The clock on the wall created the background sound of suspense and thrill as Siddharth studied the email again and again. The expressions on his face changed from confusion to surprise then from surprise to acceptance n then to a forbidden look of disgust.
As Nitansha sat there trying to read every line of tension and every wrinkles that guaranteed his anger, She felt panicked . like someone has unearthed the burried skeletons of her past. The past which she had left behind her . The Past which she thought would never come up . She dared asking Siddharth What’s the matter !!
Siddharth took printout of some documents. Threw them on the table and asked her to start packing.
She took the print out and started reading. It was an Email from Kaira. She didn’t want to read the letter any further. She wanted to rush to Siddharth. She wanted to curl into a hole and stay there.
Now she did not know whether to laugh or to cry. She took a look at the other papers. They were the print out of tickets to her hometown . The town where she had taken birth and brought up. The city was the witness of the mischievous deeds of her childhood, the awesome creativity of her teenage years. Yearnings of adulthood ,heart breaks , fake smiles , suppressed sobs, those late night sneak outs, those early morning jogs, Late in the afternoon laughter and Early evening strums of guitar .
She walked like a zombi . Packed everything n got ready for Siddharth to come n pick her up.
In the mean while her mind drifted to the day of her first night with Siddharth. He had said they should be friends first , then best friends and then Husband wife. He was mature enough to know the complications, misunderstanding of arranged marriage. He knew they had to melt the wall of ice between them with the heat of truth . He had started the conversation with light mood then taking it to a seriousness of how to please which member of his family. like His Mom would expect her to be at the puja place by 7 in a saree. N his father would want her to arrange his news paper, Cup of tea with little sugar n Tulsi be ready for him in the garden when he returns from the morning walk by 6. His sister would love to have a bhabi who would open her curtains n wake her up before the college time n chose her dress according to the trend. He even didn’t miss the Gardner Raghav chacha and the cook Mohan Chacha . He said they wouldn’t tolerate each other n always kept the household busy in their playful banter. If looked from an outsider’s view they had a snake n mangoose relationship. But only the house members knew their day didn’t end without sharing their all day story over dinner. He mentioned His mother’s love for Banarasi sarees, Guava n her addiction with the kitchen . He reminded her not to put Brinjal in any of his father’s dishes n how much he loved to sit and eat with his family n his obsession with old family photos. Coming back to his sister he only had to say spend time with her, help her in her studies and makeup she would be wagging around like a puppy within days .
When she had asked any special mention about him. He had said one thing. “Tell me everything that’s true or not ,but keep me well informed about the whole story and your role. and never ever try n keep something hidden from me”. Then he had smiled and said it’s better to lay open all your cards. I should know at least what I’m dealing with. She had managed to draw a faint smiled to hide her fear . He was like a mind reader. He sensed her discomfort. To ease it out he had hold her hand and drawn smooth circles around it.
In a calm and soothing voice he had said. I’m not a perfect Man Nitansha! n I know it. It would take sometime to know each other completely. But most importantly trust should be there . From this day onwards I promise to trust you with all my heart and want you to do the same.
Then he started “well u know in the past, I used to like a girl. We were in a relationship. we both loved each other. But love was not enough. She had a different definition of love and mine was not complimentary to hers. we did not complete each other and our equations didn’t get balanced. We got separated. I used to see her every day in the college n every day was a torture”. Pain reflected in his eyes. Nitansha could read all those unspoken words , She could see all the unshed tears starting to melt down the glacier n she could sense a Part of Siddharth leaving him , leaving him for good . She could see him breaking into pieces. Her heart ached to collect those pieces and reform it something of her own. He continued “after a few days I stopped going college to avoid her. She got to know about it. One day she came to my doorstep . Papa asked me to meet her somewhere outside . We went to our Riverside spot. There she lectured me about How she was not the perfect one for me. Enlightened her faults Highlighted my Bests. But it’s not easy , U know. It’s not easy to watch your dream house getting shattered and to sit there without being able to do something. Even when your own engineer starts pointing about your fault. Even though u know u have done your best. Even though u know it were meant to be broken it’s not easy to accept that. I was in a trance . It would be a lie if I tell you that I’m over her. But I promise I would never compare you with her neither Would I like you to be her. I want another chance at love, at life n that’s with you.. ” Nitansha could not hold back anymore she wanted to weep badly. she wanted to leap into his warms. She wanted to Comfort him n may be take little comfort in his being. She wanted to collect those small pieces of his heart and wanted to keep them locked in a small box and wanted to throw the key into the ocean. Or to somewhere none else could find it. While She started to collect those shattered pieces She forgot, the broken pieces could sting. When Siddharth asked her about her past relationships She felt the pain of internal injury. She felt the mirror is the deadliest when shattered. Apart from reflecting your deeds zoomed and focused to a multiple times, it has the ability to tear the flesh and make you bleed.
