I discover her inside the bathtub. Fully clothed. Her legs are neatly crossed and her head rests against the edge of the tub. I never felt anything towards smokers, expect sympathy, perhaps. But watching the cigarette dangling from her lips, I experienced a newer emotion; love, with a tinge of sorrow.
She claimed that the nicotine helped her write the memorable words that her fans later hollered. I had accepted that long ago. Wasn’t that what love was all about, acceptance and compromise?
Sometimes, I would find her leaning against the bed, clutching a cup of coffee. Her meandering gaze would find mine and then she would smile. A sad smile. A small smile. Other days, on the good days, I watched her write, cast her spells, create magic.
However, on the best days, she would talk. Talk to me, talk with me. On days like those, we also laughed. We laughed till our stomachs hurt. But, those days were rare and she often forgot them.
I walk towards her, preparing to assure her with our familiar conversations. Her eyes open, she takes a long drag of her cigarette, sits up and looks at me. She exhales slowly, away from my face. And then I see it, the look of panic, clouding her expressions.
I step into the bathtub, trying not to fall. The water is cold and it sends shivers down my spine. I roll my sleeves up and turn towards her. Her face is almost blank, like a fresh canvas, like the days before. The doctors, every single one of them, had warned me, told me to handle the situation delicately.
I lean in to kiss her. She tastes like stale coffee. And smoke. Then suddenly, her arms are around me and she sniffles. And my brave façade shatters, yet again. I embrace her and try not lose my composure.
Our life, a treasury of memories partly forgotten, flashes in front of my eyes. I remember those endless days of courtship, when I borrowed money from my pals to attend her shows. I would always sit in the first row, whistling at every opportunity and throwing roses at her at the end of the gigs.
She was a year older but we fell for each other. And then we married and everything was blissful until my wife slowly forgot places, people and possessions. Some memories were completely wiped off, while others were partly forgotten.
Some days she wrote small coherent pieces, the other days days she merely scribbled. At times she was aware of her condition, but most of the time, she lived in a world of her own. But the days she would break through her bubble, would be the hardest.
Like today. She cried and made me cry. And at times like those, I assured her with the same lines, they were a part of my routine but new to her. Every single time.
She pulls away gently. I reluctantly look at her. She flashes a bright smile, and I can’t help but smile. I know that one day my wife might forget me as well, but till then, I shall savour every moment.
– Vibhavari Desai | Edited by Afreen Zeb