The Scoundrel

The scoundrel wakes up at exactly the same time every morning – at 6 o’clock. Immediately upon waking, he prays. Then, he takes a bath, dresses up, joins his wife in the kitchen for some breakfast, kisses her on the mouth, and leaves for the office. He is seldom late.

In the office, he works diligently. He chit chats with his colleagues occasionally, joins them for lunch sometimes, and works diligently again until 5 in the afternoon.

At 5:15 in the afternoon, he heads back home.

This routine is repeated throughout the week, until Sunday. Sunday, he rests. Sunday, he goes to church in the morning with his wife. He always liked to sit in the last pew at the back of the church. She did not prefer it, but she understood.

He did not like to go to public places, especially malls. He’d like to stay away from them forever, if he could help it. But he couldn’t help it, for his wife occasionally would have a need to go to the mall, either to shop, buy groceries, or watch a movie. In such instances, he always made it a point to wear sunglasses. And he almost always looked down at his shoes when he walked.

When dining out, he always made sure that they’d sit at the least conspicuous part of the restaurant. This usually meant at a table near the kitchen, the emergency exit, or the restroom. It also helps when the place is dim, quiet, and uncrowded.

The hardest time of the day for the scoundrel’s wife is late afternoon, just between the so-called “golden hour” — when the afternoon is awash by the sun’s golden light — and dusk. At such times, his usually bubbly wife would keep quiet, stare out of the window of their car, and wordlessly weep.

For the scoundrel, every single minute of the day is difficult, but the hardest part of all is late in the evening, when his wife is already asleep and he finds himself alone again. At such times, it was his turn to weep. He’d bolt up from his bed, storm towards the bathroom, and wished he’d find something there to smash and break. Failing to do so, he’d just go back to their bedroom and restlessly pace the floor. In the dark, he’d grieve. He’d pine for the things he’s broken and the people he’d lost because of what he’s done. There was no one else to blame, no one he could point his finger to. There was no villain in his life bigger than the person he had become. Sleep wasn’t a state he could escape to, for his unconscious mind was more severe and unforgiving than his conscious mind. In any case, his waking hours themselves feel like a very bad dream, and there didn’t seem to be an end in sight. Fatigue would eventually catch up with him at two or three in the morning, but no matter how late he’d sleep, he’d always wake up at six. Reality would jolt him out of his sleepiness the moment he’d come to consciousness. How many months have passed since that day, six, seven, nine? He stopped counting. Still, it feels like no amount of time can ever take him far enough from that one moment.

In the morning, he’d sit up, pray, take a shower, dress up, and join his wife at the kitchen table. He has nothing to look forward to except his wife’s smile. The quality of his day, of his life, hinges on her mercy.

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