The fantasy of a perfect married man.
Pedro D’Souza parked his car in the driveway. He hopped out of the car and rushed to the main door hoping he wouldn't get drenched in the rain. It was pouring cats and dogs. It was mid-August, the peak monsoon season in Goa.
Pedro lived in a traditional Portuguese Goan house, in Nuvem. It was a beautiful house surrounded by a line of beautiful flowers on either side of the pathway. At the far end was a beautiful lawn with a canopy and elegant cane furniture. There was a small play area behind the house.
Pedro ran his own restaurant at Colva beach. The restaurant business ran in the family from generations to come. It was off-season due to the monsoons and business was invariably slow. Pedro was quite happy to come early in the evenings after work.
Both his kids would come running to the door to greet him and shout, “Mai! Pai is home!”
“Pai, you’re all wet, again,’ said his daughter Alisha. “I’ve told you so many times to carry your umbrella with you. But you always forget!” Alisha being 8 years of age was far more matured and had a mind of her own. She invariably had a solution to all her problems. She loved her parents. She always helped her mother with the chores of the house.
Joseph, Pedro’s second child who was 3 years younger than Alisha, came running towards the front door with a towel in his hand so his father could dry himself up. Joseph absolutely loved his sister. He would follow her around the house and drive her up the wall.
“I know Alisha, but your Pai always forgets, you see age is catching up,” said Pedro.
“Don’t be silly, you’re not getting old. You’re only 36,” she said sternly.
“From tomorrow you will put two umbrellas in the car,” she insisted.
“Kids dinner is ready, wash your hands before you sit at the table,” Mai called out from the kitchen.
All four sat at the table and said grace before they started eating a delicious meal lovingly prepared by their mother, Monika.
They would spend quality time together after dinner playing cards or Jenga. Pedro felt that it was important for the family to bond with each other.
The next three weeks went by quickly. Alisha and Joseph were busy with school. They spent their evening playing indoors and finishing off their homework. Monika ran a small cute bookshop in Margao. It would keep her busy most of the time but she would come home to attend to her kids after they finished school.
Monika had noticed that Pedro’s behaviour had changed over the last couple of weeks. He seemed withdrawn. Stress was taking a toll on him. Monika felt there was something wrong with Pedro. She could just feel it. He started coming home late every day.
One day Pedro came home late that evening and she asked him, “How come you come so late these days?”
“Monika, the accountant is on leave these days so I just have to take care of a couple of things. Plus there is a shortage of staff,” he said.
Monika felt running a restaurant isn’t an easy task. Especially during the off-season, things can get pretty bad.
Another night, Pedro came home late and smelt of women’s perfume. Pedro hugged Monika from behind as she was finishing off washing the dinner dishes.
Monika turned around and looked at Pedro in the eye. “Where have you been?” She questioned him.
“I was at the restaurant,” he replied promptly.
“Why are you smelling of women’s perfume?”
Pedro denied and immediately took a step back. They both got into an argument that didn’t end very well.
The next day, in the evening she dropped the kids to their aunt's place. She told them she had some urgent work that needed to be done. Monika drove down to the restaurant to see if Pedro was there, as she needed to get some answers.
She met Patrick at the restaurant who was the manager and took charge when Pedro was not around. Surprisingly, the restaurant was pretty full as compared to the other days. Monika asked the whereabouts of her husband. Patrick said that Pedro had gone to meet their liquor supplier, Mr. Feranades. He also said that they had been very busy lately, as a group had checked-in the hotel nearby. Monika was happy that work was slowly picking up, but deep down she knew something was fishy. Monika knew that Mr. Fernandes always came by the restaurant to meet Pedro to discuss work. He loved the delicious food served at the restaurant that gave him all the more reason to meet Pedro here.
Monika called Pedro on his cellphone a couple of times but there was no reply.
That night, Pedro came home pretty late again. He got drenched in the rain. Monika handed him a towel as he entered the house. He smiled at her and gave her a wet kiss on her cheek.
“I heard you came by the restaurant today,” he said.
“Yes! I did, I was looking for you. I felt that we needed to talk, and home isn’t a place where we can freely talk since we have the kids running around most of the time,” she replied. Although Monika was fuming she tried her best to stay calm. She felt it was the only way to get some answers.
“What’s on your mind? I’m sure kids are asleep. We talk about it now” asked Pedro as he walked to the bedroom to change his clothes.
“Something just doesn’t seem right. You’re not yourself lately. You’ve been behaving differently over the past few weeks,” said Monika. Although she had a lot more going on inside her head. She wanted to confront him about the women’s perfume but she stopped waiting to see his reaction.
