Thank you for your responses and beautiful comments on the last part. I’m always overwhelmed and speechless. May God bless you all…
Now something important – A lot of you tell me that they have exams in coming 2-3 months, esp. the people writing Boards, NEET, JEE, CLAT, CAT entrances. Wish you all the best. Please study well and make us all proud.
Take a break from reading stories and focus on exams right now. Stories, blogs, social media is not going anywhere. They will all be same when you come back. But this time will never come back. Your studies should be your prime priority right now. Once again, wish you all the VERY BEST!!!
Lots of love to all of you…Take care
Latika was discharged from the hospital after an observation period of 72 hours. During this time, she received every basic treatment for her unhealthy lifestyle and one hour per day of talks with Dr. Sarkar.
She didn’t want to stay in Bangalore for long. Trisha’s exams were approaching and Manoj had a business to take care. Even Dr. Sarkar thought that Latika’s busy family routine will help her heal soon. So they decided to leave Bangalore by the weekend.
After discharge, they spend 2 days more at Manik and Nandini’s home, during which Manik spent as much time as possible with Latika and the rest of the family. Nandini was mostly busy in her hospital and when she was free, she stayed quiet and non-existent, merging in the background because she didn’t want to rile Latika. Latika too didn’t talk to her. She was on bed mostly or talking to Manik. No one let her work in the kitchen anymore.
The day when they were about to leave, Nandini brought a few packets of dried chili-flakes, tomato-pickle, and spice mixes, typical South Indian specialties not available in North. Latika had liked them when she had come to their home.
“Ma… you had said that you wanted to take these spices and pickles… so I bought them today!” Nandini gave it to her.
Latika took the packets and stuffed them in her bag while she packed. Nandini turned around to leave. But Latika held her hand and stopped her, “Nandini, wait…”
Nandini stopped. Latika made her sit with her and said, “Nandini, thank you for saving my life.”
“Ma… please…” Nandini started refuting it.
“Let me speak.” Latika insisted and pressed her hand, “Thanks for bringing Manik back to us and I’m sorry for being unreasonable.”
Nandini stayed quiet at that and lowered her eyes to look at their hands.
Latika said, “I won’t explain what I did and why I did that. It doesn’t come easy to me. I think Manik has inherited this weird trait from me that he doesn’t speak clearly if he wants something and doesn’t explain when something needs to be clarified. Instead, we speak everything wrong, spoiling it.”
Nandini said, “I understand!” And when she said that, she wondered if she really did. She knew that Manik didn’t mean any of it when he had spoken in anger. But a bad experience of previous broken relationships and Manik’s anger had shaken her. What she had thought of as ‘forever’ for her, was so easy for him to break in one sentence.
She didn’t know if he would have stopped her or come after her, had she left. He had never done that before. And if it was not well on his side, he might not have even looked at her again.
But then, you can never say anything about anyone for sure. He had done so many things for the first time with her and for her… things that he had never done for anyone. She had loved and trusted him to the level that she had placed the delicate crystal of her heart and feelings in his hands, hoping for him to keep them safe. He had smashed them on the floor without thinking twice.
The moment he had said that he didn’t need her in his life and she can leave, she was so broken that she didn’t know how she was standing straight after that. It was so difficult to endure all the turbulence at once that suddenly she had started feeling lonely, shattered in several pieces, having no idea how she will collect all the pieces and live with him again, trusting him to take care of her feelings al over again, trusting him to listen to her if need arises in future and trusting him to bear harsh circumstances together, without breaking each other again.
He was right. They were really good together. Ever since they had met, they had been attracted to each other and gelled well with each other. They knew each other by instincts and had been inseparable ever since they got married.
But every time, there was a discord between them, they lost communication. During fights and differences, they didn’t know how to reach out to each other, explain their point of view, make the other understand and stick to the fight together.
They had a long way to go… a long road to travel… and it needed hard work.
Latika patted her hand when she said that she understands, and said“I hope you do. Please keep talking the way you are used to. If you keep pent-up emotions inside you, like I did, it takes a toll on your mind. So, vent out, fight and take a stand, but don’t suffer in silence. I’m really sorry. I felt insecure and then blamed you for driving Manik away from me, like I blamed Meera. While the truth is that Manik was always distant from me and he sought peace with Meera and now you.”
