Life In The Horizon
Life In The Horizon6 mins 127 6 mins 127
The silhouettes of trees and the landscapes are bathed in the serene setting moon. I came out of my small cottage, where I spent last night. Not slept much, but immersed in my memories of years ago. Tossed and turned sides the entire night. At times, staring out of the window and waiting for the dawn to unveil its mystery. The trees were in slumber as their avian dwellers. The only audible was the isolated chirping of the small bird from a tree nearby.
The early morning mist only enhanced the mystical ambiance like my memory, which I have come to celebrate alone after the decades of busy working life came to an end. Knowingly, I had kept myself busy not to indulge in those memories. Not probably, but certainly, I kept those memories out of myself, not to suffer in bitter-sweet pain. But then, why today I have come to the same place hundreds of miles away from my city? - I questioned myself. I started climbing the hill. My breath got one shade heavier- not so much due to exhaustion, but more out of excitement. I was reaching a cliff that was called a suicide point. Now, the sun is about rise. The sky was purple and yellow-hued making the horizon visible clearly.
I sat on a rock. It is the same rock, where we both sat about thirty-five years ago. The small rock was not able to accommodate both of us. But, sitting close to each other seemed like heaven on the earth, we could feel each other's breath. I closed my eyes. Not aware of a few curious eyes that were scanning us thoroughly, we left that place, walked to a restaurant nearby to savour the south Indian breakfast. I gorged on masala dosa and filter coffee and Aakash ate his usual poori-sabji and ginger tea. We argued a little- whose breakfast choice was healthier and tastier. I had decided that I'd slowly develop the taste for poori-sabji and minimize my consumption of masala dosa, which is my favourite food till today. That entire day we walked and sat around the golf course discussing our future plans, that seemed to reach no conclusion. Aakash wanted us to get married in next three months, as he was working, and living alone in Delhi, I was studying my masters at that time in my small town. His family wanted him to get married and live in comfort with a housewife. But, my aim was to be an independent woman, at least, monetarily. I was the only child of my parents. I had met Aakash at a friend's birthday party. We exchanged addresses. After few formal letters, we found our love in each other in the usual way. I had lied at home that I was going for a camp with my friends. In fact, I had come to meet Aakash for the final discussion before taking a decision. I'd tell to Mom about this meeting later, I had thought.
"Listen, Ritu, I can't ask for more time from my family", Aakash said. I was surprised,
"What about my dream, Aakash?"
"You can study " Aakash assured. "But, let’s assume for now that you are going to be a housewife."
Tears were rolling down on my cheeks.
I started walking towards my cottage. I packed my bag sobbing all along and left the place. I never contacted him again, pretended to remain busy in my study, research and my job. All these active years, I kept myself busy interacting with my students and mentoring them.
“Madam, why have not you married?” One colleague had asked.
"I had been busy with my work and did not have the time for setting up a family." I tried to hide the real reason.
Actually, I had always expected Aakash would write back to me and say, "Okay, things will happen the way you want." Or, "lets meet and find the way."
But, that never happened. Secretly, I craved for meeting him. Whenever I held the pen to write a letter to him, I cried behind the close door of my bedroom. Or in the bathroom, at times. But, each time I tore and trashed the letters.
My family and relatives had put so much pressure on me for my marriage.
"Get married and settle down." "There is a time for having a baby. Get married, else, you will regret later." Many of them had advised unsolicitedly.
Many times, I just nodded to get rid of such uncomfortable situations. Sometimes, I had to give excuse of some teaching assignment. Sometimes, I'd say that I had not found the man I want in my life. On most of such days, I used open my secret box, take out the letters Aakash had written me. Kept them back in that box before reading. While I did all this, we never had courage to contact each other. Or, was it our ego? I can't say for sure.
Days passed and years passed silently. Whenever the thought of writing a letter came to my mind, I suppressed that as I didn't want to be called a home-breaker. I kept on going about my daily work in the anticipation of meeting Aakash someday. Inside my mind, I had put the desires into a forced deep slumber, even though they were very much alive. That induced numbness was better than suffering the pain. But, at times the pain was too strong. On my retirement day, the university arranged one grand party for me. But, to me, it seemed as if the flowers, the decoration, the citations, everything was telling me, "Now you don't have any excuse to hide from your feelings." Next one week I terribly missed my lectures, students, meetings and exams. I tried to submerge myself in reading books and in social media in vain.
Called my close friend, Sudha, who had also retired recently from her job as a scientist. Sudha is happily married with two children, both live abroad. One is studying and the other has started working recently. "Come over the weekend'' I insisted.
“Oh, you spoiled my plan of giving you a surprise, dear," she chuckled. I could not be happier. That weekend, we both roamed around the city like the teenage girls, chatting all along hopping from library to malls, park to favorite food joints. Before returning, Sudha told me something that kept me pondering over a few days.
"What are you thinking about marriage? You can search for a companion on any of the dating apps available now. You don't have parents to take care of or the job to remain busy with. I met Sudhanshu a few days ago, He is a widower now. He was asking about you. You know he had feelings for you from the school days. You are the person who never paid attention to him.”
My hesitance to answer made her clear about my past.
“See Ritu, so long you have not allowed yourself to float through the pain and avoided revisiting the memories. You are stuck in the past. Please try and come out of that. Look at life from a new perspective. Life is to live. Bad days and good days are parts of everyone’s life.”
I remained silent, even though it created a stir inside me. That night after Sudha left for her city, I decided to revisit my memories first. Hence, bookings were done for the hill station. Here I'm today- facing my beautiful memories. The same town, the same cottage, and the same rock I'm sitting on today. I looked at my watch- it was half-past eight. I got up and hurried towards my cottage.
"Good morning, ma'am" the caretaker greeted me with a wide smile.
"Good morning." " Madam, what would you like for breakfast? Masala dosa, idly or poori-sabji?" "Poori-sabji and ginger tea," I replied quickly. The caretaker nodded her head and went to the kitchen. I was looking at the bright sunlit horizon. ................
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