“But you never told us his name” Srishti spoke innocently.
“Uzair”, Zoya replied softly. And her reply caused a ripple of memories to surface out of nowhere.
“But they would never accept a Sudhanshu in my life” Zoya repeated said these words.
“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” Sudhanshu’s youthful voice flawlessly caused her to relax under humour.
“Its Uzair my mother’s distant relative’s sons name- also a prospective groom for me,”Zoya remembered replying.
“Zoya this is Uzair will you marry me, your mom seems to think I’m a prospective groom,”bending down on a knee with a wilted rose in his hands, Sudhanshu had spoken to those words to her seven years back.
For years they had laughed on this name, remembering the times they believed their love and not destiny to decide their life’s course. Parents, relatives friends and well-wishers all had abandoned them but yet their choice to be together had never. And to recall the pivot of this very choice tonight made them feel more uncomfortable. Knowing that what years of love and care from their parents couldn’t break was finished by the simple drudgery called life.
“I met Sudhanshu in a seminar in Mumbai,” Srishti spoke happily.
She locked her arms with the man on her side. Narrating the simple days he met her for coffee and how in those stolen moments of happiness she made him decide to move to Bangalore.
“I have spent my whole life here in Mumbai. How can you drag us out of this city in a moment of decision?” Zoya had screamed hearing his decision.
“It is not you alone I need to think about. My life, my career such things still hold good for me,” his voice had gone a tone up with every passing sentence and minute.
“And where do I fit in your plan? I left my parents, my whole being for you. I created a home here and now again you are uprooting me for your own choice,” Zoya had found it appalling that he had not even considered her opinion in the matter.
“The move has already been made. I am leaving tomorrow. If you wish to follow me I will make arrangements for you to arrive by next week. Otherwise, I will be too happy to leave you to your own life,” his final words had broken her stand ultimately.
She looked up to find Sudhanshu staring at her. Zoya knew that he could sense what she was remembering. The clear reflection of her emotions was mirrored in his own eyes. She wondered if now looking back at all those days she was thankful for the presence of Srishti. So that she could have a guilt free pass out of her marriage.
* * *
“What is it that makes people repel the idea of marriage?” Srishti’s innocent question caused a flurry of emotions both sides.
“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 had snapped with an equally matched tone.
Zoya was snapped back to the present by something Srishti was asking her.
“What do you think?” Srishti seemed to be saying it twice over.
Zoya denoted incomprehension.
“Sudhanshu seems to think that marriage is the worst end to a great love. And it is often a bone of contention between us. I don’t know if he is comfortable with me saying it out in the open, but he is not so much in for the long haul commitment. And that is an issue. You tell me Zoya, after seven years of marriage what do you think?” Srishti spoke in a rush.
The rat-ta-tat of the train and the soft hum of the conversations in near-by compartments formed a slightly comforting background to Zoya. They denoted to her the average buzz of the world outside which made a very strange contrast to her own turmoil.
After seven years of marriage, she found her only love sitting across her hand in hand with another woman. A woman oblivious of the realities Zoya knew, today asked her a question whose answer only she was.
“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.” her voice couldn’t continue any further. It was as far as she could go in speaking her heart out.
Speaking her heart out, she had not done that in a really long time.
Sudhanshu felt a weird sensation run through his heart. He knew that every single word spoken by her was resonated in his mind too.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.
And watching her take all of this so seamlessly he learnt the million reasons why he loved her so much, all over again.
But he knew he would ask of her way too much, to continue the marriage after tonight.
“Mumbai station,” a cheerful Srishti announced the end of the ordeal the journey had posed for the other two.
* * *
And after two days she returned to Bangalore. She walked up to the house and was struggling to open the door when suddenly it flew open. There in front of her stood her two kids and Sudhanshu.
“Mumma,” the two of them quickly grabbed her for a hug.
Putting them down again she subtly acknowledged Sudhanshu in the hallway with a smile and went inside.
She never spoke a word about that night. She behaved like they were strangers who had met on a journey and gone seperate ways. She chose to remain quiet, she chose her need for him over the guilt of his crime. She convinced herself she was doing it for the sake of kids. But then in those weak moments, when no amount of convincing worked she quietly accepted how much her love had made her weak.
But he too on his part changed, he had started to come home sooner. Spent more time with kids, showered gifts on her. And even made efforts to help her with cooking. She thought this was his apology talking but sometimes the attention she entertained did make her hope against hope that this could be a reversal of fates. And in the next moment she remembered Srishti, moving her mind back to her life swiftly.
* * *
“Zoya,” she heard someone call out her name. Turning around she saw Srishti.
“Hi,” Zoya found a weak voice leaving her mouth.
“How are you? We didn’t even exchange numbers that night!” Srishti’s voice still held the same spark.
“I am good,” Zoya replied softly.
“I got married, to someone else,” Srishti spoke in a hushed voice.
And moments later a young man walked to her side.
Zoya only nodded slightly and smiled. She was stunned to hear the latest development.
It was only after he went back to the billing counter that Srishti began to talk rather quickly ,” That morning in Mumbai, Sudhanshu called it off. I have no idea what got into him. But then he never called me after that, ever. I always wonder if there was something I said that night which ticked him off. He so much alright before that. Do you think I should not have mentioned that his commitment was an issue for me?” Srishti’s soft face coupled with a worrisome expression did mellow Zoya for a while.
Zoya shrugged her shoulders in response.
“Well who am I to say right? I am very happy now. Perhaps whatever happens, happens for our own good,” she replied happily.
This is an old plot which never turned out to be as I had expected. I refined and wrote it again. Here’s hoping you enjoyed it. I know it is rather long and must have gotten boring at some places..
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