The Silence

Though I always pretended to be annoyed, I really loved the way he pronounced my name. It was never how others pronounced it, never the right way. He tried changing his voice so that I would not be able to recognize him, however, I always did. I still remember the day when he had called me up pretending to be a woman…

Hi RTee, I am Sharon from Kingfisher airlines, you have just won a two days and three nights trip to Australia. Could you please come down to our office with your documents to collect the tickets?”

“No, thank you Mathew but I am not interested.” I said and Mathew whispered something under his breath and hung up. I burst out laughing holding the phone in my hand. The line went dead but I felt so … ‘alive’. I looked around; everyone in my office was staring at me with surprise. They had their reasons. All these people were more of friends than just colleagues and almost everyone knew the story. It was after so many months that they had seen me laughing, I had not even smiled all these months and everyone knew why. Putting up a smiling mask during board meetings was one thing and ‘really’ smiling was another. Something I could not do after my break up with Sameer. It was a story known to all in the office. Everyone in the office, including me, thought that Sameer and I would be getting married. I was dead sure about it after spending the night with Sameer and doing what my mum would call as ‘crossing the limits’. But it was not meant to be that way. People were surprised to know about our break up and I was devastated, especially because of the excuse he used.
“I love you, Arti, I really do but …”
My thoughts were interrupted by the loud ding coming from my computer speakers. Mathew was online at Gtalk.
Mathew: I hate you …

I laughed out loud again. This time my colleagues looked at me and smiled. I smiled back.

I: You just made my day, Mathew :)
Mathew: I am glad I did. But still, I hate you…
I: Maybe someday I will not recognize you.
Mathew: I know that day would never come RTee.
I: Come on, at least spell my name correctly!
Mathew: Gotta go, RTee. Catch you later, just wanted to interrupt your thoughts.
I: What do you mean?
Mathew: You know very well what I mean. Bye.

And he logged out.

The fact that Mathew knew what I would be thinking seemed a bit scary to me back then but today as I think about that day, it seems to be so … normal. I had wondered whether my actions / reactions had become so predictable but then I realized that it was just him. The way he took care of me when I was trying to come out of the shock and pain of the break up, he was a witness to my bouts of all sorts of emotions and he had become used to my way of thinking. However, there was one thing he could never see it coming. One thing he could not believe to have happened with me … about him. He could never predict that I would fall in love with him someday. To tell you the truth, this was something even I had not imagined to have happened in the wildest of my dreams but it happened and I am happy about it. I am glad that I fell in love with someone like Mathew, a man who offered a smile when someone needed it, even though he was breaking from within. He was breaking from within, the cancer was eating him from within and no one knew about it. I, of the all people, who spent so much time with him, both offline and online, was completely unaware of it until the day he told me about it because he had no other option. I hate to admit that I was so ignorant of his illness. There were times when he did not come online for a chat or even call me. Instead of calling him to check whether everything was fine, I spent time crying over what Sameer had done to me.

I finally learned about his illness the day I told him how much I loved him. He tried to convince me saying that it was mere infatuation but when he realized I had made up my mind, he said, “RTee, you cannot fall in love with someone like me.”
This time, the way he pronounced my name did not make me smile. It made me cry, especially after what he told me that night.
His illness did not change my decision, but it changed me. Completely!
I learned to live because of Mathew. Taking in every moment, breathing in every happiness, which came my way. Despite Mathew’s continuous refusals we got married one month after I told him how I felt about him. Though I had once told Mathew that a day would come when I would not recognize him, I had not wanted it to happen this way. During the end stages of his cancer, every night as I looked at him, I saw a weaker Mathew. One night as I bent over him to kiss him good night I could not stop my tears from rolling down my cheeks. When Mathew said that he loved me, the voice seemed to be coming from someone else’s vocal chords. Mathew’s health kept on deteriorating and finally he walked away from me to be with me forever, beyond the limitations of time and space.
Today, as I stand next to his grave, one year after he left me, I feel the same way I had felt that day. I feel … happy.
I believe - when there is nothing to say, the best thing to do is to feel the silence. When it feels good we know that everything is fine, when it does not feel good we know that there is something that needs to be taken care of.
Standing here – the silence feels good and it makes me smile. I am happy to know that our love is still the way it was when he was around.

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Books by Arti Honrao

Depression is REAL

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