"Ta daaaa!!! Do you like it?. " I made this one just for you." He asked her, expecting to be showered with praises and love yous and hugs and kisses and "wowwww this is sooo nice", "this is the bestest, most sweetest thing , anyone has ever done for me". He was expecting this followed by the genuine but routine tears in the eyes, 'touched by your gesture', serious look, followed by a quiet little love you. You know the only that isn't exactly said out loud but isn't just a whisper as well. The effect of it has to do more with the serene movement of the lips and the mouth as they make sure that the words 'love you' are understood. Only on this particular instance they weren't understood because they weren't said.
She stepped back a little. Had a good look at the painting. And then another. And then exhaled. Or rather something that was more like a sigh Not the one that suggests that the person is touched and is at a loss of words to express themselves, but a sigh that says that the person is disappointed and is quickly thinking of a way to answer the dreaded 'So what do you think about it?" question, usually asked with an idiotic grin, full of expectations, with the least deriding answer.
And then it happened. "So, what do you think about it? Do you like it? I have been painting this one, just for your, for the past 3 months now." He asked and said those things with an idiotic grin filled with expectations. "Hmmm...well it is nice...it is really nice". She said with an amount of conviction that was made conspicuous by its absence. He looked hurt. Then immediately manned up to show that he was an opened minded person, open enough to take criticism, without getting all worked up and unnecessarily defensive about it.
"Well you can tell me on my face that you don't like it, you know. Its not as if you have to pretend to like it if you don't. The one thing I value the most, about us, is the fact that we can talk to each other without feeling obligated to please. It is this openness that makes our relationship special, you see. So tell me. Tell me exactly what you feel about it. That you did not quite like it, is evident. But pray tell me, what is it that you do not like about it. Is the dislike related to a some aspects or is it the entire painting that you dislike?" He inquired.
"Hmm...well...its not exactly that I don't like it" she started to say.
"Ahaaan! so you do not like it! Just as i thought!" He jumped in and commented before she could finish what she had to say.
"Well now don't jump the comment like that. Its not what I meant. I mean, its not like I don't like it, and please let me finish what I have to say before you barge in with your thoughts again! All I am saying is, it is good. But I don't quite understand the meaning behind it. I, as you know, am not blessed with the creative intuition as yourself. So, if you could help me understand what it is that the painting stands for, then may be I could appreciate it even more".
"It was all a waste of time." He said angrily. "I was an idiot to think that this painting, that this silly painting for which I spent away days and nights, for 3 whole months, would please you. I should have known better. I am such an idiot. And what is this non-sense about you finding it good and it 'not being bad', when you don't even understand what the painting means! It is rather absurd, you know, to make a statement like that. Even a twelve year old could tell you that. And do I now need to interpret it for you to make you like it. I thought the painting was pretty obvious. I painted it just for you. 'Explaining a painting just ruins it completely. It moots the whole point! Doesn't it?!" He said, half fuming with anger and half puffing with disappointment.
"This is exactly what I hate about you. First you insist that I be honest with you and sing a lullaby about how it is important to give honest feedback and how that very quality differentiates us from the rest and when I do that you can't handle it. You get angry and tell me that a twelve year old is smarter than I am and that I am an idiot. Well this is in fact a bit too much! It is quite unacceptable. First of all I did not ask you to paint it for me. Secondly. If it was painted for me, why haven't you used the purple colour. You know that it is my favourite colour and one would not be wrong in thinking that when you paint for someone you might as well use their favourite colour!"
"What! this is ridiculous. How do you go from not liking my painting to hating me!!! We were talking about the painting weren't we! How do you get at hating me so easily! And no! I did not say that you are an idiot. And I did not say that a twelve year old was smarter than you. Well, yes, I did mention a twelve year, but it was in a different context. And Jesus. You decided that the painting was not made for you just because I did not use the colour purple. For one stupid colour, you choose to not even acknowledge that I did make this painting for you and that this is more than just a painting, these are my feelings for you. Does all that mean nothing just because I did not use the colour purple? Are my feelings not clearly visible in the painting? Or do I have to spell it out for you!!! he yelled.
"Wow. This is just great! Like always this is my fault! Yes. Sure. Go ahead blame me. Its not I who hate you. Its you who hates me. You know the truth is that you don't even love me anymore! That is a fact! Don't even think of denying it. You even find my favourite colour purple to be stupid. You have changed. Your feelings for me have changed and may be that is why I could not see them in that painting of yours! You told me yourself that you liked the colour purple too and now all of a sudden you find it stupid!!! Or is it me that you find stupid and have lost interest in?!" She said this and started to cry bitterly. What started as a sob was now a full fledged attack of breathlessness plus hysteria for her and a full blown guilt trip for him.
He immediately went by her side and held her close and told her, "I am really sorry, my love. I am really stupid sometimes. I did not mean to hurt you. Forget the damn painting. Its not even important. Forget it." He said, filled with a sense of panic and a heavy conscience.
"I can't forget it. Its true. That is exactly why you never even hold the door for me anymore or pull my chair and wait for me till I am seated. We do not even eat from the same plate anymore. You even forgot to compliment me on my new hairstyle and do not even remember the names of my relatives. Don't you get me started now! There are million such instances. Please don't get me started. Haven't you hurt me enough already!" she said with the looks of a deer shot in the heart by a merciless hunter."
"But love, when did all this happen??? I do not even remember. A million instances??? But surely, that can't be! Are you saying that, ignoring you and not paying attention to you and not loving you is the only thing I have done in this relationship of ours? Well, when you say a million instances that is what you are suggesting, aren't you. And it is stretching it a little isn't it, calling those people your relatives? I mean using the word 'distant' before those relatives would only cover half the distance between you and them in terms of the relationship! Besides you, yourself told me that they are not that important to you anyways and that you hardly ever stayed in touch with them, in fact, never stayed in touch with them?! He said, exasperated, for in his mind he was trying to recollect a few names to save grace and the number of instances when he did do something that showed he loved her just as much and that those instances were in fact far greater in numbers than instances that would suggest otherwise. But as luck would have it, he could recall none at that point in time. He knew he was doomed, and now, destined to lose this argument.
"Very well then, if you still cannot accept your mistake, I must be the better person and say that it is my fault and that I am sorry for it. I am sorry for all of it! This is how it starts doesn't it. First you forget all our special moments and then my relatives and eventually you will forget me as well". She said this and burst out crying. The kinds that you know will pass in a few moments if you do not pay attention, but also know that you would be called heartless and uncaring and cold for the rest of your life if you did not.
He went close to her and held her. Told her that he was sorry and that it was his mistake and that he truly felt that he was blessed to have someone like her in his life and that he did love her more than anything, anyone else. Miraculously the crying stopped in a few moments and they stayed there, with her head planted on his chests and with her talking to him in that inaudible and slightly irritating baby voice, the one that hints that 'I am vulnerable like a child, that I am an innocent angel and that I have been badly hurt and that I need to be taken care of'.
He held her close. Not moving, thinking that he did not want to put her in any discomfort, in spite of the fact that his knees, hands and shoulders were going numb. Gently, he told her, "I even wrote a poem for you, it has the word Purple in it. Do you want me to read it out for you?"
"Not now". She said. " I just want to be like this with you for some more time"
He closed his eyes as well. Or was it rolled his eyes, no one can tell. They just stayed there, like that, without moving, the silence broken only with the sound of their breathing.