He looked through his window in hope of clear skies and some pleasant weather so that he could begin the day as planned. The glass pane appeared to melt as raindrops trickled down from the top leaving trails of their existence behind. It was an unplanned vacation in the hills which hehad to take. He had to rush at the behest of his own crumbling spirits. The stress from working in a multinational had become overbearing to his personality and the hamster within him wanted a break from the wheel. This hamster in particular was prone to such inclinations as he had loved the way he was ever since he became aware of himself and had always taken drastic and sudden steps to preserve his being from anything that could have transformative influence on it. He was doing so much better when he did not know himself. He smiled from this sudden realization as his memory shot back to times when he had left jobs only because they seemed to encroach on his way of thinking, left relationships that burdened his soul with the rituals that slowly nudged him into certain directions he didn't want to go. 'Good Lord! This inner hamster of mine needs constant feeding!, he thought to himself.
He did understand that this narcissism although fulfilling at a personal level, led to no good consequences and instead resulted in his alienation sometimes. This was the sole reason for which he, for the first time, tried not to give in to his primal instincts and instead tried moulding himself to the circumstances. He had planned this weekend getaway so that he could let his inner restless critter have some time to think and relax. He wanted to cajole it into compromising with the little changes that were slowing creeping inside his soul. He no longer had the time to sit idle in the lawn and soak in the winter sun, his life had again started revolving around staplers, paperweights and late night brainstorming sessions. The critter in his gut had started getting restless.
The bad part about being good at something is that there is no limit to how good you can be. As you push your limits, your talent slowly turns into your work and it piles up and the exit gates start closing up. He had quit five jobs in the past as and when he could no longer find time for himself but, now that he was married and a baby was on its way, he couldn't afford the freedom and luxury of that nomadic lifestyle. He told his wife that it was something work-related and just fled the city so that he could unwind and lull the storms boiling up inside into silence.
Ramesh Singhal was otherwise a very reasonable man. Average built, fierce competitive eyes and an arched grin giving the impression that everything was under control. He flexed his arms often and walked with a certain wobble that made people make more room for him in queues, public places, cafeteria etc. He was aware of the excess of space that he hogged in his manners during his public discourses and was proud of the ingenious method he had created. He could not stand being pushed around and had even feigned handicap or illness to be treated specially. Friends he had; but the kind that cannot be counted on. His marriage was an arranged one and was more of an affair of convenience as the girl was a nice proposal and his parents saw her to be fit for him. It would be wrong to say that Ramesh couldn't love anyone more than himself or that he was a self-centered person, but he did leave little room for others to think otherwise.
Sunanda was a loving wife and it seemed that she had slowly come to terms with Ramesh's over-indulgence with himself. In the early days of their marriage, Sunanda tried hard to form an emotional bond with Ramesh. She would strike conversations, look into his eyes to spot the place where he was broken, some past event which had made him the way he was. She even suspected that he had an affair going on but then as she read the family members' behaviour toward him and realized that her husband was one of a kind. Ramesh too, tried hard to do things that would seem romantic or show that he cares; Sunanda would randomly find some laundry folded, bed made, roses by her side as she woke up, sometimes even breakfast too but, there was just something that Ramesh could not do. She started pitying the poor chap and was quite understanding when these random acts of kindness slowly wore away. They would talk often, laugh and eat together but they hardly knew each other as people. Ramesh was least apologetic for this yet he was worried lest this lack of concern might be considered as selfishness. The way Sunanda took to his ways, he did sometimes worry that there was some pain that was gnawing away her personality. He started thinking about her and he was changing. Most of his thoughts which used to be about him, were now about her.
The office workload had crippled his mind and he couldn't see this vicious circle breaking in the future. He feared that Sunanda would fall for someone else, commit suicide or leave him. These thoughts had quietening effects on his inner hamster. To get away from all this noise in his head, in a bid to perhaps change himself, he had taken this vacation and now it was raining outside.
He sat in his room, thinking How did he turn from a self-obsessed monarch to a slave of his own emotions? He detested the pathos that had gripped his heart and reminisced on all those times when he had just broken free of them. "Is this pain something natural and was I supposed to embrace it all this while?" he reflected deeply. The hamster voices fell silent. The epiphany ran through his skin and he almost stood up and then sank again in the sofa. He decided that he would tell his wife how much he loved her; the anticipation of making friends with his own wife was so immense that he picked up the phone right away. He tried calling her up but repeated attempts went unanswered. His mind took over. "Is it too late?" "Is it possible that she is with her lover making plans of eloping with him and grimacing at the phone as it displays my name?" Sweat drops huddled up on his forehead. It was as if a volcano was about to erupt. He started packing for his return trip.
Sunanda on the other side was reading a book she had finally found time for. She heard her phone ring but ignored it thinking it was some tele-advertiser. "This is a Sunday afternoon and no one can take away this time from me. This is my time"- she thought. A hamster chirped with joy inside her.
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- Abhyudaya Shrivastava (firstname.lastname@example.org)