Note: Restarting the series I started in Oct, 2 years back! :). I guess, this must be first serial fiction which spanned two years for four parts. And by now, I’ve no hope of anyone following this. But what the hell. Writing is its own reward, consoles every failed writer. In a curious way, though, we are right.
Chaitali was woken up by a jazzy ring tone she hadn’t heard before. Another quintessential V habit, she thought, changing the caller tune every other day. For a moment, she tried to think if she had heard the music before — it did sound very familiar, but she could not recall where she had heard it. Then she really woke up.
First thing she noticed was the room: she was not in the bedroom, but in the living room, slumped on the sofa, her neck somewhat stiff. The next thing she noticed was the bright sunlight in the room, unlike the semi-darkness that she was used to when she woke up every day. She sprang to her feet when it dawned on her that she had overslept! She went to the bedroom and found her phone; it had a few missed calls from the office. Only then did she notice V’s absence. She kicked the bed in rage.
Why didn’t he wake me up, she thought angrily. One day I don’t get up on time, and he leaves the house without even waking me up, when he knows I hate to be late to the office. And where was he, anyway?
It was more than a year now that V had quit his well paying job with a multinational company, as a senior tech-writer, and was doing nothing. Well, mostly nothing, apart from some freelancing assignments, once in a blue while, which rarely paid for the internet connection.
Oh, yes, he is also writing his novel!
She noticed the bitterness creeping in, and admonished herself.
Why am I suddenly so critical of everything about V?
After all, V was the same V she had once fallen in love with. Most people change, she thought, and that is why so many marriages break down.
But V hasn’t changed! And what about me? Have I changed? Or have my expectations changed? Is there a difference?
Absentmindedly she entered the kitchen. Just as she was about to make tea, she saw a large mug covered with a coaster on the dining table. She picked up the coaster. It was V’s trademark tea that she seldom got to drink these days. He used to make it early in the morning when he was working, but now he woke up so late that invariably it was she who prepared the tea. It was lukewarm. She warmed it in the microwave and walked back into the living room. Gladly, she sipped the lovely tea, slumping down into the sofa again. She contemplated if she should call in sick, now the day was quite messed up anyways. Just then she heard the key turning in the latch, and V entered.
“Good morning”, he said, a tad too brightly, she thought.
“It’s more like mid-day”, she said, the anger returning to her.
“Yeah, this is the time when the day starts for most normal people”
She gave him a cold stare.
“Why didn’t you wake me up, V?”
“People don’t oversleep, unless they want to”
She looked at him with disbelief. It’s not that she did not know he was capable of saying that, but she did not think he’d give her that line.
“V! I don’t ever want to be late to office. You know that. So I don’t want to oversleep”
“Well, maybe you needed to, then. Maybe want is a wrong word”
“This isn’t your fucking novel V — try one word, and replace it if it doesn’t seem right”
“Whoa! I’m sorry. But why are we so agitated early in the day? It’s not like they’re going to fire you for oversleeping one day?”
“That’s not the point V. The point is: you know I hate it, and …”
“Why?”, he cut her mid-sentence.
She looked at him with exasperation.
“I am so not having a ‘why am I doing this job’ conversation with you at this moment”
“You never have that conversation with me”
“Yes. Because you enjoy a position from which it’s easy to have that conversation. And you enjoy that position because I am doing this job, rather than having that conversation”
Immediately, she regretted her words.
“Don’t kid yourself, honey. You don’t do the job so that I can enjoy my position — I’m assuming you mean the freedom of not having to work for a living. You don’t need to do it this religiously for that. You do it for entirely different reasons. You self-esteem is tied to it. It’s just that you don’t acknowledge it”
“And what’s wrong with that?”
“I never said anything’s wrong with that”
I can’t win this argument, though Chaitali. Besides, the wave of anger had subsided, especially with guilt taking over.
“Okay I’m sorry I took it out on you. But you know how much I hate to be late to office”
“I was going to wake you up. But I saw you sleeping here, and I couldn’t. You look so tired these days. I though I ought to let you sleep”
She looked at his earnest expression.
He still loves an outdated idea of me, she thought, a vulnerable little thing to be protected.
“Do me a favor, V. Next time something like this happens, please don’t exercise your precious moral judgement on the situation. Just wake me up, OK?”
“Oh it won’t happen again for a few years”
She smiled, despite herself.
“And now that I’ve rest of the day free, I should try and remember the last time you paid me a complement that wasn’t underhanded”
It took him a few seconds to register the first part.
“You mean you aren’t going to office?”
“This is what I love about you, V”, she said, in mock sarcasm, “You know how to ignore the important part of the message and pick up the trivial”
“Oh well, I’m glad you still love something about me”, he said, “there is still hope”