Started at Twenty seven is the last age to get married and in style- Part 1
contd from Her actions were hurting many- Part 28


“Hello Papa, I miss you,” and with these words she started to cry.

Radha watched her sob for a while, before finally taking over the phone. Radha had not spoken to Shikhar in a long time and well it felt strange that she was now going to discuss as awkward a topic as the present one.

“Hello, hi how are you?” Radha spoke nervously into the phone.

From the other end, she heard a lot of things. Words she had expected to come her way, words of sadness, disappointment, longing, accusation. And then the world around her, which was also crashing without any noise, spoke on the sides too. The telephone did much more damage to her than all the tears of Arti put together could.

Why was it so, she couldn’t answer. Why a single call from Shikhar made her more depressed about life than any other thing, she couldn’t understand. Perhaps the sheer failure that stared in her face through Shikhar, the doomed marriage she lived through. It was that which scared her, which planted a doubt in her head.

I was sure about Shikhar also at one time, Radha thought out loud in her head. And maybe like that didn’t work out, Sangeeta also might not. How many times will I make Arti suffer the same pain? The pain of parting with a loved one. She had never said it in front of any person, no judge no family member nowhere, but she knew her divorce was the greatest source of sadness to her daughter. Not even Shikhar, as much as he would want to show how much sad he is.

“I understand, I will call you tomorrow,” Radha spoke these words after a long silence and hung up.

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She was of course sitting there, sipping her regular cup of coffee. And the lilting music in the background easing her senses a bit, though nothing of the calmness was reflected on her face.

“Hello,”Radha spoke slowly and settled on the chair across Sangeeta.

“Hi,” Sangeeta replied softly.

A waiter suddenly appeared out of nowhere, a tray in his hand accompanying a glass of water.

Radha politely took the glass and gestured him appreciatively.

“This little place is fast becoming a very happening place, no?” Sangeeta tried to make small talk.

But then Radha had neither the time nor capacity for it. She had to react, she had to say something, she had to get things out of her system. The result or outcome mattered less to her, venting meant more.

“This over here is the one place where I met Shikhar for the first time. You remember?” Radha spoke with a strange bland voice.

Sangeeta had sensed it the moment she watched Radha enter the coffee house that she was not alright at all. Sangeeta nodded to communicate her affirmative reply.

“Right over here, at that counter. And for fourteen years I was with him, I loved him. I did. But then why I couldn’t continue, I wondered. I went in search of answers plenty and all of them stopped at you. I kept a photograph of us together and in my life’s most desolate times they served a happier purpose,” Radha paused.

“I never told you but this job here at the university was planned. I had come here to give my life a new beginning with you. I met you at the office the first day, you had changed and yet I could sense that change was exterior. I wanted to tell you even back then that I love you. You are perhaps the only person whom I could never forget. But then you told me about Kavita, I forgot about everything. How could you do this to me? I was angry and desolate but then I could not say anything to you. I had no rights. Out of a stroke of luck, I discovered you love me too,” Radha took a sip from the glass and rose her head to meet Sangeeta’s eyes this time.

She could see tears in them. Somewhere her heart broke into a million pieces.

“Sangeeta long long back I could not culminate my love for you because I was a daughter. I could not burden my mother with my own anomalies. Don’t look so shocked, it was an anomaly. What could I do? Tell her I am in love with a woman? I could not. I am ashamed of this fact but as much as I want to I cannot run away from this also. I could never accept my love for you to people,” Radha stopped again, she sort of tried to collect the rest of her cluttered thoughts.

Sangeeta knew there was more, she knew that the hesitation was in the next part. The deciding part.

“You never asked me, I had mentioned on Arti’s birthday that I had planned a dinner for five. You never questioned who was that fifth?” Radha spoke softly.

Sangeeta expressed her confusion through reactions and not words.

“Sushant never quite got married you see. He was always in love with me and things never quite got to a revealing stand. It was years after I had gotten married that I met him in a party and he told me the truth. By then I had Arti and Shikhar and I was very happy. When he heard about my divorce, he instantly called me and asked me out again. But I had flown down here to be with you,” Radha spoke the last bit haltingly.

Sangeeta could feel her coffee cold and her heart racing.

“I think I am going to give him a chance again. I am taking the next flight out of here and going to take up a job in his city. If all goes well I might marry him,” Radha spoke the last bit in whispers but with a strange sense of firmness.

The silence that dwelt around them was encompassing everything.

Sangeeta wiped away tears from her cheeks and began to smile weakly.

At this Radha broke down and said, “Years ago I did it for my mother, and today I am doing it because I am a mother.”

Sangeeta also began to sob a little now.

Just then Radha looked outside and saw Kavita standing on the street speaking into the phone. Radha turned around with a surprised expression and looked at Sangeeta.

“She is with me. I asked her to wait outside. Radha, I loved you a lot and still do but I cannot live without Kavita anymore. Her resilience has broken the guards of my heart. I don’t know how it happened, when it happened but she is now my life, whatever little is left of it. I came here to tell you this,” Sangeeta spoke softly and in between tears.

Radha stared outside and saw Kavita again. A strange smile played on Radha’s face, for the first time in her life she didn’t feel jealous of Kavita. Radha could not believe it herself but she felt relieved to find her with Sangeeta. She felt like a part of her guilt left her heart.

Perhaps it was all destined, perhaps destiny knew she would always choose a path opposite to Sangeeta, that her responsibility would always tie her down. And so every time she decided to leave Sangeeta half way, Kavita came around.

She would always love Sangeeta. Whenever her heart would flutter it would bring back memories bittersweet. But then she would again be haunted by her life’s miseries and responsibilities. And her same pained heart would remind her that to love Sangeeta she never really did have enough strength as much as Kavita.

The End

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Tomorrow we will have a special post on behind the scenes matter of the story. If you have enjoyed the story please do return to read our next Author speaks

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