Olivia’s husband

Part I

Olivia left home for work at the usual time that day.  Onir stood at the threshold of the house every day to look upon Olivia’s lovely frame till she disappeared around the corner. That day, she walked away from home slowly and without looking back, and paused only to pluck flowers along the way. Gently she plucked them – the magenta flowers of early spring – off the shrubs along the blue-gray road – to feel the softness of their petals against her cheeks and eyes – then softly blew them off into space – watching them as they landed delicately on the grass carpet below. They did not bear the fragrance that she had expected. They had no smell at all. She walked away, the flowers forgotten and wilting fast.

Not far behind, Onir walked and paused too, to pick flowers. He picked them off the grass blades, those magenta flowers that he wouldn’t leave lying there for the insects to feed upon. He remembered to take them back home and put them in a vase. Every day. He remembered to breathe life into them, to slacken the wilting, even if it was just for a couple of hours more. The way the flowers tumbled towards the ground – alighting on the blades of fresh green grass that then brushed against Olivia’s dark blue stockings as she walked off – that… he wished to remember forever.

The flowers had wilted in the vase, by sunset, before Olivia returned home from work each day. They fought that night too, husband and wife. This time over bills and payments. He dragged her by her arm, into the bedroom – latched the door, to be unheard by curious neighbors – slapped her across her face – she cried – their argument ended there. Olivia  stopped crying and Onir was on the verge of a breakdown outside the bedroom. The screams that night were the worst by far. The flowers drooped dead by now.

After concluding the fight, Olivia and her husband emerged from their bedroom, for dinner. Olivia’s tired eyes fell on the faded magenta flowers in the dining room but maybe she didn’t recognize them from that morning. She didn’t seem to try anyway. Morning and evening were like parts of two different lifetimes for her – she couldn’t recall one when she was in the other. She blew her nose into a handkerchief, ran her hands through her long, black hair to set it straight. Husband and wife sat themselves at either end of the dining table. Onir, the butler, looked at her helplessly as he began to serve dinner to the couple.

Part II

With the tip of her index finger she flicked off a tear that had flown over her cheek from one corner of her right eye. That made her suddenly remember the tenderness of the flaring magenta flowers on her cheeks, and her eyes, that morning. She recognized the faded flowers now. She shot a glance in Onir’s direction; he was nervously pouring water out of a jug into her glass.

Her glance persisted and quietly pressed Onir to look into her eyes. He gathered up all his courage, peeled his diligent eyes off the jug to look into her watery eyes – eyes that posed a question.  Onir briefly swept his deep blue eyes across her tear-stained face – her eyes, her cheeks, her nose, her lips – and in that fraction of time he effectively communicated the answer she sought and more. Onir proceeded to the other edge of the table and poured out another glass of water for the husband who was busy gulping down the contents of his plate to leave the table as soon as possible. Olivia smiled at her husband who was not even looking in her direction; she smiled at the dead flowers on the table; she smiled at the plate of food and the glass of water in front of her. Dinner was done in a few minutes after that. Onir cleaned the table for the couple’s breakfast of next morning. She slept peacefully that night.

Part III

The next day, after breakfast they wanted red roses for their bedroom. Olivia walked down to the flower-beds in the backyard to pick some. Onir, who at long last gathered the guts and got rid of his lover’s abusive husband the previous night, set the table for lunch. He forgot to remove the jug of poisoned water the previous night. He replaced that jug with a fine bottle of wine to celebrate. Olivia’s husband turned in his grave below the chrysanthemums in the garden.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Susanna’s Seven Husbands

Susanna, sixteen and sweet as honey
loved a boy in her Spanish class.
Cute he was, hadn’t much money,
but soon exchanged rings of brass.
Features fine, manners he lacked many;
soon into his grave she let him pass!

A pleasant gentleman made her stop
at his backyard daily where his roses grew.
He too watched, shyly, at her coffee shop
pretty Susanna who was nearly twenty-two.
Married when, in a letter, the question popp’d
but his laconic love made poison bid him adieu!

Touring the world, she met a rich man;
talkative, humorous, a handsome Dutch.
A man of many hobbies – he wrote,swam,ran…
He loved to talk – of his hobbies and such;
She wedded him when they visited Japan;
also, aptly silenced him as he talked too much!

Thirty, lovelier, more mature,
took to poetry in her idle evening hours;
would read and relish lines so pure
by tranquil poets of love, nature, stars…
So married she, out of innocent allure;
a poet, infidel – soon pushed up daisy flowers!

Forty and pretty, love she did crave;
found a doctor, her suitor, lovable for sure.
After marriage, more and more love he gave,
said often, “For my sadness, it’s the cure…”
till the day she plonked him into his grave.
She thought his love too selfish to endure!

For a very brief period, she married a professor
-a scientist, genius, unselfish, naive-
for he said, “Marry me now,” in a puerile manner
and waited very long, from husband one to five.
At the end of a month, she, with an electric driller,
bored him to death – as he did, in a way, when alive!

The last of her husbands, but not the least-
he loved her in a way she hadn’t known before…
Sixty, as old as she, handsome, was a holy priest;
Prince Charming was he, the stuff of folklore.
Not a day into wedlock he was among the deceased…
because true love they finally got; and so, she too was no more!

P.S. The inspiration to write on this particular subject came from the title of one of Ruskin Bond’s short stories, ‘Susanna’s Seven Husbands’, on which the yet to be released Bollywood flick, ‘7 Khoon Maaf’ is supposedly based. Though I don’t know a single detail further about the short story as such, I picked up hints from the promos of the film (of it being a dark comedy, of  there being murders of husbands etc. ) to conjure up this amateurish play of words to convey my own imagination of a dark story about Susanna’s seven husbands.

P.P.S. Happy Valentine’s Day. This is the primary inspiration to write about love. It had to be dark because it’s my blog and today I celebrate the first anniversary of my blog.