A Time to Mend-contd
by Eva Bell
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A few months later, when Romi announced her blessed state to Jatin, he all but collapsed with surprise. But there was not much he could do. He had bragged about his potency to Romi, and sworn to his mother that he was not at fault. There was no way he could back track now. He was a prisoner of his own lie.
“I thought you wanted a family very much,” said Romi. “But now that I’m pregnant, you don’t seem too happy about it.”
“Of course I am, darling,” he said, without a trace of enthusiasm. “I’m looking forward to becoming a father.”
Romi knew that he was baffled.
“Could she have taken a lover,” Jatin wondered. “How else could this have happened? How will I ever know? What a coward I am, not to come clean and take her into confidence!”
Plagued by doubts and suspicions, Jatin barely spoke to Romi. She knew pretty soon, a private investigator was trailing her. The guy was a novice, and stuck out like a sore thumb. Romi smiled at his amateur attempts to hide, whenever she looked directly at him. What made Jatin’s life even more unbearable was the happiness of his mother. She just could not do enough for Romi. The tastiest dishes were painstakingly made for her. Mrs. Das fussed over her, and attended to her every need.
Romi gave birth to a beautiful girl. Jatin kept up the semblance of a doting father. But inwardly, he was being consumed by doubts and fears. Romi bided her time for about three months. Then one day, she abruptly announced, “Jatin, I’m leaving you.
I can’t keep up the pretense that ours is an ideal family. Not for your sake or for your mother’s. This way, we’ll only end up hating each other.
I need a break.”
"But the child?” he asked.
“What of the child?” she challenged.
Jatin turned away before she could see him wince.
Mrs. Das couldn’t stay away from her grandchild.
“None of this foolishness between you both can prevent me from enjoying her company,” she said.
She insisted that the child be called Parinita, Pari for short. She brought back glowing reports of the child’s milestones, after each visit. Jatin listened silently. Inside was the terrible pain of rejection.
“But the fault is mine alone,” he thought. “I and my stupid ego. If only I had unburdened myself to Romi!”
It took a whole year, before Jatin could summon up the courage to call on Romi.
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t honest with you. I guess it was my stinking pride. Or was it cowardice? I can’t live without you. You’re the only one I love. The child needs a father, and I’m offering myself for the job. She will be ours.”
“But you’ll still have doubts. You’ll still keep wondering who fathered the child. You’ll start doubting every casual encounter of mine, with other men. Wouldn’t that destroy even the memory of the good times we’ve had together?”
“No, I won’t ask any questions. I want you home only on your conditions.”
“I’m glad you’ve learnt your lesson, Jatin. I am just one of the many millions of women, who suffer because of cowards like you. But I’m not stupid enough to send you away, because I love you too. There is a time to be angry, and a time to mend. Frankly, I don’t know who the father is, and I’m not bothered about finding out. She was conceived with the help of a sperm bank, and it should make no difference to our relationship, if we mean so much to each other.” The End