Hold On To Me: Part V
Hold On To Me: Part V
“You must learn her. You must know the reason why she is silent. You must trace her weakest spots. You must write to her. You must remind her that you are there. You must know how long it takes for her to give up. You must be there to hold her when she is about to. You must love her because many have tried and failed. And she wants to know that she is worthy to be loved, that she is worthy to be kept. And, this is how you keep her.”
― Junot Díaz
... “Hold on to me”, he whispered and smiled, as they took the seventh phera around the holy flame.
She had grown up reading fairytales and romances, and he had come into her life with a promise of ‘Happily Ever After’.
She remembered the days that they had viewed together through rose-tinted glasses and she also remembered the days she had cried...
...And then the girls had come into their lives...
...He sat quietly, staring at the files in front of him. There were a zillion documents to be checked, but his mind was elsewhere.
He knew he was equally to blame, if not more, but her accusing eyes, her complaints and her expectations made him feel inadequate, insecure and uncertain; uncertain of what the future held for him; for them. The last ten years had been beautiful. She had brought sunshine into his life and they had both reveled in their love. Her exuberance, romanticism and zest for life had made him forget the struggles he had gone through. She made everything look bright. And the girls were there too.
He was a totally changed person!
When he had first held his first-born, the surge of love he had felt, had been unfathomable. And then another little bundle of joy had come.
They couldn’t have asked for anything else.
Things had changed.
Everything revolved around the girls...
...He had been brought up by his grandmother, with his parents away, given his father’s army postings. They didn’t want him changing schools every few years and he was not the boarding school variety, so his grandmother settled down in Dehradun for him.
He missed his parents.
Their long periods of absence from his life made him aloof.
He learned to shut everyone out.
His grandmother tried her best and he loved her for that.
But he had been let down by his parents.
His father’s career mattered more to him. Even when he had lived with his parents, there had hardly been any father-son bonding.
His mother too, though he knew she loved him, had her own life. He was left with orderlies and nannies.
He had heard them both blaming each other for not being part of his life and his grandmother had blamed them both.
Not having grown up in a functional, secure home environment, he learned to be self-sufficient, not letting anyone come too close emotionally.
He had always kept his innermost thoughts to himself...
And then things had changed. He had his three girls.
He could not imagine his life without them.
His grandmother had breathed a sigh of relief seeing him calm and happy. She knew she had done her best, but a part of him had been missing all these years. His wife had made him whole again...
...His parents spent more and more time with him. After his grandmother passed away, he realized how much he missed her presence.
He wanted the girls to bond with their grandparents, though most of the time, all he heard them say was that she was not doing a good job raising them.
‘Civilians really don’t know how to raise their kids. She is always doing things for them and giving in to every whim’, his mother had complained.
His father too had disapproved of the way they handled their household.
For some reason, she too had been on tenterhooks.
There was too much on her plate and his parents only added to the woes.
‘My parents never make a fuss! Why do your parents always complain?’, she moaned.
He knew she had a point, but this constant complaining irritated him.
He knew their shortcomings, but they were still his parents...
...Work was the pits and at home his responsibilities towards his family were weighing him down. His parents did not like her and she too had stopped making an effort. It was the granddaughters they showered all their attention on, but they girls also felt that something was amiss. They heard less of their mother’s laughter when Dada and Dadi visited.
She tried her best to act normal with them, but they wondered why her eyes looked sad. They even asked him why he did not hug mummy the way he always did.
He had made a joke out of it with the girls, but in his heart he knew things were not as they should have been.
The more he tried to solve things, the more mess he made. He felt caught up...
...She sat there playing with her necklace, waiting.
The necklace brought back memories, of a time when they both had looked forward to their future together.
He had bought it for her when they had visited Amarnath.
As per legend, it was in this cave that Shiva had shared the secrets of immortality with his consort, Parvati.
Running her fingers over the rough surface of the rudraksh beads calmed her anxious mind.
For her, rudraksh, formed from the tears of Shiva, symbolized karmic magic. She believed in destiny and knew they had been brought together by the higher forces. Just like Shiva and Parvati, they were meant to epitomise true union.
He had laughed at the foolishness of the idea, but they had continued to soar high in the magic of their love.
Now she hoped it was true. She wanted to reignite that magical flame.
How simple it all was in love stories- everything always worked out in the end.
She wished real life was this simple.
And now, she sat alone, waiting.
Waiting for him. Waiting for the apology that had not come until now. Waiting to turn the page!
The girls were fast asleep in their room...
... “Can you for once try and understand my side?”, she had cried. “I didn’t mean it like that.”
“What a stupid issue to have an argument over!”, he had said, dismissing her and banging the door shut, as he had walked out of their room...
...They had not spoken to each other for a week. she should not add to it.
She wanted to scream, but she knew it would only add fuel to the fire. His family’s judgement saddened her a little, especially since she had always believed that times had changed and both partners stood on equal footing.
But it was his attitude that had shocked her.
They had been in sync; everyone had been in awe and some used to turn visibly green when they would notice their synergy.
They had been equals; no fixed, gender-specific roles or expectations.
But today, she felt alone. He, who had been her best friend always, was distant. She had no idea anymore of what he stood for and what was going on in his mind.
They had argued earlier; sulked, made-up, laughed. But they had never slept on a fight. That had never happened.
And now, a week! A very difficult week!
What had happened? How had they reached this stage?
She had to do something,even if it meant being the first to apologise. She loved him and he loved her.
They both were hurting; their immaturity and inability to understand each other’s viewpoint, was taking a toll on everyone.
She could not change his parents’ opinion of her and she couldn’t expect him to take sides- they were his parents. It didn’t matter that they had not loved him the way he loved his daughters. They were his parents and they always would be.
She decided to change her approach.
She blamed him for not standing up for her. But that was the only thing she blamed him for. He had always been there for her,in all other instances.
She would let this matter lie- for the sake of the girls; for herself; most importantly for them- him and her...
The call from the hospital had seemed unreal.
It just couldn’t be.
He had called me when he was leaving the office. There was something he had to share with me.
How could this happen?
I had checked again if they had the name of the victim right.
There was no confusion. The car had been badly mangled by the truck.
The driver had died on the spot, but he had been breathing when the police got to the scene.
They had found his phone intact and called the last number dialed.
When I reached the hospital they couldn’t give me a definitive answer. I was told to wait and watch.
It was the longest night. Time had slowed down.
My reverie breaks as I feel my hand being squeezed.
And then no movement.
Is it my mind playing games or did he actually respond?
The room is quiet.
I can see the girls sleeping on the couch.
The news of the accident had shocked them and they had taken the first flights back home.
I sit, holding his limp hand, looking at his bruised face, his bandaged arm, wondering when he will wake up.
I am scared.
The doctors say he is lucky and that the operation has been successful.
They say that he will regain consciousness very soon.
“Hold on to me”, I whisper into his ear.
There is movement again.
I feel the squeeze and as tears rush down my face, I smile.
“ Savi! Niamat! He can hear me”, I cry.
The girls wake up with a jolt and rush to my side.
“Wake up Dad”, Savi whispers, taking his hand from me. Niamat holds the other hand.
There is no movement.
The girls look at me.
“But he did respond”, I assure.
Doubt starts creeping in.
And then I hear Niamat let out a sigh of relief.
Neel’s eyes open slowly and a faint smile forms.
As he tries to turn his head, he winces and the eyes close again.
Palpable excitement envelopes us.
The girls and I take his hands in ours and I gently whisper, “Keep holding on to us.”
I know that like always, everything will be fine.
I am Aliya and this is another chapter in my story.