In the earlier part of the twentieth century, Einstein proposed that light was dual in nature- a waveform with crests and troughs on one hand and particulate on the other. This duality has often been used as a metaphor for love, relationships and life itself. If we take life for example, it can either be considered a stream of particles or moments or a regular wavelike undulation of human consciousness.
The much sought after Happily Ever After is rarely found to be a flat line or monotone of experience either. It’s almost never a perpetual state of being high or an unwavering period of happiness or joy. It can be best described as a slice of life, one that extends, depending upon belief, either into the unknown territory of death or eternity; a series of moments where the balance tilts toward the sum of what is perceived as good or happy or okay; an alternation of crests and troughs where time spent on the crests supersedes the sum total of down time..
And so it goes in successful marriages – it is generally believed; riding the waves together, being conscious of the balance and never giving up…
And of course, everyone knows that real marriage starts after the unmatchable adrenaline rush of courtship is a fond memory, the wedding pyre is long cooled and those amazing honeymoon experiences become pictures stored in phones, walls or CDs.
It’s like getting off a roller coaster and walking on earth again. It feels a little flat. One might even miss the thrill of the ride at first. But then, one slowly discovers the sublime comfort of walking through a mad crowd together, hands firmly joined, new discoveries, challenges and not to forget arguments at every other corner or so. Two streams of consciousness closely entwined – distinct but together…
And thus, Arnav and Khushi returned from their island honeymoon with tans, shells, sand in a bottle and memories. Their lives, separately and together, at work and at home, slowly settled into a sedate rhythm.
As July- the month when fresh residents swarm hospitals nation wide- approached, Arnav, as the program director of his hospital’s ophthalmology residency program, got increasingly busy, often needing to bring work home with him. And it was around that time that they had their first real spat after marriage.
Having reached home a lot earlier than her husband, and owing to a recent spike of interest in Food Network, Khushi found herself in a mood to cook. After showering and changing into linen culottes and tee, she worked happily in the kitchen, her favorite music playing in the background, putting together a simple meal of salad, garlic bread and semi homemade shrimp Alfredo pasta.
After she was done, she went out to the balcony and even as the sun looked poised to dive into rippling waters, she called Arnav. When he didn’t reply, she sent him a text.
“Where are you?
“In a meeting. Might be late. Please don’t wait dinner for me”.
Khushi stared at her phone screen with narrowed eyes, a wave of disappointment rising from her stomach.
“Why am I just learning about this?!
She typed waspishly but deleted it right before sending it. It might have been a last minute thing, she thought calming herself down, making herself a plate and settling down in front of the TV with it.
Arnav returned an hour later, responding to her warm embrace with a distracted peck on the cheek. He appeared preoccupied and broody, retiring to the second bedroom they utilized as den immediately after freshening up.
Accustomed to her husband showering her with love, attention and plain mush without interruption after marriage, Khushi watched him with concerned eyes before deciding to follow him to the den to investigate.
“It’s just work”, he assured her tersely, his eyes fixed on the desk top screen, “Just a lot of work some fucking idiots should’ve taken care of months ago”.
Perched up on the desk opposite him, Khushi scanned his face carefully, her over imaginative mind over reading his words, his voice, his expression…every single damn thing there was.
“Are you sure?, she asked, her voice gentle with concern, her eyes flickering with worry, “There isn’t anything else?
Arnav shot her a surprised look before returning to the computer screen, “No. Of course not”.
After a long pause, she tried again, “You’re not hiding anything from me, right?
Arnav frowned at the screen and murmured, “Why the f… would I hide anything from you?
“Don’t swear”, she pursed her lips, her hazel eyes turning witchy dark green with agitation.
“I stopped”, he said.
“But you almost did”.
He turned to look at her with an irritated expression, “But here’s the thing…I didn’t. Now please let me work. I got to leave early tomorrow”.
Khushi got off the desk with her heart bruised and her features ruffled, “You don’t have to be so mean”.
“Honey, I’m not being mean at all”, he smirked annoyingly,,”It’s just that I’m not you. I can’t be like you all the time”.
Khushi stilled and crossed her arms, “What exactly do you mean by that?