Nandini said, “Ma… he loves you more than anyone else. It’s just that, he felt like he was being measured against Gayu di and everything he did wasn’t enough…while you thought that he was not taking efforts… it was nothing but miscommunication.”
Latika nodded, “I never knew this. I did compare him and Gayu, all the time. I wanted him to fight back and make more efforts to show that he loves me. He preferred to not prove anything. I was such a desperate woman.”
“I’m just glad that you are able to talk about it. That’s the first step. Things will soon be better.” Nandini assured her.
“Thank you.” Latika hugged her. She knew that it wasn’t simple but for now she was willing to talk to the doctor in Lucknow, who was Dr. Sarkar’s colleague and friend and had agreed to help Latika over a row of therapy sessions.
Manik’s family left on Sunday afternoon. When Manik and Nandini were returning from the airport, Nandini asked Manik to drop her at her hospital.
“I have a night today. I won’t be home tonight.” She informed him in the car parking of the hospital before she was about to step down the car.
“I won’t be home too.” He said.
“Why?” She asked.
“I have a lot of work pending and I’m going to the office right now. I’ve taken leaves for almost the entire week… so, I need to catch up!”
“So, are you going to work for the entire night in the office?” She was surprised.
He nodded, “That’s the plan!”
She was worried because it had been almost a week and Manik hadn’t slept well. He was practically running between the hospital, home, and his office, taking care of his mom, dad and then he was taking care of his sisters too. He had a lot of work to do at the office and it kept delaying. Manik was tired and it showed on his face. She didn’t know if she could tell him to work from tomorrow, to go home and eat something and sleep well tonight. He was someone so unpredictable that he could snap at her for telling him what to do. Before this, she was never scared of speaking to him. But now, she had to think twice before she spoke and she hated that. She was not someone who could be calculative.
She shrugged, “Alright. All the best!”
He tapped his fingers on the steering wheel and said, “You won’t forgive me? Nahh?!!”
Her hand was on the door. She wanted to hug him right now and tell him that she had forgiven him long back. Just that she was hurt right now and all he had to do was hug her and tell her that he understood her pain. That he would take care in the future, not to speak any rubbish, and he never wanted to break them. She sighed and was about to speak when Manik added to his question, “Of course! Why would you soften on me? You have always been so stubborn. You love to cut off people if they don’t behave as per your wishes. So, you’ve already cut me off from your life… right??”
She didn’t understand why this guy spoke at all. His taunt had angered her all over again. She replied in a low, painful voice, “I am not enjoying this situation if it makes you feel any better. I am as disturbed as you are. I don’t get any kick from seeing people apologising before me. But the problem is that you have pushed me away so rudely that now, I am scared of telling you to go home and take rest for the day and work from tomorrow because I can imagine you saying – ‘mind-your-own-business’… or you can even say that ‘don’t tell me what to do, please don’t interfere in my work’…”
He knew that he had messed up, yet again. He sighed, apologetically, “I know I’ve done that before, as well… I do that all the time… I know, I have been reckless…”
“This is what you have done to us. You have distanced us. So, this time – it is not a simple situation which will be solved by an apology and me forgiving you. I have forgiven you long back. Will I be able to go back to what we were?? I don’t know. Can I live like this? No!”
He pressed his lips together, “Poor girl! Tch…You are stuck with me because our parents chose us. You won’t have chosen me, otherwise! Right?”
She was irked when he repeated it again. Just because she was proved right about his mom and he had nothing to be angry about her so he was holding on to this statement by her. Gritting her teeth, she gave him a fake smile and said, “Yes. You are right. Forget about choosing, I wouldn’t have talked to someone like you, because you don’t talk much, right?”
“Right!” He nodded, as annoyed as she was, “I don’t talk!! All these days, my ghost was talking to you! Do you have any regard for how I went out of the way for you.”
She was staring at him pointedly and twisted her lips, “Wowww! So, we have come to a point where we will now start listing who did what… for whom… and how we went out of our way?”
“You started it, Ma’am. You said that you left everything – from your career to your family – to invest in this marriage and gave up all you had as if my house was a jail sentence for you!”
