call me

I’m married but I don’t want to be. My husband and I are like strangers under one roof, and he been away for more than three months now. I don’t feel his absence and the void is filled with only my grief.

I wish things could change and my heart could be at ease. But the restlessness is tearing me apart and the pain of loneliness is becoming hard to bear.

The beginning was magical, as I suppose it always is. I had just returned from the US and had become a regular at parties in the city; which is where I met him. At first, he seemed different. He had a standoffish feel to him and a seducing arrogance, something that comes I’ve realised, with the ease of money and influence. Things progressed quickly and naturally, and I was overjoyed when the wedding bells chimed. I remember every moment of our wedding day; him, clad in his elegant black sherwani as he sat next to me and I, hoping beyond hope, that he would be the new start to my life.

The illusion broke soon enough. I discovered he was a chronic womanizer and alcoholic. At first I was enraged and tried to talk him out of it. After all, isn’t marriage an obligation, a sacred trust? Call me conservative but I’m idealistic. I can’t believe in blatant promiscuity, but he didn’t change. How could he? He seemed to get the attention of girls with such ease. Who could know better than me, after all?

We just couldn’t communicate on the same plane. Each time I asked for his attention, he would point me to the jewellery he bought me, the pendants of pearl, the new shopping spree, designer furniture, foreign holidays. But these things lose their value without the humanity of love.

My only consolation at this time was my father, but six months ago he passed. I haven’t been able to reconcile with it. I must confess, I just can’t.

Sometimes I laugh at myself.  In material terms, I lack nothing. But I still believe there is somebody else out there for me.

Earlier in the evening, right after Iftar time, I went for a drive. The roads were deserted and time, it seemed, had come to a standstill. I thought about my life and the emptiness that defines it now. On a traffic signal, a beggar knocked at my window, asking for money. His eyes were full of despair. I thought that he and I were similar. He was begging for money and I for happiness. Realising that we were alike, I couldn’t gather the courage to give him anything. I stared ahead as he knocked one last time and disappeared into the hazy view of my car’s rear-mirror.

Right now, my laptop’s light is flickering in the dark room, mingling with the dim lamp. And then there is the whole world outside. I can see the dusty Lahore sky and lights emanating from houses in the neighborhood through the window. I feel sad. I hear cars rattling outside and here I am, confined within these four walls.

And soon, this night of aching loneliness will end, like every other night. The city will wake from its slumber and I will hear its sounds in the traffic, in the gardener watering flowers outside my window, in the sun rays piercing through the room. I will gather my strength soon enough, go out and look for love once more.