“You know”, he murmured beginning to type, “Sunny natured…happy all the time”.
Khushi took a deep breath and pursed her lips, “You’re making being good natured sound like a disease”.
“I’m not”, he exclaimed with genuine surprise, turning to her again.
“You are too”, she said.
“Oh for fuck’s sake, Khushi”, he leaned back, throwing his hands up in exasperation, “Why the hell are you trying to pick a fight with me?
And at that, Khushi exhaled sharply and decided it was best to leave him alone.
A little bit hurt and a little bit angry, Khushi seethed in trepidation. So, this is what she got for caring…for being concerned about him.
“Honey, I’m not being mean at all”, she mimicked at the bathroom mirror, her eyes flashing with temper “It’s just that I’m not you. I can’t be like you all the time”
Honey, this is twenty first century”, she added to her reflection, her heart genuinely hurt, “nobody gets or appreciates the kind of self discipline and strength that goes toward maintaining a smile on your facade…towards maintaining your inner equilibrium”.
She opened a drawer and pulled a tube of toothpaste out. She observed it’s misshapenness with renewed annoyance. Despite telling him nicely innumerable times in the past, he never remembered to squeeze it from the bottom like all self respecting adults should.
Suppressing a desire to shake him, she brushed her teeth and washed her face; changing into night clothes, she decided to go to bed without waiting for him.
Lying on her side, she lay awake for a long time and when she heard the bedroom door open, she quickly shut her eyes, pretending to be asleep.
She heard him enter and stop beside the bed. Even with her eyes closed, she could sense him closely studying her face.
He was no doubt trying to figure if she was really asleep. Not to be outdone, she willed her eyelashes to stay motionless, her features relaxed and her breaths perfectly measured.
And when he stated, “You’re awake” in a confident, matter of fact voice, she almost opened her eyes to glare at him.
Then she remembered he might very well be bluffing like he had few times in the past. The wily fox.
Excruciatingly aware of his every movement in the bedroom and later in the bathroom, she waited for his apology, getting more and more worked up with every minute of delay.
And by the time he flipped the covers and slid in beside her, she was close to tears, her disappointment rising to the ceiling when he inched close to press an open mouthed kiss on the side of her neck instead of apologizing first.
“I have a headache”, she said bluntly, shrugging him away. “I’m not in the mood”, she added bitterly.
She felt him freeze and even without looking at him, she knew he was offended. The nerve. It was her turn to be offended…not His Broodiness’s.
She turned to face him and before she could utter a word, he spoke in an injured tone instead, his features rigid with displeasure. As usual, he didn’t mince words. “I’m not in the mood for sex either. I just wanted to hold you and talk to you but…never mind now”.
Turning the lamp off, he lay down on his back, his aura frigid in the dark.
“Wow”, thought Khushi, bemusedly peering at the sharp silhouette of his profile, “So instead of apologizing to me, he expects me to apologize to him now. I don’t even get to be properly offended for once”.
And even as she mused, a gentle sound emanating from her husband caught her attention, widening her eyes with disbelief and outrage. He actually had the temerity to fall asleep without solving that which simmered between them, leaving her worrying on her own.
When Khushi woke up in the morning, Arnav had already left and she found herself pining for him in a way that she told herself was utterly ridiculous. With it being a Friday her schedule was expectedly hectic, and towards it’s end she realized that let alone an apology, Arnav hadn’t even sent her a single text.
The heaviness in her heart as she drove ignited into fire as she reached home; for some reason, it translated into her dressing with extra care for a country club wedding reception they were invited to later in the evening. A lace and chiffon fit and flare knee length dress in pale gray, silver glitter covered high heels and light make up completed her look, and she was standing before the bathroom vanity fixing her hair when when his text came. “Hi honey. I just got done. Be ready. It will just take me 10 mins. Love you”.
Khushi stared at it dumbfounded. So, while she had spent the past twenty hours or so weaving intricate patterns of justifiable hurt and not so justifiable speculations in her mind, her darling husband seemed to have all but forgotten about their little- spat- from last night. Is this supposed to be a ‘man’ thing, she wondered wryly, curling her eyelashes until they were a mean instrument of seduction.
