The weight of its wetness stretched across the skin of her face. Asha soaked in the hint of lavender, her eyes closed, her lips half open as her mind tried to make sense of last night. Arun had seemed less intimate, his lovemaking more efficient than intense, his arms unsteady, his eyes unfocused. He had simply fallen asleep afterwards, without as much as a cuddle. As Asha wrapped her tresses in the luxuriant Turkish, she noticed the hickeys had faded already.
Asha prided herself on being a realist. She understood that married life would inevitably take its toll, that passion would soon be replaced by habit, hours-long conversations would peter into even longer silences, and coyness would devolve into crass familiarity. She had read all about it, seen it happen all around her, and expected to be no exception.
But, for God’s sake, it had only been three days into her honeymoon!
As Asha stepped out into the hall, she noticed Arun keep his newspaper aside for a moment and look at her, a glint in his eye. This was interesting! Just like college times, when Arun would show up at her hostel unexpectedly at the oddest hours with that look in his eye and whisk her away to places she would cherish ever since. But he hadn’t taken her on a trip for a while now – not since that long ride to Panchgani in the middle of the monsoon, with the roads slick with rain and the hills green with envy – Asha recalled, her lips pouting in mock complaint. But the look was back, and all was well with the world!
“What’s the surprise, Arun? Where are we going? Tell me!” With a laugh, Asha stepped forward, her hand reaching out to brush Arun’s unruly hair.
“What are you doing, Asha?” He stood up with a jerk, stopping Asha in her tracks. Then, with a sigh, Arun walked up to the desk in the corner and pulled open the drawer. The metallic strip in his hand, he addressed Asha quietly, “You haven’t taken your medicine again, my darling.”
Asha’s eyes watered as she perceived the sixty-seven year old man hand the capsule and glass of water to her, his hand unsteady, his eyes dilated through the thick glass. Asha reached out for the pill quietly, her wizened hand shaking with the effort.