A stainless steel tumbler, a painted ceramic coffee mug, a white melamine plate with pale blue floral motif on the rim. A spoon and a fork. A single set of bedsheet and pillowcase that seem to match the plate. A woollen blanket. A floral print towel. Wrapped in several layers of polythene bags are two bottles of pickles.
He smiled at the care package his mother put together with much love and thought, as her newly-wed son moved towns to richer pastures.
It was a new beginning, the first day of the rest of his life.
In a week his wife would join him, before which he would go shopping for essentials.
Tucked under the care package is a thick folder containing brochures to holiday destinations. A bucket list the two had put together over the last six years of courtship. Destinations that now seem affordable with this new job. He is a content man.
It’s 10.30 pm, but she insists on unpacking before bathing and hitting the sack. She removes the dinner set and keeps it aside; that can wait for later.
She takes out fresh sheets and towels for her new home, and heads to the bedroom. Two single mismatched sheets cover the double bed. Two mismatched pillows sit next to a woolen blanket and a new fleece. She smiles at the gawkiness of her husband’s housekeeping skills. She makes the bed anew with carefully selected handwoven linen.
Walking into the kitchen for the promised hot cup of coffee, she sees not the bareness of the shelves, but the forced pairs of utensils that gaze back at her.
He recounts his shopping expedition, his attempt at making a home from ones to twos. The childish excitement that would have in a different environment become enthusiastic intimacies was now met with muted hurt.
She says nothing.
But as the years roll on, fresh bruises will open old wounds. Unexpressed emotions will battle with cruel words.
What could be ripped and broken, will be. The idea of the single tumbler and bedsheet will be both attacked and defended with equal ferocity. The demons will follow them even to the destinations they manage to cover.
That’s in the future.
For now they stand in the brightly-lit kitchen, disconnected.
Her expectations of a marriage, his lack of it; His ability to see his mother’s love separate from his marital role; Her inability to do so… As tears sting her eyes, she turns away.
With that the two have opened their kitty of blame, hurt and unmet expectations.