My World, Your Words

I cannot remember how I found out. I just knew. All that I had denied in the past year fell into place, and that is when I started trying.


Aakash and I had been together for five years. We had traveled the world together; him moving for my job and I for his. It worked beautifully. We were always each other’s home away from home. In Hangzhou though, I suppose home wasn’t enough.


She spoke Mandarin. I knew that with certainty. The rest was irrelevant – I didn’t care to know how they met, what she looked like, when this started. Aakash knew that I would never be able to master Mainland China’s convoluted, tonal language. I just did not have the ear for it. As an official translator for the UN, I already spoke Arabic, Russian, and Spanish fluently alongside the mandatory English and French. None of that mattered.


He picked up Mandarin like it belonged to him. I could see the awe in the locals’ eyes, their begrudging respect of him having conquered their language. It transformed this gawky, bespectacled dark-skinned engineer into a charismatic, witty foreigner .


During moments of panicked insecurity, I pictured a tiny, young Chinese woman giggling at my husband’s jokes. No doubt she would be pretty. Feminine. But most importantly, she could court him in his adopted language; I could just hear the natural rise and fall in her voice as she complimented him on his strong hands, his warm smile, and his perfect Mandarin. It must turn him on – to hear everything I have always loved about him transformed into something more through those Chinese words.


So I started caring. I tried a little harder. I came home earlier from work to make his favourite dishes. I wore makeup, chose sexier outfits, hit the gym more often. I tried to take it back to our first date – tried to recreate the same efforts I had taken back then.


Finally one night, he let me cuddle him. He realised his excuses of being tired and busy no longer sufficed, and so he let me fall asleep in his arms. It must have been only a few minutes before I woke up groggily to find Aakash untangling himself from my arms and legs. Something about the rough, hurried, almost shameful way he went about that simple action conveyed everything I failed to notice the past year – he had fallen out of love with me.

There was nothing more to be done. C’etait la fin.


By  Rithu Das


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