It was only a month away. She couldn’t remember the last time that she felt such longing for an aimless day to arrive. What has marriage done to her? She was going through the old photographs when she found a hackneyed racquet at the bottom of the box. She had had her name specially inscribed in it, ‘J.Miller’. She smiled, but her eyes said otherwise. She took out a pen and paper to write down her ideas. Without caution, she was reminded of her checklist in college. 20 to-do things that no sane kid would dare to. Every year she would mark 5 things off it. Things were different now, she barely got out of the house.
She spent the entire afternoon writing down ideas and finally it struck her; a diary. A diary of the first one year of their relationship. That crazy year when 2 AM calls were routine, when a car drive to a city out of bounds was a weekly thing, when problems were solved, not created, by each other. Yes, she decided, rekindling those memories was the only way to hope for some happiness in their bleak marriage.
Everyday afternoon for the next one month, she wrote ten pages. Ten pages filled with heart warming moments, irreplaceable adventures and wet ink spots. She never had to worry about the privacy of the diary as he barely cared about what she did. The only conversation that happened everyday was if there was anything to buy from the grocery store. He left early morning, returned home past 9. Sometimes he would eat dinner outside, saving her the only time when she got to speak to him. She had considered running away a thousand times; every day she used to wonder why she never did it.
The day had finally come. To seal the diary with a gift, she got him a tie and kept both of it on his office table in his room. Like everyday, he woke up at 4:30 AM and went to his room and shut the door. She was waiting for his breakfast, to see his face, to hear him apologize for his negligence, to see some kind of change. Any change. When he came out of his room, he was already in his suit and ready to leave.
However, before he left, he looked at her and said, ‘Thanks for the tie, it looks good’. And he left, like it was just another day.
I was having a bad day. I dozed off without completing my work, I was too exhausted and had no control over my eyelids. The bright stream of sunlight woke me up; I was late. To make things hard, Lily gave me a hard time in wearing her jeans and eating cereal. Lily. Oh Lily. She has so much in resemblance to the person after whom she was named. Stubborn and too naive. As I passed by the place, it hit me, like it did everyday. But today was different, for some inexplicable reason I wanted to enter the gate today. I was having a bad day.
I stopped and retraced a few steps of mine. The worn out sign still read ‘Allen Christophe’s Gardens ‘. I saw a plastic cup thrown away at the entrance. As I picked it up and entered, involuntarily my motor movements took me to that spot. Everything in that place had changed; but to me, nothing had changed. I’ve always wanted to bring little Lily here. Oh Lily. As I sat down, the violet Rose in front of me started at me in silence.
It was the kind of garden that emanated memories, rather than scent.
The memory of me, in my high school football jersey proposing Lily came to my mind. She thought it was hilarious, that I would choose such an attire. It rained that day, I still remember. Another memory, a painful one, crossed my mind. I broke off our engagement in that very place. She thought it was a joke, that it was impossible to make sense of what I had just said. Both of us knew it was going to happen I guess. That memory was still bearable.
When I looked at the bench next to me, I saw a faint mark of ‘AM+JG’. He was always the romantic one, the one who would give me flowers at the end of a bad day, the one who would bake my favorite cake even if I didn’t have a bad day. I didn’t plan to propose him, I simply wanted to bring him here. But as we were sitting and as I saw him carving out our initials, I knew it was the moment. Now when I looked at the bench, I realized I was crying, uncontrollably. How did that happen? I promised myself never to return again. I was wrong. I should have come here everyday. This was the one place that had his presence felt so strong. The one place where we weren’t judged everyday for our love for each other.
It’s been three years since we came here. Three years since I adopted Lily. It took me a year to fall for him, It will take me a lifetime to forget him. I was having a bad day. But when I left, I was happy.