Dinner at the Iyers’ house was suffocatingly silent that night. The innocent rhythm of the grandfather clock and the mischievous clink of silverware attempted in vain, to initiate a conversation. Having finished laying out the food, Kausalya did her little stretching regimen before she got back to working on her article on south asian dance forms. Ram got down to business on the dinner table, enjoying his meal in silence, cursorily flipping through stuff on his iPad. It wasn’t until only a few dregs of the paruppusili, which he thought was divine, remained, did he sense that something was amiss. He glanced towards kausi, wanting to kiss her for her gastronomic prowess and, more importantly, how hot she looked in her glasses, but right then she looked as if she would shred to pieces, anything hindering her flow of thought. So, he got back to his gizmo, trying to nebulate the anticlimactic moment.
“Manushan….doesn’t even bother to initiate a conversation. I am done trying to engage him in one”, Kausi silently lamented as she corrected ‘who’ to ‘whom’ on her manuscript. It had been over an hour but she couldn’t come up with the perfect conclusion for her piece. With the firm resolve not to ask Ram for any guidance whatsoever, she traipsed to clear away the dishes and make preparations for the kids’ lunch the next day. Meanwhile, she turned on the mini TV in the kitchen to catch up on some bharatnatyam dance rehearsals of her students making their stage debut the coming week.
Ram found himself strangely uneasy that night. Perusing through the building designs for the final tender felt increasingly like trying to drive on a freeway looking into a straw. “Had the food not been so goddamn good, I wouldn’t ve have stuffed myself to the head with it! All I need is a brisk walk and the contract is mine” he felt disgusted by his own lame pep talk as he put on his sneakers, then annoyed that Kausi didn’t perform the key wifely duty of asking the hubby to zip it the one time it could’ve done him some good. He was about to leave when, “Oh look! It’s the rain now, that has passed the final verdict that a man cannot exercise his right to a brisk walk without a prior memo.”
Utterly disappointed, he slumped down on the couch and began thinking about what was really hankering on him amidst all the decoys. He knew that a 10 year old marriage ought not be the brilliant red it once was, but his was hurtling towards gray at an accelerating pace. It seemed like she had lost out on any reserve of interest she had in the relationship. She seemed cold and weary, qualities that were hitherto unattributable to her. Her seemingly infinite capacity to jabber, mentally exhausting though it was, kept the relationship from friction thus far. Her sudden switch-over to laconic ways left a large conversation vacuum, he had no idea how to fill. He had never been good at expressing himself, lest in colors and geometric shapes. He figured that years of marriage and two kids hence, he shouldn’t have to worry about expressions, but Kausi’s strange demeanor of late made him rethink his notions.
“Is she cross at me or plainly bored with the monotony of her life? How do I confront her? She’s sure to dismiss it if it was indeed something disturbing.”
And then, as if in a flash he recalled what his kids had mentioned in passing once, but that couldn’t have been true, could it?