I am not able to reply to the comments on the previous update. Deeply felt gratitude and loads of love for all of you.
Thanks for everything… for being there… for the faith and the love…
Loads of love. Stay blessed.
*Long Update* Sorry to keep you waiting 🙂
“Let’s take a break. Stay away and then decide, if we really want to be together…”
Manik removed his hands from her face and retracted them to stuff them in the pockets of his shorts, and asked, “Break?? What break?”
Nandini turned and walked away to pick up her bag from the sofa and go to their room as she didn’t want to talk about it in the kitchen. He followed her with the most confused look on his face. She entered the bedroom, dumped her bag on the bed and said in a tired, almost exhausted voice, “I don’t know… I haven’t decided…”
Manik walked around to face her and asked in a loving, persuasive voice, “Can’t you forgive me and stay back? Please?”
She spread her hands in the air and replied in a surprised tone, “Manik, don’t make it sound like I am the stubborn one. Don’t blame it on me. It was ‘you’ who literally threw me out of the house and asked me to ‘get out’… how easily you forgot!”
Embarrassed, he tucked his lower lip under his teeth and nodded, “No, I haven’t forgotten. I am just truly ashamed. You know that sometimes people do tend to speak nonsense when they are angry. I am one of those idiots. I had a bad temper and I didn’t know what I was saying. For that… I am apologising again… and I will keep doing it…”
She folded her hands across her chest and took a small pause, staring at him and said, “You are saying this ‘now’ because ‘by chance’ and ‘by the grace of God’, I was proved to be right and your mom’s life was saved. You are saying this ‘now’ because everything is fine at your end. Your mom is healing, out of every danger, and your relationship with your family is perfect… in fact, better than before…,”
Then she unfolded her hands and turned around to open the cupboard to take out her clothes, speaking simultaneously, “Let’s go back to the day, it happened. Suppose… just suppose… I was wrong. Maybe, I had judged the situation wrongly… your parents had left us and they went back to Lucknow. You scolded me, fought with me and asked me to leave… What would have happened that day? Imagine, they were not talking to you and you had a strained relationship with them… where you don’t even know how to mend your broken ties with them, broken because of your wife, your mom didn’t like… then?? What would have happened? You had declared the end of the relationship.”
He pressed his lips and just sighed, “I wish I was so good at words like you are. You know what to speak when to speak and express yourself… I don’t know what to say…”
“You don’t know what to say, because you have nothing to say…”
He held her elbow and turned her to face him, “Please don’t go… we are so good together…”
She winced in pain, “That’s the irony. We are so good together and there is no doubt about that, Manik. But we are good only for good times…” Tears dropped from her eyes when she said that and her throat choked, “One bad stroke of destiny and you wanted to end it.”
“Noooooo!!!” He stressed on his ‘no’ to convince her somehow about how desperately he wanted her to be with him, how much he loved her and couldn’t see her crying.
“Yesss!! I asked you what would have happened if your parents had left and never returned, if your relationships were spoiled because of me… you have no reply… you had asked me to go that day… what if I had packed my bags and left? That day, itself??”
He held both her arms and made her sit on the bed. Sitting beside her, he said, “I would have stopped you…”
She had a momentary bitter, sly smile on her face, “Yeah, right!! You were fuming in anger…”
“I would have explained that I had spoken all that in anger…”
“Come on, Manik…who are you fooling. Explained?? Stopped me? You don’t stop anyone going out of your life. You never explain yourself – partly because you don’t know what to say and partly because you believe that you don’t need to explain.”
“But I would HAVE stopped you!” He insisted.
“You didn’t even stop your parents that day! You explained nothing to them…” She huffed and got up, with a painful grimace on her face, “Now, it is easy to say all this because somewhere I was responsible for you reaching the airport and saving your mom. So, I am in your good books again! You need me all over again… I’m so sure, the day we will fight again, you will once again tell me that you don’t need me and show me the door.”
“I won’t do that… I promise…” He said, trying to make it sound convincing.
“How can I be sure?” She turned away, wiping her tears.
“Tell me, what do I do to ensure you? You won’t believe anything I say…because you only said that you were stuck in this relationship because our parents chose us… you wouldn’t have chosen me, otherwise!” He said in dejected tone.
“It hurt…right??” She was surprised that he remembered what she had said about him in the morning. She shrugged, “I also said that in anger. Let’s forget it!”
“But you did mean it!” He asked.
“Like you meant when you said that you don’t need me in your life??”
He sighed and rested his hands on his hips, speaking in a low helpless whisper, “You know that it is not true… you know that I need you… I would have stopped you…”
She closed her eyes once and nodded, “Accept it… at least, now… that you wouldn’t have stopped me… not that day!”
