When you love someone a lot, two things happen to you. Either you become the happiest soul on the earth or you end up landing in the abyss of miseries.
The consequence depends on the attitude of the person you love, on whether you are in a requited or unrequited love.
For Rajat, life had never been kind in anyway. But only when he loved someone who never ever cared to love him back, did he realize that nothing can be as painful as being in an one-sided love story. Yes, life once again had brought agonies to him but it was something so difficult to bear this time.
“Anu, I am leaving for the office. Bye. Take care.” Like every day, Rajat thought Anulata would ask him for breakfast. And like every day, she didn’t respond. It hurt him but he couldn’t be like her. He couldn’t stop caring for her.
“Why don’t you re-join college? I have heard, students want you back soon? I too think you should resume teaching. Spending time at home must be boring for you.” Rajat knew that making her feel rejuvenated towards life should be his top most priority, although he didn’t have even the slightest idea as to why Anulata seemed so lost. After all, she hardly spoke to him!
But like always, the concern too came crashing down.
“I have already said, I don’t want to do anything. I am fine. It would be kind of you if you please leave me alone.” Her tone was terse and unambiguous. It hurt Rajat even more. His heart cried. “Why the hell did you need to marry me then!!!” But poor boy! Love had silenced him. He couldn’t yell at her that way.
On the way, he only kept thinking about Anulata. She came into his life about two months back. Dad had said she would be the perfect girl for him.
“Dad says just anything.” Rajat muttered to himself. He was missing his mother. Had she been alive today, he would have confided in her the strange behaviour of his wife. Only a woman can understand another woman. She surely would have succeeded in making Anulata talk about whatever was locked in her heart. With every movement of the wheels forward, his impatience grew. At one point, he even hit the steering hard out of exasperation. And then, bringing the car to a halt, he dialled Safiya’s number.
“Look Safiya. This is the question of my life. I’m married to her. Marriage is not a joke. And above all, I…I love her.” Seated in a coffee shop, Rajat confessed like a child.
Safiya softly smiled. She could sense the sweet genuineness of his words.
“Rajat, by now you must have known that Anulata is very different. She is not like me or any other woman. You see… She…” Safiya cut herself short. Rajat’s heart thudded loud.
“She what? Does she love someone else?”
“No man! I didn’t mean that. She has never fallen for anyone. She didn’t make even a single boyfriend throughout her days in college. I told you, she is not like just another usual woman.”
‘Then what’s the reason for her resentment, Safiya? Didn’t she want to get married? Does she have any other aspirations in life? Any dream? You are a very close friend of hers, you must be aware..!”
The close friend again couldn’t help smiling at Rajat’s desperation. How caring, she thought. However, at the very next jiffy, her countenance changed.
“Yes you are right, Rajat. There is something to it.” She paused. “Anu’s parents, who solemnized love marriage in those times, ended up being in an estranged relationship for life. As Anu grew up witnessing their hatred for each other all the time, she was firm from the very beginning that she won’t ever allow love or marriage in her life.” Safia looked up at Rajat.
“If this is what love does to one’s life then I will ALWAYS remain single, Anu had once said to me. This unfortunately is the truth, Rajat.”
For a moment, Rajat felt someone has hit his head with a heavy rod. He wanted to talk more to Safiya but went numb instead. Words refused to come out of his mouth.
What? What did he hear?? The girl whom he is married to doesn’t believe in marriage? Did Safiya just say that Anulata doesn’t even believe in love?? Will life ever stop ditching him?
It is said that love should be selfless. However, more often than not, it makes humans selfish; selfish about seeking love from the person they love and care for. That night, Rajat too turned one. He wanted to take Anulata in his arms, to smother her with kisses, to make her feel his mad love for her. Rajat really wanted her to desire him when he whispered “You are mine” to her ear. Inebriated, he got back home late in the night and as usual found Anulata sleeping in hall. Stepping close, as he gently touched her face, his expressions changed. Frantically, he touched her neck and arm. He got even more worried. Anulata was running a temperature. She appeared really weak.
Some people get easily swept over by events, even by the not-so-big ones. Rajat, unlike Anulata, was one of them. For him, keeping calm in a difficult situation was like searching for the sun at night. And then this time, it was Anulata who was suffering.
“Anu. Anu. Are you okay?” He suddenly seemed to have come out of all the effects that alcohol may have had on him. Anulata’s eyes were still closed. She was in the grip of one hundred and four degree.
A doctor Rajat knew sounded irked for the disturbance at such an odd hour, that too for a minor case of fever. So he himself took the charge of treating his wife. As he put a wet piece of cloth over Anulata’s forehead, he wondered when actually he learnt these things. Maybe the fear of loss was doing the trick! But simultaneously he was angry with himself. Anulata was in this mess only because of him. It was his duty to discern her heart before marrying her.
Rajat was now clear that this marriage was not meant to be any sacred union, as they say, but a compulsory social and family ritual performed through emotional blackmailing. He looked at Anulata, half in sleep and half unconscious. Tears coursed down his cheeks. How muchhe loved her…
Only when groggy eyed Rajat turned to look outside, did he realize that he had been sitting beside Anulata for several hours now. Day was about to break. He walked ahead with tired feet and clicked the windows open. The open windows unshackled the boundary of four walls to the infinite outside. As Rajat observed the unfettered beauty of nature, he decided in his heart to set Anulata free from this forced ritual too. As the Sun came up, the distant horizon turning orange and absolutely magical, the unfulfilled lover wanted this new day to bring a new beginning of happiness in his lover’s life.
Waking up from another slumber, Rajat looked at the time. He got up hurriedly. Not even during engineering days had he ever slept for this long. His head was spinning. He looked around for Anulata. Rajat wondered if she was fine now. Why was there so much silence? Didn’t the maid come to work today? Oh, Rajat reminded himself again. After completing her chores, the maid must have left. Everyone must be busy with their Wednesday routines. With hand on head, he sat back thinking how should he resist himself from getting drawn towards Anulata from now onwards.
“Have this. You will feel good.” He turned his eyes up and found the eighth wonder of the world. Clad in a white chickan salwar kameez with red printed dupatta, Anulata was standing with a cup of tea for him. Rajat just could not believe his eyes. He was sure this was nothing but a hangover of the scotch.
“What happened, Rajat? Don’t you like tea?”
“I do. I of course do like it, Anu. I love it actually.” He stammered.
While he sipped the priceless beverage, he tried to recollect whether he saw the sun rising in the east…or was it west!
“Shit I missed office. There was a meeting.” He blabbered.
“If you remain awake at night like this, then you would miss office every day, Mr. Rajat Bharadwaj.” Anulata teased from the kitchen.
Now Rajat could not believe his ears either. A completely unfamiliar joy tingled through his entire being. He walked up to her.
“You had such high fever last night, Anu. How are you feeling now?”
“Amazing.” Anulata said, looking straight into Rajat’s eyes.
Something changed at this moment. Something changed forever.
“Go, get fresh now. It’s time for lunch.” She turned to focus on her rajma while Rajat headed toward the washroom, still stealing glances at her in disbelief. And both were smiling unprecedentedly.