Getting to Know a Stranger, He Said
I never thought I’d see the day when a stranger would stand in my kitchen, chopping vegetables in awkward silence.
I had only known her as my wife for a week. Our parents had taken care of all the arrangements, and they were extremely pleased when the local astrologer announced that our horoscope compatibility score was reasonably high.
Somehow, I doubted that. Ananthi was a fairly beautiful woman, but I barely knew her. Though I respected my parents’ wishes, I wondered deep down if such a thing would ever work out between us.
Nevertheless, there was something…heavy in the air that I couldn’t quite identify, and it bothered me. It bothered me a lot.
Ananthi’s yelp of pain snapped me out of my reverie. I saw her place her left thumb in her mouth.
I walked up to her and asked her if she was all right.
Her emerald green eyes stared back at me in surprise. She took her thumb out of her mouth immediately.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I was careless. I’ll be more careful next time.”
“Let me have a look at that wound.”
“It’s all right, Rakul,” she reassured me. “It’s just a shallow cut.”
“Perhaps, but I’d still like to see it,” I insisted.
She looked at me as if I had uttered something blasphemous. “Rakul, is everything all right?”
“Everything is fine,” I blurted out. “Actually, not everything is fine.”
“What is the matter?”
“Nothing. Everything. I don’t know.” I scratched my nape in exasperation.
She looked as if I had struck her physically. “Are you…displeased with me?”
I sighed. “No, I’m not. But I think that maybe I should do the cooking. That is, after we see to your wound.”
As soon as I had spoken the words, I thought she’d be offended, but she looked oddly relieved instead.
“I think you’re right,” she said with a slight smile. “To be honest, I’m not much of a cook, anyway.”
I found myself smiling for some reason. After examining her hand, I grabbed the nearest strip of Band-Aid and wrapped it around her finger. “That should do it.”
“Thank you,” she said softly.
“You’re welcome,” I flashed her a wry smile. “Now, will you please, please let me do the cooking?”
“By all means,” she giggled. “I thought you’d never ask.”
Perhaps it wasn’t so bad to have a stranger for a wife after all.