• Priyanka Kole

Fiction: Unrequited by Priyanka Kole

Photo Souce: Pixabay

I got you flowers, white orchids, my favorite if you remember. I had told you many times, but you never bothered or listened. What flowers did you like? I never asked this question. Scared that you will reply, “Fill your head with better things, Jen,with a grave countenance covering your mahogany face. It was the usual answer you gave to my every question or concern.

You read the everyday newspaper; it somehow ruined your mood every morning. With some tea on a tray, I sat beside you on the verandah. I asked, “What’s in the paper, honey.”

“Nothing that would interest you. I don’t read the sales section,” you said in a gruff voice, balancing the specs on your pointed nose, which dipped in the tea every time with the first sip. So, I never served the tea grievously hot.

But I still knew you. Not by things you told me ( you talked less), but by things you never complained about. You liked the white teacups, not the blues or glass ones. I deduced it when you said, “Where did you get these from? They would be the excellent gift for the new boss’s anniversary.”

After that, I always served tea in those cups.

You liked my singing. As you never complained about my humming beside you on the verandah or when I sang at your boss’s anniversary party. Your nose didn't twitch, nor you sighed neither applauded. But clapping was not your way when our son recited the poetry he wrote on Father’s Day, there were no claps either, but you hugged him tight, digging your nose in his chubby cheeks.

Then things turned, the tower fell. Exhaustion from your ignorance after seven years of marriage took over our relationship. When you giggled, clapped and danced with your sisters and old friends at the Christmas party of 1999, it struck me in the gut that you were open to others, more than you were to me.

I demanded your attention. “Laugh with me, share with me. What are you thinking? Tell me,” I yelled with tears and rage that night after the party. You retorted, I was crazy. I smashed the marriage photo frame into pieces in vexation. But today you seem right. I am crazy, a little bit, choosing to talk to you here today.

I packed my suitcase, left you behind, didn't even look back once. But my ears were perched, trying not to miss the sighs. There were none. You didn't stop me. At that moment, I knew I would not come back.

Two years later, when you fell sick, I came back. I had questions for you. The entire way back from my mother’s house on the bus, I framed them, enacted them, played them like a theatre drama. But when I entered our house, it looked different, shrunk, sicker; it was draped in darkness and dust, same were you.

My question dissolved. I served you tea in the white cups, gave you medicines and hummed beside you till the summer turned to autumn. The leaves fell, and you left forever.

So, here I am saying things I always wanted to tell you. On your grave, still humming beside you.

The coffin encased you, creating a distance between us. But it was same when you were with me on the verandah. Just the barrier was invisible then, and now the earth could be seen. Nothing changed, just the gruff voice of you now lurked in the soft winds, still saying, “Fill your head with better things, Jen.”

Priyanka Kole is currently an undergraduate medical student in India. She is pursuing her MBBS degree from RG Kar Medical College, Kolkata. She is a dreamer, reader, and writer. Her work has appeared in The Tint journal, Defenestration Magazine, Short kid stories magazine, and The Potato soup journal.