Neha came out of the kitchen angrily. She had her bath just a while ago and her hair was still wet and the sindoor in her head still fresh. She was wearing the yellow and green salwaar kameez bought by Rohan last diwali. But she was not wearing the dupatta which she thrown on the sofa in the living room, it always bothered her during cooking. Neha was looking very pretty indeed and the angry expression on her face made her look more endearing.
She was angry because Rohan had slammed the door on his way out. He did it often nowadays. When her eyes fell on the dining table in the living room she saw he had not even finished his breakfast. They were having a light argument while he was having breakfast and she was cooking for the lunch boxes. Nowadays all the arguments happened like this, both of them in different rooms. And topics for arguments had been aplenty lately. Today it was about going to a wedding reception of one of Neha’s second cousins.
“But it would look bad if you don’t come.” Neha had tried to persuade Rohan.
“I told you I have work.” Was Rohan’s standard reply.
“You always do,” Neha complained, “we never go anywhere together anymore.”
And the slam of the door had cut short the argument. It had also decided who won the round. Neha would have to go to the reception alone, and make up excuses for Rohan’s absence. Life had not been like this three years ago when they were a newlywed couple. Neha remembered those days through the unshed tears which had gathered in her eyes and threated to moist her cheeks. They had finally married after dating for two whole years and were still very much in love. The daily routine of married life had not taken away the sweetness of their love marriage yet. Rohan paid attention to Neha’s wishes and did whatever she asked him to do. He was always home before the daily soap at 7 pm and they sometimes got wild and dirty on the living room sofa before dinner. A smile peeped on her face for a moment when she remembered the day when they were trying to get into action on the dining table and Rohan had sprained his back in the process. He had to be bed ridden for a week after that. And they had told doctor Khanna that it happened while we was trying to fetch a heavy carton from the top of the cupboard.
The lastest hindi movie dance number blaring out from her mobile as a ringtone caught her attention. Her sister Sneha screamed the moment she answered the call.
“Didi, why did you take so long to answer the call?”
“Uh! Oh! I was a little busy in the kitchen.” Neha replied.
“Has Rohan jeeju left for work?”
“Well, I am going to the beauty parlor in the afternoon to get ready for the reception in the
evening. Do you want to come along?” Sneha asked.
“Uh? No no. You go ahead. I don’t know if I would be able to leave early from office.”
“What? Are you not coming for the reception?” Sneha was shocked.
“Off course I am. Unlike some people, I can take out time for family.” Neha couldn’t stop before she had exclaimed the ill placed sarcastic remark. “I just can’t tell about the beauty parlor.” She completed.
“Ok.” Sneha disconnected the call, half confused about what her sister had just said.
Neha kept the phone on the dining table and went into the kitchen. She had momentarily forgotten her anger over Rohan’s departure due to being interrupted by the call. But she was fuming again when she realised she was preparing lunch box for Rohan and he had already left. She turned off the gas stove and walked to the living room. She didn’t need lunch box today. She would leave a bit early for the reception and hence she would use the lunch time to finish as much work as she could. She picked up her dupatta and her purse, checked that all the lights and ceiling fans were off and walked to the door. She was in a sour mood as she locked the house and pulled the lock hard to check that it was secured properly.
Neha walked angrily to the bus stop. Cursing under her breath all the way, swearing at a pebble she stumbled over, walking hastily, bumping into a couple of passers by. She felt that her morning was ruined by Rohan. She hated him; hated him so much. She decided that she would not call him the entire day and go directly to her mother’s place from office. There she would get dressed and go to the reception with her parents and sister. She would reach home late from the reception and Rohan would probably be asleep by then. She had decided she would not talk to him until he comes and apologizes to her. She felt like never talking to him. ‘Would it not be great if I never have to talk to him? Never see him again?” she thought.
Her bus arrived at the stop and she got into it. Luckily she got a seat near the window. No sooner had she settled into her seat her mobile rang again. This time it was her mother.
“Neha beta, Rohan is coming for the reception na?”
“No mummy, Rohan has an important meeting today evening.” Neha replied.
“But beta, Ashwin is your first cousin. And Ram Uncle has done so much for our family. Remember Ashwin had worked so hard for your wedding preparations…”
“Mummy, I am coming. Don’t ask me about Rohan. Why don’t you call him and ask.” Neha could not hide her anger.
“Beta have you two…”
Neha cut the phone before her mother could finish the sentence, switched it off and out it in her purse. She started looking out of the window. She felt tears in her eyes, but did not wipe them off. Finally one rolled onto her cheek. She started thinking whether she should have listened to her father. Her father had a knack for fathoming people in the first meeting.
“Rohan is a good guy Neha. Smart, good looking, well educated and from a good family.” He had told her when she introduced him to her family as her boyfriend. “But he looks very ambitious to me. I doubt whether he will be a good husband. He lacks the balance a good family man should have.”
“But papa, I love him,” Neha said snubbing his warning, “and I know he values me more than anything else. He will never let me feel ignored.”
“It’s your life beta. I will not force my opinions on you. If your decision is to marry him then you have our blessings.”
It seemed now that her father was right. It began an year after their wedding. Rohan took up the job as an Assistant Vice President in a multinational bank. It was a big leap from being a manager in a locally owned bank. They had celebrated by going to a movie and having dinner at ‘Little Italy’, Neha’s favourite Italian restaurant. It was also followed by a night of passionate love making. She still remembered that night. She held Rohan tightly to her bosom after they both were exhausted and sweaty. She was so happy for him. But somehow she felt she was about to lose him. She did not realize it then but now she knew, that strange feeling in the bed after the love making was fear of losing him. It was like Rohan was marrying another woman.
