By Anjali Mohapatra • March 3, 2023

It was 8:35 am. I served morning tea to my husband but it was untouched. He was lost in his own world! For half an hour he was watching the small kids playing in the garden. I strolled around the kitchen room, kept the saucepan on the stove, and again back to the living room. He was still watching. It is not new for me, this scene has been continued from the day my children had gone with their kids. I knew what he was suffering through.

‘Hey- hello! Didn't drink tea? What's up?’ I pretended as if unaware of the fact.

‘Oh, um, I forgot. Please warm it again.’ He turned his face away from me.

I took a deep sigh and took that tea for reheating. I knew he didn't like reheating tea. So I made another cup and served him. I sat beside him to talk. But he was not in the mood to talk. Dropping his head he shook his head lightly. I could see his doleful eyes filled with water.

‘Are you ok?! You look very upset,’ I asked him stroking his back.

‘Umm...no, yes, I am fine,’ he said curtly.

‘Hmm, you are fine, I know that!’ I got up from the sofa and sauntered around the empty five-bedroom apartment. My children had gone to their workplaces. Only their lively happy faces hung in the frames. One month passed. We old couples left behind in this empty apartment. We can enjoy only looking at their virtual images of theirs. No more physical presence is possible at least for two or three years.

He sipped his tea on an empty stomach. The snacks were left untouched on the table. For so many days I had noticed his distracted attitude but that day it was at its peak. My guts were churned with pain, I shed tears in a lonely room but never showed my brooding mind to anyone, not to him ever. I hid my own feelings. The emptiness screwed up more as the days passed. I kept myself busy cooking, cleaning, or doing some other work but he didn't. I don't know why suddenly he became extra sensitive! Somehow the morning hour passed. At lunchtime, he sat near the dining table silently.

‘Hey, can you hear me? What’s hurting you so much?! You have become almost dumb! No talking, no reading, even if you didn't watch Tv news. What's wrong?! Please tell me something. I can't bear your silence anymore. Tell me. Share your grief with me. You’ll get relief,’ I squeezed his hand softly.

In a broken voice, he said, ‘I missed the noisy sound of my children, especially my little grandchildren! So many times, I raised my voice amidst their screeching sound while playing. They got scared. Even the youngest one stared at me strangely. He is only five years old! He made his face and ran away. I lose my temper so quickly, I forget that they are kids. Can't control me. Every day he babbled before me about his imaginary stories. I paid attention. But two or three times he disturbed me in news time. That made me angry and I lost control of myself. He didn't dare to say anything at that time but the next day he asked me in his sweet baby voice ‘Dadu why are you so angry?! I’ll miss you Dadu when I’ll go back.’

His voice was choked. He wiped out the tears. Again he continued, ‘I knew that they would be here for a short time. I should have spent more time with them rather than isolating myself from my own activities. I shouldn't be like that. I should have played with them. He pulled me so many times and forced me to join in their game but every time I showed one excuse or another! I was always complaining before you that I want peace of mind. Now I am regretting my own mistake! I lost that joyful happy moment of my little kids, their sweet voice, their ever-smiling faces! The house is empty. No one is there to disturb me during my news time or anytime. But instead of peace I f- feel discomfort. I feel so lonely! T- this empty house and silent living room is killing me inside. I never felt so weird feeling before!’

‘The day they were ready for departure, the little one hugged me tightly draping his tiny soft hand around my neck, kissed me, and whispered, ‘Dadu I love you so much! I’ll miss you! You’ll not angry again, will you?!’ Now I understand how deeply he was shocked that day when I got angry! He is so cute! Poor boy, I love him so much! I have no zeal to watch any program or have any appetite. Now I have enough time but- -but don't want. It would be much better if I would be amidst of their howling, screaming noisy sound! I am regretting my own mistake.’

I couldn't resist my suppressed agony anymore. His emotional words reduced me to tears. But pretending some work, I ran towards the kitchen room. I put my pallu over my face and sobbed like a child. Nobody was there to show us sympathy. Neither I wanted to show my weakness to my husband who was already doomed with his own groove! ‘The memory of children was haunting me again and again. How lively it was when all my children and grandchildren were moving around us! That noisy air was much better than this silent air. Without children, the home looks like a desert!’ He babbled out.

I could hear his words. Taking a deep sigh, I came to the drawing room and sat next to him. Very softly I began, ‘Hey! Don't be so upset, please! They will come again in the next vacation. We can enjoy it! Remember one thing, let them stay happy wherever they are! Let them enjoy their own privacy, their own life! After all, they are working. They have to be there where they can prosper. Just for our sake, they should not miss their golden opportunities. If you would feel bad, they can't be fine over there. You know every moment ‘Tathastu Devi is moving around and scientifically it is proven. Please change your mind and be happy, ok? Forget the emptiness, I’m still with you!’ I smiled at him. He turned his lips little upward on one side.


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