Gihan and his wife were sitting on the old red sofa of their apartment. It was raining pretty hard. Their bed was made. Clean and neat. The housemaid always did a good job of keeping things nice and pretty. If you count out the hidden stacks of random research paper stacked unorderly under Gihan’s own bed, that is. It also helped that they were not in the apartment most of the time. His wife, being a high-end surgeon in the field of Cardio-Thoracic surgery, was always running to the ICU ward or something. He used to joke that she ate more at the hospital canteen rather than at home. She sometimes laughed at him saying his job was too easy. Funny, how she doesn’t realize the strain of countless metadata scanning and forensic computing. Also one has to take to mind the constant fear of an incident occurring on their systems. Penetration Testing wasn’t easy. She saves lives. He saves companies that fund lives.Now they were both trying to save their marriage.
“How was your day?” he asked. Silence becoming too strong for him.
“I’m hungry. Do you want something?” he asked, trying to start conversation again.
“No,” she said, “Milk must be there in the fridge”
He looked through the stylish mahogany cabinet till he found his favorite cereal. His mom always bought these for him as a kid. He had continued the practice. He poured the cereal into a bowl, ignored the milk, and sat down on the red sofa again. Adjacent to his wife.
“We had a patient today,” she started, reclining in her corner, “He had a piece of metal lobbed between the cardiac muscles. It was one of the most delicate operations we did. Taking things out may hurt what’s already in there”
“How on earth did the metal go in?” Gihan asked, trying to show interest, “He wouldn’t have eaten it, I suppose”
“His wife stabbed him”
Gihan almost choked on the piece of cereal in his mouth. He coughed, pretty hard. She tapped him twice in the back and finally he could breathe normally again. She sat back on her corner again and continued.
“The point had broken when she was pulling the knife out. He survived, but he won’t be able to hit her again. His arm cannot go above his shoulder level. A punch coming from sea level is pretty easy to counter,” I did not interfere. She loves to talk about her work. “I always thought it was in the village that these things happened. Not the city”
“Cities are dangerous, drifty and crowded places. Why would anyone want to live here?” he said and regretted it immediately.
“You are still going on about that? You know we can’t move to the countryside. Where will we find jobs? Where will we get food from?”
“I’ve got it all worked out. You can arrange a transfer to Kandy. Our office is setting up a new facility there. We can-“
“WE?” she suddenly bent forward, “Are you sure that’s what we want, or what you want?”
“You can’t hope to find a different solution by executing the same algorithm over and over again”
“Except mountain giants wake only when prodded. Why do we need to add fire into that stick?”
He felt stupid. She always did this. “Why do you have to say everything in bloody riddles and poems? Why can’t you talk like a normal person?”
“A normal person? A NORMAL PERSON? So you would swap me with a someone normal, huh? Why? Do I disturb that frail mentality of yours? I know I’m not special but at least-“
“What the shit?” He blurted out.
“You won’t understand”
And they fell right back into that abyss of silence.
He stared at his Casio. It was her gift to him on their first anniversary. It was not his style, at all. He did not like sporty watches that had too many buttons and too many hands on them. He preferred the orthodox simple watch with only the needed information. The time. But he still wore it. He gifted her an expensive smart earphone. Although she admired it from every angle, he never saw her wearing it. Then again, he should’ve realized, she listens to her music out loud.
“How is Angelo?” he whispered, staring out the big window that spanned across the length of the wall. The covers were not drawn yet. So they could see the rain splashing hard on the streets below. No sign of it clearing up anytime soon.
“What do-“ she started and drew a sigh, “How did you know?”
“Does he smoke?” Gihan asked. Still looking out the window, “I heard that smoking makes you a man. Although it kills. What a paradox. One has to die, to….live”
“Yes. But how-“
“He probably got gym muscles too. No way those puffs are authentic. Doesn’t his penis shrink after all those steroids?”
“That’s not how it-“
“I don’t care how it works, ok?” His voice rose. “What made him better? What exactly made him better? Was it because I am ugly? Probably. Because I was there for you when you wanted to cry and now you are happy and need to fly?”
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I don’t know”
“Cities might be developed. Cities might be pretty. But cities will suck you up whole and vomit you like some animal with indigestion”
“Please sit down,” she said. He didn’t realize he was standing. “Please Gihan, please”
So he plumped back on to the seat. He took a deep breath. He was dreading this. He did not see tears in her eyes. Only longing and anger. Anger. He had tried his best to be selfish and keep her. But, even computer scientists can understand what love is, once you’ve lost it. He said, “You should go”
She looked at him for a long time. Gazing into his eyes and caressing the base of her neck. She suddenly got up, went to their room. Packed her bags and took a call. 15 minutes later, she was at the door. He was still sitting at the sofa, gazing at the rain. No thunder. Just rain. Then she ran back to him, put her arms around him and whispered, “Angelo wasn’t the only one” and left.