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And before I knew it, I had hit send...
And as the mail sent message popped up, I bit my tongue. I shouldn't have done this. But I was left with no option. Twenty years of patience and waiting and now I have spoilt all this because of a moment of indecision. Chewing my nails, I glanced at the screen refreshing the inbox. Nothing. No mails. Slowly I got up, walked to the balcony and held the ice cold railing. The huge empty land across the road stared at me back. Cold. Distant. Unloved.
A warm tear rolled down my cheek. Life...I remembered him at my relative's wedding. As someone who mingles happily with friends and relatives, I was almost the star of the wedding, laughing and playing, tugging at the available plaits of hairs and kanjeevarams. In my final school year, chirpy and glad, I always made heads turn. That was when she saw me, an elderly lady and by the time I knew what was happening, my fate was sealed. All my siblings got married in their teens and I was escaping the noose somehow. This time over, I was caught in the web. The myriad web of wedding and its related chains caught me. By the time I could decipher what was happening, I was the wife of a stranger who seldom smiled.
A stoic face sans any expression- all I could remember of him was his stony silence. My mother was interested more in probably the riyals he would shower from the Gulf rather than the love her daughter would get. He left back to the Gulf, the very next week I was declared pregnant by the doctor. I shudder even now thinking of the time when my daughter was born. The cute little bundle of joy came to this world and showed me what life was. What love was. Her first smile, her toddler steps, her first words, I was there watching her bloom into the beautiful flower she is today. Thoughts of my daughter brought a smile to my face and I watched at the rattling bells, swinging slowly in the balcony swing.
I tried to remember the last vacation when my husband had flown down from Gulf. When was that? Four years back? He was taken aback at the beautiful teen who came bounding from the stairs. My daughter, the little angel. I could still remember his mask slip away for one second, looking at his daughter and then he was back to his usual self- watching the non existent traffic on the road from the balcony...the same balcony. And that time when he left, I knew he left for good. With one longing look at his daughter he had turned away and walked through the gates.
The big rented house echoes with laughter of children and soulful music. Dance and music reverberated the empty halls and staircases. The evenings were divine and the nights...filled with agony and want. My daughter had just now called from Bangalore, wishing me her customary good night and here I sit swinging under the stars and stormy skies. Twenty years of loneliness, longing and bitterness...of nights caring for my sick daughter, of days fearing the people who lent me loans, of darkness that threatened the very bit of my soul. And here I am, at the end of the tunnel, with no light in sight.
I had to take that decision long back. I had the time, but never the courage. And today of all days, I found courage. The strength to say No to him. The determination to send him out of my life. The swing rolled front and back as I snuggled into it, watching the Pole star. And memories of the morning's incident came rushing back to me. I had watched the old couple who walked holding hands every early morning from the same balcony. All wrinkled and in their late 70's, they walked silent, every morning. The lady loved the blue bells that hung down from my balcony and every morning the old man plucked one of them and handed it to her. She would turn it around, look at it and place it in her basket. This was almost a ritual for both of them and for the past few days they were missing. With a pang of regret I was watching the blue bells today morning, holding my coffee mug and the old man came walking slowly.
The lady was missing and just as I thought of calling out to him, he looked up, his eyes brimming with unshed tears. Agonised, as I rushed downstairs, he had plucked the lone flower and held it tight in his shaking hands. As I kept on asking where his wife was, he ignored me totally, looked upwards, pointed at the bright blue sky and walked silently, shrugging my hands off. That was when I decided to give up on my husband. He did not need me. But I needed someone. To hold my hand. To walk along. To pluck me a bluebell. To age together. To die together.
Putting all my unshed tears bottled anger of decades, I drafted the shortest mail of my life. " I quit. You will be receiving the divorce notice shortly". And before I knew it, I had hit send. And had ended the loneliness of twenty four years. Twilight permeated the darkness. And I stepped down from the swing. As the first rays of the sun kissed the blue bells, I welcomed a free and radiant morning.