“And… I have different plans.” he said.
“Different?” she murmured with trembling lips, almost repeating him.
“Before I came to Afghanistan, I had an offer from my college in Scotland. They have openings in clinical research. I wasn’t considering it then because I was associated with PBB and then, I had to come to Afghanistan for you. But now…” His voice trailed off.
She completed it for him. “You are distressed. And you want time off?”
“Yeah!” He sighed, and huffed so that she could hear it clearly.
It had hurt her initially because she had been almost started believing that they were together in all ups and downs of life, from now on. That they were made for each other and could weave a new life out of their hopes, their dreams, their shared painful history, and most of all the love they had for each other.
But she was wrong. He was not a part of that dream that she had seen alone. And no matter how much he had done for her, it all bottled down to an emotion that he was not sure of. He had suffered enough. She had no right to make him suffer anymore.
Maybe that was best for both of them. Maybe she was not good enough for him. If he wanted to leave and go away, she didn’t have any right to stop him or ask him to reconsider.
She brushed the back of her hand at her nose to sniff away the tears shedding constantly and spoke in a steady voice, “Wow! That’s great news. Scotland will be a good option for you.”
He sighed. Finally, she had believed him. He couldn’t have asked for anything more. He asked carefully, “Do you think, it is a good option?”
“Yes, of course! I’m so happy for you.”
“I hope I’m not hurting you.”
“Oh…no..no! Please don’t think so,” She tried to speak as casually as she could, trying not to reveal her breaking voice, “I was feeling bad for you. So, it was gnawing on my mind. Now that you’ll be free and happy in your world, I’ll be relieved too.”
She leaned by the window in her room watching the setting sun, pressing her lips, struggling with the lump hurting her throat. She was lonely once again. But she had no reason to complain. She had asked God to help Anshuman. His freedom was the biggest gift she could have asked for. She was truly, genuinely happy.
“Sure?” Anshuman asked cautiously.
“Yup. Very sure.”
“If I ask you for something, will you be able to give it?”
“Anything for you, Anshuman. You have no idea what you have been for me and my life. I will do anything you ask me to.”
“Then, meet a lawyer, get divorce documents made, sign them and send them to my home in Delhi. I’ll ask my family to send them to me. I want to be free to begin a new life.”
She closed her eyes and kept listening to him, only to be distracted when he asked again, “Will you be able to do that?”
“Yeah! I’ll do it.” She agreed on a low whisper. If this was a test of her devotion, patience, strength, and resilience, then be it. She had sailed through many storms before. One more wouldn’t break her.
“Thank you. And with that, you are free too.” Anshuman winced painfully. It wasn’t easy for him but he knew that he had to do this to not only make her leave Kabul and go back to India, but to convince her to begin a new life without him.
She should start living again. She should be happy and positive about life ahead. Waiting and pining for him would make her life miserable. She heard him but instead of replying, she broke down, and placed her hand at her mouth to avoid making a noise.
Anshuman said firmly, “Please begin a new life and try to stay happy. It isn’t that difficult.”
“You have to promise me.”
She sighed, “If you promise to stay happy, I will do that too.”
“I’m very happy!” he spoke in a convincing voice.
She asked in a teary whisper, “Will you meet me? Someday?” Then, she quickly corrected herself, “No, not in near future…I don’t want to add to your pain or remind you of these brutal days… but maybe someday in future?”
He took a long pause, in which he wondered what he should reply and she hoped that he would someday agree to meet her and then she would probably sit with him for hours and hear him speak about every ordeal he had been through. She wished to hear him out and maybe help him heal his scars.
“I’m not sure.” He said.
“Okay! I understand.” With the last hope shattered, there was nothing left to talk. She feared the silence between them for it meant the end of the call, it meant that this was the last time she was talking to him, it meant that from now she would never know how he was, where he was, it meant the end of connection between them.
She nearly panicked at that.
It was too early. She had to say so much. She had to hear so much from him. Their conversations couldn’t end like that. There had to be more.
She quickly updated him before they said goodbye, hoping to get a source of contacting him, “Okay… alright… I’ll go back to India tomorrow… I’ll get the divorce papers made… and send them to you… will you mail me your address? …Or phone number?”
“Manasvi…” He interrupted her. He knew what she was going through while she was trying to behave brave and strong. He was going through the same. But till the time she thought that she could connect to him in some way, she was never going to be truly free.
They had no future. The sooner they accepted, the better it would be for them.
She replied, “Yes…”
“Send the papers to my mom. And please give me a break for few years.” He spoke in an exhausted tone.
She was immediately apologetic, “I’m sorry.”
“So? That’s it?”
“Yeah.” She tried to quickly remember if there was something else, she wanted to say. There was so much. So much!!!
Why she couldn’t remember even a single word at this moment. Should she say that she was thankful for everything? Should she tell him how much she loved him? Should she ask him to not go?
He didn’t give her much time to think. He said, “Goodbye!”
She nearly trembled. Her body had stiffened by now, too sore to move even an inch. She stammered and replied, “Please… take care… of yourself.”
“You too.” He disconnected the call. For a long moment, he looked at the phone screen, painfully and hopelessly until it looked blurred due to the pool of tears in his eyes. He had broken the last connection he had with his soul.
What was left with him was a lifeless body.
She lay down on the bed and cried like a baby. She could feel her body hurting physically at this heartbreak.
Junaid had been standing beside Anshuman, hearing every single thing. He took the phone back from Anshuman.
“What if she really moves on?” Junaid asked him.
Anshuman had a sad smile on his face with a dejected nod, “That is what I want. She should move on.”
“It’s unbelievable. You won’t even tell her that you are stuck here?”
“I can’t let her ruin her life.”
“You love her so much that you are ready to let go of her? Only to make sure that she is happy and peaceful in her life?” Junaid was flabbergasted. He had never seen someone going to this extent for his love.
“She is doing the same – letting me go – hoping that I’ll be content and peaceful without her.”