She just smiled and told him about everyone who had ever proposed her n whom she had rejected . From that day onwards They had open access to all their letters and emails.
The bell rang , making her return to the reality. She prepared her apology speech. Took in a long breath and opened the door. But he wasn’t there .He had sent the driver instead. He asked about him. The driver said he was busy. She felt a pang of sorrow . In their marriage of two years Siddharth had never missed the opportunity to kiss her good bye..
As she sat in the Car , n it started rolling,She opened the Email.
Kaira had written!
Arav is no more!
The impact of those 4 words were so heavy that she felt someone has knocked her head with a heavy iron rod and snatched away the ground beneath her. Her head started spinning , She didn’t know how to react . So much was happening around her,like she was in a movie hall n some one was taking interest in all the tragic scenes , Like it was in a fast forwarded motion n she couldn’t find the remote to stop it. She continued reading the letter with eyes full of tears..
“I don’t know how much you know about me, But let’s hope at least u know me. I won’t spend time in formalities and directly tell u the story you never got to know about, whose consequences u know but the process you are unaware of.
We (Me and Arav) were researching under the same guide. We both were Indians , believing in same culture, having some aspirations, facing the same problem of adjustments, Surviving to withstand the stress and to come out as the best. In this maddening crowd where we knew no body yet every body was polite enough to return your open eyed gazes with a humble smile,we were like a mismatch piece of a puzzle. U know it was not wrong. It was just new, it was odd, it was different.
U must be thinking how come I’m so, comfortable in narrating these to you !! Well you were never an intruder to me. I have known so much about you that I doubt whenever someone wants to hear my life story it would be incomplete without mentionig you. let it, coming back to the point , We were stuck in a crowd which was in a race to overcome each other. Mornings turned into evenings , evenings to nights but the lights ! Those lights never went off . Like they were afraid of sleeping, like If they sleep some one would take advantage of that time n make their dream come true only to have patent on his name. The city never sleeps. They never take rest. They find comfort in beating each other. You were in the best institute of India . I know you must have known what hard work is. but trust me when I’m saying here, our Hard work is nothing compared to theirs . We tried to adjust. We tried to stand in the crowd then realized the crowd was changing within the blink of eye, everyone was being replaced in a jiffy . We tried to walk, we increased our pace, we ran , we stumbled, we rose, again ran, whenever we got tiered we draged ourselves .. We were afraid if we don’t keep up with their speed we would be lost. N after loosing our family our relations we had only ourselves . We could not afford to lose us.
Aarav! U know him .U know how competitive he was. Well he was like a fire, spreading his wings with whatever opportunity he got. He always kept himself busy. He was the guides favorite. Me!? Well let’s say I was not the best yet I managed to be in the toppers lists somehow. Our friendship Started when we completed our thesis and there was a party to celebrate. He was boozed to the levels of professional addicts. He had no sense of what he was doing. Someone requested me to play the violin . I started with a Happy note, but didn’t know how I ended up with a classical melancholic tune. before I took my leave from the stage, he came up to the stage n requested me to Play the tune once more. I didn’t know what probed me to grant his wish , May be it was that thing in his eyes , Which was clouded like a storm , yet their was lingering burn like a spark of lightning stroke. I felt I was trapped in a raging Strom. He silently Strummed his guitar. First slowly then Furiously, changing from high notes to lower . Then he started singing. A song so, soothing yet evoking the turmoil of emotions at a time . I wondered whether the vodka was strong or the ‘cocktail’ .
