post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton
31; the thirty-first edition of the online marathon of
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The theme for the month is ‘Strangers in the Night’
didn’t realize but it had been almost two hours that she had boarded the train
from Bangalore. She smiled to herself. There was a reason why the time had
flown as it had.
Srishti and Zoya were
the only people in the compartment. They were complete strangers. But like all
girls it took only exchange of names and smile to discover their life’s
The little white screen flashed. A missed call alert.
Sudhanshu had called. In the rush of things, she hadn’t been able to inform him
on time. She stepped outside in the alley to call him back.
She came back into the compartment after about 15 minutes of
failed attempts to connect to him. “there is hardly any network coverage in ….”
. She couldn’t complete the statement. The sight left her tongue tied.
could feel her knees shake and a strange giddiness in her head. “Are you okay?”
Srishti felt a little alarmed to see her this way. She calmed Zoya down and
made her sit down on the seat beside her.
Drinking a cup of water, Zoya assured it was just a sudden
rush and she’s alright now. Her eyes seemed to settle down on the new person in
the compartment now. Srishti followed her sight and smiled. She seemed to
understand the question in her eyes.
“Zoya Sudhanshu, Sudhanshu Zoya….Zoya we are getting married
in six months”
Beep Beep. Text message. Sudhanshu looked at his phone.
“Honey there is an emergency meeting in Mumbai. Leaving by tonights 7 o clock
train. Kids at mum’s place. Miss you love you Zoya; Sent 6:55 p.m”
Funny, thought Sudhanshu ,it was a train journey where he
had met Zoya for the first time. A quaint, simple girl, travelling alone for
the first time from Lucknow to Mumbai for her job’s interview. He had fallen
for her right then and a couple of coffees later he knew he had to marry her.
“We met at a seminar in Mumbai.” A blushing Srishti gushed
to tell a very pale Zoya. “We met a couple of times more and then last year
Sudhanshu shifted to Bangalore. There hasn’t been an evening I haven’t spent
without him after that.”
“Bangalore…but honey we are settled in Mumbai. I have a job
a life and kids love it here” “But Zoya,
think about the cost of living. Bangalore’s cheaper and company is giving me an
increment for this transfer.”
“Zoya now you have
met the man in my life…tell us something about yours”
Zoya welled up inside. She didn’t know what to say and what
not to say. She closed her eyes and smiled. “We have been married for now seven
years. We met on a train journey and after two years of courtship we decided to
get married. But our parents didn’t decide that. We eloped. A one room
converted into kitchen drawing room bedroom became our first abode. We didn’t
have anything back then. Over the years money flowed in and peace of mind out.
And now our kids fill the gap that has been created between us due to our busy
“But you never told us his name” Silence. “Uzair”
“But they would never accept a Sudhanshu in my life” “I ll
change my name honey, tell me your parents’ favourite name…nah nah don’t laugh
I will change tell me I will I will” “its Uzair my mother’s distant relative’s
sons name- also a prospective groom for me” “Zoya this is Uzair will you marry
me, your mom seems to think I’m a prospective groom”
She could still hear the laughter they shared over this name
through the years.
The journey continued, intermittent conversations
Zoya came to understand a lot of her husband’s anomalous behavior
that night. Like why he always worked late on evenings. And how he had a gym
class at 1 in the afternoon on Sundays.
he came to know more about him, being a stranger that night
than she had being a wife all those years.
Lost in thoughts, Zoya found her phone beep. Text message-
“take your high blood pressure medicine”. Tears welled up in her eyes. Never in all those years did she fail to get
that message sharp at 11.
“mum..how are you” Seeing Srishti go outside to take a call,
Sudhanshu thought of making small talk. But he didn’t now what to speak. He
realized they had never indulged in small talk all those years. They had
forgotten how to ask simplest of things to each other like how are you or are
you tired. They always spoke about kids or EMIs or house repairs, never small
Srishti came back. Filled with vibrant stories from her mums
phone conversation. Her parents had no idea about Sudhanshu and they were
pestering her for marriage. She looked at Sudhanshu expecting an answer or a
committal of some kind. But Sudhanshu’s face was far from that.
Apparently, all that six months marriage dream was Srishti’s
alone. Sudhanshu had infact over the years made to understand Srishti that he
couldn’t marry her. That he had a problem he couldn’t get rid of.
“Don’t talk to me like that. I work 10 hours six days a
week, if every living Sunday you are going to nag me I might as well make that
seven days working” “You please do that Sudhanshu, because guess what all you
have become for me is life’s one problem
I just can’t seem to get rid of- your one Sunday working would help me too”
Zoya was snapped back to the present by something Srishti
was asking her.
“Zoya what do you think?”
“Whenever I ask Sudhanshu about his marriage plans he always
seems to say marriage is love’s best spoiler. After seven years, you would
wonder whether I am the same man or not…so Zoya what do you think?”
“When we are in love, we think about that person day and
night, we imagine what life would be with him or her. We have heartaches
because we dread that every moment spent away from him. Marriage is the remedy
to all those heartaches and sleepless nights. But then we begin to take all
those things for granted. If one day in the middle of your marriage you feel
the same pang and same insecurity, you would come to know that the love is not
dead but only dormant. Such wake up calls are important. But only if they are
only wake up calls and not the end.”
Sudhanshu looked on at her. He knew what she was saying was
exactly the same thing he was feeling. All those years she was there and he
never missed her. Sitting in that compartment only a couple of inches away,
tonight he missed her. He feared he may have to spend his life without her. He
felt the age old heartache return.
“Mumbai station” Srishti exclaimed. The three of them
quickly hopped off the train. Srishti hugged Zoya exchanging pleasantries.
Sudhanshu only looked on.
Two days later she returned to Bangalore. She picked up the
kids and drove home. She was trying to open the lock, when suddenly the door
“papa”. Kids hugged Sudhanshu. They exchanged smiles and
Zoya entered the house.
They never spoke a word about that night. Zoya decided that
she would never confront him and turn a blind eye to his second life. She felt
she was doing it for the sake of kids. But deep inside she knew that she
couldn’t bear a life without him, and if being with him meant sharing him she
was okay with it.
He began to come home on time, gym class at 1 moved to 5 in
the morning accompanied by kids. Zoya felt he may be trying to make amends for
her silence. He tried to take her out for dinners too and shopping after many
years. Zoya felt a leap of hope, but the events of that night convinced her
that this was all a façade.
Then one day in the market she met Srishti. She had got
married to another man. She told Zoya how that very morning in Mumbai Sudhanshu
called it off and he never contacted her after that day. Six months later she
Zoya came back home that day feeling like a 25 year old
wife. She never looked back. She made sure that kids, career money put aside
she always found time for Sudhanshu and herself.
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