FICTION: SERIES # 4: A FAIR AFFAIR
The Dark Queen Rises
By Neel Anil Panicker
“Enough, I am feeling sleepy. Turn off the lights”.
“What?” Shefali just couldn’t believe what she had heard.
Jerking herself up from bed, she squatted her legs into a lotus position, and then, jutting her clean, angular jaw forward, shot back,
“What do you mean enough? We have haven’t even started, have we?”
The man shifted his reed thin frame around, his spindly hairless arms toppling over to the other side. An eerie stillness blanketed the pitch dark room. The only sound waves to infiltrate into the arid stillness of the moonless might were the piercing dissonance of a roadside mongrel that suddenly had decided to mark his presence at this desolate hour on the planet.
“Go to sleep. I am tired. We will talk tomorrow”.
There was a ring of finality in his tone.
Shefali felt a stab of pain shoot onto her chest. Her eyes, already swollen and tinged a pale red, thanks to lack of adequate sleep over the past one week, now felt increasingly dizzy.
She could feel her heart beats increasing even as a rush of blood pulsated through her veins. Suddenly, a cold wave swept through her entire body. Numbed as she was, it took a awhile for her to realize what was happening, and then when she did so, she looked around. There, near the foot of the ornate the master bed, lay, like an abandoned railway cabin, lay her clothes.
She picked up her passion red laced top and wore it over her shoulders.
Beads of sweat trickled down her face. She looked at the man lying next to her. There lay, with arms and fingers locked into one another around a wafer thin frame that curled up in a semi- circular arc, and with the thinnest of legs that she had ever seen not much unlike that of an impoverished African kid that she got to see every other day flashed across her television screen during her boredom fuelled binge-watching sessions, the man who she knew as her husband.
He said had had enough, and was now tired, and hence wanted to sleep.
Oh! what a joke, a cruel joke, if ever there was one. A wave of sheer revulsion swept through her as she watched the wretched spectacle spread-eagled in front of her.
Her eyes were fixated on the now snoring silhouette of the man the world knew of as her husband. And as she stared down, with each passing second, fresh bouts of uncertainty stealthily but surely began making inroads into her vital organs including heart and brain. The sound of a fast approaching vehicle and its screeching decibels as rough perforated tyres hit raw asphalt broke her from her ominous spell.
Shefali knew she had to do something. And do it fast. Very fast rather lest she would find herself drowned in the high waves of negativity that were threatening to sink her much like the Titanic in the stormy seas that her life was fast plunging into.
And the more she looked at him the more she began to hate him. So this was it! Three months into wedded ‘bliss’ she had a lot to miss, least of all a kiss. Despite the heat her lithe frame shuddered at the thought that her husband had barely touched her all this while, today being the maximum he had ever ventured forth.
Shefali buttoned her top in disgust. There was no point lying naked in front of your man__your lawfully wedded husband__if all he could manage was a squeeze here and a pat there, and the total time devoted to this exercise: a measly 90 seconds. An abominably shocking time line considering that even a bowl of Maggie noodles takes more time than that to heat up.
Her pot of desires had heated up and was now burning like hell. Alas! it was now fast melting away as the man who was supposed to stir it and bringing it to boiling point was lying beside her like a dismembered stone, useless and fallen, unwilling or was it unable to help her make that crucial transition from the girl that she was into the woman that she desired to be.
Shefali shook Aman out of his forced stupor.
” What is it?” he asked, his voice betraying his annoyance, as he pulled himself into an half-upright position, his hands running a semi-circle over his practically non-existent hair.
“Do you love me”?, she asked in the dark, her voice echoing within the four walls of the bedroom.
It seemed to have a died an instant death. Despite the air conditioner running, she felt suffocated and started to sweat.
Her husband sat there motionless, his heavily lined face squinting further, even as his eyes, drooping by now, stared into the opposite wall.
She waited for what seemed an eternity before he answered,
“Can’t you see I am tired? And what a question is that to ask?”
Her dam of patience burst out at that.
Turning towards him she bored her eyes into his and volleyed,
“Then why don’t you touch me, make love to me, make me feel wanted, desired, … or is it that I am not good enough for you?”
Their bed was big and he pulled himself further into its edges, away from her as if repelled by all this pillow talk at the dead of the night.
The air turned dense and the tension on her face was palpable as a fresh bout of blood rushed through her veins and coloured her high-cheek boned face a crimson red.
Her eyes desperately bored into Aman’s, who seemed to have drifted away into sleep.
Ignoring the burning sensation in her eyes and the manic thumping in her chest, she
asked him one more time,
“Do you love me or not?”.
The words were feeble and sounded as if it had come out of a broken record, each syllabic sound staggering, stumbling, tumbling, trembling and struggling out of her severely parched throat.
After what seemed an eternity, a voice emanating from the dark corners of the room.
“I married you. Is that not enough?” he told her in an inflected voice, more rhetorical than questioning.
The words split her eardrums, the intensity of its impact momentarily rendering her deaf, dumb and blind.
Her body shrunk and shrivelled as she tried to fathom the full import of what she had heard.
It was a lost cause. Shefali had even forgotten what she had asked.
Slowly but surely she turned over and retreated into her corner of the spartan bed, with her back to him and her face digging into the empty bowels of her pillow, as she embraced the extended arms of the fallen night.
The night, like her, though still young, had clearly spilled over.
But, she, definitely was not one of those to cry over spilled milk.
So, Shefali, then and there, __as the hour hands of the clock kissed three and darkness descended on her world __ resolved to make use of each and every single night lest she soon turned old by the day.
This is past 4 of my ongoing fiction series A FAIR AFFAIR.
I wrote this in resposne to Ronovan’s challenge prompt : A spill occurs, what do you do next?