“Which is, by the way, the truth!” She rolled her eyes, “I did leave everything and you didn’t!”
“I did everything that was unimaginable, even for me – I went to shopping with you… went on a holiday… ate what you liked…followed what you wanted to do…did all the stupid, cheesy stuff… which includes singing a trashy song…shittt!!”
She huffed, “I have a tattoo with your name on my finger! Beat that?!!”
He was speechless. He scraped his gums with his tongue and looked visibly uncomfortable, before he said, “You are making it sound like I told you to get the tattoo and you were forced to do it!”
She pressed her lips and felt like smacking her head. She touched her hands over her forehead, telling her mind to get back the senses, “Err… I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have said that. But again, it is your fault… you made it sound like a deal…”
He shrugged and nodded, looking out of the car and then he said, “You know what… you are right… we do need a break! It’s like whatever we are speaking is destroying all that we built in 4 months… every word is going wrong… like, we are only hurting the other more…”
She lowered her eyes, winced and said, “I’m sorry!”
“I’m sorry… too! I don’t even realise what I have been speaking in the last one week. Anger, confusion, guilt, mom’s health, responsibilities… I haven’t been so lost before…”
She sighed and said, “I understand…”
“Shut up!!” He said sharply.
“Huhh?” She couldn’t get it when he dismissed her again.
“I mean… please don’t do that!! Please stop trying to understand people…stop being accommodating to be nice to others. It makes you feel like a goddess and others like they are some lowlives. I don’t need these favours… I don’t need you to be nicey-nice to me. Just be yourself. That will be enough.”
She squinted her eyes and stared at him, “Manik, I AM like that. And you really don’t know what to speak, nah? Is this the way you apologise and make people feel better or are you deliberately trying to hurt me by telling me how I am always wrong?”
He huffed, nodded and shrugged, “Let’s take a break.”
“The break has already started. If you don’t remember, I was supposed to leave in 2 days. But you insisted that I stay there. We have twelve more hours to think about it. Are you sure that we should stay in one house? Coz I am not sure anymore… we will only fight more… and more… every day!”
“I’ll think about it!” He closed his eyes and touched his head at the backrest of his seat.
“Fine!” She whispered and opened the door to go out.
“ So when do I have to stop talking to you?”
“Right this moment!” She frowned, took out keys from her bag and placed it on the dashboard of the car, “Your keys to the house!”
He threw a glance at the closed door after she stepped out and reversed the car to leave the hospital premises.
A traumatizing period of 12 hours followed where both of them only worked and worked. Neither they ate anything nor talked to each other. The separation was difficult but talking to each other was more painful.
Every conversation was taking such hurtful turns that they decided to avoid it.
At least for some time.
Exhausted and cranky, Nandini came home at 8:00 in the morning. She opened the door and directly went to the bedroom. Manik was sitting there on the bed, with his laptop opened. It appeared like he had come home late at night and was working since then.
She dumped her bag on the bed and was about to crib about the Bangalore traffic and how the pollution was increasing. She almost opened her mouth but stopped. Manik moved his eyes from his laptop and looked at her like she was an alien in the room. Someone like Nandini was not speaking, so it felt weird for a moment. She turned to open the cupboard and took out a short dress that she wore to bed and went directly to the washroom. Manik was back to his work and she was in the washroom for next ten minutes.
Then, she stepped out and dusted her side of the bed, preparing to be dumped in it. Manik again turned to look at her and observed her patiently, waiting for her to speak. She slipped inside the quilt and looked at him. He didn’t say anything. His eyes were trying to search her eyes, wondering about her mood. She raised her brows, settling down at her pillow. He shrugged. She murmured in a low voice, “I didn’t get time to clean that room after Gayu di and Trish left. So, I’ll clean it today and shift in that room, later!” With that, she squeezed herself in the quilt and secured it carefully around herself.
He replied, “Don’t be silly. We can stay in one room without fighting…” However, his words trailed off as he said that. Hr was not sure anymore, he realised.
She didn’t reply to this and buried her face in the pillow.
He asked, “Nandu…”
“What do you think? Is there no hope left for us?” He asked in a dry voice.
She let her face remain buried in the pillow and heaved a deep sigh. Then after a long moment ,she said –
“The fact that I am in this room right now, is called hope!”