She entered his office and sat across him from his table.
“hey, there,” Ajit said,” this is a surprise.”
Without preamble she ventured,” Ajit, I know you have not been honest with me. I know about Usha.”
Ajit was caught off guard for a moment, but he recovered and said,” I don’t know why, but somehow I knew you were aware.”
She sat there silently.
“I know it does not look good, but to be honest, Sandhya,I knew what I was doing and though it may sound brutal I take blame for it but do not regret it.” he said.
“And can I ask you why you felt the need to do what you did, what had gone wrong with us?” she asked in a calm voice.
“I know I hurt you, but, damn you, Sandhya, you and your principles. Do you never feel that at times your expectation and sense of perfection is hard for others to live up to? You never needed me. or for that matter anyone. Whenever the stakes were down, you had your principles to hold you. You never ever needed me. You always turned to your principles to rule your life. You are so damned self reliant and perfect, that I don’t know what you need me for in your life. I am so sorry.” His voice broke.
She looked at her husband; she was surprised to find only pity as she looked at him. She extended her arms across the table and took his hand in hers.
“Is that what you wanted? That I make myself dependent on you? That I make you feel ‘needed’?” she asked.
“Isnt that what a relationship is all about? Give and take. To be there for each other? What did you need me for? It was as if you never felt anything. No emotions at all.” He said.
“Pardon me for thinking this, but I had hoped that we would some day reach a point in our relationship, where I need not say everything in words. That you could feel what it was that I needed without me saying it. And I am sorry you felt I had no emotions. And Ajit, if this is what you felt, did it never occur to you that your worth in my eyes is so much that I needed no apparent reason to love you. I just love you without ‘needing’ any ‘reason. Isn’t that how love is supposed to work?
If we had had this conversation earlier we would have done something to salvage our marriage. I guess that is it, I am moving out of your house and life, Ajit.the divorce papers will reach you soon. Am glad we had this conversation, it just assured me that the decision of moving out is the right thing.” She finished what she had to say and made her way to the door.
There, she turned back to look at her life of 8 years. He was sitting slumped in his chair.
“And Ajit, I am pregnant. If all goes well you can have your visitation rights. Goodbye.”
Too shocked to react, Ajit watched the door close on him for the second time in the same week.
She went into labor two weeks earlier. After a 2 hour labor she brought a wailing baby boy into the world. He had an unruly mop of curls and weighed 5 pounds. And when she saw him after she awoke from anesthesia induced sleep she felt as if she was seeing heaven. Her baby boy. Her world. She named him Rishabh. Ajit had come to see his son. He cradled his baby against his chest and asked her about her health. They were at cordial terms with each other. Their parents, though disturbed about their separation were trying to adjust to it.
Her mother was staying with her to help her during the initial months of baby care. She was working from home.
Life was slowly coming back to track for her.
The doctor informed her apologetically that there was nothing more he could do. Her lifespan was minimal, she knew. And she went about slowly closing deals and chapters in her life. She knew she had one final chapter to close and that it was time to enter it.
Her mother had gone out for groceries. Little Rishi was in his cradle sleeping. Grabbing her moment of peace, Sandhya took the books and made way to the Apple tree.
She heard the front gate opening. She called out that she was in the back.
Like a scene from a different lifetime she saw Usha walking towards her.
For a few minutes they just stood there staring at each other.
Usha looked a bit strained to Sandhya, especially around the eyes. Her pallor was also a bit too pale.
As for Sandhya, Usha could not remember any other time when she had looked better. Glowing, she had an aura around her.
“I was expecting you, Usha. You have perfect timing. Anytime earlier I would have thrown my crockery on you and anytime later it would have ceased to matter to me.” Sandhya volunteered.
“I heard from Ajit. I came because I thought you deserve my apologies. I am sorry. If it matters to you, I would like to say that I never knew he was yours.” Usha said in a calm voice, but her whole demeanor betrayed that she was straining to keep control.
Sandhya smiled,” I guess, he was never mine. And though yes, it is gratifying to accept your apologies, if am honest I may just admit, that I do not blame you anymore. If my marriage was flawed, it was not your fault. If what I gave him was not enough, it was not your fault. If his expectations from me were twisted, it still was not your fault.
Love is basic. It should come as easily as respiring. If it is forced into the boundaries of twisted expectations and high principles. It chokes itself to death.
So, I see no reason for you to apologize, in this case, Usha.”
Tears filled Usha’s eyes,
“How do you do that? How can you be so perfect, as always? I am so so sorry, Sandhya.”
Sandhya took Usha in her arms.
“It’s alright, dear, calm down. You are apologizing for the wrong thing. You can apologize for giving up on our friendship. I want you to know, when I told the truth back then, it nearly hurt me to death. I don’t know what made me do that, whether it was the fact that you did not listen to me or my childish expectation that someone I knew to be perfect could also be flawed.”
Dusk was gathering. Beneath the apple tree two women reached out to each other to be healed and to be forgiven.
As Usha turned to leave,
“I do not know what to offer you, but when the time comes for it, will you accept it?”
“I will, if you promise me one thing.” Sandhya replied.
“What is that?” Usha asked.
“You are too full of life to let it bleed away, Usha. Promise me you will forgive yourself and move on in life.”
Usha sadly smiled,
“I promise. Thank you.”
“Keep in touch.”
There never was any time for ‘keeping in touch’. 2 weeks later, Usha passed away. Too shocked at the turn of events, Sandhya had attended the funeral and silently thanked God that they at least were given the chance to heal their wounds.
A month after the funeral, Sandhya got a letter from Usha’s lawyer which stated that all her wealth and fortune were written in Rishi’s name and that Sandhya was the trustee till he reached of age to handle it on his own.
Sandhya looked out of the window; the apple tree was slowly flowering again, preparing again for another season of its life.
Sandhya looked at her son, cooing away happily in his cradle.
She smiled wistfully.
life still has to..and will move on.
(author's note:as i was writing this,i realised that i didnot want to judge or label characters as right or wrong.i wanted my readers to do that.so,if it seems a bit neutral,this is the reason.
i have also got feedback that the guy's point of view wasnt taken into consideration.
that was because,i tried and found it lacking authenticity.
i would love to hear your feedback.
thanks for your patience.