Now a days they didn’t make love often. Rohan was always tired when he came back from the office. And the weekends were spent quarrelling over petty issues.
“You mean like not at all?” Her friend and colleague Anju had asked her, astonished when she told it to her.
“Not like never. Well sometimes. But very rarely.” Neha had told her.
“When was the last time you did it?” Anju’s curiosity was hard to satisfy.
“Last month. Rohan was on leave to fill in his tax returns. Strangely we didn’t fight that day. And after dinner we both felt like it. Actually longing for it.” Neha said.
“Rohan wanted to, last Friday. But it was wrong time of the month for me.”
“Awww…”Anju said in a manner of condolence. “But see, it’s not always Rohan who stays away from you.”
“Shut up.” Neha said annoyed, “like I could help it. And this only happens like once in a blue moon. You know I feel like the spark is missing from our marriage. We no longer feel attracted to each other. Rohan definitely does not.”
“Do you think Rohan is having an affair?” Anju regretted saying it the moment these words came out of her mouth. “No no. I didn’t mean that. Rohan is not that type.”
But the seed of suspicion was sown. For the next one month Neha had regularly checked Rohan’s cell phone, whenever he had his bath in the morning or when he went to the bathroom before bed. She read his messages, checked his call history and always listened keenly whenever he was talking on the phone. She never mentioned anything to him. Even after one month of constant vigil she had not found anything suspicious. Either Rohan was very good at hiding his affair or he didn’t have one. She desperately hoped it was latter. Neha also sometimes felt pangs of guilt for doubting Rohan and checking his cell phone. She tried to make up for it by cooking Rohan’s favourite dishes and being nice to him. But Rohan was always too busy to notice. This broke her heart further.
“Madam, this is the last stop.” The bus conductor was telling her.
“Uh!? Oh yes I was leaving.” She got up wiping her tears with the sleeve of her kurta, gathered her purse and alighted the bus hastily.
She walked absent minded towards her office. Anju’s words came back to her mind.
“If Akhilesh treats me like this I will leave him that day. What do these guys think? We must not allow our husbands to take us for granted.” Anju had said animatedly.
“Wish it was so simple.” Neha had said.
“Why not? We ourselves held us back. We must know our worth and be ready to take tough decisions to put some sense in these guys.” Anju retorted.
‘Did she really mean it?’ Neha thought. Suddenly she felt sick in the stomach, like she wanted to throw up. She hailed an auto rickshaw and got into it.
“Bhaiyya go to Saki Naka,” first she told the auto rickshaw driver to take to her mother’s place. Then suddenly she changed her mind and asked hime to take her home. “Sorry bhaiyya there’s a change in the plan. Go to Lokhandwala.”
Once home she hurriedly opened the lock and went to her bedroom. She just flung herself on the bed and cried. She.did not weep. She cried, loudly, tears running over her cheeks. She cried to let the frustration of so many months out. She cried over her decision. She had reached a decision. She did not want to continue a relationship like this. She got up after half and hour. Wiped her tears and fetched a suitcase from under the bed. She opened the lid and lay it on the bed. Then going to the wardrobe she pulled all her clothes from the drawers and hangers and stuffed them in the suitcase. She did not care to pack them, she just stuffed them inside. Even the kanjivaram saree that she had worn on her wedding day and the Rupees 18000 sarara Rohan had gifted her on their first anniversary went in the same way. She shut the suitcase after most of her clothes were in it. Next she got a shopping bag from the wardrobe and put her jewellery, and creams and toileteries in it. She kept some important documents she had in her purse. Then she kept her suitcase by the bed and kept the shopping bag and purse on it and sat on the edge of the bed.
Everything was packed she was ready to go. She thought of writing a note for Rohan. Telling him he had lost her, telling him not to come trying to convince her to come back. But she did not move. She wanted to sit there for a while. On her bed, where she had spent so many loving and passionate moments with Rohan. She wanted to soak in the memories that were in that house. Something fixed her to the bed. She couldn’t move. She sat and sat, even without realizing that she missed lunch. She remembered days when Rohan used to cook breakfast for her, days when they fought hard and then ended up in making love. She remembered the day when Rohan had his tooth extracted, how scared he looked. That day she wanted to take him and hide him in her embrace and protect him from all the world.
Suddenly she heard a noise of someone opening the door, she looked up to see Rohan enter the room. Instinctively she looked at the watch on the bedside table, 10:00 PM, she had missed the reception. She had sat on the corner of the bed the whole day. She again looked up at Rohan, his eyes wandered to the suitcase beside the bed. He looked back at her, their eyes met. His questioning eyes had a pleading look in them. She quickly got up and embraced him tightly and started crying. He put her arms around her back after a few moments, she could feel his hands trembling. Then he held her tightly. She knew he was scared now. A ray of hope. She knew maybe he was drifting away from her, but it was up to her whether to let go or to gently guide him back to her. She decided not to let go.
Sometimes we forget to tell our loved ones how much we love them. But make no mistake. Even words of love and small gifts go a long way in keeping the romance alive. So go ahead and surprise your spouse/lover TODAY. Send a nice greeting of love.