Date: 30 March 1998 A short-story written by Arvind PasseyWord count: 824
You Aren’t Quite in Step!
She spoke no angry words. Her replies sounded effortless. Why then this awkwardrestlessness? Why did I try to get away from asking more personal questions and why dideven a pause in what she spoke summon another droplet of agonising sweat and add to myuneasiness? Anyway, the good thing is that she is far away right now and so could not possiblyhave even sensed the turmoil that I had been experiencing on the telephone.“Why am I feeling so ill at ease today?” asked Kokila as she came in and sat on the bedopposite me, and then as if she remembered a long lost detail, urged me on with another query,“Who were you talking to...?”“Water...glass of water...,” I managed to speak through my dried up lips.Kokila again heaved herself from the bed with what seemed to be a lot of effort, andslowly swayed towards the kitchen. That gave me some more time with my own thoughts. Notthat my wife ever tries to interfere when she senses that I am with my thoughts...but withuncomfortable thoughts like the ones that are with me now, her presence would not only addto their intensity but would tend to come out in the form of a discussion. That would surelycause physical pain. I didn’t want that to happen. Thoughts such as these must exist only asthoughts. I did not want to share them with my wife too.“You are not well... you were saying...,” I started asking as Kokila returned with themuch needed glass of water.“Nothing really,” she replied as she once again settled herself comfortably on the edgeof the bed diagonally opposite to where I sat.There was silence. That is how it always has been between the two of us. Nothingunusual, I thought, I must quickly find words to fill the distance and that would keep her busy.Though she would do that by nodding a lot and getting up to fetch me another glass of water.I know it as it has happened with me every time we have been left to ourselves in a smallroom. My expression must have changed for I could observe Kokila on the verge of startingher nodding exercise...it must have surely been a smile for her head was starting to tilt a bit1