- a story
“Do you love me??” she asked.
Her eyes sparkled in anticipation of his answer. She knew what he would say and yet it was something she asked of him often. He never did understand the reason why. Where he came from love was abundant and was understood without words. Her question seemed redundant to him in a relationship where love undeniably existed. Why did the question have to pop up so often, he mused, especially when he told her every so often that he loved her. Yet he humored her with an answer each time,
“Yes I do”
The smile of happiness on her face was reward enough for him. He loved her dearly.
Today somehow the question rattled him. He lashed out at her in irritation. Why the hell do you have to ask?? Don’t you know I love you?? He gave vent to his ire and frustration of the day that had not gone too well for him. How many times do I have to tell you?? Are you questioning my love for you?? You doubt me and my love for you.
The smile of expectation froze on her face and died. She stared at him, dumbfounded by the unexpected onslaught. His tone made her cringe. Where she came from love was neither abundant nor a familiar word. How could she tell him of the yearning to just hear his assurance?? How could she let him know how it filled a bottomless void in her and soothed a nameless dread?? How could she tell him of the joy that frothed and bubbled and made her want to dance when she heard him?? She stood silent, her eyes filled with hurt.
It pierced him, the stricken look on her face. But it was too late to recall what he had said. Ignoring her he walked away and immersed himself in his work. The hurt in her eyes felt like a hook in his heart, pulling him back towards her. He suppressed the urge to get up and go to her. He forced himself to concentrate on the work.
Late into the night, he put away his papers. The harsh words he had spoken and her hurt eyes came floating back to his mind. Outside it was raining. Lightning streaks adorned the sky. The clap of thunder was getting closer. He looked at the time. It was way past midnight and yet he knew she would still be awake.
He got up, stretched and walked to the bedroom. Peeping in he found she wasn’t there. Not in the balcony either where she loved to sit when he worked late. In fact she was nowhere in the house. He felt panic rise and spread making his limbs go weak. He loved her so very much. Had his words angered her enough to walk out on him?? Where was she?? Where could she have gone in this rain??
He found her with the help of his neighbors. She was cold and wet. Her dress was all muddy. Unmindful he hugged her to himself as if afraid to let her go.
“Is this anyway to behave??” he asked her in mock anger as lovers do. “Walking out on me like that!”
Then more tenderly he said,
“Ask me darling… I will answer you not once but a thousand times…”
But she was silent. She wouldn’t ask him what she so often did. There was no sparkle in her eyes. She did not look at him nor did she smile.
“Are you angry with me?? Ask me now…” he said in entreaty. “I will answer you.”
And when she still didn’t he hugged her tighter and said,
“Ok then, if you won’t, I will ask you… Do you love me??”
When no answer was forthcoming, he took her face in his hands and said brokenly,
“I do darling, I do, I do…I do love you…”
They had to forcefully pry her off his hands to take her to the waiting ambulance. She would never ask him her question ever again. She did not need his answer too. Though he knew, he kept repeating like a mad man,
“I do darling, I do…“