Kaki had arrived at the coffee shop uneasy because she was behind schedule. The pressure was on from the publishers to deliver on her book due for debut early the next month. Since she had not handed it to the editors, the phone had continuously been ringing with deadline threats from the people that mattered. She had promised, yet again, that in a matter of days, it would be forthcoming. That is why, even when Jay walked into the dinghy she never noticed him until he walked over. That was after he had sat and gotten struck by her beauty whilst he took his espresso. Since all his efforts of trying to catch her attention had been to nought, he had taken it upon himself to walk over and say hi. That is how it all started. After a couple of meetings, it seemed a union was in the offing. It was crystal to the pair, they were made for each other. One thing led to another, months and months down the line, they tied the knot. Their wedding wasn’t lavish but very private and reserved. Only few family and close cronies were lucky enough to witness the event. And just like that, their lives set off, in the same beat. Everyone to himself. Kaki engrossed in her books and writings, Jay in his advertising and marketing business. It worked well for the both. At least for that time. It gave Kaki ample time to devote herself to her demanding writings and Jay his job. The love was there. A match actually made in heaven. She never would notice the time he came in at night. Or him never asking for food. Most of the time, he had eaten out in the meetings, he alleged. It was no biggie for her. She wasn’t that much of a fan for cooking anyway. When the tables turned with the entry of the corona virus, it’s adverse effects weren’t felt early. It took time before the stay and work from home order was enforced to ensure Jay’s wings were clipped. All memos in his email from his superiors advised the same thing – work from home. Somehow it didn’t seem such a great idea to Jay from the very beginning. He only agreed because there was no other way. All odds were starkly against him. Still he couldn’t help feel contained, borders infringed and just couldn’t get that feeling out his gut. Mind you, it wasn’t that he didn’t love his wife. No, there marriage was okay. Rocky like all the others, but still intact. That is what mattered for them. That first day for working at home wasn’t all that bad, working on the laptop next to her in their study. Actually, it was quite refreshing that Jay naively started nursing thoughts it wasn’t that bad after all. He plodded on. That first and second day working side by side passed in a daze, Kaki buried in her laptop. She had another deadline fast approaching. Muted. That’s how she preferred it, less talk, more concentration, more efficiency, more output. That’s exactly how she would put it. Jay knew that. He toed the line. In the evening however, was when he felt best time to break the monotony. He was hungry. They could at least talk now, couldn’t they? They could do with a break, and maybe share a meal together. Unbeknown to him, Kaki had just started a new scene in her writing and her creative juices were flowing like never before. This was not the time to stop. She had to keep going while it was still flowing. While the tempo was still up there. She had to ride this wave as much as possible, because the final hand-in date beckoned, ever so close. When Jay talked to her, she did hear, though she postponed reacting as she tried to type away a narration that had fallen in place in her mind. Then as she took it away, totally forget his mere presence in the room. That’s how it always happened, she always got lost in it.  However, Jay had never experienced this with her. As he slid out the study to the kitchen solemnly, the pangs of hunger that had encroached his stomach in systematic waves, only fanned ire. His mastery and prowess in the kitchen ensured he prepared a beef sandwich out of the bacon, salad and bread in the refrigerator. It felt much better after that. Enough to go straight to bed without an afterthought. He guessed she would prefer it that way. Actually, he guessed right. The time she came to bed and left it again, he never heard. In the morning, Jay found her in the study, still at it. That’s how another day began. Another day working from home. With Kaki responding to his ‘good morning darling’ without even glancing up to him standing at the door. But it was okay, they were alright. After freshening up, he made enough coffee for the both of them. Old habits die hard. Just that aroma catapulted him back to them days. He took her a cup and settled next to her, on her right. The acknowledgement of receipt never came. Nor did the appreciation. From his basic grooming, it was common courtesy to do so. It didn’t matter anyway, she was in her own world. Not even the ‘old time’s sake’ coffee would burst that bubble. Jay shelved the negative notions, after all it was the dawn of a bright new day. He too had issues to look into, new clients to follow up on. After a short while, he too was lost in the clicks of the buttons on the keyboard. At that moment, everyone had a clean slate. Again what inspired him to resurface to the real world was hunger. At around noon this time. Her cup of coffee was empty. Jay needed food. How could he make her understand this. “Can you make something for lunch?” he asked her ever so politely. She just looked up absent-mindedly, then bowed back without a word. She was gone, just like that. It was no use repeating himself. He got the cue. His eyes turned red, blood-shot red. His breath came harder, faster and even laboured. His heart pounded on his chest massively threatening to explode his rib-cage. Jay tried all means to get a hold, but he could see he was loosing it, and fast. “I SAID CAN YOU PLEASE MAKE SOMETHING FOR LUNCH!” he shouted without warning. His voice boomed and reverberated around the walls of the study. This noise caught Kaki off guard, nearly scared the skin out of her. Her face revealed the effect the raised voice had left in its wake. Jay had never, not once, lost his cool with his wife. This was uncharted waters, new terrain for the both. Kaki could see he was shaking, struggling unsuccessively to get it in control. But she was mad, she felt perplexed and down-trodden. Why did he have to raise his voice? Was it an order or a mere request? Look now she was loosing valuable time, she could have written a whole paragraph by now. What will she tell the publishers and her editor if she didn’t deliver on time. All these thoughts somersaulted in her head, stirring her ego and anger in the same pace. Kaki wouldn’t have it. She would absolutely take non of it. The next tirade of words hauled from one spouse to the other reeked of malice and contempt. Jay couldn’t see just how Kaki could be comfortable not fulfilling her duties as a wife. And for a long time, he emphasised. Kaki on the other hand was nearly dying in shock and disbelief. Not fulfilling her duties as a wife. Where was that coming from? She opened her mouth and this time spat venom. Something within the peripherals of not standing up long enough. Something about not quenching her thirst when at the taps. Kaki unleashed, throwing caution to the wind, totally berserk, out of control. The best example of a reaction from a wounded feline. Jay’s ego was wounded. Maybe beyond repair. Abuses were one thing, but contempt was something else completely. Kaki had taken a shot at his inflatted oversized male ego and trimmed it to size. Mercilessly, for a fact. It wasn’t fair. He had tried to be a good husband, always tried to be supportive. All the hullabaloo was because he had just asked for lunch. What nonsense! Adrenaline shot through his spine as he reflected on what was causing all this tiff. Even now Kaki was still hurling absurdities, only that he was so drowned in anger, he couldn’t hear what she was ranting about. The direction the argument had taken plummeted the situation further. Even when the slap came, she never saw it coming. It caught her in the middle of a controversial quote. Right in the middle of her cheek and sent an echoing sound through to her ears. She coiled below with her hand covering the area, tears now flowing effortlessly. Kaki sank on her chair, her legs couldn’t bear her weight anymore. Her whole world was crumbling, with that one slap. He had done it. He had dared to lay a finger on her. Jay too was surprised with the agility of his hand. It had struck like a whiplash, for a second and it was over. He wasn’t in control. The hand had been controlled by his anger. His anger had gotten the best of him. What could he say to justify himself. He shouldn’t have done that, he knew it, from the utmost depth of his heart.

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