Ashes

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With trembling hands I turned the key. My eyes were still puffy from all the crying from last night. My old maid had enquired worried if I had taken ill. I replied in negative but the dark shadows under my eyes betrayed my charade that I had a sound sleep last night. She had not asked any further question. People from her generation already knew that the new generation had been infected by the bug of love. But she knew nothing. It was not the bug of love that tormented me. It was what came after.

I unlocked the door and took a deep breath. I never liked to confront him. Confrontations with him never went the way I imagined them in my head. Everything eventually ended in his favour. He would then trample me and ruthlessly break my heart again. He always said that I had no self-respect because I kept coming back to him. He was right. On my part I loathed him for everything he had done. And yet I was not able to rip myself apart from him. He scoffed at me, made fun of me and yet I kept returning to him.

But I had had enough. This time I was going to end things with him. He had spent night with a prostitute and I was not going to lay with a man who had no class. I crept in his room. HE was fast asleep, perhaps his last night rendezvous were too tiring for him. The sun was up and sun rays stealthily crept from the roughly shut curtains on the window. There was ash all over the place and a half burnt cigar lay on his bed side table. I quietly watched him sleep for a few minutes. He had a cherub like face. No one who saw him, ever believed that a devil lurked behind those innocent eyes.

I moved near the bedside table and picked up the cigar. I smelled it and then put it between my lips. It gave me strange satisfaction to hold something that had touched his lips between my own. There was a mirror in front of his bed. I went to it and saw my reflection holding the half burnt cigar between my lips. I was startled. It was not me who stood in the mirror. Well, the woman certainly looked like me but I could not recognise her. She was smiling contentedly, while I, I was seething.

I looked at his reflection in the mirror and he stirred. A shiver ran down my spine and I became aware of how afraid I was of him. I decided to leave. It was better to leave and never contact him again. It wouldn’t make any difference as he had never sought me out whenever I distanced myself from him.

I placed the duplicate key I had forced him to give me on a table next to the door and reached out for the handle of the door when I heard his voice.

“What are you doing here?” he said in a scathing voice. It wasn’t new. HE was one of those people who always woke up with a bad mood.

“I…I…” I fumbled for words but suddenly remembered what I had come for and just like that I began to breathe fire.

“You scoundrel, you are a swine and you will always remain a swine. What business you had sleeping with a… with a…” I could not bring myself to speak the word. It was not that I could not say the word. In fact I had called many women prostitutes before who had crossed my path but this time, this one time, I became overwhelmed. Or perhaps the look he gave me made me realise my double standards. After all I wasn’t more than a prostitute to him either. He never loved me, I knew it and yet I came swarming him, always trying to be close to him.

“What? A prostitute.” He said casually. His lips curled in a jeering smile. He knew what had stopped me. He knew what I was thinking in that moment. This was the problem, he knew way too much about me. He knew my obsession with destruction.

“Well…” he enquired with his eyebrows raised. He suddenly reached out for my hand and pulled me on the bed. He hug me tightly and I began to melt. He began to kiss the nape of my neck and I became helpless. I hated him in that moment for making me weak. I hated myself in that moment because I knew what was coming after.

I didn’t know when we finished but it was certainly a long love-making session because the sun was now high up in the sky and the room was filled with warm sunlight. I lay with my head on his shoulder, our sweaty bodies panting under the light blanket I had bought for him the previous winter. I wanted to lay there forever but I knew it was too good a dream to be true. I knew it was going to break soon, very soon. I knew he was going to snatch my momentary happiness away any moment.

I looked at the time in the small digital watch he kept at his bedside table. It was getting late. I tried to get up but he pulled me back. He hid his face in my hair and slowly whispered “You are no better than her that prostitute. In fact when I think again you are worse than her.”

Even though I knew what was going to happen, his words still stung at my heart. I said with clenched teeth “How dare you?”

He laughed “How dare I?” He laughed louder. “I have just repaid you in your own currency honey.” I stared at him. His eyes mocked me and I looked away.

“At least that woman earns her own money…”he paused. “Not like you…you who chose to marry a man for money and discarded my love. Now you come back to me and claim that you still love me. I hate you and my hate grows stronger by every minute. Go back to that man who provides you these fur coats. Here you will find nothing…not even rags.” He then turned away from me.

Tears had begun to pour from my eyes. I slowly gathered myself and got dressed. When I left his room, I could feel his eyes on me. I turned around to look at him and for a fleeting second I could feel his longing. I turned away and knew that I would come back again.

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