Adam looked at the two adults seated at the same table and he thought back to the day that this had all begun:
“You talk too much!” the lady’s voice had been harsh with hardly suppressed anger.
“You should know,” the man had almost sneered at the beautiful woman dressed smartly in calf-length skirt and a light blue blouse. “Judging a person’s talk is what you do at work anyway and you never knew how to keep work and personal life separate, now did you?”
Adam had just looked on in bewilderment, gripping the handle of his little plastic mug tight, unsure of what to do.
“Are you saying something here? If you are, say it outright! We’re both adults. Aren’t we?” Her voice had become louder and louder and her eyebrow had shot up, a danger signal that the man knew very well.
“You want me to utter those filthy words. Words that you have no qualms about acting out.” He had wanted her to hurt. She deserved to after the hell she had put him through.
“I have had enough!” Her fists had been clenched into tight balls. “You are jumping to conclusions, and I will not stoop to your level! You did it before, you think I didn’t know? Well, I do and I think of it everyday and I-would-love-to-do-the-same-to-you!” Her words had been grated out between clenched teeth.
“You ungrateful ….!” The man had brought his fist down on the glass coffee table, shattering it in one violent movement and drowning out the rest of his words.
Adam had felt the tears falling and his chest had clenched in fear. “Mummy?” he had managed through his sobs. “Why are you and Daddy fighting?”
“We aren’t fighting, honey,” the lady had told him.
The man had been swearing under his breath.
“Jaan, you’re bleeding.” She had grabbed the table cloth and reached out for his hand.
“Don’t touch me,” he had snarled and stalked out of the room, a fury burning within his throat.
Anger at her for seeking solace in another, anger at himself for not being able to deny her accusations. Disgust at himself for the accusations he had hurled at her, disgust at her for not honouring her vows. Fear for their home. Pity for Adam.
The cool wind from the porch had hit his face, helping him breathe a little easier. His hand had begun to throb where the glass pieces had pierced through.
“Da?” The voice had shook slightly.
The man had turned to face his eight-year-old. “Come here, son.”
The boy had gone to the man’s side. “Mummy asked you to hold the hand tight and wrap it in this,” the child had told him, brown eyes big and saucer-like as he held out a dish cloth. “Does it hurt, Da? Shall we go to the doctor?”
The man had laughed a short curt laugh. “I am a doctor, Adam.”
The boy had nodded and kept quiet for a minute. “I thought you told Mummy that she was always your doctor?” His brows had been furrowed as he tried to recall a memory.
“I’m not sure that’s true anymore.” The man’s voice had been gruff.
“Do you have another doctor now?” the boy had asked seriously.
“Jaan, get into the car. You probably need stitches.” The lady had appeared at the doorway with her handbag slung over one shoulder.
“Mummy, why are you crying?” Adam had asked noticing her tear-streaked face.
“Stop being melodramatic. I’m the one with the bleeding hands.”
“Just shut the hell up and get into the car.” Her voice had been cool. She knew her ability to keep an even temper infuriated her husband even more than her anger.
“Let me tell you what you can do with the car…” His voice had been dangerous and his eyes glinting as he advanced on her, pinning her against the white walls of the porch.
“Daddy, stop…!” Adam had started crying again as he watched his mother’s face pale with fear.
“Jaan, I never slept with him,” the lady had whispered into his broad shoulders. “There was flirting, but it was on his side.”
“You lie,” he had growled in a low voice.
“You believe what you want. I made it seem that way because I was mad at you about Anita.”
“What?” His dark eyes had been fixed on her face.
“She told me that…”
The man had taken two steps backwards. “That’s untrue. You actually believed her?” His tone had been incredulous.
“Why would she lie?”
“I wish I knew…”
“So, shared custody?” his father asked his mother and his polite voice cut through Adam’s reverie.
“Agreed. We’ll sell the house and car and share the sum equally.”
Now they were signing a whole sheaf of papers. His father was in a hurry, he was going to meet Aunty Anita for tea. His mother’s cell phone beeped and she picked up the call.
“Hi, honey,” she said into the mouthpiece and Adam saw his father grimace.
His father had said that his mother was going to marry a friend from work but he still looked at her in the same way and at nights sometimes his mother cried herself to sleep and mumbled his father’s name in her troubled slumber.
The nine-year-old looked at the two adults who had been the pillars of his life and wondered how they failed to see what was so clear to him.
He watched the weave of the pen across the divorce papers as they signed the agreement to end their marriage and Adam felt hollow inside. He felt helpless and wished he could do something to make it right again. He watched and wished that they would see and understand that he did not want this.
“Take care then.” Adam stood by his father as his mother walked away and he heard the shallow intake of breath from his father and knew that it was a sigh of regret.
Adam wanted to cry but instead he put his hand into his father’s and held on tightly, willing him some comfort.
“Mummy won’t be coming back. She’ll be happier this way,” his father said softly as the black Toyota pulled away.
Adam wondered if what his father had said was true and wondered if his father actually believed it to be true. Adam wondered if his father was just pretending to be OK, like his mother was. Adam wondered how much longer he could wear the façade of the shoulder to lean against for his parents for he too was pretending not to hurt inside.
“All the world is a play and we are but actors in it” -William Shakespeare -
“Forgive and forget. Easier said than done.” - Anon -