Happy Never After

Happy Never After

“At least one of us should be happy”. 

She thumped the dough in the bowl and spat out the sarcasm. Mouth downturned at the edges, eyes cold, nostrils flaring in seething hostility- her body language never failed to break his heart. He couldn’t recall the last time that they had shared a smile together . He refrained from acknowledging her spitefulness and quietly left with his travel kit. 

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His work demanded travel while the children kept her rooted at home. Her career had taken a backseat as had her confidence. No matter what their equation, their shared responsibilities towards the kids kept them tethered to their household . There was no escape. With or without each other they couldn’t live. They couldn’t  contemplate divorce as a real option. Neither could  deal with the criticism that the public breakdown of their marriage would invite. He was never rash with words but the least pretext could trigger her to fume and chide . Marriage hung like an albatross around their necks.

                                                                         *****

Their once high octane love seemed a story from another lifetime. They were then dopamine to each other- soaked in giddy happiness. They rode high on the crests of their emotions, unmindful of the troughs. They married young- fawning, flirting , wholly engrossed and blind- throwing all caution to the wind. 

Though he had enjoyed his courtship days, he’d never been an ambitious lover. He didn’t know how to flaunt love. In fact it was she who had shown romantic interest  and led their courtship. He had always been grateful for that and he held her in awe. There was a streak of the rebel in her. She’d always rooted for the underdog. He had always been one. Sailing in the ship that she piloted was comfortable for him. Time gradually peeled away the youthful vows and  the core of her interest in him was revealed.  Condescension had donned the guise of love. The relationship  had once made her feel free and powerful.  Eventually, her sole duty of a care giver at home embittered her.

                                                                             ******

Without either of them being aware, things had slipped into a very different pattern from how they had started. Her desire to  flourish  and be independent in her own right seemed more unattainable with each passing year. Clueless  about how to assuage her, he yearned to ensure her financial security at least. But the share market and his investments  were plummeting. Things looked poorly on the work front too. Talk of a lay off was abuzz. He couldn’t bear to think of the distress his termination would cause her. Still, there was a silver lining- his substantial term life insurance . That would help if worst came to worst. 

                                                                 ******

Memories reeled back to better times as he revved up speed on the expressway. His eyes blurred with tears. Her last spoken words replayed in his mind as his car jumped the divider and rammed into the approaching oil tanker.

“At least one of us should be happy”. 

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