“Do you have the time? Do you ever?”
Priya’s words came back to me while I was sitting in the waiting room. She left me a month ago, and since then she has neither come back nor picked up my calls. We have had a lot of rows before, but this was a serious one. It started with one word.
I cursed myself for the umpteenth time for saying that. I knew how much my wife and son were looking forward to the vacation. But more than that they were happy that they could spend some time with me.
“Really? We are going on a vacation this summer?! All three of us?!” my son said, jumping in excitement.
“Yes,” I said smiling.
“Are you sure you would get a leave from your job?” Priya asked, scared to get her hopes high.
“Yes, I am sure. Look, I have already booked our flight tickets! We will be leaving two weeks from now!” I said taking the three flight tickets out of my pocket.
“Yay! We will be going on a trip!” My son cried, running off to tell his grandfather about this.
“Thank you. It’s been a long time since our family was together,” my wife said with tears of happiness in her eyes.
“I know. Now, all we have to do is prepare for the trip. So, is it ok if I burden you with the preparations while I finish up this project?” I said taking my wife’s hand in mine.
“Sure,” my wife said with a smile. “Don’t worry. Just finish up what you have left, so that we can enjoy the vacation!”
I wanted to go on the trip. I really did. But there is always something coming up. I hate my job. I hate my boss. They have always kept me away from my loved ones. It is only because I had to support my family, otherwise, I would have quit the job long ago when my wife had asked me to. But…. I can’t. How am I going to pay back the house loan, the car loan, and all the other debt that has piled up?
I look at my resignation letter in my hand. Will it be alright to leave the job? Will I be able to get another job? What if I don’t? Then how will I support my family? But…
“Sorry,” I had said.
“Hmm? What do you mean by ‘sorry’?” Priya asked me while packing our bag since our flight was there the next day.
“I am sorry I don’t think I can go on the trip tomorrow…,” I said.
“Sorry. I think I heard you wrong. You didn’t say that you can’t go, right?” Priya asked stopping to pack the bag.
“Yeah, I can’t go,” I said unable to meet her eyes. “But you don’t have to cancel the trip because of me. You can take your father or sister if you want,” I said faking my enthusiasm.
Priya dropped the basket of fruits that she was about to pack in the bag.
“Are you serious? You very well know that it’s not the trip. I thought all three of us together could…,” my wife said, her face slowly darkening in anger.
“I know. But I am sorry. If I get this project successful, I will get a promotion and then we will be able to live a better life. Just wait a bit,” I said pleadingly.
“You always say that,” Priya shouted. “Answer me this. Do you have the time? Do you ever?”
Anger flared in me for a second and all I could think was ‘Why can’t they understand that it’s for them all for them? If I get this promotion, it will better them, not me. They get everything handed to them without any complaint. All the bills from expensive restaurants and parlours, the cost of living in this luxurious house, driving an expensive car. But they still complain. They don’t understand what I want.
But I didn’t say this. I just stared at the floor silently.
My wife just nodded and left the room, leaving me staring at the floor.
The secretary came into the room and ushered me. I clenched my fist and stood up with my resignation letter in my hand. I don’t want to ever feel as pathetic as I felt that day. Not ever. My family is more important to me than this job. Also, I want to meet my wife and answer her last question.
I want to say. “I do.”
This story was inspired by this writing prompt from the “Promptly Written” Publication.
Thanks, Ravyne Hawke and Christine Graves for the prompt!