“You smoke too much lately. Is it that you’re craving for love??” jested seven months pregnant Rahi.
Abhay kept on puffing with new vigour thinking ‘bout Kavita eluding his wife, mentally as well as physically.
Abhay and Rahi were college sweethearts. Both had common interests like Mumbai, hostel life, soft rock, definitive literature, clove cigarettes, painting and poetry. Except for he loved it on the couch and she enjoyed it on the bed. They tied knots two years after their Masters in Business Administration. They knew each from head to toe. She typically followed the other side of the Arabic matrimonial equation that is curtailing her liberty to move alone and secretly basked it. But he was a classifiable and predictive north Indian stud with a good physique ready to flirt with every other juicy girl he came across. Her parents dissented strongly after she eloped with him. Still she considered herself lucky as far as her marriage was concerned; reason being his intelligence, romanticism and tomfoolery.
Before marriage, things were different at least for Abhay. He was very much interesting, creative and expressive in the first place. Their ‘mental-intimacy’ clearly outdid physical involvement. She first proposed him during their masters, he rejected as he had a crush on some already set-aside damsel. As every XY chromosome bearer is a loyalist slave of testosterone, he was no exception. They both got together within a month. It was his second relationship while she never earlier dated due to societal obligations. And yes, he sensed some void in their affinity but couldn’t express his incertitudes to emotionally unstable and already imbalanced wife especially after her father left for heaven’s abode due to heart attack.
Everything was so foreseeable in their deadening relationship and so only they decided to turn into parents hoping that a child would light up their benighted aroha. Typical Indian couple!!
He brought her same pineapple cake since years on birthdays as clichéd surprise. Looking at his eyes on dinner table, she would pass on knowing what he needed. They knew each other too much to express in words. Eyes did all the conversation. He too realised that such quixotic stuff seemed good only in poems. Both were unknowingly going deep into the web weaved by ‘too much of love’.
Kavita: fair, slim and aphrodisiacal girl who came in as intern was the new protagonist in his life. She as a single child always resorted to surrogate relationships after her parents separated. He started butterflying her hoping to complete his incomplete life. And it clicked between them. Never earlier did he experience such calmness and solace but his heart was torn apart thinking about unborn child. As always he thought she was the one, his soul mate. She was one devil-may-care lover and never took him that seriously for obvious reasons. His kinship with Kavita reached a celestial point and there was no looking back after that.
Rahi was admitted into a hospital during her last month. She easily noticed guilt in his eyes but kept mum. She kept on asking with her eyes, ‘Is she more beautiful??’ Once, such a great debater lost life’s most important case with a straight defeat. He did nothing but closed his eyes in reply trying hard to cry but couldn’t. Wild damaging and negative thoughts took over him.
Allah blessed Abhay with a baby girl.Rahi died during pregnancy owing to excess blood loss from her body.
He entered the hospital ward with mixed feelings. Went near his wife. Took her hand in his hands and tried hard to cry, again he couldn’t. Then he turned his eyes towards the new-born, her eyes clearly resembling Rahi’s. He was taken aback by the ‘Is she more beautiful??’ look which the baby gave him.
Tears came down his cheeks for the first time in life. He tried controlling his feelings….but eyes kept on pouring as if they were separated from his body, mind and soul!
Gulzar saab’s grave voice hemmed into his ears:
”Kisi mausam ka jhonka tha
Jo iss deewar par latki tasveer tirchhi kar gaya hai
Gaye sawan mein ye deeware yun seeli nahi thi
Na jane kyun iss dafa inn mein seelan aa gayi hai
Daraarein pad gayi hain
Aur seelan iss tarah behti hai jaise
Khushk rukhsaaro par geele aansun chalte hain”
(A quivering touch of weather, was it??
which has swung your photo-frame.
Last monsoon, these walls were as dry (and strong) as dead leaves;
This time, however these are damped and damaged.
And the dampness crawls on the wall,
Just like tears leave a trail on (somebody’s) dry cheeks
A quivering touch of weather, was it??)