The Come Back – Chapter 25
by Anita Menon
” Did you talk to her about this?” , Anna asked Richard as gently as she possibly could. But her tone gave away what she was feeling inside.
Richard shook his head, sipped on his Earl grey and looked out of the large French windows of his posh home. His wife’s home.
They were sitting on the plush Chesterfield couch, in the fabulously furnished living room with a faux fire-place and large French windows that opened to a garden with petunias and peonies. Richard had asked all the house staff to take off for a day since he wanted to spend the day with Anna. He would have loved to have her stay overnight but she seemed to not want to do that until he gave her some clarifications.
“What does that mean, Richard?”, asked Anna. This time her irritation clearly showed as she put the tea-cup back on the table with a little more force.
“Darling, you don’t have to get worked up. I haven’t got the opportunity to talk to her. She is travelling all the time as you know…..” his voice trailed off as he heard his cell phone buzz. He retrieved the cell phone from his pant pocket, expecting it to be a call from the hospital. He picked it up to answer the call which was from his wife.
“Honey, how are you? Hope you are having a wonderful time in Germany.” Anna heard Richard squeaking and stuttering as if attempting to mask his guilty conscience. Anna could hear his wife’s animated voice and sunk back into the couch. She found herself fuming and somewhere inside, she could hear Ash’s warning echoing in her head. Maybe Ash was right after all. She was wasting her time with Richard and he was only playing with her emotions. It would be easier for her to get out of this purposeless relationship right now as with each passing day it she was getting really attached to Richard.
But Richard was everything she was looking for in her man. He was the perfect person to love and to have as a husband. An established doctor, a man of the world, played golf, had a great dressing sense and was crazy about her; how can anybody pass a package like that? Love can happen and maybe it is happening, she forced herself to think. But everything would pan out well, if and only if his wife left him for good. It had become a norm on days his wife traveled for her business, Richard would immediately send for Anna and they would spend a large part of the day together exploring each other in every way possible way. But it was getting a little uncomfortable with Richard not really doing anything to divorce his wife. Each time he would have a convenient excuse to give. Anna understood that Richard was a busy doctor and a husband to a busier wife but it seemed many times that Richard was using her fill up any empty time slot when he either didn’t have to be at the hospital or with his wife. But he was so good at how he made her feel and she couldn’t forget the devotion with which he treated her Papa. For that, she would always feel grateful to him.
But things were even more complicated. Richard had a 7-year-old daughter who studied in a boarding school. When Richard told her this, she was aghast and felt even more miserable about what she was about to do. But clearly, Richard was not happy with his wife and found solace in Anna’s arms and for that reason alone she had the right to be in his life. Anna hadn’t met or seen his wife or his daughter and did not even wish too. She wanted everything to be as painless as possible. Richard knew what he was doing and she trusted him to handle everything with grace.
Richard had just finished his call and placed the phone back into his pocket. He turned to face Anna but she did not look at him. He slid very close to her and held her in a close embrace slowly kissing her cheeks. She freed herself with a rude gesture, got up, straightened her skirt and picked up her purse lying at the foot of the large couch. She could see that Richard’s pleasant demeanour had changed to an anxious one. His forehead furrowed and suddenly he looked very old. For the first time she saw he had quite a few grey hair lurking from under his perfectly tamed mane and she felt irritated at how well put together he seemed all the time.
Richard caught her and pulled her down back on the couch. He started to slowly massage her shoulders and then the nape of her neck. Anna wanted him to stop because she knew what he was trying to do. She had to get away from him and stay away until he actually spoke to his wife about leaving her. Every waking moment she felt like she was his concubine and that filled her with such self loathing. But right now she was feeling him press into her tense muscles and relaxing her. Slowly he started to move his hands from her neck to her arms. Her nerves were tingling and she did not want him to stop ever. He laid his soft lips on the nape of her neck and started to kiss her ever so gently. Goose bumps formed a pattern on her arms which he kept soothing with his warm hands. She aided this by pulling all her hair on one side and he intensified his efforts by kisses and caressing her at the same time. He then moved his hands towards the lowest portion of her spine and slowly pushed his fingers through her cotton blouse. She closed her eyes and let out a small moan. He kept doing that for some time and Anna opened her eyes and for the first time noticed a small photo frame hiding behind the elegant lamp on the table next to the couch.. She peered closely and realized it was Richard’s wife and daughter in the photograph. Having realized that he has lost his subject’s interest for some reason, he brought his hands back to her neck and shoulders. Anna continued to look at the photograph with great interest, completely forgetting the intense exchange that was edging towards a more passionate endeavour.
“My mother is coming back.” , said Anna, very slowly.
Richard stopped massaging and turned her around to face him. He touched her face and asked, “Your mother? I thought your mother passed away since you never mentioned her before. What do you mean by she is coming back?’
“Well, she left us when I was a baby and never came back to see how we were doing. I never got a chance to know her and my father and sister hated her with a passion for what she had done. I wasn’t too curious about her so I never tried to know who she was and why she left us. But now Papa wants to see her and she has agreed to come back to see him. I am in a mess as I don’t know how to react when I face her.”, Anna said.
” Well you don’t have to react to her at all for what she has done to you is absolutely unpardonable. I reckon, you ignore her completely while she visits your father and I am sure you wouldn’t miss a thing!!” , responded Richard with a sort of aggression in his voice that startled Anna.
” Why do you think is it unpardonable, Richard?” , she inquired, inquisitive and a little annoyed all the same.
“She left you and your sister when you needed her the most. I think there is no greater crime and you sisters should shun her.” , Richard replied.
“That’s quite funny, if you ask me!” , Anna mocked him.
“Whats so funny, Anna?” demanded Richard, not really grasping the sarcasm.
“If for an instant, I believed that you were to leave your wife and child to come and live with me, would that be unpardonable?” Anna responded with her tone stern.
” That is very different Anna and it would ridiculous to draw parallels here.” , he feigned a smile and answered.
“Ridiculous?? Why would it be ridiculous Richard? Why, is a father not as important as a mother? Or is it because a man can do anything and not be accountable but if a woman was to do it, it becomes an unpardonable crime?’ , questioned Anna as if debating.
Richard did not answer her but left her sitting on the couch and moved towards the French windows. The sun was setting and the fading light made the shadows longer.
Then without turning to look at her, Richard said, “Let me ring for a taxi to take you home.”