She was spraying cologne lightly when Arnav entered like the whirlwind of boundless magnetism that he was, his fingers untucking his half unbuttoned shirt.
He swooped her in his arms from behind and although she found her insides melting, she met his eyes in the mirror with reproach in hers.
She was about to demand an apology from him, at gunpoint if she had to, when he murmured sweetly, “Are you feeling better, Khush?
With an incoherent sound, she loosened his hold and turned around in his arms to face him.
“Excuse me. What do you mean by ‘Are you feeling better, Khush?
Arnav blinked as his wife’s eyes blazed into his. “You snapped at me for no reason last night…”, he began but Khushi cut him off with an impatient movement of her hands.
“Yes, I snapped at you”, she said, “Yes, for a change, I was the one in a bad mood. Do you even realize why? Do you even remember what happened before that?
“You mean in the den?
“Yes, in the den”, she said with renewed exasperation, both hand curling into his shirt material, “Where else?
“I remember being stressed about work and you were…um…bother…I mean…”.
“Because I was worried about you”, she cried, inexplicably inching close to tears, “Because I care about you, dammit”.
“But I told you- many times- that there was nothing to worry about, sweetheart”, he said gently.
As Khushi caught a tear with a knuckle and didn’t meet his eyes, Arnav pulled her close again. His eyes were confused as they scanned her face, “Of course I know you care about me”.
“Then why were you so mean to me?, she demanded, deciding to lay all cards on the table and be done with it.
“When? Where?, Arnav said with genuine alarm in his eyes, his haplessness making her want to assault his lips with a punishing kiss. “In the den?
“Yes”, she said in a falsely patient voice, “In the den. Good guess”.
“I don’t remember being mean at all”, he thought carefully with a frown before replying, “I was a little impatient because I was stressed- and I apologize for that- but please explain how I was mean…
Her cell phone chimed and she took a deep breath. “Ok. We don’t have time to discuss this right now. We’ll talk after party when we come back. You really need to start getting ready now”.
“I had other after party plans in mind”, Khushi’s sharp ears heard him murmur as she turned to leave the bathroom.
“What did you say? She whipped around, trying hard to glare, which was near impossible to pull off in view of the strip tease being played out in front of her.
“Nothing”, he raised his hands in exaggerated surrender and as he lunged toward her with a knowing grin, Khushi quelled her smile with all her might and closed the door shut between them. She really needed to get what was bothering her off of her chest first.
The wedding reception’s venue, a golf and country club tucked within a vast lushness comprising of a championship golf course and clay tennis courts, wasn’t too far from their home. The cocktail hour was in full swing as they walked in, unintentionally color coordinated with him in dark gray suit and silver tie and her in pale silver gray. Khushi, who disliked crowds, especially of the social kind, momentarily forgot about their quarrel to slip her hand into his.
Squeezing it, Arnav tilted his head to smile at her and although Khushi smiled back, it was held back just enough to convey that they still had to have that talk later in the night.
It was Arnav’s department’s chair’s daughter’s wedding and a lot of people present there were known to him.They weaved through the crowd, Arnav introducing her to colleagues and significant others, moving and mingling to the sound of live piano recital until Khushi’s feet began to cramp.
She tugged him toward a table to rest and even as they stood across each other and sipped their drinks, Arnav studied her eyes and sighed.
Placing his glass on the table, he went around it to stand next to her. Her eyes widened as he slipped his arm around her waist to pull her flush against him.
Even as she muttered under her breath to loosen his grip, he kept his hand on the curve of her waist and said softly,
“So how was I mean to you?
“Arnav this is neither the time nor the place to discuss that”.
“When your beloved is with you”, he began, his mischievous smile expressing his disregard for the world that surrounded them, “The best place is here…and the best time is now”.
Despite everything, she couldn’t help smiling into her Silver Fizz. He watched as she sighed and turned to look up at him, cutting to the chase in a way that was quintessentially hers in it’s unaffectedness and straightforwardness and one of the reasons – he would sometimes tell her – why he was crazy about her.
“Well…I didn’t like the way you said…It’s just that I’m not you. I can’t be like you all the time. It was almost like you were being sarcastic…or mocking me…or something”.