“Nandini…” He tried to interrupt and refute her claim but stopped. She was looking at him and held his hand in her hands. Holding his hand, she softly turned it and placed it on his heart and said, “Be honest, Manik… remember that day… the situation… your mom’s disappointment on what I said about you… them leaving… your anger… asking me to leave because you didn’t want me… think very clearly and tell me honestly… would you have stopped me?”
He lowered his eyes for a moment, sighed and took a long pause but couldn’t speak it. She was still looking at him for a reply, disappointed and hurt. He nodded and replied honestly, “I don’t know…”
“See??!! From your very confident ‘I-would-have-stopped-you’ … you have accepted that ‘you-don’t-know’… And as far as I know you, you are just being nice and kind to me by saying this. The reality is that you wouldn’t have stopped me…”
He sat down on the bed with forearms resting on his knees, “How does it matter? I realise my mistake…”
She smirked, and made her point by spreading her hands in the air, “Because everything is good again!! We are fair-weather people… harsh circumstances, difficulties and low phases of life will break us again…”
He nodded but didn’t say anything this time. She continued in a choked voice, crying as she spoke and sat beside him, “I have given everything in this marriage. My career, my city, my home, my family, my friends… everything… I left my identity and came to live with you…to create a new identity and start from scratch…What did you lose? Nothing? Your life before me and after our marriage was exactly the same. You continued to live the way you used to live…in fact… in a little better way. I made your house, look and feel like a home… I am an added perk that made your life beautiful and interesting… you only gained… so much that you don’t even know if you love me because I am just a convenience to your life or you love me for what I AM! Because that is clearly not the case. One truth and you couldn’t accept it! One word against your family and you declared the end of it… because you don’t need me…anymore…”
He closed his eyes too. Then he opened them, and with a heavy heart, he took her hand in his own and said, “I really don’t understand what to say, except that I don’t want you to feel that you are not needed in my life. Yes, I said that to you but that is not the truth and I never wanted you to feel this way. And I didn’t know that it will hurt you so much. How can I even explain that?! … I’m so so sorry.”
She didn’t reply to him. She retracted her hand from his hand and covered her face in her palms to sob softly. It was getting overbearing for him. He could never see her crying. He said, “Nandini, please don’t cry… It seems like everything I say to explain my stand is only spoiling it for us… I don’t want to hurt you anymore… let’s stop discussing and give each other some time…”
She removed her hands from her face. Her face was red and wet. Sniffing and sobbing, she whispered, “I was saying exactly the same! Let’s take a break from each other…”
“What sort of break? For how long?”
“I’m not sure. There is an opening in Delhi. It is teaching-cum-training post with exposure to IVF technology. I am positive that I will get it. If I do… I will go to Delhi…if I don’t… I’ll apply to a few more. There is one vacancy in Chennai, the previous one is available even now. One at Mumbai, at the hospital where I did my PG…”
“Nandini?!!” He couldn’t believe it and shrugged, “Really? You want to go??”
He had hoped that he will be able to apologise and stop her. That he would be able to convince her to stay back. But she was already talking about going to Delhi or maybe any other city. She was ‘that’ serious about taking a break. If she had decided that she didn’t want to live with him, he found his chances of making her stay back, getting weaker and weaker. The way she had cornered him about his behaviour, he was sure that he will never be able to convince her.
“Yes!” She whispered.
“For how long?”
She shrugged, in an unsure manner, “God knows! Maybe a few months, or a year… or, until we feel like getting back with each other again… until we miss each other so much that we realise we do need each other in our lives…”
He was scared. For the first time. He grimaced, “What if it doesn’t happen?”
Hurt, she stared at him and complained in a disappointed tone, “Look at you!! You already know that it won’t happen!!”
“Oh, God!! Noooooo… I was not talking about me… I was asking about you! What if you don’t miss me and don’t want me back?”
She wiped her eyes and said, “I wouldn’t have cried so much and felt so bad if I was the one who wanted to step out! I considered this home and you as my world.”
He whispered, “So, did I…”
“Really??!!” She dismissed his claim, disbelievingly.
Nervous, he asked, “I asked that question because you move on quickly and cut off people when they hurt you. You did that with your previous relationships, even the guy you were about to get married to… you don’t even remember them… Nandini… If you do that to me?? Then what??”
“I am NOT like that with everyone. You can’t judge me by just assuming my behaviour.”
“You are doing the same! You are judging me that I wouldn’t have explained or stopped you!”
She puffed a huge bout of air and buried her face once again in her palms, having no reply to this.
He said, “Also… I’m scared that once we take a break, it will be left at the mercy of our respective ego. Even if we miss each other, who will be the first one to call the other?”
