“I feel tired.” Zoya pulls the blanket around her.
“Is there something I can do?” Haneef caresses her hands peeping out of the woolen cover. He puts his phone aside.
“I keep thinking of this old building – bungled with broken windows, open and waiting for the footsteps to come in to close its front door. ” Zoya stares at the image of a smiling baby on the wall.
“It gets cold at night and I cannot sleep.” Her distracted sentence brings her eyes together, knitting the creases above.
“Is it cold inside the building?” His gentle voice breaks the tension on her forehead.
“Do you remember how we used to go in search of abandoned buildings? There were plenty and were always full of stained glass pieces, pile of wood chips and rotting leaves as if someone was left in the open after being hit by a car, to die? How you used to hunch a little while carrying me all the way to get to the patio or a balcony?”
“So we could view the shoddy world from a ruin and not the other way round.” He matches word to word that falls off her lips.
“Those were my happiest moments Haneef, I could do anything and everything, because there was something older and fragile ahead of me willing to fade away.”
“Now at the frontline, I wait for some young ones to come my way; see the world through the patio of my experienced eyes and feel good about themselves.”
“I am here, I am watching the world, I am with you.” He reaches out for her hands.
“It is a lonely feeling, ” she starts sobbing.
“I know, ” He pauses to let his voice not crack up.
“It is lonely to keep dying everyday, it is lonely to feel hopeful that someday a miracle will resurrect you; paint your walls fresh; repair the door and sweep out the debris of misgivings, guilt and disappointments so someone can find you worthy to call you his home.”
“You are my home, dearest.” He strokes her hair.
“Then why don’t you marry me? Tell me Haneef, will you marry me? Please?” She tightens the grip.
“Of course, here, I have a ring for you.” He smiles and slips the golden, shinning metallic circle into her quivering, skeleton fingers, as if trying to balance her uncertainty with the weight of matrimony.
“It is time to pray, help me.” Suddenly, she sounds detached, trying to get up.
“It’s OK my dear, I will pray for both of us, you should get some sleep now. I will be back.” He gets up, tucking her hands in.
He stands outside the room and watches his wife of thirty years, struggle to find the lost words and to locate the traces of her sanity on the clean, evacuated slate of her mind with a smile and a tear. His hand travels to his pocket to meet the jingle of several metallic rings, each hoping to become a mark of their love, someday. Just like all the abandoned buildings of the world.
Above in response to Moi’s weekly picture challenge
Above also in response to Weekly writing challenge: Dialogue