An Anniversary

10:15 am

“I just had the most loveliest idea!” Rita Turner said.
It was their twenty seventh wedding anniversary. They’d decided to celebrate it in a small cafe, a couple of blocks away from their twenty-year-old house. At six in the evening, they were to leave whatever they were doing and rush to the café. It couldn’t really be called a celebration, more of an acknowledgement actually but a pleasant one nevertheless.
Dennis Turner had been wiping his glasses because the smoke from his hot coffee had clouded them. He seemed to be in no great hurry. He continued to wipe his glasses for a while as though it were suddenly the most interesting thing to do and finally looked up at Rita. She looked like she was out of breath. She also looked soaking wet. More importantly however, she looked like she was going to burst any moment if she didn’t tell him what she considered to be her “most loveliest idea”. Dennis decided to ignore the last part for a bit.
“You are forty-six minutes late,” said Dennis.
“It was raining, Dennis I had to look for my umbrella!” said Rita.
“You don’t seem to have been successful in finding it. Unless it was that black umbrella…How many times have I told you to throw that black umbrella of yours? It’s ancient! I suspect the age is trying to compete with the number of holes that it has.”
He was trying to be stern with her. She needed to learn the importance of punctuality.
“Your American sneakers were getting wet, they needed it.”
For the briefest of moments, he wondered how she always managed to say the one thing that she knew would melt his heart. He then proceeded to twist his face into an expression of partial disdain and what he thought to be evident disinterest.
“I waited for forty minutes and then I bought a cup of coffee for myself. You only get a glass of lemonade now. Without sugar.” He added.
Rita thought that was unfair. She loved coffee, especially in the evenings, especially on important evenings. She was about to retort but decided against it. They usually took turns at keeping things peaceful.
Dennis noticed that Rita was still standing. He got up, pulled up a chair for her and then sat down again. She used to protest at this tendency of his towards women, something that seemed to her as forced chivalry. Initially, she had tried suggesting they split the bill, she held out the door open for him at times and she pretty much pulled up her own chairs. But now, she had gotten used to it. In fact, there were times when she quite enjoyed the attention. It made her feel like there was an eternity stretched out before them, waiting patiently to be experimented with, waiting to be bent into a shape that would be unique only to him and her. Unlike all her friends, she had refused to join the yoga classes that they’d started in their locality. They’d all begun complaining that there was too much time. Dennis and Rita had never really had a problem with time. Their relationship had reached a state of familiarity that made her sleep peacefully at night. It ran on amazingly predictable lines. He was going to ask her about that clock any moment…
“Did you clean that old clock like I asked you to?” said Dennis.
“Oh sorry dear, that completely slipped my mind. It’s just this idea I was thinking about, see?” said Rita.
“Do you think they’ll remember?”
“I’m sure they will, dear….Dennis! What are you doing?”
He had torn open the little paper bag that contained sugar, all of which was currently lying in a heap on the table. He first flattened the heap with his palm and then began making patterns with his index finger.
“I said no sugar. I’m bored, Rita.”
I’m bored. Like how are you or I love you. Clichéd phrases that were said only once in a while just so the other person would know when he/she really meant it.
“I wish I had cancer or the supposedly dreaded Alzheimer’s disease. Hell, I wouldn’t even have minded insomnia.”
And then there would be statements that contradicted the previous one- out of the blue strings of thought that didn’t mean a thing.
“Remember all those strange comics that Michael used to collect?” Rita said.
Michael was their younger son. He was twenty five and was studying Economics in London.
“The ones you threw out because they seemed to be a little too obscure for a fifteen year old? Yes, of course.”
“I didn’t throw them out you know. I found them today, stacked up in the cupboard under the old clock. With crumbling yellow pages and a sheet of paper that listed all of them in that crazily legible writing of his...”
“It’s been a long time, Rita. He’s probably forgotten all about it.”
“I don’t think he has. I don’t think he ever will.”
She took a sip of her lemonade, immediately flinching because it was too bitter. Dennis watched her. They were growing old. He wondered how she still managed to surprise him. He could see her eyes light up when she would have discovered those comics. He could feel the adrenalin rush, the furious activity in her body when an impulsive thought was being transmitted through a million neurons in her head. He knew exactly what her idea was.
“We’ll book tickets tomorrow, okay?”
“Okay. Do you think it’ll make him happy?”
“I’m sure it will, sweetheart. Don’t drink anymore of the lemonade, I’ll get you a cup of coffee.”

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