'Stop looking in the mirror,' Reema instructed Sanjay. 'The signal is red and it's for three minutes. So, just chill,' he replied to his wife who was extra protective of their new car. 'By the way, what are you admiring in yourself?' she teased.
'Not admiring silly, something is stuck between my teeth. Trying to pluck it out,' Sanjay tried to soothe the irritating area with his tongue. 'We should keep toothpicks in the dashboard; now we have a car, we can carry whatever we like,' his wife didn't miss the opportunity to take pride in the new possession.
'Drive!' she pointed towards the green light and thanked her superstitious mom. Unlike her husband who had perfect teeth, Reema had huge gap between her teeth. Her mother believed in the superstition that gap between teeth brought good luck. So, the imperfection was never corrected. She hated it but at least nothing ever got stuck in her teeth. She plugged in her headphones and listened to her favorite song.
She enjoyed the drive back home. No pacing down from office to bus stop, no struggle to push people to get into the bus and no tricks to catch a seat. She could spend more time with her husband. Now, they came back together in their new car. She loved the traffic signals a lot. They talked about their day and the halt at traffic signals was perfect to prolong that conversation. They listened to their favorite songs, chatted, stopped at road-side for snacks. She felt fresh when she reached home.
Reema started advocating her new found bliss to her friends. 'You should also buy a car. It's so much fun. We talk, listen to music and enjoy,' she brimmed with pride. 'Listen to music? I would rather finish my work on my laptop and watch my favorite shows on TV later at home,' one of her friends contested. Reema liked the idea, she pondered and did the same that day while going back home. She immersed herself in work and completed the task even before she reached home.
Once back, she changed and cooked. Then, she sat in front of TV to watch her favorite shows. 'Sanjay, this is amazing. Why don't you come and watch.' 'No, I don't like these saas-bahu sagas,' he went for stroll after dinner and Reema paid no heed to the beginning of a drift.
She continued this routine for few days and when Sanjay couldn't bear it, he tried to talk about it. 'Reema, we bought the car for comfort. You always said we should spend some time together. Now all you do is everything but that.'
'No, what are you saying? We come together and we eat together,' she tried to defend herself.
'But, you work in the car. We eat together but you watch TV and we hardly talk,' he corrected her.
'Sanjay, I do everything, don't start fighting now. Please understand even I need some space,' she almost yelled this time.
Sanjay didn't try to correct her. She continued with her routine, created space for herself. Slowly the long chatters dimmed to occasional conversations. The drive back home turned from being joyous to dull to boring. Instead of feeling fresh, she felt tired when she reached home. Her life become mechanical. Sanjay went along with Reema's lifestyle. He became quieter, giving his wife her much needed space.
'You look tired. Are you not keeping well?' Reema's friend asked her. 'Nah! just busy,' she replied.
With passing days almost everybody asked her the same question. She could feel the change in Sanjay's behavior too. Her life became a chart, set of statistics where she ticked all activities but enjoyed none. She was caught in a labyrinth, she was ignoring all the warning signs which could solve her problem.
'I am doing everything right,' she wondered. She looked in the mirror and tried to smile. She could see the sadness even in the curve of her lips. To add to her anxiety, she found that the gap between her teeth became more prominent, as if distance between her teeth was a metaphor for her personal life. Her words struck her back. She needed space and she never realized when that space became distance.
She picked her phone and texted Sanjay - 'Lets go home early today. Pick me at 5.'
He came slightly curious but was happy to find the glorious smile on Reema's face. 'What happened? Hope everything is ok.'
'Nothing much. Sanjay, have you noticed the gap between my teeth has increased? she smiled, turned her face towards her husband to show him the gap.
'How would I? You rarely smile these days. You are super busy, enjoying your personal space,' he answered.
'I know what you are trying to say. I know I've been wrong. Now I realize that if not checked, space can become distance in relationships and can shake the foundation. It can make life dull and less attractive,' she teasingly pointed towards her teeth.
'Don't worry Reema, you can consult a dentist OR buy back your teeth from the tooth fairy to fill the gap,' he smiled at his own joke.
'Buying back sounds a better option considering the dentist fee,' she played along.
'…And what about the distance in relationships you were talking about?' Sanjay asked.
'What distance?' she moved closer to Sanjay and smiled.
The moral of the story is don't let space become distance; it's not good for relationship and teeth.