The trilling of the alarm clock woke me up. I pushed my huge torso out of the bed, feeling disgusted at the peaceful, sedate body of my husband. Why am I the only one being punished for being a part of this household? Why am I the responsible one? Like a somnambulist I went to the washroom, splashing cold water on my face, ready to face the realities of life.
A face from the mirror was watching me steadily. Alarmed, I wanted to scream but no sound came out. Had we met before? She looked so familiar? I shook my head to clear the image out. I wondered if I was witnessing the other realm. I splashed some water on the mirror to throw the image out of my washroom, but in vain. I hated ghost stories. In fact even when my grandmother would tell me tales of her childhood I would ignore them and call her superstitious. Something must have stuck in my subconscious mind.
Enough of this, I scolded myself. Be brave and find out what she wants. Tentatively, I raised my hand to wave at her. The young girl did the same but with a smile. “Hi,” I whispered. “What do you want?”
“Freedom.”she whispered with a smile.
“Why are you asking me?” I splashed some more water on the mirror. This time she burst out laughing. A myriad of color surrounded her. No longer was the mirror reflecting my washroom, but a green realm. A beautiful meadow. With visions of the clear sky and flowers growing abundantly, picturesquely.
“Wait!” I beseeched her. “Don’t go yet. I need to know who you are. Why are you haunting my home?”
Her peals of laughter were creating a lot of confusion in my mind. I took a deep breath and continued to stare in the mirror. Why was she going towards a young man? A secret lover?
That was my husband. Oh I get it now. One of my husband’s ex-lover was haunting me. She wanted me out of this house. A feeling of self-pity engulfed me. For all the years I have loved him, seemed to diminish in front of this ghostly apparition.
Unable to bear it any longer I rushed out of the washroom. I kept my emotions at bay, not letting my sorrows mar the day for my kids. I refused to break down in front of my children. While having breakfast my husband threw me some curious looks- or was it guilt? I am strong, I can handle this.
The day went as usual. Maybe she was stuck in the mirror and could not come out of it. That was fine with me. I did not want to share the rest of my home with her.
After the house became my own solitary world, I decided to find out the truth. Like a good detective, I searched all my husband’s pockets, his old files, even the old kerchiefs which were in the old pile of stacked clothes. Nothing. He was smart after all. Then I saw that he had left his mobile on the dresser. Another indication from God. Feeling guilty, but all for the greater good, I checked the inbox. Five messages from Trudy. Stunned. I rechecked the messaged. She was a consultant at an employing agency. Phew!
So now what? Should I be a prisoner of my thoughts or find a route of escape. Being me- the latter of course. I went back to the washroom mirror and peered in. Sure enough, she was there confirming that she was not a fragment of my imagination.
“Did you search about me?” she asked me clearly enjoying my discomfort.
“Yes,” I sounded croaky even to myself. Clearing my voice I said in a much steadier voice, “ I know you are my husband’s lover. But I could not find anything which connected you to him.”
“Did you check his purse?”
“His purse? No. He has taken that with him.”
“When he returns do that. You will find me.”
“Why are you doing this to me?” Tears were rolling down my cheeks. I hated her for destroying my world.
She gave me a pitying look and turning quietly went back to her world of loveliness.
Staggered I stumbled out of the washroom. It was already afternoon and the kids came back from school. Treading softly around the house, they kept themselves out of my way, knowing it was mommy’s bad day. I wanted to reach out to them, but my confidence had taken a dent due to my husband’s secret love life. Guaranteeing fireworks later in the day, I managed to finish the chores for the day.
By seven I was prepared for the battle. It had been a long hard day for me. Keeping a passive face I let my husband kiss me on my cheeks. Fraud! How could he be so cool? I admired myself for not breaking down in front of the kids. The moment came when he went to attend a conference call in the bedroom.
Quickly I grabbed his purse and went to the washroom. She was there. Fine, we would do this together. I opened his purse feeling like a thief. Hardening myself against the guilt, I quickly searched through his purse. Dollars, credit card, visiting cards, debit cards all piled up on the wash basin. She encouraged me to go on with a smile. At last my fingers found the passport size photos. Gingerly I turned them over. Two of them were of my children, one was his own and the last one was hers-
No. Not hers. It was me in my twenties.. smiling, laughing. Just like her. With tears streaming down my cheeks I looked at her.
“Thank you.” I mouthed.
“Welcome back.” She merged back to her realm.
I smiled and tiptoed out of the bathroom. Searched for my mobile and with my chubby fingers dialed a number.
The phone on the other side rang for a few second. Just as I was about to give up, a sing song voice said, “Gold Gym. How can I help you today?”