“Holy crap”, he said, “Why would I mock you?
As their eyes met, Khushi began regretting and rethinking her thought process already. Maybe she did make a mountain of a mole hill. Maybe her approaching period had something to do with it.
Arnav’s eyes softened as he half read the thoughts drifting behind her transparent facade.
“Maybe I overreacted”, she said with the beginnings of a rueful smile.
“And I do tend to overuse sarcasm so I don’t blame you for thinking like that”, he said, finishing her smile for her.
A stir in the crowd, a shift in it’s energy, caught their attention; it was beginning to drift toward the dinner hall for the program.
As they followed suit, Khushi lightly jostled against a person by accident. As she looked up to apologize, her eyes stilled on the young man’s face in surprised recognition.
“No problem”, the gray eyed stranger smiled at her before being swallowed by the crowd.
“Small world. That was the singer we heard at The Green Martini twice”, Khushi, who had a phenomenal memory for faces, whispered to Arnav as they walked.
“He’s not”, Arnav said amusedly, “I know him. He came to our office once. He is Dr. Foster’s oldest son. Brother of the bride”.
They ran into him again in the parking lot later that night. He seemed to be leaving early just like they were and even as Arnav and him paused to exchange a polite word or two under the full moon, Khushi almost asked him if he’d ever performed at The Green Martini.
It was a beautiful night and as they drove back home, Khushi asked Arnav to pause and park at a scenic view point – to gaze at a full moon half submerged in water.
He obeyed without demur even though his blood sang with desire with nothing appealing more than reaching the privacy of their home as soon as possible.
They got out to sit in the back seat together; the many splendors of nature largely ignored as they made up for their fight with kisses and sweet nothings.
“You are Motrin to my headache”, he declared, in between slow kisses and slower smiles, pulling her onto his lap and holding her close, “Spring to my winter. Daenerys to my dragons. Sugar in my coffee…Every vitamin from A to Z”.
With love spilling from eyes and her veins on fire, she cupped his face with loving hands before leaning in for a searing open mouthed kiss.
He groaned and buried a hand in her silky mane; and even as she nipped his lower lip and salved it with her tongue, his body hardened in response.
“I want to tear your clothes off, push you on the bed and do…things to you, ok?”, she whispered raising her head.
“Fuck yeah”. Arnav said, understandably enthusiastic about his wife’s plan, almost pushing her off his lap to get to the driving seat.
They didn’t bother to turn on the light as they got inside; the moon at their living room window spilling inside and bleaching everything it touched.
With their lips joined in naked passion, she tugged at his tie, unknotting it, impatiently sliding it off of his neck. Even as it joined the coat on the floor and she untucked his shirt, Arnav lifted her off the floor, wrapping her legs around him to let his arousal meet her aching core.
They reached the bedroom, took their shoes off and faced each other beside the bed in a pool of moonlight. Even as they breathed through their mouths, Arnav grinned at her.
“Waiting to be pushed on the bed”, he said and with an answering grin, she did just that. While he shifted himself further up, she got on top of him, her knees straddling him, her fingers slowly unbuttoning his shirt.
He alternately swore and breathed her name as she moved over him with a tantalizing slowness, her palms and fingers caressing his chest, her lips dropping a trail of moist kisses, her teeth and nails grazing sensitive spots.
She nuzzled down a faint trail of hair to reach his waistband and even as she unbuckled his belt and slid it off, he pleaded for a break in an urgent voice.
With the smile of a woman who knows her power, she straightened her back and lowered her hips, her hair falling in front of her face, her dress ridden up to expose her thighs..
Their eyes melded to sing a silver song of love; with a fresh surge of passion, he clutched handfuls of her hair with both hands to pull her toward him gently.
Even as their lips mated again, his fingers found the zipper on her back and pulled it down slowly.
The same moon splashed across Anita’s room as she lay still upon her bed, resisting an urge to pick up her phone from the nightstand. It had two missed calls and both were from Aman.
A/N: Apologies for being late- by two days this time! Really sorry to have kept you waiting once again and thank you so much for your love and support for this story despite it’s erratic update schedule 🙂
Hope you enjoyed this…Will look forward to your feedback and it will mean a lot as always.