She removed her hands and looked at him, trying to understand what he was saying. And this time, he made sense. He finally found a ground to convince her, “See… once you go… it will complicate further. How will we know that we are missing each other? We will keep assuming things, getting hurt more, we will keep drifting apart…”
“Instead of taking a break, we should get separated or divorced…”
“Whattttt??!!!!” She was staring at him wide-eyed and stunned, unable to believe that he said, “What are you talking?”
He spoke, nodding vigorously, “No…no… I didn’t mean it as how you thought!!! Gawwdddd!!! I just can’t put proper words together!! I meant to say that — Listen to me… patiently…I am saying that taking a break will complicate things to a level that it will make it bitter and unresolved. We will never get back again, I’m sure. Instead, if we are sure that we don’t like each other and we don’t get along with each other, especially in tough times, then…what is the use of even trying??… Why the sham of a break??… We’ll get divorced and move on… at least, we’ll not be fooling each other… at least, we will know that we wouldn’t have chosen each other in any circumstances… whether or not our parents chose us!!”
She nodded, “Okay! But what do you mean?”
“What better harsh circumstances than these?? We are not even able to communicate anymore We are just hurting each other. Let’s stay together for some more time… let’s be sure that we can’t live together anymore and then move away…”
When he found her listening to him, he added more, “You want to go to Delhi… go ahead! Chennai, Mumbai…wherever you feel… you go… you don’t want to live with me, it’s okay… but go after some time… In that time, let’s be true to ourselves. I won’t explain or stop you. You don’t try to be understanding and nice. Move on, if you don’t feel anything, anymore.”
She wiped her tears and nodded, “It is STILL your house! Some day you will become angry and ask me to go!”
“I won’t talk to you! So there are no chances of an argument or getting angry and asking you to go. Live like the way you would have lived in Delhi… without me…”
“Staying in the same house?” She couldn’t believe it and nodded to refuse as if he was joking till now.
“I’m serious… Live like you please. Take the other room, pay the rent, divide the expenditures and do whatever makes it look like a proper break… we will stay away from each other…but… at least, there are chances to know that we want to be together… and not just for good times or happy days… for bad times and all times…”
“It’s not going to work out!” She dismissed it.
“At least, we will know that we tried. We will be able to move on…peacefully! Without any baggage! If you still feel that you want to go… I won’t stop you!”
She looked at his vulnerable face and asked, “For how long?”
“Four weeks? If even after one month, you feel that you don’t want me, or I feel that I can’t keep up with you, we will see what can be done!”
She smiled, “You think, I am a fool?! It doesn’t even feel feasible.”
“Wow! When I proposed marriage to you, I had set so many conditions asking you about the distance we will maintain while living in one house… it felt feasible to you, at that time!?!?!”
She rolled her eyes, “I was such an idiot to believe you, Manik!”
“Believe me, for once more! Just once?”
“Go on!” She said, trying to understand what he was saying.
“Nandini Murthy Malhotra… I’m giving you an offer… once in a lifetime offer!” He spoke in the same way that he had said when they were in the Bengali restaurant when he had proposed to her. She remembered that. It made her cry.
“One day you had said that human beings come in packages – good and bad – and accepting and leaving them is a choice. We can accept them as they are … or leave and go…”
“I remember that…”
“So, I’m giving you exactly the same freedom that you would have got away from me… as you would have had when you wanted a break… assume that you are on a break from me and you have all the freedom… freedom to make a choice… freedom to decide about your life, your career when you don’t have me around you… freedom to choose me or reject me… and give me the same independence…”
“No fighting?” She asked.
“Not even talking. I won’t talk to you unless it is an emergency…”
“Sure?” She didn’t believe him.
“100% sure. You stay inside your shell and think about what you want. I will live inside my shell and try to know myself more…”
“I will take another room!”
“Please do! As you wish. I’m fine as long as you are in the same house. We had once decided that the one who falls in love first, will walk out of the marriage. We messed up. This time, whoever feels first that we are done with each other and can’t tolerate anymore… will walk out first!”
She nodded to refuse and huffed as she stood up, “Noooooooo!!!! Nooooo!!! It’s not going to work… I’m scared that we will fight more and will end up bitterly. I don’t want to finish it completely… not like that… this is not the time to stay together. We are fighting and we are already in bitter arguments… we will keep drifting apart…”
“That will happen even if you go away!” He stood up too and shrugged, “It’s not like, you’ll go away and keep calling me or I will keep messaging you… It will only become more awkward every day… here, at least, we’ll see each other at the end of the day. We might feel like we need each other. We may not feel like that…anymore… but still… we can take the chances…”
She folded her hands across her chest, “What are the rules?”
“I hope you remember the vows we took informally in that restaurant before getting married. The rules we made when I proposed marriage to you?”
Almost with a breaking heart, she spoke in a low inaudible whisper –
“I remember each and every one of them!”