He was singing to us, but I could see him complaining, could see his pent up frustrations , the unfairness of his life, the foggy image of his future. The uncertainty of his actions n the irrationality of his thoughts. He was aware of all these. He wanted to rush from them , yet he wanted to cling to them. They had become his addiction. A maddening addiction. That time I realized Addiction is not when you destroy yourself in the pit of alcohol or weeds. It can be a maddening restlessness where u feel numb , it’s the urge to leave all control and hide yourself in the desire to be found . It’s like throwing yourself in the ocean coz u know ocean returns back everything, but not knowing that it might change you from a person to a body, it may kill YOU in the process.
A gut wrenching emotion surged inside me. An urge to Take him in the arms, an urge to ran hand through his curly locks n to let him cry his heart out,To hide him from the world, to cure all his wounds , to make him understand , to understand him , To protect him , To be by his side , To walk that extra mile for him, to wait for the eternity . I think What I felt that night was new to me. No one has ever made me that restless.. it was like mirror neurons were transferring his restlessness, his anxiety, his heartaches , a part of his soul to me . our soul connected over an eye contact. His eyes full of stories caught the eagerness of my learning eyes , held it, trapped it n bound me in it forever.
He used to tell me how it’s not about love yet it’s all about love.
He had told me about you. Don’t worry!! all the beautiful things . He had told me about his parents, his friends but mostly all his talks revolved around you.
The moment you had rebelled against seniors, the moment when he had envied you for stealing the lime light . The moment when you had actually stolen the limelight beating him in the guitar quest,the moment when he had taken the revenge in semester results. The moment prof.dutta had put you two together in a project group . The moment you had together ruined his lab. The moment he had put the blame on you and the moment you took all the blame upon yourself.The moment He had apolozised . And the moment you had forgiven. The moment he had shared his feelings and the moment you had gone down on your knees . His moments , your moments and when they merged to be your moments. your careless attitudes, his responsibility towards you. His aloofness ,your sensitivity. His grave arrogancy,and your easy going jovial nature, He had told me everything .. If you go by his words it was all that a physical balance needs to stick it’s needle at zero. He had also informed me the immigration factor also, That turned the equation into an inequality. He wanted to fly high but you were not ready to leave the ground yet. your dreams were to live with your closed ones. And he had aspired to live for his closed ones. How silly n young u have been!! Had you realized that ,you both were living by your closed ones, you might have stuck together.
A single drop of tear rolled down her cheeks.
The letter further read.
Well we kind of started taking fancy into each other. Perhaps he found the perfect pillow for himself n I found the Shoulder . I were there by his side. In every ups and downs. He used to call me his support system . I was everything to him, his guide, his confident , his best friend , his soulmate, everything except for being the love of his life.But he was everything for me. My love and my life.
After learning about your marriage, He kept himself locked in a room for days. Even I wasn’t allowed to enter. His parents were Stressed. They even left India n showed up here . But he wouldn’t listen to anyone. After a weak We Couldn’t take it anymore . We broke the door and went there. There he was . U know what! u would think he would be drown in misery , Would be sitting there in dark pit of alcohol n would be crying over you. but what we found, completely surprised us. He was working on another thesis on dwarf stars . He was surrounded by crumpled papers , pens and scales erasers n everything. His parents was too dumfounded to speak anything. His mother was just relived to see his son in a sane state . She went to offer her prayer. His father followed her.
I could see the Small weary lines in his eyes, The furrow of his forehead . The uneven breathing pattern , The heavy sighs n that nerve wrenching restlessness. I felt incompetent standing there n not knowing what to do. I called his name. At first he didn’t answer . Then again, I called Arav ,he noded slightly. I went to him put a hand on his shoulder n looked down into his eyes. He stood up from his chair n went to the window. I followed him . He looked at the crescent. I looked at the crescent on the earth, incomplete yet hidden by the shadow of his past. I couldn’t bear the silence. I hugged him . N burried my face in his chest. He was not responsive at first . I couldn’t hold on anymore, seeing him breaking down piece by piece broke something inside me. I dare not attempt to readjust those pieces. I feared I could not face the bruises of his heart . I knew I couldn’t have that Arav back. I broke down into tears. He hold me there..hugged me tight and silently I could sense tears drops falling on my head. when my sobs restored in to silent tears I looked up to him He broke down at once. This time I was the one holding him. I didn’t utter a word. He cried the whole night. N tired he slept there in my lap.
