The ball landed near the bedroom window and Kumara Swamy went to pick it up.
“ I need a change,” Tatta said sinking deeper into his inclined reading chair.
“ Oh, you always say that…you said that on our first anniversary fifty years ago…” Patti smiled running a comb through her long white hair.
“ Yes, you are right. I have wanted to do it many times before…never could muster the courage really…until now..”
“Oh, it is just a fancy with you. You think like this for a while and then things go back to normal. I think it will last for maybe a week this time…wanna bet?” Patti gave Tatta a naughty smile.
“No, this time I know for sure it is different.” Tatta stared at the ceiling from his reclining chair. Something in his voice made Patti stop, she stared at him, comb stuck halfway through her hair.
“What are you saying…” her voice snagged on a tangle in her hair.
“I am saying I need a change. And this time I am going to do it.” Tatta’s voice was tired but determined.
“Ok, but why do you want a change after all these years…?”
“Because I am bored of it!” Tatta hissed.
Patti half stood up out of the bed, comb still hanging from her hair. She could hear years of resentment seep like vitriol into the silence of the afternoon.
“I see, and how long have you been ‘bored’ of it.?”
“You said it yourself. Around the time of our first anniversary…” Tatta’s voice was low again but like a coiled snake ready to strike.
“That long huh? How come you have never said anything before…?”Patti sat back on the bed.
“Like you ever listen to me…I have always said I needed a change. But you never listened to me, no one did. You heard me, but you didn’t listen to me.”
Patti stared at the floor.
“When we first got married, it used to be so hot, so strong…I used to wake up every day looking forward to it. I used to be so energized, so pumped up. But now, now I feel nothing. There is no excitement, no anticipation. It’s the same thing over and over again. It’s a miracle I have tolerated it this long…” Tatta’s leg shook nervously, the words flowed out of him with urgency.
The comb dropped out of Patti’s hand, “But, I have been doing everything the same way, so why have you lost interest?”
“Maybe it’s because everything has been the same for the past several decades…A man wants a change once in awhile…”
Patti ran her hand through her hair, staring at the chair, “Well, what about everyone else? Your friend Satish and his wife have been at it as long as we have. He doesn’t seem to want to change anything. And my sister, yes she is a few years younger than me, but she does everything exactly as I do it, and her husband isn’t complaining. And what about our son, I talk to our daughter in law you know, and she does it exactly like I do it. Our son isn’t complaining. It seems you are the only one who wants a change…” she pulled at her hair angrily.
“ Well, it has been these very thoughts that have made me stick to it so long.” Tatta sighed, “ What will everyone think? What will happen? Well, I am tired of these thoughts. Maybe Satish doesn’t have the courage to make the change, to go through with it. And I don’t blame him…until today neither did I. As for our son, if our daughter in law is doing exactly what you do, he will be bored soon enough.”
Patti looked like she had been slapped. She held the bed for support, “you have never been this rude to me before, you must be serious!” Tears began to swim in her eyes, “after all these years…all these memories. Why do I have to go through this? What did I do wrong? What gods did I not pray to?” A single tear ran down her cheek, “And do you think…at your age…will you be able to adjust to such a change?”
Tatta’s knuckles tightened on his chair, “Who knows? Maybe I will survive it and maybe it will kill me…but I can tell you this for sure, this stagnation will kill me…”
“It will definitely kill me…the very thought of it is killing me. Are you listening to me? If you go through with this, you will kill me..” Patti sat straight, her face tear-stained, her eyes wild.
“Yes, I have considered that. And you know what, I am willing to take that risk…” Tatta said in a cool voice.
“I don’t even know who you are anymore.” Patti hissed, “you know everyone we know will hear about it. Have you thought of how it will affect our son? This will lead to so many changes in our lives…”
“I am done thinking about others…this is going to happen whether you like it or not…” Tatta’s voice was solid like an anvil.
Patti sat shocked like she had been hammered to the bed, “So, you must have thought of how to go about it too.. have you contacted someone about it?”
Tatta sighed, “Yes, I have, a man will be here today evening about this…”
“Oh it’s come to this, has it?” Patti seemed to slip into the bed, “What happens next?”
“Well, I keep trying new things until I find something I like…” Tatta said in a matter of fact voice.
“Oh God! why didn’t you take me way before I had to hear this? What have I done to see this day?” and Patti began to sob. Tatta seemed to want to get out of his chair but he continued to stare at the ceiling, his foot shaking to a rhythm.
Kumara Swamy let the ball drop and went back to the house, tears streaming down his face. He had always thought his grandparents had the perfect wedding. That conversation had changed his world. He cried himself to sleep that day.
Kumara Swamy woke up the next day to a mournful house. He heard none of the usual sounds the house made in the morning. It looked like Tatta had decided to go through with his decision. Kumara Swamy tiptoed around the house eager to see how his Patti was doing. He found her standing in the kitchen, water boiling on the stove. Patti stared at it without seeing it, she held a spoonful of coffee powder, she sniffed at it with disgust, tears running down her face. She loaded the coffee powder into the decanter, as she continued to sob as if she had never stopped since last night. After almost fifty years of marriage, Tatta had finally forced her to change the brand of her coffee powder.