• 15 Dec - 21 Dec, 2018
  • Ayesha Adil
  • Fiction

Saima and I were not on the same page since some time. She was on a constant roller coaster with morning sickness and other hormonal related upheavals. Keeping her away from work had not proven to be a good idea at all. Being at home all day was driving her crazy. She did dab here and there on some small scale activities but it wasn’t the same. She still struggled with the routine to keep herself productively occupied. Noor’s nursery was still shut. I couldn’t decide whether she was depressed or simply dealing with the new pregnancy in her own way. I had asked her, rather told her to leave work for her own good. I couldn’t risk, we couldn’t risk losing this baby. As a couple we would never withstand the loss or be able to deal with the sorrow. She knew this as much as I did. Regardless of what the reason was she was not the Saima I had fallen in love with. She was not the Saima I had spent the better part of my life with and I missed her. I missed her badly.

My friends had bullied me for so many years telling me that I was a softy. Too nice to my wife. That I should be harsh, more like a man. “Don’t treat her like your equal, she will make your life miserable.” I never listened to them, until now.

When we worked like a team, we were happy. Contented. Now I just felt isolated and cut off. She hardly had anything to share with me at the day’s end and I had nothing to offer either. What was there to talk about?

Her health seemed fine enough. The doctor gave us an all green each time. But her unhappiness bothered me. At times she was definitely pretending to be happy for my sake, I could tell and that bugged me more.

I put the entire blame on the demands of the pregnancy and on her health in general. There wasn’t much that I could do about it. And I began to stay away from home as much as I could.

I made excuses of working late and office meetings and project deadlines. Most times I did actually stay back and work. A couple of times I even took short power naps before heading homeward. Once or twice I went out with office friends to have dinner and told Saima that I was working late.

I wasn’t happy with what I did but going home to an unhappy face and getting into spurts of arguments every time our stars collided was not my way of ending a tiring day.

I told myself that I would continue like this till she settled down and once the baby comes it will all be ok. That’s the best part of being human. We rationalise everything. Even isolating your pregnant wife when she needs you the most. Even abandoning her because you can’t handle her mood swings. Everything. I kept saying and believing that it would all be ok once the baby came.

I knew most of her concerns and fears were about the baby only. Losing Noor was devastating for her and she still wasn’t over it. Saima was sensitive and she probably was constantly fearing the worst. She should be busy and happy at this point in her life. Not alone in the house eating dinner by herself while staring aimlessly at the TV screen. She needed me now more than ever. And like a typical man I was not there. I didn’t have the emotional strength anymore and I had no idea of what to do.

So the only way was to avoid her. I would text her a couple of times during the day. Sometimes she would reply. Most times I could see she had “seen” the message and yet she would ignore it. Later she would make some or other excuse.

“I was in the shower or I saw the message and forgot to reply.”

The chasm between us kept on getting more pronounced. But I was being a ridiculously irresponsible adult and I wasn’t doing anything about it.

But something changed all of that one day. I was working particularly late on a certain day when my boss walked into my cubicle.

She seemed surprised that I was still there and asked me what I was working on. I told her with an element of pride, after all why not score a few brownie points with the boss, might help with the promotion.

She sat herself down and looked very serious.

“Fawad how’s Saima doing? I heard you’re expecting. Congratulations! I hope you both get some really good news soon. You have already braved the worst.”

I thanked her for her kind words. Then she said something unexpected.

“I often stay back late, making excuses of project deadlines and assignments. But do you want to know the real reason that keeps me from going home?”

I shook my head, thinking I had been found out and will now be told off.

“There’s no one to go home to. My husband and I parted ways when my children were very young. Then my daughter acquired education and found her soul mate. She got married and lives in England. My son recently moved out to join her there and pursue his degree. All I have is work. You are all my family.”

She paused for a minute, her voice full of emotion.

“But you have a loving and caring wife at home waiting for you. She needs you. I have never asked for overtime, unless it’s absolutely necessary. And I don’t expect you to put in any time at work that is meant to be spent with your family. There are enough people running away from home, staying away from family because they don’t want to face their problems or responsibilities. Men who use work as an excuse to stay away from connecting with their mothers, wives and children. You are not one of them. Work is not your escape.”

With that she got up and walked off.

I sat there in silence for a while to let it sink in and then I collected my things to go home. Home. •