‘This is the last call for the passengers traveling to New Delhi, India. The flight will leave at thirty minutes past 9. Passengers traveling to India are requested to board the flight immediately. This is the last call for….’
A man in the traveling lounge stood up, gripping the handle of his case till the knuckles turned white. Straightening the lean shoulders, he stared at the long passageway that led to the boarding gate. And then back to the floor. Thoughts assailed him.
Perhaps this wasn’t a good idea. He has been away too long. People back home would have moved on. He could turn around and walk back out of the gate, back to his sterile apartment in London. And pretend that he too had moved on. At least he could fool the world, if not himself.
A hand crept into the pocket of his coat and brushed against the paper – the letter that had opened the doors of memories. Made him stop and face the past he had been running away from for five long years.
Five years, away from home, living like a nomad, a wanderer who has no anchor till the letter from is sister had brought him to a standstill. “Chottey, it’s time I think. Khushi has the right to have a normal life. If you can’t give it to her, let her go.”
More had followed those stunning words. Each word now etched on his heart, like scars from an old wound.
‘Let her go.’
Perhaps it was time to let everything go.
But he could not. Not until he has seen her once again. Known what she felt. Seen her talking, eating, sleeping, laughing, living. Not like the white corpse she was when he saw her last time. Bleeding, her eyes closed, then covered with bandages, tubes pumping life into the girl who could be called life itself, only the mechanical beeps of the machine telling him that she lived.
Shock upon shock- her state, the truth, his sister, the crumbling pack of cards, his world.
Soon after he had made sure she would be ok, he had upped and left. Like a coward. Unmindful of his sister’s tears, the disapproval in the eyes of his family and hers.
He did not have it in him. To see her in this state anymore. To face her when she talked to him about the mess he had made of her life and his. To meet her eyes and admit that he was the one who had brought her to this.
So he had run. And kept running, refusing to let his parched ears hear her voice, or his tired eyes catch a glimpse. Refusing to let his conscience speak, or listen to its whispers in the dark dreamless nights. He knew that if he did, he would crumble, once again become that little, broken boy who had wept pathetically when his parents died and he was thrown on roads.
But Di’s letter that had pulled him to a standstill. It was the call to pay his debts and settle the scores. Move on. Let her move on. It was time to face the ghosts he had been hiding from for the last five years.
Move on. Let her move on. It was time to face the ghosts he had been hiding from for the last five years.
Let her move on. It was time to face the ghosts he had been hiding from for the last five years.
It was time to face the ghosts he had been hiding from for the last five years.
ASR took a deep long breath and began the long trek towards the boarding gate, towards home.
Khushi reached out to the silence the monotonous alarm of her cellphone at the first ring. She had been awake for a while. In fact, it had been a long time since she had slept the sleep of the carefree and woken up reluctantly to the screeches of her aunt, yelling that girls who slept late would never be good wives. How proud Buaji would be, Khushi’s mouth twisted into a smile that didn’t reach her eyes. Like every day, her eyes turned to take in the cold side of the king size bed and then around the room.
This huge sterile uncluttered room wasn’t hers. Had never been. And yet she had been living her for the last five years on her own – as a wife of a man who had first hated her and then forgotten her existence altogether.
She wondered where he was. Did he plan to return, ever? Or was this the sign of his inexplicable hatred – this limbo into which he had pushed her life?
She gazed at his beloved plants, now trimmed and looked after by a gardener who came twice a week. Khushi had no patience for them. Or for anything concerning him. Once she had given up the foolish dreams of a prince on a white steed and being swept away to a happily ever after, she had accepted that this life wasn’t bad. She was with her family, surrounded by people who loved her though they now tiptoed around the silent brooding Khushi. She had completed her education and trained as a chef. She now hosted a popular cookery show and was almost a public figure.
Almost like ASR himself.
Not bad. She had taken a leaf out of his own book – made a life for herself out of the debris of the past.
Yes, she would be okay if he never came back. Happy, in fact. On her own in his cold sterile room.
Note: Just a scenario that popped into my mind. Nothing follows this…at least for the moment. Have my hands full.
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