The most painful part of a fight was sleeping apart, on either end of the same bed. I knew if I probably turned around and inched up towards Hemant he would hold me tight. But my ego was unfortunately too big for that to happen. I had had a rough day at home and the last thing I needed was for Hemat to tell me that the house was a mess. I hated it when he returned from work and started straightening the room; it made me feel like I did not do a good job at keeping the house well. I spent all my time in maintaining the house; I was a full time home maker and was extremely proud of it. All I wanted were a few words of appreciation from my husband, for him to tell me that the house looked nice; the food I cooked tasted good; the flowers in the garden were blooming well; or even that the clothes were well ironed and stacked in his cupboard, but instead of any of this, what I got was criticism. Criticism about how the food could be a little less spicy, the flowers could be well trimmed, the house could look better kept or even that the shirts could be hung on hangers instead of being folded and kept in the cupboard.
I loved Hemant too much to let any of this get to me. I continued to do what I did with a broad smile and hoped that some day he would appreciate me and my worth. All through college and our courtship period I only wanted to marry him and make him happy. That was what my aim was and when it happened I couldn’t have been happier. I would often joke when asked what I wanted out of life, “I want to cook fish for Hemant and serve it with a smile.” People who knew me understood how serious I was when I said that and those who did not know me assumed I was joking. It was only when I ended up marrying him and cooking and cleaning after him did they realise how serious I was about my life’s ambition.
I had cooked his favourite meal the night we fought. I had spent almost 4 hours standing in the kitchen frying those crisp fish fingers. I got out my best table mats, pulled out the fine chinaware I had stored, safely bubble wrapped and also ensured that I lit all the candles I could find. After I was completely satisfied with my work, I got ready, taking my own sweet time in draping my saree and ensuring that my hair was neatly braided. It was 7:15pm by the time I was done with everything, I waited for Hemant to return. He would be happy to see me like this; I was waiting for him to ring the bell, waiting to be swept into his arms.
Soon it was 7:45pm and there was no sign of Hemant. I waited another 15 odd minutes before I decided to send a message asking when he would be back. I got no reply to that message either and continued waiting. At 8:30pm my phone finally beeped, I felt a tear roll out of my eye after I read the msg. Hemant wouldn’t be home for dinner and asked me not to wait up for him. I felt so much pain that I burst out crying. I got up slowly and went around blowing the candles out. I looked at the table which I had painstakingly laid out for Hemant. I wanted to break everything that lay on the table, better sense prevailed and I just picked everything and took it into the kitchen. I didn’t feel like eating, I changed into my house gown and got into bed. One call, all it would have taken to diffuse this situation was one call from him to me. Was he so busy that he couldn’t make that one call to me, I wondered as I fell asleep feeling wretched.
I remember Hemant coming into the room; he quietly changed and got into bed. I wish he had reached out for me and held me tight. I wish he felt the same way I did. Before I knew it, it was morning. Another day had begun. We hardly spoke that morning; I made Hemant his breakfast and packed him his lunch as well. I had a doctor’s appointment and was hoping Hemant would drop me off. “I need to go to Dr. Hemalatha’s clinic, can you drop me, please?” “I am going the other way Kanika, I’ll book a cab for you. That will be fine right?” he asked. I had hoped Hemant would drop me, but there was genuine concern in his voice and that was reassuring enough for me. “I will be fine. I will take an auto, will get me there faster than the cad, Hemant,” I said. “Okay, let me know what the doc says,” he said and left the house.
I waited for him to come to me and peck me on my cheek like he did every morning, but he didn’t. I knew something was wrong and not being able to figure out what, was driving me crazy. I thought I would get done with the appointment and go surprise Hemant in the office, maybe take him out for lunch. With this thought I left the building and found an auto almost immediately. Today must be my lucky day for finding an auto so soon I thought to myself. I told the auto driver where I wanted to go and sat back. I was lost in my thoughts and didn’t bother to see what route he was taking. I was about ten minutes away from the clinic. The auto came to a halt at the signal. I would have already been at the clinic had this auto driver not taken this route, I thought. But then I didn’t want to get into an argument with him now so just kept quiet about it. Fighting with Hemant did me no good and I knew that even Hemant would not be able to get any work done at work with this on his mind. I pulled out my phone and begun typing a message out to him. “I hate fighting with you, jaan. I love you very much and will always love you, Hemant. Please smile that crooked smile of yours. I wanted to surprise you but its ok I will tell you anyway – after the appointment I am coming to your office and am taking you out for lunch. It’s a date.” I toyed with the send button for a few seconds before I sent it out.
As we waited at the signal, the auto driver suddenly turned around looked at me, apologised for what he was about to do, and walked out of the auto. I wasn’t sure what he was doing, I kept looking at him as he walked away from the auto and crossed the road. That was the last image I saw. Seconds later the auto I was in blew up…
As my body was being torn into a million pieces, Hemant read my message and smiled his crooked smile. Even in death I left him with a smile.