As Pedro took off his shirt he noticed a lipstick mark on the collar. Luckily Monika didn’t notice as it was covered with the towel he had over his shoulder. He immediately sent Monika out of the room to get him a glass of warm water from the kitchen and took it to the bathroom and started to wash it.
Monika entered the bathroom and said, “Why are you washing your shirt?”
“It got a wine stain on the collar. So I thought I would wash it off, the stain won’t go if I wait till tomorrow,” he said sheepishly
“Are you ok? ” questioned Monika as she slightly raised her voice.
“You’ve never bothered about the stains on your clothes you just put them in the laundry,” she continued
“Never been better! I just thought I would make it easy for you” he said calmly. Pedro could sense that his wife was on to something. He made an excuse that he was tired and he went to sleep.
That night Monika laid in bed staring at the ceiling wondering how things had changed over the past couple of weeks. She was trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. But there were so many unanswered questions running through her mind.
Everything seemed to be coming to a dead end. She didn’t realise when she had dozed off.
The next morning, she woke up to the cheer of her kids as they came into her room and wished her a happy anniversary. It was already 9:30 am. She had overslept.
“Where is Pai?” she asked
“Pai said he had some urgent work, he left at 8:30 in the morning,” said Alisha.
Monika tried calling him several times, but couldn’t get through to his number. The signal was down due to the heavy rain.
Around noon the doorbell rang. There was a man standing at the doorway. In one hand, he was carrying a hanger with a cover hanging on it and an umbrella in the other.
“Good Afternoon Mrs. D’Souza, This is for you. Happy Anniversary!” he said and smiled as he handed it over to Monika and left.
Monika was puzzled. She couldn’t figure out what was going on.
She laid the hanger down on the bed and opened the cover. It was a beautiful off-white mid-length dress.
There was a note attached inside the cover that said, “Wear this tonight! See you at 7 pm at the restaurant. Love, Pedro.
Monika had butterflies in her stomach. She was happier to see the note rather than the dress. But she was still upset about him leaving in the morning without saying bye, after all, it was their 10th wedding anniversary. All the uneventful incidents that took place over the last couple of weeks started running through her head. But she held herself together not allowing herself to get buttered up just because he bought her a dress. She still needed to find answers.
That evening, Monika started getting ready. The dress was a perfect fit. She tied her hair in a messy bun and applied a dash of makeup. She slipped on a pair of wedged lace-up sandals and was all set to go. She dropped off the kids at their aunt’s place and headed to the restaurant.
Monika saw Pedro standing outside the restaurant with a red rose in his hand waiting for her. He was wearing a crisp white shirt and blue trousers. ‘He’s looking so handsome,’ she thought to herself as she approached him.
“The dress is a perfect fit,” he said as he gave her a hug and kissed her on the neck.
“You’re looking absolutely stunning,” he whispered in her ear as he tucked the rose in her messy bun and took her by the hand and they walked in the restaurant.
To her surprise, the place was decorated with flowers. It was the same decoration they had on their wedding day. The live band was playing in the background as the waiters made them comfortable at their table and opened a bottle of champagne.
After a glass of champagne, Pedro told his wife, “Come with me.”
Monika cluelessly followed Pedro as he took her by the waist to the center of the dance floor.
Monika froze. Pedro was known to have two left feet. On their wedding day, their first dance was a complete disaster. The newly wedded bride and groom had a bad fall during their first dance. Ever since Pedro never had the guts to dance again. But, Monika had nothing to lose and willingly agreed.
Pedro clapped his hands and gave out a signal to the band and they started playing ‘The time of my life by Dirty Dancing’ it was one of their favourite tracks. But the dancing didn’t stop. The couple went on for the next hour.
Monika never expected Pedro to dance again. Although she pestered him now then to dance but he always refused. “You’ve been full of surprises tonight,” she said as they both were dancing as she placed her hands on his chest and he had his hands around her waist.
“It’s only because I love you, I know you have so many unanswered questions but before you say anything I want to meet someone,” he said.
Pedro took Monika to a couple sitting at the table near the dance floor. The lady stood up as she saw Pedro walking towards her. The lady looked like she was in her mid-fifties, slim and trim. She smiled and hugged Pedro.
“Ms. Lobo, meet my wife, Monika,” said Pedro and grinned.
Ms. Lobo has been teaching me how to dance since the past month. I wanted to surprise you and do something special for you on our anniversary.
Monika was speechless. She could feel her mouth go dry. Her eyes filled with tears and she left out a sigh of relief. She hugged Pedro tightly and thanked Mrs. Lobo for making her evening so wonderful.
Monika and Pedro spent the rest of their evening wining and dining on delicious Goan food and danced through the night. It was the perfect anniversary. Pedro's fantasy came true. He longed to dance with his wife again, even though it took him 10 years, but he finally did.