His Spectacles next to the Bed

By Nandita Mundle

I could see his spectacles lying on the table next to the bed. The alarm clock said 5:45. The sky was turning pink as I watched it. He still slept like a child.  His right leg pulled up to his chest, his left outstretched below it. The left ankle peeking out from below the bed sheet.


I sat up in bed, propped up the pillows and watched him as he slept on, oblivious to the sky waking up. His jaw line was framed in rough black stubble. His Sunday grunge look.  


His Sunday look mostly consisted of blue, military green or beige (or what he called cream) shorts coupled his various grey t-shirts. This look was reluctantly substituted for cargos or his favourite pair of blue jeans and maroon t-shirt when we had to do any kind of socializing. Ofcourse our weekly grocery shopping also fell into the category of socializing as we normally ran into someone we knew when we went shopping, which normally meant dinner and drinks out.


No matter who we were meeting, nothing would persuade him to shave on a Sunday. He had a whole list of excuses ready for why it was immoral/ unreligious/ illegal even to shave on a Sunday. It was also illogical to shave on a Sunday.


So it was with this Sunday shadow that he nestled into his bed sheet even more firmly as it got closer to 6:00. His steel watch hung precariously over the edge of the bedside table, silver grey framing the dark teakwood corner.

He always removed it and placed it there as we got into bed. And whenever we fooled around, after we finished, he’d always have a look at the time before we went to sleep. It always seemed as if he wanted to check how long we were at it. As if to record the performance for posterity. I always had a quick vision of him writing down the date and performance timings in some small notebook.


He was probably just checking what time we were going to bed.


I looked to the right of the room, beyond him at the slightly open bathroom door. He normally brushed his teeth after me, just before he came to bed. As he emerged from the bathroom, he’d carefully pull the bathroom door after him and stop before it completely shut. At almost the same angle every night. I think he liked to leave it just a little open; it was a comfort factor with him.


From where I sat in bed, if I tilted my head a bit, I could see the reflection of the edge of the basin in the bedroom mirror. I could see the toothbrush stand. His light sky blue and my light mauve toothbrushes standing next to each other in the semi translucent pink colored plastic cup that served as our toothbrush stand. I couldn’t make out which was his toothbrush and which was mine from this distance. He always complained he couldn’t tell the difference even from up close. “The colors are the same”, he’d say. I had long ago given up trying to explain the difference between light sky blue and light mauve. I would just brush my teeth first and keep my toothbrush outside the stand, till he’d finished brushing.


I could see his tie peeking out between the cupboard doors, caught there in the hastily closed doors. The navy blue and a blurred dash of silver visible between the wooden edges. I thought back to about eleven months ago, when he’d try to teach me how to knot the tie. We’d stand before the mirror, with his arms around me guiding my hands to do the loops correctly. We never got too far. I never learnt how to complete the knot. I did get very deft at removing the tie though.


He turned over in his sleep, mumbled to himself and licked his dry lips. The sheets entangled between his legs, over his stomach and under his shoulders. This was his early morning ritual. Now he’d have a violent struggle with the sheets, to get them over him as the alarm rang out in the background. He’d moan at the alarm and increase his struggle with the sheets. He’d eventually give up, look over to my side with his eyes closed, as I turned off the alarm. He’d smile in his sleep and then finally open his eyes and blink till he got the sleep out of his eyes.


He’d get up on his elbows and take a break. He’d rest his head on the headboard, close his eyes and try to steal a few more seconds of sleep. He’d look the best then, his hair completely rumpled, his unshaved mug, his head back, eyes closed, and a slight smile on his lips as he sneaked in a few more seconds.


He’d look completely ‘delicious’ then.


I suddenly wondered about when I had started using that word.


I thought back to 2 years ago when someone else was the delicious one. When every thought, every memory had him in it. When I imagined only his toothbrush next to mine. When only his quirks made me smile. Not today.


That was yesterday.


I’m making new memories now.