Tuesday 1 September 2015

Short Story 2015, Longlist Sudha Narsimhachar

The Unwanted Success

I knew this would change everything but as I stood there transfixed, I felt helpless.
I could not believe that something which I aspired for would ever happen in my life, because disappointments had always been the end result of my endeavors till that day.  But when I really hoped that the end result should be negative, because a positive result at that juncture would ruin my life, God had blessed me with success!  What an irony!

When I wrote that letter to Deepak, who had almost been erased from my memory last month, it was only out of sheer disgust and anger at the way my husband Rajat had behaved on our 25th wedding anniversary.

In fact, I had lost touch with Deepak, who was my first romance, immediately after my college.  I was shocked to see him flirting with Sheela right in front of my eyes, though he had promised me moon and stars just a few months before that day.  'Infatuation' was what he called our relationship and I spent nearly a month of mourning for that heartbreaking episode.  It took nearly three years for me to recover from that disappointment, though I never found it worthy of giving up my life!  Later, I obeyed my parents and married Rajat.  We led a pretty compatible life, with a few quarrels now and then, which, as all married couples claim, only strengthened our love.  On the very first day, I had spoken to Rajat about Deepak and I was surprised when Rajat just brushed the matter aside and said, 'don't ever talk about the past.  I am not bothered.  I too had such crushes.  How we live now is what matters to me.  I expect total devotion from you, just as I have pledged to be totally devoted to this relationship.  Let us make this marriage a successful one.'

Seema and Sahil made our lives meaningful and I had no time or occasion to ever remember Deepak or my romance, until Jeevan entered Seema's life and reminded me of my youth. 
Just for the heck of it, I tried to find out through my college friends, as to what happened to Deepak after college.  Agnes called me up the other day and told me that Deepak was in fact in the same city and had never married.  Surprising!  I got his contact number and spoke to him, after thirty years.
That was an emotional reunion and Deepak was almost choking. 
'Why are you single yet Deepak?  What happened to Sheela?'

'Sheela was just flirting with me, just as I flirted with you.  The moment she found a better match, she ditched me.  It was then that I realised that I in fact was in love with you.  But by the time I decided to come back to you and express my love, you were married.  I was disappointed and I never felt like settling with anybody else.  I got busy with my career.  I am happy this way.'

This kept bothering me.  Had I been a bit too hasty in marrying Rajat?  Of course Rajat is a good man, a good husband and a good father.  But he was never romantic.  I felt my marriage was just a successful contract and not a marriage of minds.  I started remembering all our quarrels since that day and seeing all demerits of Rajat through a magnifying glass.

My children and friends were demanding a grand party for our 25th Wedding Anniversary and when I broached the topic with Rajat, he said, 'You know I do not like such farcical celebrations.  Have we ever celebrated birthdays or wedding anniversaries?  What is so different now?  If you want to treat your friends, you can call them home any time.  Have I objected?  But, I will definitely not agree for a formal celebration.' 

My children and I tried to convince him but he would not budge.  We exchanged a spate of angry expressions and the tongues started getting sharper and sharper.  At a point, Rajat got really enraged and slapped me and walked out of the house.  I spent hours crying my heart out.  My children tried to console me but they could not.  All my hidden feelings surfaced and I started repenting for not waiting for Deepak.  I thought why I should be wasting my life, serving Rajat's family, when he has no concern for me.  I did not want to waste the rest of my life.  At least I could give my company to Deepak, who was sincerely waiting for me all these years.  So, I quickly booted the computer and shot a mail to Deepak, pouring my heart out. I expressed my love for him and wrote that I had decided to quit the marriage and go with him. Everything happened in seconds and I pressed the button, 'send', without even revising my mail.

Rajat returned at night.  We never spoke to each other for a week.  Then Rajat slowly started making up.  He lovingly made me understand why he did not like such empty celebrations.  Though I never got convinced, I could not now show the same anger as I did on that day.  Strange!  As the house started getting back to normalcy and my children were enjoying the company of both me and Rajat, I started thinking, whether I did a foolish thing by writing that letter to Deepak. I only wished Deepak ignored the mail or the mail did not reach him at all. I did not want to write to him again, as he had not responded and by writing again, I might be giving him hints, if he had not received my earlier mail!

On that day I fell sick.  I was down with severe cold and fever.  Rajat abstained from his work, took care of the home and attended on me for three full days.  I was stunned when he even held his hands when I suddenly threw up.  The children were busy with their studies. 

After that, I started recollecting all the days when Rajat was so supportive to me in all my activities of writing and social work.  I was amazed as to how I had conveniently forgotten all that when I wrote to Deepak.  Rajat explained one night as to what true love was. 

'I don't believe in expressing words of love.  I believe that love is something which can only be felt and shown by deeds and concern.  Of what use is empty romance?  A good family is one in which love is nurtured through the concern that the members show for each other.' 

What a maturity!  Just as we both were discussing about Seema's love and her marriage on that day, entered Deepak with a red rose in his hand.  He was taken aback to see Rajat there, because it was a working day and he had expected me to be alone. 

I knew this would change everything but as I stood there transfixed, I felt helpless.

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