The darkest night passed. The usual Arav was back . But I knew He had burried the part associated with u in some dark corner of his heart. I didn’t probe further. Some memories are meant to be hidden. Some wounds are meant to be un treated. Some stories better be left unsaid n some water better not go under the bridge.
After a year he proposed me. I said “Yes”. I knew what I’m getting was not the complete Arav but I couldn’t refuse what I was getting. I knew I’m getting more than I deserve.
U know some are not that lucky . Some get the full moon while others admire the crescent. For me he was the crescent. Incomplete for the rest of the world but I knew the shadow that was covering his better half. He was the symbol of life, good n bad , black n white, light and shadow , full yet half . I knew I was not the one to complete him, for he was complete in his full glory. I was meant to be a star in his sky.
Not every one has the glory of being Radha . Some wives are as cursed as Rukmini . Not everyone has the dedication of being Meera . Some have to find their solace in the fire of Accepting the past, like Rukmini. Krishna Was Rukmini’s yet he belonged with Radha. Everyone praises Meera for for her dedication, but somewhere the pain, the journey, the tears and the fears of Rukmini remains hidden.
It was a good journey. Like said earlier he was my everything and I was his everything except for love. We were like the bestest of pals. Who could spend the forever in each other’s company. We were like the siblings who Understand each others words even though they were unspoken. like Opponent we argue, we fight but then like children we forget those. Life was good. It was a sweet journey. Only the chemistry, that spark was missing. you were not there. Still Your memory was lingering in the air. Did I felt jealous!! Yes, but sometimes I felt relieved. Coz I know he couldn’t live without you.like you were the oxygen to his breaths . I could sense something was eating him up.But I didn’t know what. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I asked him many times but he wouldn’t utter a word. I felt sometimes contacting you for help but feared that would cause trouble in your life.
On 20.04.16,(last night, even 8hrs haven’t passed) He met with an accident. Car accident. Can you believe it! He was such a cautious driver. No alcohol intake, No case of break failure. Just that the Car was in 120km/hr speed n he couldn’t see a speeding truck coming from the turning. I met Him in the hospital.
He Was lying on the death bed . U know he asked me to forgive him.He confessed that the guilt of not giving me the love I deserved, not being able to erase you from his memory was eating him up. The feeling of being unfair to ‘us’ maddend him so much that he speeded up to an extent that could numb his mind.He Handed me a diary. Asked me to read it n then to hand it over to you.U know what his parting words were
It’s not about love,still it’s all about love
Looking down at the retrospect , I realized Even the full moon is engulfed in the shadow on a new moon day. His funeral is in your city, Banaras. Hope you would pay him a visit for the last time. It’s too much to ask, I know. But he deserves this. so, I beg you Nitansha.
She held the letter to her heart and cried it out.
As the flight took off she wondered to the day of her marriage. How her mother had promised her not to Speak anything about Arav Infront of Siddharth. How she had restrained her from doing so giving her ‘Kasam’ . How she had lectured her every time that past is past. N she should not let it ruin her future. And now she had even ruined her present. She had broken Siddharth’s trust. Arav is no more. In the airport when she had called her mother , she accused her of ruining everything on her own. She didn’t know what fate had planned for her. But at that moment She wanted to pay a last tribute to the parting soul. May the soul that Had already burried in her get united with his soul at the holy bank Of Gangaa. She decided She would go to his funeral and upon returning she would go to Siddharth , n tell him all the truth. not that there was anything much to say. Then it’s up to him to accept her or not.
The plane landed. she went straight to the ghat. Watching the fire burning his body , She burnt in the Fire too. She took a bath.
While returning ,Kaira hugged her. And handed her a diary. She took that with a shivering hand. And said “U know Kaira apart from Radha, Meera and Rukmaini , There were 16,000 gopis , who even after being rescued by Krishna n being with him, Didn’t belong to him”. With a faint uplift of her lips she bid farewell from kaira from herself, from him, from his memories and from the Past.
In the end when it comes upon us it’s all about loving someone.