‘Tring! Tring! Tring!’
The alarm clock broke a good night sleep. I woke up, unwillingly of course, but I had to wake up.
It was a special day. It was that day of the year which meant more to me than my own birthday.
Yes! My wedding anniversary. Women have their ways, you know. Even though we didn’t stay together anymore, I had to present her with gifts and flowers. Otherwise, I had to face the wrath of her interminable anger.
Our marriage was not exactly the union of two beautiful souls. It didn’t work out. There were fights every now and then. Finally, the inevitable had to happen one day. We separated, for our own good. But I can assure you one thing. Our love for each other never diminished. Not even a bit. You can take this as evidence that I didn’t have a second marriage, nor did she.
I left home early. I had to visit her house and return by evening. I visited a nearby gift shop. It was a small one, much smaller than I had seen in France, my native country.
Small it was, but it still had a plethora of gifts to choose from. But, it didn’t take me long to decide what to gift. A greetings card enclosed in a glass frame with beautiful decorations surrounding it. I paid the amount to the shopkeeper. He smiled. Even an amateur could have told that it was a fake smile.
Anyway, I couldn’t care less. I took a pen and wrote my wish on the card.
A very happy marriage anniversary, my love. We are not together anymore, but I know that you still love me. And trust me, I love you more. Not a single day passes without me thinking about you. I hope you are having a good life. And I’m really lucky that I get to spend my anniversary with you every year.
Miss you, Love you,
I wrapped the gift in a gift wrapping sheet and went straight to the florist. My pre-ordered bouquet was ready. It was pretty. A delight to the eyes. The roses and tulips, her favourite flowers, were exuding a breathtaking fragrance which kept me completely spellbound. I took the bouquet, paid the florist, and went on.
Now, it was time for the toughest part of my journey. Greetings from my neighbors. They all hated me, they despised me. Being a Christian from France, I was not very well accepted here. I loved my own country. But, I always dreamt of living in the eastern part. Especially, in South-east Asia. I couldn’t think of a better country than India.
After retirement, with all my money, I shifted here along with Estelia. I chose a remote village. Peaceful and away from the city chaos. It was more like a traditional village. Hence, I found it tough to mingle with the folks here. But, I don’t blame them. My behavior, from the last few years, when I separated from my wife, has been very strange. I was rude to the people. I talked less. Sometimes, I even abused those who gossiped unnecessary topics in front of me.
As I was walking, I met Mr Sitaram Chaudhary, the largest farmer in the village.
He offered a smile and asked me, ‘Where to, Mr.Gerard?’
‘To see my wife, it’s our anniversary today.’
‘Oh!’ He replied. He gave a half-hearted smile and left abruptly. He was never fond of me. My wife was one of the most beautiful women in the village. And many men were attracted towards her. That’s why they hated me. They could never accept the fact that she was married.
It was the turn of young Deepak then. He owned a mobile repairing store, the only one in the village. He asked me the same question, and in turn, got the same answer. He gave me a strange look. As if, he had seen a ghost. He then left hurriedly.
I then met Mr Akash. The new AAO of the village. He was unlike the others. Since he was new here, he was unfamiliar with my history regarding my wife. We exchanged a few pleasantries and went on our way.
Finally, her home arrived. I went in. She never believed in security. Nobody who stayed in that area did. I looked at her. She was sleeping. After our breakup, she had become a late riser. I smiled. Tears rolled down my eyes. But, I held my composure. I didn’t want to wake her up. I kept the flowers and the gift beside her bed. Then, I read the letter she wrote for me. It read exactly the same as last year. But every time I read it, it gave me pleasure beyond descriptions. It read –
‘In loving memory of Mrs Estelia Berger, the wife of Mr.Gerard Berger.’
These words were engraved on her gravestone in aesthetic calligraphy!
I left silently. Now, one more year until I visit her again.
Aniket Das is currently a student in agriculture at OUAT, Bhubaneswar. He started writing eight months back. An avid book lover. What fascinates him the most are the stories based on mystery and suspense.