Deadly Poison

The sight of his mother seated silently at the dining table, staring vacantly into space, further incensed her.

“Then perhaps it is time we thought of a divorce!” Sarah snapped at Vivek.

He didn’t seem shocked or surprised.

“I think you’re right. That might be a great idea. For both of us,” he said, feigning in-difference.
Sarah was more than annoyed now. She had thought the idea of a divorce would make him panic. His deliberate acceptance of the idea raised her blood pressure even more. The very thought that he was quite willing to spend the rest of his life without her, left her confused and enraged.

“But aren’t we supposed to be Christians?” She retorted furiously.

“So what?” He went on without any apparent emotion.

“Aren’t we supposed to be ready to forgive each other?” Her anger was unabated

“Of course we are. You start the forgiving.I will hear you out. And if I find that you are sincere about it, then I’ll accept your forgiveness.”

She screamed, “You ask for forgiveness from me.I didn’t do anything wrong. You are at fault.That’s beyond doubt.”

“Okay, since we can’t agree about who should forgive whom, we’ll go ahead with your suggestion. We’ll get a divorce” he said firmly, without even looking at her. She just hated the deliberate calmness with which he spoke to her. She had felt so stressed out lately. What was happening to them? This was the fourth time they had fought this week. Each time the arguments had gone from bad to worse. And now they were talking about divorce. And she was the one who had mentioned it first. She had only meant to scare him into pleading her to forgive him. But it hadn’t worked. He had seized it as an opportunity to further intimidate her.

She desperately longed to put an end to this heated exchange. She didn’t really want to hurt him. It all began when Vivek had brought his mother home after his father had died of a heart-attack. Since his mother was suffering from dementia, he was left with no choice but to bring her home to take care of her. He himself had been very attached to his father. Sarah had liked her father-in-law too. He had been a very warm and affectionate man. With the help of a nurse he had taken good care of his wife in her illness.

Now, Sarah had been compelled to resign from her job to take care of her. But she found that handling an ailing mother-in-law with her mood swings and frequent lapses of memory, was too stressful and exhausting.

Meanwhile, as they argued heatedly, her mother-in-law just sat at the dining-table, unmoved, leaving her tea untouched, lost to the world.
Then, suddenly, with a steely resolve, in the midst of the argument, Sarah decided to clam up. She decided not to speak another word.
Vivek, caught off-guard by her silence, glaring at her, with a shrug of resignation, said, “I’m not coming back again!”

He strode out of the room and out of the house, slamming the door behind him. Her mother-in-law stood up and made her way unsteadily to her guest-bedroom

Sarah, smarting from her tears, made her way to the kitchen. She felt angry and guilty at the same time.

Yes, indeed, she told herself. Who should forgive whom?

They were probably both at fault. But now the damage was done. There seemed to be no way out.

For some time, she tried hard to concentrate on cooking lunch. Frustrated, she gave up and walked back into the dining-room. She sat down at the dining-table, staring at the untouched cup of tea her mother-in-law had left there. After ten years of a reasonably happy marriage this was not how things were supposed to work out. True, they had fought before, but sooner or later they had always reconciled. But this was the first time she had hurled the threat of divorce at him. Why had she lashed out at him so? And why had he deliberately tried to hurt her?

She remembered those verses from the scriptures that had always filled her with guilt whenever she had attacked anyone with her words.

“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

The verses pricked her conscience and she felt overwhelmed by despair. She broke down and wept.

As she sobbed, she tried desperately to think of a way out. Who could understand what she was going through? Who could she turn to for help?

Then almost by instinct it dawned on her that there was really only one person who could help. Sooner or later, he always did sort things out. She decided to call on him.

‘I don’t have anyone else to turn to,’ she told him. ‘So I’ve come to you. Only you can help repair the damage. You know both Vivek and me so well. You are our true friend, solid and dependable.’

He was silent as he listened to her pour her heart out. Then, as she quietened her spirit, and bowed in contrition, she could hear him speak slowly and surely, deep calling to deep.

“Have I not drunk the cup of suffering and the poison of all your sin, which led to my death? And, by my victorious resurrection, have I not disarmed all the powers of darkness? And have I not overcome even the harmful effects of that dark power, your tongue?”

Sarah waited anxiously. It was almost evening. Vivek had been gone for close to eight hours. She had been desperately trying to call him on his cell phone. But he never answered. It’s too late, she thought. Obviously, he was serious about leaving her.

Just when she had given up, she was startled by the ringing of the door-bell.

She rushed towards the door. Vivek stood there. He appeared to have cooled down now.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I should have understood.You were going through a lot, taking care of mom single-handedly after dad’s death.”

“I’m sorry, I hurt you too,” she said.

He put his arms around her.

“Divorce is a strange word. I don’t understand it,” he said, with a hint of a smile, “Can you explain it to me?”

“I don’t understand it, either,” she said, smiling. “And I don’t think we need to understand it, either.”

Dr. Anil Z. Mathew holds a Ph.D in English and taught English in Hyslop College, Nagpur for nearly three decades. He superannuated as HOD and now spends time in writing. He is involved in UESI Ministries.

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