your will or mine? Antonspeak
The gentle touch on my throbbing temples was cool and comforting. Keeping my eyes closed, I clasped her hand.
⁰”How are you now? I told you not to…..” Maya’s touch was so soft but her unnecessarily loud and anxious voice made me puff with irritation.
“Relax! It’s just a mild fever, I just need rest.” I tried to reassure her. I knew she was worried but her habit of smothering me with care and affection was not something I looked upon too kindly. It was suffocating, the way she swooped down on me, like an ominous mother bird protecting her young.
Not to be deterred, Maya kept on with her persuasion. Her voice went up at notch, the shrillness starting to hurt my ears.
“You don’t know these things as well as I do, sweetheart… It’s the change of season. You never know how many…..” I sat up, unable to take it anymore.
“Trust me, I am ok… if I need a doctor, I will let you know!”
Trying to keep my voice as casual as possible, I walked over to the table for my wallet. I could sense her eyes watching me intently and somehow my irritation seemed to multiply. Why couldn’t she leave me alone…. even if only for a short while!
I grabbed a light jacket because the evenings were getting mildly chilly. Negligible, compared to the cold and wet winters back home but still. Grabbing my keys, I headed to the living room and the front door. I just needed some fresh air.
She followed me out, much to my chagrin, with that wide-eyed, shocked expression on her face.
“Are you going out? In this state!”
My headache was too bad by this time. I chose not to answer and instead focused on putting my canvases on. She rushed to my side.
“Let me make you a hot drink… Will help you…” I stood up and after some effort, I brought on a smile.
“May be after I get back, ok? I really need a walk in the fresh air,”
I planted a quick peck on her cheek. The fragrance of wildflowers that I had become so accustomed to wafted to my nose. I loved her fragrance.
“Then I will come with you! You are not strong enough and we could take a short walk up….”
She went on and on. I was only half-listening, alarmed. I needed some peace and quiet to clear my mind, to think things through and Maya was the last person I wanted to do it with. Nonetheless, I did not want to sound harsh. Her feelings were easily hurt.
“Err…. Maya, you just came back from work… Why don’t you use this time for yourself? May be watch some tv or something? I will be back before dinner, promise!”
I grinned at her and she nodded, realizing, at last that I wanted this time alone. I saw the hurt eyes and the slight pout of her lips but I ignored that.
The nippy breeze outside was refreshing and I immediately felt better. I had to think… I was feeling suffocated in there with her. With Maya. Her behaviour was changing rapidly….before my very eyes. The constant nagging, hovering, mollycoddling.. it was too much! What happened to the intelligent, open-minded girl who had a great sense of humor? She loved to live in and enjoy the moment… just as I do, and now, all of a sudden, she was this motherly, overprotective, high-strung person! Like this countrywoman I once knew…. always babying and cuddling and making plans for a future that had not even been promised to her! How annoying!
Anton this….. Anton that!
“My parents so want to see you Anton! I have told them so much about you! They are so eager for our engagement!” She gushed a few days back, breaking the news to me as if I was the luckiest person on earth.
I stood stock-still. Why on earth should there be an engagement! I had told her explicitly, time and again, that I had no intention of a long-term relationship with her. She was a great girl in many ways but not my idea of an ideal partner. And she knew that! What made her think I had changed my mind?
Anyway, I tried to talk her out of it. I was fine with meeting her parents, even if just to make her happy. I treasured what we had together, the time spent with Maya. Maya was so alive with energy and enthusiasm that she made me feel like a joyful teenager by her mere presence. She had a smile that could light up a dark room. But all that was changing!
It had started drizzling. As I rushed home, I was planning how to spend the night with Maya. The whisper of the rain, the gentle caress of the dark night and Maya’s allure! Maya was an absolute delight in bed. Thinking of the last time I had felt her trembling body under mine, a wicked grin played on my lips. I could almost hear her rasping breath that was a common occurrence whenever I held her close.
Maya, however, was in a very different mood when I reached home.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, wary of her reddish face and watery eyes.
She was standing by the window that overlooked the little garden. I loved gardening and though she was not much of a nature-person, judging by the way she shrieked when a harmless spider crawled up her leg one day, she always accompanied me. Stealing a glance at her now was enough to ascertain that she had been crying. Don’t women get tired of their own drama and tears, at least sometimes?
She turned her face away and sniffled. Sighing, I decided to go to bed. My headache had returned.
“Nafisa called, and Ma did too! They told me…. in fact, Nafisa is quite sure… that…that….” I stared, “that you do not love me at all!” Maya finished. I watched as her pout grew more prominent.
“Is that why you’re crying?” I questioned, trying my best not to lose my cool. She nodded vigorously.
“Anton why can’t you be more… more normal? Like the other partners? Why are you so detached and uncaring?” Her voice was rising and I felt my temper flare in tandem. I pursed my lips, trying not to hit back instantly.
“Maya, I am what I am and you knew what you’re getting into when you started living with me. I have told you how I see it and do not feel the need to behave in a way that seems ‘normal’ to your friends and family,”
The steely coldness in my voice was all too clear and I knew it would cut through her as she stood staring at the floor.
Thanks for ruining a perfect evening! I thought, and declared that I was going to bed.
“Dinner is ready! You should….” She protested but I had had enough of her controlling and nagging ways for the evening.
“I’m not hungry, I need to sleep,” I repeated.
I was almost at the door of the bedroom when I heard her whisper to herself, “He doesn’t love me!”
For once, I felt something tug at my heartstrings as I heard the note of despair in her voice, I wanted to retrace my steps to her and tell her that it would be okay. I did not.
Later that night I awoke to find myself alone in bed. The drizzle had abated but through the glass windows, I could see streaks of lightning flash across the night sky. Where was she!
As I sat up, I spotted a tray on the night stand next to my side of the bed. There was a covered bowl and spoon along with something wrapped in aluminum foil wraps. They were bread rolls, I realized. She had imagined that I might get hungry in the middle of the night.
I padded to the open door and saw her dark silhouette by the same window where I had spotted her a few hours back. With her back to me, she was staring motionlessly at the inky blackness outside through the partially open window. Not wanting to startle her, I shuffled back to bed.
When I awoke again, it was past seven o’ clock. The morning light was filtering in through the thin glass panes. Maya was fast asleep next to me, her lips parted and her tousled, dark hair almost covering her pillow. I smiled as I lowered myself over her and she stirred in her sleep, frowning slightly. Maya had no idea how irresistible she looked then and I did not want to waste the precious little time I had left…. to get intimate with her.
Precious little time… because I had already made up my mind the night before. I would have to desert her….before she morphed into someone I would hate the very sight of!