An Unopened Jar
It was a sultry summer afternoon when it all started. She was comfortable, content, and happy. She was laughing and giggling, for the first time since she had left her home. Her happiness made me feel something I had never felt. For a man who had given up, she revived hope, making me feel I wasn’t a failure, that my life was meaningful.
It was two weeks after our marriage. She had let me touch her, but she hadn’t spoken a word to me. I sat on the verandah as she and my sister worked in the courtyard. The day smelled of mangoes, raw and green; being cut, spiced and pickled by my newlywed wife. I sat and watched as the sweat drops trickled slowly along her back, lining the neck of her blouse. Her brown skin shone like golden silk in the sun and I could not avert my eyes. Her teeth sparkled like precious pearls as she laughed; and I wanted to see her laugh again and again because in that moment the world seemed more than perfect. As I watched her, even the simplest of her movements seemed enigmatic to me. That day, I felt the awakening of a passion that would lead me to conquer success after success. That day, I fell in love with my wife.
I had never had a pickle in my life, but that day I ate every last piece. She laughed at me but even that felt so good. That night we told each other everything about ourselves. That night, life took a turn towards bliss.
But she forgets me now. Her disease doesn’t let her remember who I am. She sits listless as the sun warms her skin and I wonder if she remembers our years of love. I’ve tried everything to make her remember, but there are only some days when her eyes wrinkle up in recognition and I see that smile. It is the only light of my old age.
It is the season of mangoes again, and today I made the pickle that she used to. The same blend of spices, the same shape of pieces, just as hers. As I put the jar next to her, her face lightens up. The sultry summer afternoon returns with the smile of recognition. We eat the pickles, laughing at old memories, and my life becomes painless. She has not forgotten our love, it merely resides in that sultry summer afternoon, bottled in a jar of unopened pickles.
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