Plop, plop, plop.
The fat raindrops fell on the window’s parapet making a small pool which then slowly slithered down to join a larger puddle on the road. It had been raining incessantly for the past week and the weather was gloomy. My eyes wandered over to the photo by the bedside. It was taken during our last summer vacations to the Maldives, the twins and I looked happy to be splashing around the water in the beaches whereas Vikram was busy clicking away photos. He didn’t like playing in water, thought that it was too childish. Apart from photography and his business, Vikram was never interested in anything else. I remembered mentally slapping myself as I compared Vikram and Shiv, yet again.
Shiv was spirited, always wanting to live in the moment. Many a summer Shiv and I had spent in the beaches of Chennai, allowing our bodies to be swayed by the gentle waves of the sea. And when the giant waves completely took us under it, we held each other and kissed fervidly. Shiv had been a passionate lover. Being with him was like riding a roller coaster ride. Some days I had been delirious with joy, he had made me laugh and love. We explored the world like two eager souls, wanting to absorb the beauty in life and relish it together. But some days Shiv was dragged to some dark deep personal hell within him. He kept to himself, trying to drown his sorrows in a bottle of alcohol.
The sound of the TV being smashed to ground frightened me a bit. My father was a kind, gentle man but the fury in his eyes made me shiver involuntarily. Someone had phoned my parents and reported that I had been seen in the beach kissing a boy. When I came back home after a rendezvous with Shiv, my parents were waiting, demanding explanation.
“Appa, I’m in love with Shiv. Please meet him once and you’ll know he’s a nice boy. I’ll be happy with him Appa”, I begged. But once my parents came to know that Shiv was not from our caste, they strongly objected our relationship.
My family was an orthodox middle class family and even though my doting parents had fulfilled my every whim even before it came to my lips, I knew it would be a difficult task to make them agree.
“I would rather die than agree to this proposal, Vishaka. Think about what our relatives would say? We would be the laughing stock in our circles. No, No I can never agree for this to happen”.
My Appa went off with his head held down and silent tears streaking his face and Amma followed him. I realized that it would take a lot of coaxing to make Appa agree, but never in my dreams did I imagine that the next day would find me in the hospital, next to Appa’s drained body in a bed. In the night Appa had tried consuming poison. Fortunately Amma had found him unconscious an hour later and we had rushed him to the hospital.
I promised Appa that I would never ever meet Shiv, that I would forget him and marry the person my parents choose. I implored him to never think of ending his life again.
I dashed into a man as I hurriedly exited the supermarket. I was late in picking up the twins from school and they definitely didn’t like sitting on the lone steps waiting for their mommy. As I looked up to apologize, the words stuck in my throat and my heart almost stopped. The crinkled eyes that looked at me were as surprised as my own.
We went into a nearby coffee house.
“Vishaka, why did you leave me? I searched for you everywhere but I didn’t find you. “, Shiv was holding my hands as if still not believing that it was me.
“We moved to Mumbai after my parents found out about you. They wanted to be sure that I don’t meet you again, so they took me far away from you. I loved you Shiv but I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t leave my parents who had cared for me for more than 2 decades. I couldn’t “, I broke down trying to justify my act of leaving him.
“It’s ok Vish. Past is past but I’m happy that I found you. Now you don’t have to be separate from me. We can live together. I waited for you because I knew that one day you would come back, and you have”, he smiled even as my lips quivered with joy.
A strong wind forced open the windows and the photo fell onto the carpet. I quickly closed the windows and straightened the photo. I saw another photo, I and Vikram smiling shyly. This one was taken during our wedding. I loved my family, my twin sons and although Vikram may not be as fun or outgoing as Shiv, his eyes spoke volumes of his love towards me. Can I leave them all behind to start a new life with Shiv?
My little one, Naksh pulled at my sari.
“Mommy, are you going out somewhere?”
Immediately Daksh pulled my hand from the other side, “Mommy, are you leaving us?”
I picked them both and nuzzled their necks as they giggled playfully.
“How can mommy leave you two imps? She’s here to stay”. I had loved Shiv but now it felt like another lifetime all together. I was right where I belonged, amidst my family.