Is Love the Reason - contd
by Reema Tripathy
Back to Page 1 of the story - Is Love the Reason?
As regards him, he loved being with me, though I could never understand why. I saw it in his eyes all the time and this helped reduce the load on my soul to a very large extent. We started going out together as a couple. Initially, he would turn red with embarrassment if I hugged him or held his hand in public. If I resisted, he would wear a sullen look. This was the cutest thing about him. It was like a teenager’s first brush with alcohol. There is guilt, shame, fear of being caught, yet there is also this irresistible urge to just one have just one more peg, to get a little more high.
The next logical thing was to move in with him. That was entirely my decision and as always I got my way with him. It wasn’t ‘live in’ to fill in the compatibility checklist. With him in the picture, such exercises are superfluous and naïve. I could complete the wedding rituals any given day, they were just a formality. He wasn’t ready. Not because he had doubts about wanting me, one had to be out of his mind to even imagine that possibility. He wanted his wife to enter their own HOME and not a rented flat which his parents inhabited. I never prodded him any further on this. But the incurable romantic that I was, I would make him go over all the Odia wedding rituals till he was able to reproduce them verbatim.
Again, I was the person who initiated physical intimacy. You can ask me why the reply to which would be –why not? It is the ultimate expression of one’s love. Moreover, all the perquisites ie of trust, understanding, finesse and completely open channels of communication were already in place. It was the first time for him – he was awkward and clumsy. But what was noteworthy was the way he touched me- my comfort levels were at the top of his priority list and his needs at the lowest rung. I was all ready to be objectified, yet this man treated my body as a temple. It is said that how a man is on bed is the real test of his character. And what was overwhelmingly comforting was his unflinching concern for me which was so evident in every tiny movement of his body.
Life with him was picture perfect, the script lifted straight out of a Mills and Boons novel. It was not that we did not have our share of fights Most of the time it was my doing, so I was the person who made up. Honestly I used to love those small tiffs for they gave me just another reason to snuggle upto him. I loved to be held in a tight embrace by him. Ensconced in his sturdy arms, I was shielded from the ruthless world and felt absolutely safe and secure. It was all too surreal, too perfect. And then the inevitable happened. It took one fateful night to shatter all my dreams. I came face to face with reality.
I had just returned from home. My dad’s health had been deteriorating. My parents had been soul mates; the poster like ‘crazy about each other’ couple. It had been ten years since my mom passed away and my dad had still not been able to come to terms with life sans her. All our efforts to help him were bearing no fruit. He lived as if he was awaiting the death gods to conquer him. I was searching desperately for Ravin after reaching the hostel. I wanted to hold him and cry. I am a weak person and the week long drama of resilience that I had put up in front of my dad at Delhi had taken a toll on me. However, he was nowhere to be found. Finally I got to know that he’s gone to a nightclub. Perturbed as to what made him go there, I headed for the club. And to my utter shock, I found him sloshed and ready to unzip and urinate on the dance floor. I immediately got him back to the hostel. While he slept peacefully, my restlessness kept me awake the entire night. I cried till my eyes ached. My mind went into an overdrive thinking about what could have happened. I did not have anything against drinking as such, but this behaviour was very uncharacteristic of Ravin. He was at my favourite nightclub, drinking my favourite whiskey and gyrating to one of my favourite songs. All of this could not be a coincidence. These were forgotten territories after I had met Ravin. Why did he need to revisit them? He did not need alcohol while he handled all the adversities, when he got selected in a top most B school, grabbed the best pre placement offer then why now? Was it possible that somewhere deep within, he felt that he needed to belong to my world to deserve me? 'Hang on’, I reprimanded myself. It could be that I was over imagining things, some of the guys going over from college could have asked him to accompany them. I wanted to give myself the
benefit of the doubt, at least once. I decided that I would ignore the nightclub fiasco, but try to analyse our equation with a little objectivity. As time passed by, my worst fears started to come true. Ravin had become totally dependent on me. For anything and everything my view was the final word. I made his tea, selected his clothes, made his ties, chose where we went, what movies we watched ... and the list went on so much so that I even vetted the background design of each and every power point presentation he made. Placements were important so that he could get to be in the same city as me. I was not a 'know it all’ genius yet whatever I said was treated as some kind of a diktat. My worst fears were coming true. All of this was very familiar. These were the exact images of what I had seen between my parents as I was growing up. I tried to discuss this with him, argued, fought but he just would not take me seriously. ‘Enough’ I yelled at myself. I had already transformed a fiery, independent soul into a dependent and submissive commoner. What if like in case of my parents,destiny was upto some game here again? Are there any guarantees in life? ‘Thus far, no further. There’s no way am allowing him to become a nervous wreck. He is not going to waste his entire life pining for one woman. He is a born fighter and he will work his way to the top. If that requires me walking out of his life, so be it’, I resolved.
The next few days I would look for excuses to pick up a fight. It was difficult but had to be done. And one day, I argued with him and moved out of his room. I was very grateful that as always he did not question my decision. For if he had, I was sure I could not have been able to handle it; I would have broken down. Moreover, college was about to end in a few days. Once all ties are snapped, it would be easier for him to forget me.
Days passed by. I refused to take up the job I had been offered at B school and returned home. My dad was counting his days, awaiting his impending death. Initially I tried to revive the lost soul that he had become, but with the passage of time a sense of resignation took over me as well. His death was the final blow which hit me really hard. I was now an orphan. It constantly felt as if the emptiness would overpower me.I tried to fight the negativity. I dabbled in many things to keep myself engaged but nothing could calm my restless mind. I had no awareness of anything around me. All familiar faces were beginning to look unfamiliar, I started to lose track of time, and my sleeping patterns started to become irregular. There was only one thing that gave me solace- to keep remembering Ravin. I would sit the entire day and go over all the moments spent with Ravin. Friends and family started thinking that I was losing consciousness of everything around which in fact was deliberate. I wanted to sever all connections with anything that was not associated with Ravin. Some people thought I was a recluse, my relatives thought I was depressed. I gave a damn to whatever I was being branded as- I just wanted to be left alone with Ravin. There was only one world that existed for me-Ravin and our memories. My relatives tried very hard to make me what they call ’normal’, but there was no way I would allow them to win. Tired, they thought that the intimidating atmosphere of a mental hospital would break me. They could not be more wrong. I was Ravin’s girl,that was the identity, source of self esteem and raison’detre of my existence. And no force on this earth could change that. **
It was a serene night. I was standing in the balcony of my room at NIMHANS. The silence of the night was broken by the music of a marriage procession passing by. All of a sudden I blurted out, 'See, you can hold me comfortably during Khaipoda. I don’t eat pizzas anymo...’ I stopped abruptly. I had no remembrance of when I had spoken last. The nurse was standing in front of me dazed.I realized that a pair of hands had slid onto my waist and were holding me tightly. I knew the touch and the grip, it was just that I was too overwhelmed to make sense of what was happening. Was this a dream? But then it should end immediately, why is it not ending? A memory? It could not be, because no matter how hard I tried, I could never recreate the warmth of those hands. I tried feeling those hands, they existed for real. If this was reality, as it seemed to be, I had just one wish to ask from Godie to freeze this moment for perpetuity. A lone tear escaped my right eye. I was now ALIVE.
I heard the nurse on the intercom;
‘Doc, Patient 301 has finally responded, please rush’. ***