Bini wanted to lie. She wanted to say Kali was run over by a car. But if she didn’t have half the heart to speak the truth, she couldn’t lie to the man who she was married to either.
Bini had been struggling with depression for a while now. Arnab did not know. Perhaps Bini chose to believe that her husband was alien to her depression, just like he had been alien to most aspects of her life.
Two years and four months. Why did I even marry him? What was the rush?
A couple of years ago, when Arnab asked her to marry him, she could not say no. She should have said no. They were in love, but they had different plans for life. She wanted to stay back and do something of her own. He wanted to grab the opportunity that waited for him abroad.
“Let’s meet half way. It’s just a matter of two years,” he had said to convince her. “You do what you have to do here, while I make money there. I’ll come back and we’ll make babies.”
It sounded like a perfect plan. She felt loved. She felt needed. She felt like she would never be alone ever again.
“I don’t want babies. Let’s just raise a lot of dogs once you’re back.”
Those were the good times. But soon two years felt much longer than they should have, once the husband and wife started living in two different time zones.
In no time Bini had started feeling stranded in a marriage where her husband was never around, but his shadow always was. It had been difficult to communicate, with either of them tired, unhappy, or angry at all times. The love had fizzled out. The feelings had subsided. The dreams had been buried. He was not coming back for another two years, and she had built her life here in Kathmandu.
There is no midway. There are only separate ways.
Bini was not used to giving up though. Letting go would have been easier. Parting ways would have been wiser. But she stayed. She tried to keep her faith intact amid the heartbreaks, but it all back-fired. Loneliness got the better of her.
Kali, the dog Arnab had raised and left behind, was always there to keep Bini company. Kali was always there to welcome her home after a long day. Kali was there to snuggle by her side on cold nights. Kali was there to make her feel that somebody was listening while Bini cried her heart out. But Kali was a dog and sometimes all one human needs is another human. Bini needed somebody who was more than Kali; she needed Arnab, and he was probably never coming back.
Bini was particularly upset with her husband that night. She had waited the whole week for the video-call. With both of them traveling, the couple had had only the chance to text one another. And they had decided that it was going to be Saturday, when they would talk face to face without any interruption or distraction. When Saturday arrived, Arnab did not show up. Only his text did. “Love, I can’t miss this concert. It’s a once in a lifetime thing. We can always talk tomorrow. We’re not going anywhere.”
You’re right, we’re not going anywhere. We’re stuck.
“What is the point of us? What is the point of you?” Bini had kept her text short and sharp, switched off her phone, and then went to the bed where she cried for a long time before she fell asleep.
Apparently Kali was also upset about something that very night. It was 1 am and Kali had been barking for an hour straight. On other days, Bini would have dismissed it as an act of agitation caused by another being—a cat—in proximity. But this was different.
If Bini was upset before, she was agitated now. She just wanted a goodnight’s sleep if nothing else out of her miserable life. She got out of her bed, strode out to the balcony, grabbed Kali by her collar, and shut her inside the storage closet.
“You are going to stay in here for a while. This is your punishment.”
Ideally, Bini would have only shut Kali in for a minute. She’d have let her out as soon as she finished her toilet-business. But something was off that night; Bini was all over the place. She was distracted. She went to toilet, got lost in her thoughts for a long time, washed her hands, and headed straight to bed.
She was extremely exhausted—emotionally and physically—by the time she gave in to the warmth of her bed. Her phone was off, Kali was inside the closet. With no noise to wake her up again, Bini slept for 13 hours straight. When she woke up, it was too late. It was too late for everything.
She should have never been so angry in the first place. She should have taken Kali out immediately. She should have let Kali snuggle in by her side. She should have left the closet open, let some air in, at least. But she forgot.
“Kali is no more.”
“I killed her. I’m a monster.”