Earlier in the day, she licked the wine off my chest. 30 minutes later, she tried to jump off the balcony.
Six hours later, we were lying down on the bed. My digital watch said the time was 4.30 am on Wednesday. The velvety sheets were strewn across the mattress in a fashion which will not make the house-cleaner happy. A lamp on the side of the bed had fallen off and the plug had been pulled of the wall. A minor inconvenience compared to the effort put into keeping the sound of moaning and crying and shrieking low. But I did not expect guests to be staying in this floor today. It was off-season, and honeymooners, these days went off-country rather than spending the time in this very own beautiful island.
She was cuddling next to me, naked and with a piece of a pillowcase she had somehow torn out.
“Why?” she asks me, her big eyes imploring me, “What was it that made you…” and trailed off.
My wife was still the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. I will never stop loving her. The creamy shade in her skin and the jet black hair which glistened in the sunlight everytime we took a walk outside, always made my heart beat a tad faster. Behind her head hung a portrait of a village woman, artistically painted by some village artist who had offered it to us in return of a free ride we had offered him home. We did not need it at home, so i brought it here and added it to this particular room, since it was the most expensive suite in the building. I remember how I hurt my finger trying to drive a nail into the wall on which the drawing was supposed to be hung.
“Why the heck do you keep glancing at your hand all the time?” she sat up and started bouncing herself on the mattress, “You want to slap me, is it?”
“Uhh…Wait what?” I sat up too, “No no…Listen. Calm Down. Let’s talk like civilians.”
“Talk talk! What is there left to talk?”
“We can figure something out. The obvious question here is-”
“Oh Stop Janith! I am not one of your customers who is registering a complaint about a broken AC. We can’t just talk and find solutions. There is literally nothing more to talk, is there?”
Good point, I thought.
We were childhood lovers. We married after we finished university. Then we moved on to Nuwara Eliya, where my parents lived. I had bought us a new house. My wife enlisted herself as a teacher at a nearby school. It was a beautiful school and the kids loved her. I worked as an industrial architect at a renowned firm. With my busy schedules and her commitment to the job, we never easily got time for ourselves. It was always at night that we would make love for hours and then finally talk about the day and fall asleep to wake up late. We had a happy marriage for about 6 months.
“Everything’s gonna be okay,” I tell her. I believed that too, before Malithi happened.
She was a neat little thing. A new intern at my workplace. She had, inherently, what the modern youth would say as a, cool personality. She left a lasting impression on me the moment she stepped into our interview room. Two-three weeks later, I summoned her to my cabin and we talked. We talked of everything, except officework. Before she stood up to go, she stooped over, put a hand on my thigh and said “I like you. You are a good man”. Not only was I shocked but I was rendered speechless. She must’ve been about twenty. Around 8-9 years younger to me. So i asked her whether I could give her a ride home. She said yes.
“How is everything gonna be okay, huh?” My wife asked, “All of this, all our dreams, where will they go?”
“You-piece-of-” she cried stabbing my chest with an imaginary knife, quite the Macbeth. The punches were weak. Yet it tore through my muscles into my heart ripping raw flesh off at ferocious pace leaving me breathless and hemorrhaging inside, gasping for breath.
I took a detour and showed my father’s hotel to Malithi. It was supposed to pass on to me one day and everybody in the hotel knew me. It wasn’t a new thing when i brought people in to check rooms and suites, so no one raised an eyebrow when i escorted Malithi to the honeymoon suite. She scanned around the room and exclaimed at how pretty things were and how she would really want to spend a night with her husband here. She let out a long breath (Oh how i still remember it perfectly) and slid out of her jacket. We locked eye contact at this moment. We got down to it, right away.
Things escalated pretty quickly from there. I stopped wearing my wedding ring to work. I was endlessly talking with her on phone. I stayed more nights at office than i can count. Weekend visits to sites kept increasing. I could not face my wife after i went home late, yet the secret mischief was what was keeping our fire alive. Every morning, my wife kissed me goodbye after packing my breakfast. That kiss felt like a scalding piece of iron on my cheek. But the moment Malithi started undressing, all those feelings of guilt would evaporate in a frenzy.
“Remember, we once wanted to travel around the world. Something that Hemingway hated, right?” she was staring into the ceiling dreamily. Her hair cascades on to my arm like a waterfall that entraps you with sheer power of beauty.
“Hemingway criticised not being able to settle. Not travelling around the world. As long as you settle at one home, it’s all good”
“But we can’t settle down now, can we?”
Good point, I thought. Again.
I broke up with her 1 month earlier. I couldn’t bear it anymore. I was, I was starting to spend more time with her than my wife. But what really scared me was that I enjoyed it. We had secret communication methods. Secret rendezvous locations. But it all stopped and I almost thought that everything was over and we would finally be able to lead a normal life, My wife and I. She never would have known. Never. If not for-
“-Her Mother!” my wife cries, “Her mother came and called me a whore! Why the hell am I the whore?”
“Darling, she wasn’t-”
“Your son, or god forbid, your daughter is inside that woman!”
“We don’t know that for sure”
Good point, I thought. Again.
We were enjoying it. That’s what kept us going. She used to joke about how it turned her on to have sex with her boss. I told her what a turn on it was to have sex with a girl who is very younger to me. It was that illicit fun. Although we broke up, i constantly kept thinking about her and self-pleasuring to her videos. It was sad and desperate. But I liked it. Wait, what did i just say?
“You wanted her to do an abortion?” she asks, suddenly hanging on to my neck. Must have been hard lying down as we were, but she somehow managed it. She always did things that surprised me to no end, “Since when have you become so sadistic?”
I push her away. “I am not sadistic. I just thought-”
“You are still thinking about her, aren’t you? I can see it in your eyes. I could always read your eyes. Can she, Janith? Can she?”
“Can we please talk about something else?”
“Like what? Like how I am supposed to live after we get divorced tomorrow? How I am gonna find a life again? How I am gonna trust anyone again? Or maybe we could talk about how you are going to marry that chick you impregnated in two weeks. Just Husband and Wife topics”
“No, listen. I doesn’t have to be…I don’t want to do that”
“What does it have to be then, darling? What do you really want?”
Last Monday, a letter came. It was from the court. Malithi was pregnant. And she was coming back. I could have tolerated her here, although she had transferred herself to a different unit after we broke up, away from me. But she was coming back with a lawsuit against me for sexual assault. That women, as shrewd as she was, gave me an option. Either to go to jail lifetime, or to marry her and forget all of….this. I kept saying to myself that I would rather go to jail. But. The “But” hovers over me like the skull following Hamlet. But it was not encouraging me to do the right thing. And…
“You know I love you, right?” I asked from my wife. She was rocking back and forth constantly like a basketball dribbled by a NBA player. Somewhere down the street, a young punk was playing “Bed Of Roses”. The lyrics started to float into my head, shaking my mind from the puddle of mud it was stuck in.
“You don’t have to be lonely
Let me heal what’s broken
Lay your head down slowly
In a Bed of Roses”
She caresses my chest sulkily. “Just tell me, will everything be okay?” she asks, her eyes drilling into my head for an answer.
“Listen, we can still-”
“Just tell me that ‘everything will be okay’. Once. Please. We will get through this, right?”
I glance at her. She looks beautiful. Tears were now streaming from her eyes, making her cheeks glisten as if they were caught in moonlight, like an angel. She never cried. She never needed makeup too. I wiped them from her face. Set her hair. Kissed her forhead. And smiled.
“Everything will be okay, right? Hon, tell me, will things be okay?”
My smile evaporated. I stared at the ceiling and kept quiet.