Farhan felt his wife stir beside him. He was a light sleeper and woke up at the slightest sound. Three hours till sunrise and he needed to get all the sleep he could get. Tomorrow, like every other day, was going to be a long one.
The sun was up and the smell of dal was in the air. Farhan woke up, kissed the baby and began to do his morning ablutions. He loved his morning showers. That’s the only place he felt safe enough to air his thoughts. Some days he wished the water from the shower would drown him. But ten minutes later he turned it off and stepped out.
The past week was hard on him. He had attended his college reunion and came face to face with bits of his past. He met friends whom he lost contact with, or broken contact with, to be exact. They were talking about Ruhi, about how she was the glue and they all missed her. “But I miss her the most”, thought Farhan.
He hadn’t seen her in four years. People had warned him about tying down a free spirit and he didn’t listen. They were right. Nothing could hold her back, not the love she had for him, not the proposal he offered her. She needed to leave. She was a wild-child and there was nothing more this city could offer her, she said. “I love you, but we’re different Faru. You want the perfect family and I want adventure.”, that’s the last thing she ever said to him.”Maybe one day we will be together”. Farhan nodded but in his heart he knew that it would be the last time he saw those brown eyes.
The sounds from the kitchen were louder today. Breakfast consisted of the usual fare. Everything in his life was so systematic – study well, get a good job, have a great love, marry a beautiful girl, car, baby, house. There was no uncertainty with anything. Even Asma made sure to that. She was always perfect in everything she did. But Farhan never noticed her eyes. They said so much without uttering a single word. He was living in his real life fantasy and he never saw how distanced from reality his wife was. He didn’t know the sacrifices she had made. But he made sure to tell her about his past as he wasn’t one for keeping secrets. Asma took it in her stride and never questioned him about it.
He couldn’t help but compare her to his lost dream. Asma had long beautiful, shiny brown hair while Ruhi’s curls were a force to be reckoned with. Asma was always so polite, in fact a little too polite and Ruhi was explicit at the most inappropriate times. He didn’t want to make this comparison. But it suddenly felt like Ruhi was back in his life and had taken control of his thoughts, “But not my heart”, he prayed. He did not want to succumb to the fantasy of what-could-have-been.
As Asma busied herself around the table, Farhan looked at her, for the first time in a long time, with hope. “I can change things around. I just need to want it strong enough.” He got up, drank his last sip of tea, kissed his daughter on her head and was ready to leave. Asma got him his things and he was almost out the door when something held him back. He turned around and looked at Asma.
“Did you forget something?”
“No, I didn’t.”
He gave his perfect wife a peck on the cheek and was off.