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What do men feel when a relationship ends? Do they feel the loss as acutely as we women do? A flash fiction piece exploring men’s emotions.
The smell of oranges reminded me of the shampoo she loved.
I hated the smell and would create a fuss if I had to bathe after she washed her hair. She’d always point out we had two bathrooms. Now I kind of miss that smell. Along with her cravings for orange juice during pregnancy. She’d finish a litre in a day and I remember our fridge jam-packed with only orange juice and one sole loaf of bread those days. The bread was for me. I had two slices with peanut butter before leaving for work. The smell of oranges reminded me of the way she used to annoy me by squeezing the peel near my eyes and making them sting. She knew I hated it. But still.
I’d grown sick of the orange smell by the time the baby was born. Our stillborn baby. I hated the orange scented room freshener that was sprayed in her hospital cabin, as she found it soothing. She never had orange juice or used that shampoo ever since.
When she left the house because she said it strangled her soul, I couldn’t accompany her to the hills. She wanted to teach the kids there. I couldn’t leave the job I so loved. Don’t get all judgemental. I know that most men wouldn’t leave everything to accompany their wives to the mountains. We didn’t divorce because I got immersed in my work and I guess she was busy with hers. I’d visit her once a month initially, but then the frequency dropped along with the topics we could discuss.
Did our relationship die a natural death? I think it was exhausted and hence slept like a dead person. Not really dead, but almost. I think she too believes that. Never asked her though.
I’d been living on McDonalds and pre-cooked meals since she left. It wasn’t like I can’t cook. We used to prepare breakfast together in the mornings. She’d make the eggs and I’d prepare coffee and toast. She used to call me the best coffee maker in the world. And then we’d leave for our respective jobs. But after she left, cooking took a backseat. In fact, other than work, nothing sort of caught my fancy anymore. I felt tired even at the thought of doing something outside office.
The terrace garden she so painstakingly created, died a natural death. One day I called the garbage collectors and asked them to sweep off the twigs and dead leaves which had collected like a thick carpet on the floor of the terrace. I would just come home to watch sitcoms and sleep. A maid came in the morning for some cursory dusting and cleaning and that was that.
Today, after ages, I visited the supermarket to buy some fruits. My uric acid level has shot through the roof and the doctor had asked me to include fruits in my diet. There I saw those big fat oranges in the cartons, filling up the aisle with their tangy smell. That reminded me of my wife. And our lives. And the child who was never ours.
And for the first time, I cried.
Published earlier here.
Image source: man buying oranges by Shutterstock.
Kasturi’s debut novel, forthcoming in early 2021, had won the novel pitch competition by
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