from both their minds: Commuting to work every day, meeting work targets and dealing with weird colleagues, planning the months’ budget while having quick lunches and quicker dinners, while almost never having breakfast became the routine of their lives again. The day when Sirin will have to leave for a month was drawing to a close; even Joy had become very busy with his work. Work had become demanding for both of them and rightly so, they wanted to be busy to avoid any unpleasant confrontation with each other. Joy never discussed the topic of her leaving. He never even pleaded with her to stay. Sirin was certain that he was no longer interested in her. There must be someone or something else that made him uncaring towards her. Time just flew past them and it was almost time for her to leave.
A week before her departure, she was busy packing her bags when Joy announced: ‘I had applied for a month’s sabbatical in office. A month is not possible but given the fact that I have been working so hard for the last month they have agreed to give me a leave for 15 days provided I report from our onsite location’s office after 7 days. So basically we can be together for 15 days and even enjoy a small vacation…..what say?’ It took some time for Sirin to digest the whole information. ‘What..?? Are you serious?’ exclaimed Sirin. With a smirk across his face, Joy just nodded in reply. Sirin jumped up and flanked her arms around him in a huge embrace. This was by far the best news that she had heard in days. There was no ego involved now… life seemed simple. She felt happy and content just holding him. So…that was it….he was trying to buy out his leaves….and that was the reason why he was working so hard….Sirin was relieved that her worries were baseless. Joy stroked her hair and kept her in his embrace.
It took them some time to return to normalcy after the emotional upheaval that had seen a culmination after almost a month. Once back to the present, Joy took note of his surroundings: Sirin’s half-packed bags were scattered all over their bed room.
Looking around, his first question was: ‘Have you checked all the papers? Let me see ….what you were packing…..’ saying so, he started going through her half packed suitcase.
‘What is all this? Pack some important things instead of six pairs of shoes….’ scolded Joy. Joy was his usual self again, back in his role of her guardian! Sirin smiled at his rebuke and thanked God silently for having Joy in her life!