CHAPTER TWENTY SIX: SUNDAY MORNING
That morning as usual, he had woken up incredibly early but she deduced he’d gone for a walk and went about getting up. There were only three more days till the holidays were ending and it was obvious he was getting bored day by day, even a bit cranky and grumpy at times. He decidedly avoided talk and would spend long hours glancing with a sort of grimace out the window. This morning, when the door opened and he stepped in, she went out to greet him as usual, overjoyed at seeing him.
“Good morning” she said chirpily.
He just nodded and looking around hastily, asked her “What day is it?”
“Saturday? Sunday?” she said, doubtfully.
“Tch” he said, making a sort of irritated noise and with brows knit together, wandered about the room in search of a calendar.
“Wow, you’re in a lovely humour today” she said feeling irked. Finally finding it, he saw that it was Sunday indeed and sighed.
“What time?” he asked suddenly, glancing back at her and then not waiting for her reply, he saw the wall clock. It was 16 past seven and he gave a surprised expression.
“Jennifer, get ready” he told her rather harshly, walking hastily.
“What for?” she asked following him.
“Church starts at eight” he said in the same dry tone.
Jennifer sighed, she’s been having enough bad moods and in some way, she felt it was only fair that he had his too and resigning herself, went to the closet and took out her clothes, humming a little tune as was custom when she was feeling particularly bright. He glanced in an annoyed way at her but it was lost on Jennifer for she was too preoccupied and absent minded as usual.
“Jennifer” he snarled. “I said get ready”.
“What’s your problem? Can’t you see I am getting ready?” she retorted back.
“Just do as I say. You can hum and waltz aimlessly when we get back” he told her.
“All right. All right. No need to yell” she said in a pacifying way. And if only to get out of his firing lines, she quickly took the clothes and disappeared into the bathroom for getting ready. But she was careful to be quick in what she was doing and emerged a few minutes later and found that he was already dressed and ready and as impatient as ever. She convinced herself that there was nothing to be gained by fighting with him over this mood, all this too abundant spare time seemed to be driving him out of his mind. Her friends had already teased her for not having a honeymoon. The newly wed couple hadn’t even gone out anywhere except the one time he’d taken her shopping and she was still raw with him for that, but she was too proud to allow herself any regrets regarding this hasty marriage as she’d formerly done and taken a very tolerant view of things but this new problem was beyond her capacity to deal with.
“Ready?” he asked again very sharply and she nodded grimly.
“Oh wait” she said rushing back inside and he shut his eyes in exasperation. She went inside and hastily brushed her hair and fastened a clip on to it and rushed back to join him. The Wrights sourly started to drive to church. She often cast wary looks at him as if to see if she could find out what was bothering him. But he drove as mechanically as ever wearing a taciturn look on his face.
“Is anything the matter with you today?” she ventured, cautiously. He did not reply but she saw his jaw and cheek tighten as if in anger. His tight thin lips looked as menacing as ever and she decided not to push it. In a way she was thankful that this was how he got over his bad moods and did not fight with everyone around like her.
“What church are we going to?”
“Divine Presence Church” he said a little bit mildly compared to his former tone and she felt relieved and unconsciously smiled at him.
“Is that where you usually go?” she asked.
“Yes” he replied briefly.
“Have I done something wrong?” she asked him in a pleading voice, again he did not reply for a long time but because she would not avert her gaze off of him, he consented to replying a bit more compassionately, “It’s not you Jennifer”.
“I am sorry you are feeling like this” she told him very sweetly looking at him with big, pitiful eyes and he sighed.
“Thank you” he replied with a strained smile at her and she smiled back, biting her lips happily.
“Who is the pastor there Charles?”
“Jennifer” he said pausing then continued in an exasperated tone, “You don’t want us to get in an accident do you? Kindly let me focus on my driving right now.”
“You’ve never worn this suit to college” she remarked, being unable to stop talking and to her surprise, he gave a little laugh.
“Oh God! Fine then, you can have your way as usual. You want to rattle, rattle all you want” he told her.
“I am sorry I am so annoying. It’s just that I get so nervous when people are tetchy”.
“Is that so? How about people who are always tetchy?” he replied.
“Oh, I find them maddening” she said and he gave her a look with one eyebrow raised and a sort of grin on his face and it dawned on her that he’d been talking about her all along.
“Hey! I am not always like that” she said complainingly.
“Course, course. Half the time you fight, the rest of the time you weep”.
“Oh, I am sorry you find me so distasteful” she yelled testily at him.
“My point exactly” he said, becoming cold again.
And pouting her lips together, she blew through it, exhausted with herself.
“I am sorry. I do over-react a bit” she said looking piteously at him, while he straightened the car mirror without replying. Her eyes suddenly filled with tears, she could put up with people who screamed and yelled and raged but not with those who could be so brusque and unfeeling to her and she cast him longing looks, desperate to smooth out this recent fight with him. Thankfully, they had pulled up by now, having reached the church. It looked quite grand from the front and she momentarily forgot her troubles. The entered and sat amongst the few early church comers on the fourth pew.
“Oh hello! How’s the baby, darling?” he suddenly asked, getting up and hugging a lady.
“Hello Charles. She’s doing just fine. Oh my, is that your wife?” said the lady and Jennifer felt her cheeks blush as she smiled at the lady.
“Yes, this is Jennifer, and Jennifer, meet Mrs. Dawson. She used to work in our college, you know?” he said in his smooth, pleasant way and Jennifer looked with wide, confused eyes at him. How he had suddenly become so pleasant, she didn’t know.
The ladies greeted each other and Mrs. Dawson remarked, “Oh, she is very beautiful Charles” and then she launched into an apology regarding why she hadn’t come to the wedding and with a warm invitation to come to her house again, she left. Her charming husband saw the lady to her seat and sat down with a smile beside his wife. Jennifer was still in shock, to her, such behaviour was inexplicable, why, hadn’t he just been so testy and bitter with her, how he could he be so smooth with other people, she wondered to herself. As the church comers started to come in one by one, most made their way to the couple and expressed their congratulations and left them mostly with an invitation to come see them and to each of these people, he’d behaved as winningly as ever. She almost gasped at him. Finally church started and the hymns were sung and the sermon preached. When it all ended, her sour husband started right for home again but she kept casting him dubious glances. A little way off, she felt quite lonely. It’d been better for the first time at the church when other people had spoken with her but now back with her cold husband, she felt miserable but consoled herself saying there were only three more days before the leave ended.
Finally, before they got out of the car, he restrained her with his hands on her shoulders and said to her, “Jennifer, I am sorry about the way I’ve behaved to you. I guess it’s because we’ve been doing the same things over and over again and I guarantee you, three more days of it is only going to make us get on our nerves more. What do you say we go back to college tomorrow? Or it doesn’t matter, how about I go, you can stay back if you want” he told her.
“Oh no” she said vehemently shaking her head and he looked disappointed and turned away.
“I am definitely going to college too” she said and he sighed an immense sigh of relief.
“Wonderful” he said and the two got out of the car and almost outrun each other in their nervousness to get into the house, hoping fancifully that the quicker things were done, the quicker the day would be over too.