CONFINED

“We reached the third day of our journey, and, to be honest, things were not going well.”

Sitting in the balcony of the luxurious two-bedroom apartment in Downtown, Dubai, I sadly thought about our broken marriage. It was our wedding anniversary in a few days. As previously planned, Alex and I flew to this beautiful destination to celebrate our fifth year of tying the knot. We met while pursuing our medical degree at the University of East Anglia nine years ago. Our passion for the subject drew us closer and spent more time together. We communicated with our eyes more than words. We fell in love, and we advanced further in our relationship. Everything was going well until the third year. As we focused on building our careers, neither of us realized when the distance grew between us.

Like any other lively young couple, we were also excited to step into making our family. During our first days of life together, we decided to create milestones of our relationship memorable. So, we planned to celebrate our fifth anniversary in Dubai, which was my dream place to visit in my bucket list. As for Alex, being a workaholic, he never had time for us. He has not even made an initiative to talk to me some kind words, or even touch me, in recent years. Our life was not less than strangers under the same roof.

The first day we landed at the International airport, we were exhausted by the long flight that we took the cab home straightway. I chose to stay indoors and watch the nightlife of Dubai from the balcony. The view of Burj Khalifa was indeed magnificent, as it lit up in its might in the evening. Alex did not seem keen to spend time with me. Instead, he met with a few of his childhood friends who worked there. Even though I felt disappointed, I eagerly waited for him to take the initiative to talk to me. We only needed a good conversation, but I felt uneasy and less confident.

We had an early breakfast on the second day at the restaurant in the hotel where we stayed. Then we moved to the lobby to wait for the cab we arranged for sightseeing. Meanwhile, I saw a beautiful figure approaching us, a young woman in her thirties, smiling at Alex. He was pleasantly surprised seeing her, they greeted themselves by shaking their hands. In their excitement, I felt like a third person in their conversation, as they failed to recall my presence. Though I felt awkward, my eyes were still on their hands. They were still holding each other’s hands after the handshake. My insecurity conquered my brain, I could not help but feel jealous. But instantly, Alex let go of her hand, when he saw me staring at it. As though he forgot something, he introduced her to me as his classmate in Grammar school. Soon, the cab arrived, he waved goodbye to his old schoolmate and walked towards the entrance of the hotel. The day just passed as we strolled around the busy city of Dubai. The weather was extremely unbearable; the heat completely drained our energy. We both went to rest after a long day in the sun.

We woke up around mid-morning the next day, and we ordered some lunch instead of breakfast. Alex went for a shower, getting prepared for another outing with friends. I wished if I could save the marriage; however, he did not seem bothered. I returned to the room and took the remote control of the television. To get over my thoughts and boredom, I randomly pressed the button for anything interesting to watch. The headline flashing in the news channel struck my eyes. As a result of the worldwide pandemic, Dubai is going on lock-down until further notice. Alex, who walked out of the shower room, came and sat beside me, anxiously looking at the television. We looked at each other puzzled. We realized we are confined to this unknown space in an unfamiliar land to uncertainty.

“We are stranded here, what now?”, Alex exclaimed. The anxiety was evident in his face.

Both of us were staring at the news for so long that our eyes started hurting. I got up to make myself a cup of tea. As I put the kettle on and grabbed a coffee mug, I looked back at Alex. He responded with a meaningful look, and said, “And one for me as well please, with no sugar and a drop of milk.” His response took my thoughts to a few years back to our college days. Then, we sat together to study in my room, and he always wanted me to make his cup of tea. Unlike my milky tea, he still had his with very little milk in it. It appears that his taste never changed.

I brought him his drink, handed over to him, then took my seat beside with my cuppa. As he took the first sip, he appeared lost, with his mind miles away. As though a strange feeling of warmth streamed passed his inner being–a sense of long-lost passion that drove his mind to the past. I was his Oxygen once upon a time and now look at him. He chose to stay busy, and I remained quiet all this while. “But why?” His magnetic voice suddenly sounded in the room. I looked up to his eyes, and I sank myself in his gaze. I stood silent, as always it spoke louder than my words. He pulled me to his embrace and placed a kiss on my forehead. He held me tightly and whispered in my ears, “I am sorry.” At this moment, we both were on the same page of the book.

At this moment, my heart cried out, “I did not know for how long I waited for this, I only needed you to look at me, spare me some time. That is all I wanted. I did not want to be a hindrance in pursuing your dream, so I chose to be silent. But I am glad that you heard my cry.” As I opened my mouth, none of these words formed a voice, and I gently said,

“I love you, Alex. Happy Anniversary to us.”

Though I nearly lost my hope on this third day, my destiny took a quantum leap, so I eventually found my way to his heart. Being confined allowed us to rethink and reflect. As I look back, I understand that we were not in the wrong. It is just that we both traveled in different directions of life. I realized I was diving deep waters to find him, while he was soaring like an eagle higher in the clouds. So, I decided, to remain on the same page,

“I’d rather be a bird than a fish.”

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