CHAPTER TWENTY NINE: WISHFUL THINKING
“Got your result yet?” he asked, flashing her a tentative yet warm and comforting smile. She gave a nervous laugh and walked over to him, fiddling with her fingers and replied, “Still waiting.”
“I came to wish you best of luck. I hope you get good marks, if not, well, never mind” he told her sweetly and she looked surprised and quite gratified by it.
“Would you be angry with me if I did not too well?” she put to him cautiously. He looked amused by this and flashed another one of his heart warming smiles.
“No I wouldn’t, my dear Jennifer. I am sure you must feel worse than I would if you were to get marks that you think is below your calibre. Though I never did see you prepare” he added with a teasing smile, “I am sure it’s not so bad as you think. If not my dear, well, it’s not the end of the world”. She just rolled her eyes in pleased surprise at his generous, grand demeanour. People had always pushed her to do more, pressured her, expected many things from her, but not him. She gave him a child like wholesome laugh and said, “Thanks, I hope you will not go back on you word even if I get arrears” she added shrewdly to which he chuckled.
He placed a hand on his heart and raising his eyebrows said, “I truly hope you do not, for your sake, I am not sure how you’d like staying back another semester” he said making her inhale sharply.
“Oh, don’t say things like that. It’s such bad luck, oh I am frightened, what a terrible thought, Charles, how could you say that?” she cried inconsolably. He just winked in reply and strode off quieting and fascinating her at once.
The results came at last, not as bad as she had expected, quite a pleasant surprise indeed and she was extremely happy and eagerly hurried to the staff room to tell him. She found him having coffee as was his habit near the window, she never knew why he did that, but he always had coffee near the window.
“I got the marks” she said with an air of secret delight.
“You did?” he asked with a smile and walked over to her and she handed the marks to him.
“Good! Good! You have done very well” he told her and she gave a delighted laugh.
“What are you doing here, my dear? Not celebrating out with your friends. Go somewhere and have some fun” he told her.
“Oh, that?” she said seriously and gave a sort of shrug.
“What?” he asked her meaningfully knowing that something was amiss.
“Never mind” he told him, fidgeting about playfully with her feet.
“Uh huh. If you don’t feel like talking about it right now, never mind” he told kindly and assisted her back to the chair.
Seeing her startled look of unease, he gave a smile and said, “Don’t worry. No teachers are going to be in all day, most have gone for a conference and the rest are absent” he told her.
“What! All of them?” she asked.
“Yes, yes, because none of the students have classes, this is practically a holiday and the conference was optional. I didn’t go because you had your results today” he told her.
“Oh I am sorry. Would you have liked to go?” she asked him.
“Yes, I would. Its nice listening to people for a change, and it’s quite intellectually stimulating too. But don’t worry, it’s okay” he assured her.
For a while they sat in silence as he sipped his coffee.
“Have you always wanted to be a teacher, Charles?” she asked him curiously.
“Do you Jennifer?”
“Yes... but.. umm... how would you know that?” she asked and he laughed.
“I knew that as soon as I saw you. In everything you do, its obvious, your manners, your gestures and your love for English Literature. You have this comical distracted far away look in your eyes” he told her laughing.
“You are completely vague and capricious about all things and incredibly messy” he said and she laughed prettily.
“You must find that very annoying, I suppose” she told him apologetically.
“Well, that’s what makes you you. Every mess back home reminds me of you” he told her smiling.
“But that’s amazing, you can just look at people and can say what they want to be” she told him dotingly. He gave a half grin and silently sipped his coffee.
“And the fact that Ms. Meghna once told me also helped” he told and she retorted happily, “Oh Charles. How terrible of you!”
There was another interval before coffee was brought in.
“You called for it?” she asked him and he said that he had.
“Why? You know I don’t like to have coffee during the day?”
“You don’t! Why not? I find it very hard to live without coffee” he told her and she laughed.
“I know, you sneak into the kitchen five to seven times a day. And I guess cigarette is implied when you have coffee. I don’t know why you think you have to sneak away to do that, whenever I step into the kitchen, I am overwhelmed and surrounded by that odious smoke and I know” she told him and he laughed.
“I do it in the hope it will drive you away from the kitchen, my darling” he told him making her laugh and widen her eyes again.
She piquantly put her face on her hand and started smiling as she looked at him.
“What?” he asked her and she just shook her head and he lifted his eyebrows, looking away.
“I love it when you do that. I never thought, you know Charles, it’s just that... I never did think that I could sit like this and speak to you some day” she told him softly and clasped his hands in her own with fretful fondness.
“What is it my dear?” he asked, pressing her palms against his.
“I am so so.... oh! I can’t find the word” she said distractedly, growing teary as they both laughed, “so fortunate” she added silently.
“Aww...” he said mockingly and she sharply and playfully drew her hands from his in pretended anger.
“Not the sentimental type, are you?” she told him playfully.
“I express my sentiments in different ways as opposed to yours” he replied putting his fingers thoughtfully to his lips, with that grand smile still playing on his lips.
“You know, Charles, this has been the longest conversation we have had since we’ve been married, isn’t it?” she told him excitedly.
“Yes, yes. It is, isn’t it? You know Jennifer” he said thoughtfully.
“I guess that’s the way these things happen” he told her cocking his head to one side and she exhaled excitedly making him laugh his silent laugh and she watched him irresistibly fascinated.
“How I wish we could always be like this” she told him wishfully and he leaned forth and said, “It’s entirely in our hands, you know”.
She replied nothing but looked quite sad.
“Perhaps, I am to blame” he told suddenly, so very quietly.
“I can’t explain Jennifer, don’t ask me to, but I do know” he said still more gravely and shook his head, tightening his lips and swallowing.
“Never mind. Consider this the first day of our married life, the first time we have been genuinely glad to be in each other’s company and hope the rest are just as special” he told her and she smiled.