Me And You
Me And You8 mins 651 8 mins 651
Fear and anger clouded Sarika’s mind as she saw the last Whatsapp message on her mobile screen. It was from Mona. The message read: SOS. It’s urgent. I know it’s been a while but I need to meet you as soon as possible. Please meet me at our usual meeting spot tomorrow at 8 am. I beg you.
Sarika barely slept a wink all night. It had been the first time her friend had tried to contact her in the last six months. Not that she herself had taken the first step either. Their last meeting had been full of arguments and disagreements. After hours of hullabaloo, both friends had arrived at a definite conclusion. Not to stay in touch with each other. It was the best for Mona’s well-being. So, what did she want now?
The next morning, Sarika woke up earlier than usual with hundreds of questions in her mind. By the time she reached the meeting spot, she had turned into a hot ball of fire. The moment she saw her friend from a distance, she couldn’t contain herself. Mona stood near one of the benches in the park, her back facing towards her. This had been the very park where they had first met as kids and hung out for life even as mature adults. Fellow classmates even teased that the two of them had a secret treasure hidden in the park somewhere. And this was the very place where they promised not to cross each other’s paths six months back.
“What is it now? Does Ajay know about your whereabouts?” Sarika purposely spoke in an authoritative tone only to see an unkempt Mona looking at her with pleading eyes, something completely opposite her personality. But she had always been like that ever since she got married to that devil of a man. Even from a distance, Sarika could easily make out that Mona had lost weight drastically since the last time she had seen her. Mona’s pale face clearly said that she needed help. It made Sarika forget her anger.
“Ajay is away on a business trip,” Mona spoke softly. “ He won’t return till the next two days. I’m sorry I called you here to talk. You know I couldn’t invite you over at home. You wouldn’t have come anyway. I just needed someone to talk to. You know very well that I don’t have many friends.” Sarika was completely banned in Mona’s home by Ajay. Her spinster status didn’t go down well with him. He had accused her of trying to break their marriage and influencing Mona in a negative way among many other accusations.
Sarika nodded her head in frustration. “That’s because I’m your only friend, Mona. What did he do this time?”
“If you’re asking me if Ajay is having an affair behind my back, frankly it shouldn’t surprise you anymore. Since his affairs go beyond multiples!!! Honestly, it bothered me before. Not anymore. It’s not him this time. It’s me.”
Sarika pondered at her friend’s words for a few seconds, wondering if she was actually serious. “Are you……….?” She just couldn’t say further.
“I don’t feel anything, Sarika,” Mona spoke as loudly as she could. One could feel that she was fighting her emotions from within. Yet, she didn’t shed a single tear.
“I don’t laugh. I don’t cry. I barely sleep. I feel empty. I feel useless. As if I don’t belong to this world. My husband is roaming around with other women splurging all his money and ignoring me and my kids. And I am not even angry. Can you believe it? I AM NOT EVEN ANGRY!!!! What is wrong with me?”
Sarika hugged Mona as tightly as she could. But it wasn’t enough for Mona to come out of her shell and show any emotion.
“That’s because you have been tolerating that monster for ages. Ajay is a psychopath. A manipulator and a control freak. You should have left him years ago.”
“He hasn’t hit me even once.”
“Right. What about emotional abuse? Doesn’t that count for something? Ajay literally controls everything you do. What you eat, what you wear, who you meet. No matter what you do for him, he is never satisfied. He always tries to find faults with you and embarrasses you in public. All these years, you’ve served him and his family when you could’ve had a career of your own. On top of that, he has cheated on you a number of times and continues doing so. You don’t even love him, Mona. Do you need more reasons?”
Mona smiled, surprising Sarika for a few seconds.
“Don’t you think I’ve thought about it before? I’ve wanted to do that for a really long time. But it’s easy for you to say. I have two kids. Who would accept three people in their home with open arms? My own parents and my brother wouldn’t. I’ve been a homemaker all my life. Even if I want to start earning, who will give me a job with practically no experience? My parents will disown me if I take such a step. They won’t be able to bear the pain at this old age.”
Sarika was aghast at Mona’s words. In frustration, she blurted out. “ So in order to save your parents from dying, you choose to accept their prejudiced thinking and die every single day in spite of being alive. Wow, what a choice!”
Mona placed her hand on Sarika’s shoulder. “Do you want me to be really honest with you, Sarika?” Sarika didn’t respond and chose not to look at Mona.
“I’ve always envied you since we were kids. You had a single mom taking care of you. She gave you all the freedom you wanted and allowed you to be the person you wanted to be. Look at how successful you are today. You are bold, confident and independent. All thanks to your mom. My parents never supported me. I was always secondary between me and my brother. When I wanted to build a career after completing my studies, I was forced to marry a guy of their choice. And I don’t need to say anything further.”
“ Nothing in life comes easy, Mona. You have to work for the life you want for yourself. My mother and I had to struggle day and night after my father’s death. While my mother did multiple jobs, I also worked part-time after school and college. As far as you are concerned, you were given everything on a platter by your father. Don’t you think I envy you too? Don’t you think I’ve wanted what you have? Marriage. Family. Kids. Don’t you think I feel lonely after my mother’s death?”
Mona nodded her head in agreement with Sarika, completely agreeing with her point of view. Both the friends sat down on the bench, deep in thought while sitting on the corners making sure to keep the distance. A few minutes later, Mona decided to break the ice.
“Maybe you’re right. My marriage with Ajay did give me two beautiful children. In the world’s eyes, I’m a happily married woman. But did my marriage give me love? Did it give me happiness? Did it give me peace of mind? The world is surely a strange place, Sarika. Nobody has ever asked me these questions.”
“I have always asked you. But you never paid heed to any of my advice.”
“I know. I am a coward. I am not as brave as you are.” A tear fell from Mona’s right eye. “Honestly, no marriage is better than a bad and unhappy marriage. Between me and you, you are in a much better position than I am.”
Sarika got up from the bench, feeling disgusted by Mona’s words. “I understand what you’re going through, Mona. But you have no right to compare my life with yours. You have no idea what I feel and how I feel. Do you think being alone and unmarried at 40 makes me a happy person? Don’t I have my own struggles? Even if I am happy, does society allow me to be happy? Wherever I go, people make random assumptions about me. They look at me with doubts as if there’s something wrong with me for being unmarried. Staying unmarried is my choice. But does the world respect it? No. You fight your own battles while I fight mine. The only difference between you and me is that I choose to stand up for myself when required while you don’t.”
Mona stared blankly at Sarika, stunned; indicating clearly that she had hit a nerve. She sat down next to Mona and placed her hand on hers. “Maybe, you’re right. You are suffering more than me right now. Only you know better because you are facing Ajay every day. Eventually, it is you who will have to decide whether you want to continue staying with him despite all that he has done or leave him. I can’t take that decision for you, Mona. It is your life. I can only guide you and support you whenever needed. You seriously need medical help. And it is because of him. If your pain and suffering doesn’t make him flinch even a bit, then he’s not the person meant to live with.”
“I know. He never was. Even if I do leave Ajay, he’s not going to let me go easily. He will make my life even more miserable. He will use all his power to take my kids away from me. It’s not going to be easy.” Mona paused and took a deep breath.
“The life you’re living right now isn’t easy as well. But you are still living it, aren’t you? Take your time. Choose what you think is best for you and your children. I will support you no matter what you decide to do. I and you will fight all the battles together.”
Mona smiled and hugged Sarika. She barely remembered when she had smiled that way, from her heart. “Thank you, Sarika. Thank you for everything. I can’t thank you enough.” After six months, Mona had her best and only friend back.