With a satisfied grunt and a smile on his face, he looked at himself in the mirror. A pair Full-Marathon finisher medals hung around his neck. His expression was priceless as he held them in his hands. Today he didn’t mind his balding head where he had to cover his balding scalp by pulling his hair over the bald patch.
His wife walked up to him and hugged him from behind. “You finally don’t reek of sweat”, she commented as she held on to him breathing in the scent of her freshly bathed husband. The warmth of her touch relieved him and an instant wave of bliss and fatigue hit him.
“Aren’t things so good around here? I have you behind my back, Aadesh will be home in another five hours, and we can, as a family spend time this Dussehra” to which Mrs Dubey said, “Yes love, I’m here always. And what you did today is something we’ll be proud of and you being an idiot won’t let anyone forget about it.”
“Yes, I will never stop telling people that a 52-year-old woman and a 54-year-old man, as a couple finished a marathon together. I love you, dear. You made this happen!”
The couple smiled silently for they didn’t need words to express how they felt about each other right then. They found solace in their silence and joy in each other’s arms. As though they had an unspoken consent, the couple turned off the lights and got into bed.
Did I just see the reflection smile and wink? Anand wondered. No ways, just tricks of the mind playing on an ageing man.
Shanti set up an alarm for 0300 hrs as they had to leave for the airport to receive Aadesh when he and his friend Vinay landed.
The alarm rang at 0300 hrs sharp and went on ringing for a while as the couple slept. The alarm eventually gave up I guess I’ll ring again after ten minutes. Lazy humans, they employ me and overwork me unnecessarily.
There seemed to have been some movement in the room. Anand dropped Shanti’s eyeliner to the ground. He picked it up and placed it at the right place because he knew Shanti never liked it when he messed up.
He turned off the alarm and changed to a fresh pair of clothes.
An hour later he was at the airport. Apparently, Vinay’s parents had to go to a funeral of one of their relatives and asked if Anand could drop Vinay at their place. Shanti was too exhausted to come. He tried to wake her up but she wouldn’t budge. He kissed her on the forehead and left a note by the bed.
Notes were way more romantic than sending messages through the phone. And that’s how you keep up the romance in a 32-year-old relationship!
Just as he was smiling to himself he felt someone walking up to him and when he looked up Aadesh hugged him tight screaming,”Daaaad!!! I’ve missed you! Where’s mum” Anand hugged his son back.
“She’s tired from yesterday. You’ll have to make do with your old man.”
They had a really special bond, the father and son. No matter how many fuck ups Aadesh had done, he was always there as a mentor and not to mention, like a friend. Their weekend trips were just magical. Both the men spent a lot of time in kindling their father-son relationship. The distance just seemed to make their relationship stronger.
Aadesh pushed his dad up and clutched his chest. “What was that?”, he asked.
“That’s”, Anand rejoiced, fished out two medals from underneath his shirt,” Your mums and my hard work, kid!”
“Vinay! I pay up buddy. You lost. I told ya, my dad would show off the medals!”
“Congrats uncle! How are you?”, asked Vinay.
“Perfect. Son. So ready? let’s go back home!”
Anand woke up to laughter coming from downstairs. He recognized the voices of Shanti and Aadesh He looked at the wall clock which said 1038 hrs. Damn! I overslept!
Wait… Aadesh? Who went to pick him up? I overslept.
He ran downstairs and stood in the hallway. He walked towards the kitchen where he saw the mom and son chatting up and the table full of chocolates and goodies from Massachusetts. There was a medal regarding some competition Aadesh had won while at MIT.
Aadesh looked towards him,” Hey dad! How was your sleep? You really were extra tired yesterday. You’re getting old! I had to drive back home yesterday and you slept in the car itself. Oh, by the way, look what I got you….” Anand zoned out and he barely heard anything after that.
Did I sleep in the car? It makes no sense. I had been sleeping since night and I never once woke up.
“Sweety? Sweetheart?”, Shanti tried to get his attention. “Adi was showing his medal. You alright?”
“Yeah. I’m alright”, he snapped and turned and left to his room.
As he walked up he overheard Adi asking, “What’s happened?”
“I don’t know, he may be tired. Let’s give him some time to himself. He’ll come around.”
He went to his room. He decided to have a bath. Maybe he’ll get over his confusion he thought.
After a shower, he felt relieved. His muscles seemed to have re-relieved themselves.
As he started to change. He put on a little deodorant. He flexed his muscles in the mirror.
Oooh yeah! Who’s the man? Huh? Who’s the pro? Hurrah!!! Who’s the man? I am!
“You are”, he heard his own voice.
I never said anything where’s this coming from? Did the reflection just talk? I may be going insane!!!
“Anand? Here’s coffee. Feeling better, love?” Shanti entered the room with a tray and a mug of coffee.
As Anand was about to pick up the mug he heard a sound behind him.
His reflection had an outstretched hand and said, “one for me too, sweetheart.”
The reflection of Anand looked at him and said, “We have quite a lot to talk about. Too lazy to even pickup your son?”
And there stood a bewildered Shanti with a tray in her hand, about to shriek with a sight of two live Anands in front of her.