A Tiny Tale for the Hopelessly Romantic II

I do not usually write stories dripping with such corniness but I bad been aching to get pen on paper again and this happened. I like to tell myself it at least made good writing practice. Please forgive me, I have been on a diet of Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives (though the housewives were at least capable of murder). So, if you were able to suffer through this, here is, what you may call, a part two...

Nothing would have felt better than wrapping him in a tight embrace and hunting between those lips for sugar, Emily contemplated. Kissing him was the one things that had the power to transform and uplift every thing- her mood, her day, her messy schedule- it was like an instant fix trick. Just go up to him, lock lips and everything would be better.

Yet, there she was, watching his silent profile, not daring to make a move, not being able to traverse the two steps that lay between them. The air was laden with the weight of the argument the room had just witnessed. Echoes of their angry screaming resounded off the bare walls, the darkening windows, the cold dinner...

It had been the fifth day in a row. Fighting seemed to be the only thing they were capable of, lately. Their house was a mess and they were always too edgy and irritable to do anything about it. It was just heartrendingly sad, thought Mark. He was so certain that this woman and this relationship would be so much more than unrealistic expectations and angry nagging and broken vases. He was sure he had found the perfect mix for a calm and happy life. How could he have known that he would find himself staring at a cold, hardened face at the end of every day in spite of everything he had done to make sure he wouldn't end there? They had been so perfectly happy. Not even the grimmest of cynics would have predicted such an outcome when they had decided to move in together three months back. But, then, that was the rosy period, wasn't it? Even cynics see cupids at that time. If only they could find a way back to that carefree happiness again- back to the stage when just being there for each other was enough...

He looked at Emily. He could see tears forming in her eyes. No, he couldn't let her cry- she'd always use the hurt as a weapon, always to get him to concede. He must look away and not melt with the droplets making their way down her cheeks.

Every now and then it'd fall apart. Over 'nothing'. It would be 'nothing'- only it carried with it the weight of countless disappointments and broken promises and emotional outbursts that they had gathered over the past few months, Like a small rock sliding down a snowy slope- a little nothing in the beginning gathering force and momentum to transform into a destructible.
Emily didn't want to cry. She was sad, yes. And angry. But, most of all, she was tired of facing the menacing avalanche of their mutual pain again. Which was why the tears fell anyway. It wasn't a way of establishing control but, on the contrary, an expression of her relinquishing it. She wanted somebody, anybody to come fix this. She wanted Mark to come over and hold her, as tightly as could be.

He was watching her from the corner of his eye. He could stay put and wait for her to concede and apologize. Or he could go over right now and put an end to this himself. If he stayed it could possibly register a victory of sort for him- a deterrent to future arguments on similar grounds. If he went they'd be stuck in this grey area again. No victories, no conclusions. But, it would make the crying stop.

Emily felt a gush of warmth through her being as her wish was granted. As much as she'd wanted it, she hadn't expected it to happen so soon. She looked searchingly at his face, trying to find a way into his thoughts.

'I'm sorry, Em. I...', he began.

'No, it really wasn't your fault, Mark', she sobbed, 'I was too vicious in my attack.'

Mark paused. Now that the words he had been wanting to hear for the past five days had been offered to him, he felt neither relief nor closure. Yes, he knew that it wasn't his fault. At least, not entirely. It didn't make him feel any better to hear it from her. It wasn't about finding and proving where the faults lay...

'I'm just a horrible person. I did not mean to pick on you like that, but I just... I just felt so angry, Mark... because I feel so helpless... It's just so hard, these days...'

This was where the problem was. This bleak, self-defeatist view of life. It wasn't about mistakes or promises or fulfilling expectations- it was this insecurity about dealing with something that had turned out to be much more complex than they had bargained for. It was about fear and their helplessness at not being able to escape from it...

'Hey...', Emily blew her nose and turned his face to hers, forcing him out of his reverie.

'Do you... do you sometimes think we're making a mistake?'


'Because all that we ever seem to do is fight!'

'Every couple fights, Em!'

'I know... But, I never wanted us to be like any other average couple. I thought we were different. I even took pride in it...', Emily went on, giving voice to the very fears that had been tormenting Mark a few minutes back.
Mark was silent, lost in thoughts again. What if they too were meant to be only another addition to the nameless collective of failed and unhappy relationships? Maybe there wasn't anything like a perfect relationship. It's all the stuff of fairy-tales. Santa was a lie, after all. Did that mean that the satisfaction they had been seeking for through much of their adult life was going to elude them forever?

