There was pin drop silence in the living room. Sarah was sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee in her hand. She was flipping the T.V channels, lost in her own thoughts. “Sarah, what will you have for dinner?” her mother asked from the kitchen. She came to the drawing room after some time as she did not receive an answer from Sarah. “I am in no mood to eat anything. You cook whatever Abba wants”, Sarah replied and went to her room.
Sameena and her husband, Hussain were worried about Sarah. Their only daughter’s six-year long marriage was about to end in divorce. It was an arranged marriage for Sarah. Shakeel was a doctor in Lucknow. He seemed to be a nice guy, good looking, educated and was doing very well for himself. Sarah was working as a software engineer in Delhi and did not wish to settle in Lucknow. However, she had to because Shakeel was not willing to leave his parents alone. Sarah did not want kids, but due to constant family pressure she had to plan a child soon after a year of getting married.
They were very different from each other in a number of ways. It was not a very happy marriage since the beginning. Sarah’s parents advised her to compromise with her husband and his family. She felt that Shakeel was not able to devote enough time to her and the family due to his busy schedule and professional commitments. She was a misfit in Shakeel’s home. An independent and headstrong woman, stuck up in a conservative family.
Sameena and Hussain tried their best to resolve the problems, but all in vain. Sarah filed for divorce and came back to Nanital to live along with them. The thought of Sarah’s life after the divorce and their grandson’s future led to sleepless nights for Sameena. She and Hussain kept convincing Sarah to go back to her husband. Shakeel was not in favor of the divorce. He wanted Sarah to come back home. In spite of convincing her many times, she did not agree to go back to Lucknow.
A few months rolled by. Loneliness crept in Sarah’s life like never before. She appeared dull and pale. Her hair lacked luster. She had dark circles around her eyes. She looked forty at the age of thirty. She had no interest in dressing up or talking to anyone. Smile seemed to be her long forgotten friend. She lost her appetite. She would sit alone in her bedroom just flipping through the TV channels for hours. She would go on long walks alone. She missed her son as he was in Lucknow. She would gaze at the old pictures and cry all night.
Sarah remembered the happy times when she was with Shakeel. It was not so bad during the initial days of their marriage. They would talk to each other, go on long walks and listen to their favorite music together. Shakeel would call her up every day after reaching the hospital. She would wait for him every evening so that they can have dinner together. She learnt cooking because he was a foodie. He quit smoking when she was pregnant with their first child. Shakeel was in the hospital for the entire day when her father was operated for cataract. A part of her knew that Shakeel loves her and cares for her very much. She also understands that he has always been a very responsible father.
Sarah has been pressurizing Shakeel to shift to Delhi. She wanted to work again. On the contrary, Shakeel wanted her to concentrate on their family. They had frequent arguments over this. Tension started building up in the house. Small problems turned into bigger issues. They would fight over little things like the menu for dinner or an unclean table mat. Shakeel started dedicating more and more time in the hospital to avoid the tension at home. Sarah assumed that her husband is having an affair with another woman. Shakeel didn’t bother to sort out things because he believed that his wife is too adamant to understand. Things got worse between them due to the lack of communication.
All this drifted them apart each day. They started sleeping in different bedrooms. Shakeel wouldn’t come home for days. Sarah stopped talking to him. She would even argue with her in-laws very often. Their marriage was falling apart. Ego and misunderstandings overpowered love and affection. The two became strangers for each other.
Finally, Sarah decided to move to Nanital and file for a divorce. Shakeel was at work when she left home. He got the news from his mother over the phone. He immediately called up Sarah, but she had switched off her phone. He sent several messages and voice notes. Sarah didn’t reply to any of them. Two weeks later, he sent his sister, Ruksana to Nanital. She tried her best to convince Sarah, however Sarah didn’t agree to anything. Shakeel didn’t call her after that day. He told Sarah’s parents that he wants to live with her and she can come back to him anytime.
One evening Sarah went for a walk in the park opposite to the house. The weather was gloomy that day. As she was walking in the park, she noticed a lady plucking some flowers from the tree. “Don’t pluck these flowers. They look good here”, Sarah told the lady in an irked voice. “I want to keep these flowers in our living room. My husband is very fond of them”, the lady said softly.
It started to rain. They were getting drenched. Both of them ran and stood under a tree. The sky got dark and it was pouring heavily. After a few minutes, a man came rushing inside the park with an umbrella. He came to the lady and said, “I knew you are here. Why do you always forget your umbrella at home?”
“I was waiting for you to get it for me”, she replied.
They went away together in one umbrella. As Sarah saw them leaving, tears welled up in her eyes. She could see Shakeel standing in front of her. She ran towards him and slipped on the mud. When she got up, there was nobody else in the park except her. Shakeel’s voice was echoing in her ears in the silence between the raindrops. ‘Sarah, you don’t need to worry. I will be there for you’, Shakeel would always tell her. She sat on the bench and cried her heart out. She came back home completely drenched and was shivering because of the cold.
Sarah went to her room without talking to anybody. She called up Shakeel. “It is raining very heavily and I am alone here. Will you get me an umbrella, Shakeel?” she said in a low voice and started crying. Shakeel did not utter a word and disconnected the call. After that, she went to sleep.
It was seven in the morning. The rain didn’t seem to stop even for a minute. Sarah got up to get another blanket for herself from the cupboard. She noticed somebody sleeping next to her. She switched on the lights immediately. “Shakeel, is that you!” she exclaimed. She was unable to believe her eyes.
“I got an umbrella for you. I know you keep forgetting your things all the time”, Shakeel said with a smile.
“It is not raining in Lucknow at all. If you don’t like the rains, you can come along with me”, he added.
Both of them burst into laughter suddenly.