Finally, he looked up with an air of certainty. 'Hey, look, Em, I'm as scared and clueless as you are. I don't know why we end up fighting like this. I don't know where all the viciousness comes from. May be its stress. May be its worry. Or disappointment...'

'I'm not disappointed in you, Mark, I'm disappointed in us...'

'Yes, but, you don't need to be. Not yet. This is the beginning. I know we've been programmed to look for happy endings but, I'm thinking, may be, there is no happy ending. May be we can only start our journeys faithfully and keep making efforts to stay on it... Let's not get too ahead of ourselves, looking for destinations, right?'

Emily looked at him silently, eyes urging him to go on.

'What I mean to say is, the fact that I made a mistake and let you down doesn't mean that I don't care about you or our relationship. Being in a loving relationship does not mean never making mistakes... We are bound to make them... But we mustbbe able to sustain through it... I know we have let each other down... It may not have been our intent... But it doesn't mean we don't love each other... As long as we remember that, we'd be fine... After all, it's only minor scuffles... Nothing we can't shake off...'

Emily managed a smile. It made sense. Feeling much lighter and happier, she asked, eyes twinkling, 'Know what kept going through my mind while we were fighting?'


'How much I wanted to just come over, give you a huge hug and shut those lips of yours.'

'Now that is what I was talking about!', Mark replied, chuckling.

Up the Stairs

It's an overcast day. We have been having a lot of these lately- dark grey clouds wander over to increase our rates of perspiration and excitement by threatening to burst, only to depart after a mild, blink-and-miss drizzle. Sensing a pattern, I decide to make the most of the cool evening air by strolling around on the terrace. It has been a while since I've been back home but the dismal weather had kept me from venturing out on the terrace. Plus, Carey and I have enough of a playground in the driveway & the leisurely evening walk. However, today, we hobble up the stairs to the terrace. Hobble, because the right hip has gone somewhat stiff (I read online that that's genetic in GSDs) or maybe because we have to sniff out the rats lurking around the old items stacked alongside the stairs. Either way, its one excited, yet slow, step at a time.

The terrace is a beautiful, large expanse of concrete and brick littered with Carey's hoard of items to play fetch with (three dried mango seeds, two chewed sticks, one empty cup of yogurt and so on...). Though the view is not of the lush green fields we had been habituated to in the old house, the Ashoka trees and flower laden creepers give us nothing to complain about. It is a quiet, peaceful neighborhood and birds begin to gather around as we start play. Carey acts as goalkeeper as I proceed to kick the 'ball' (in this case a mango seed) around the 'park'. You'd think an old dog would grow out of such behavior but this one's still a kid at heart (and shouldn't we always be, too?). So, it is kick and guard, kick and guard till I notice big, round droplets forming on the ground- Rain! Run for cover! Carey is loathe to return- she doesn't have to worry about drenched clothes and impropriety; and the showers add the zing to her game- but, return we must.

Now, I'm relaxing on a bean bag with the AC on for the rain died almost as soon as we rushed downstairs and the dog has gone to sleep clutching an old ragged cloth in her mouth. But, with the trip to the terrace, at least my will to write has arisen.

Carey is now a senior dog- she had her tenth birthday in February. She is happy and healthy and greets each day with a wagging tail. It is nice to have a dog grow up in front of you- you get to become acquainted with its habits and get a fair idea of what might be scheming in the old bugger's head. The wily pooch also learns to tolerate your moods and the household's charter of 'Crime and Punishment' gets firmly embedded in its head (along with the loopholes and clauses, of course). As for vision and hearing loss, I do actually recall Carey not paying much attention to instructions involving sitting still and not stealing my food from the table- but it may be a strange case of selective hearing or just good old doggy wisdom.

Anyhow, the point I am trying to drive home here is that your dog (or cat or parrot or whatever) deserves to grow old in a healthy, loving environment. That is the least you can do to repay unconditional love and undying loyalty. It pains me to see people abandoning their pets just because they get 'too big', 'too old' or 'too sick'. A pet is not a toy or accessory for your household- it is a member and when you bring one home, make sure the commitment lasts through its lifespan (unless it is a tortoise).

Respect Life- all of us have a one way ticket.