Viraag! Love And Despair
Viraag! Love And Despair29 mins 363 29 mins 363
Walking down the street on a windy afternoon, I kept noticing the people on the streets. Some stood there confused with their families, a few walked by alone, many were in a hurry and rarely somebody tried to enjoy the present. The weather was turning stormy gradually. As it began to drizzle, I rushed into a coffee shop to take shelter. I hadn’t prepared myself for a rainy day. Many others followed my footsteps. Within a second, a silent Grenary’s cafe outlet had turned into a roadside market. Rains in Darjeeling were often very beautiful. In all the noise and chaos inside the coffee shop, my eyes fell on a woman who sat there silently gazing outside the window. A blood-stained knife half wrapped in a beautiful blue scarf lay next to her handbag. The scarf also sported a lustrous pinkish-purple broch.
The initial appearance was scary. As I laid focus on the curves of her face, I realized that she was Shipra Khanna – my classmate in college. Gaining all my courage, I walked up to the table where she was seated. I could now see the tears rolling down her eyes very clearly. The scene was awkward. Shipra and I hadn’t met since we graduated from college. Although the idea of leaving her alone was better; I chose to initiate a conversation. “Hey! Shipra right? I am Anirban. Remember?” were the first words I spoke to her. My voice must have sounded nervous. Shipra reacted with a sudden jerk; as if I had broken her thoughts. She looked at me, passed a faint smile gesturing that she had recognised me and turned her face around back towards the window trying to wipe her tears.
“Can I join you, if you don’t mind?” I questioned again. Shipra merely shook her head in agreement without uttering a word. I understood what she meant and pulled a chair opposite to Shipra’s placement to grab a seat. “Hey, Anirban! I am sorry for the cold reaction. I am afraid I am not in a very good mood.” Shipra’s voice finally fell into my ears. I passed a smile to let her know that she didn’t have to be sorry for that. I made sure I wasn’t disturbing her. A few minutes into a conversation and Shipra’s mood was getting better. We both ordered a cappuccino each and continued a very formal but friendly conversation. Looking at the situation; I decided to dig deep into the problem and the reason behind the blood – stained knife. “Noticed you were crying… aa… and you also have a knife next to you… I hope everything is…a…. umm… like fine…” I uttered. Slightly worried, very nervous, pretty much scared and a lot of more emotions resided in me at that moment. She smiled. “It’s my life Anirban! I am trying to breathe through till I can get over it.” Replied Shipra.
My face showed no expression. A sigh and a deep breath was all that built my reaction. That was when probably she thought I was concerned and hence she made efforts to keep the conversation going. “I would like you to know, but promise me that you will not judge me,” Shipra spoke up abruptly. “Sure! It is I don’t know much about you. Judging is clearly not a favourable thing to do.” I replied and waited patiently to listen to the scene. Shipra took a sip from her coffee mug, breathed deep and began narrating her life…
“Someday in the early winters, must have been about 3:40 in the afternoon; The weather was mesmerizing and so were her eyes! We had accidently bumped into each other. She was probably walking down the ramp in school when I couldn’t hold myself from gazing at every inch of her body! My co-teachers told me that she was one of the best students in the school. She was a part of the foundation batch of the institution and hence was known to the initially appointed teachers. I had just stepped into the teaching family that year! The girl noticed that I was spell bound with her looks; she passed a cute smile and greeted me. I shook my head in response. Feeling embarrassed about my deed, I quietly walked down towards the bus.
One of my close confidants gave me an insight into the girl’s life that day during my journey back home. Vividly popular and extravagantly beautiful – Sania Talwar was the girl I was staring at. The very look in her eyes and the charm on the face kept me wanting to know more about her. That night at home, she ran all over my dreams. I was desperately waiting to see her again. My husband – Dev didn’t get any attention from me that day. The next two days in school, my eyes kept hunting for her. She didn’t turn up and that grew me impatient. It was difficult for me to explain my eagerness.
“Good Morning Ma’am!” a sweet gentle voice spoke up. She stood quiet close to my back, wishing me in my ears. With a sudden jerk, I turned around and noticed it was Sania! My temperamental mood calmed down immediately! I was sure everybody in the room could notice the delight my face showed. I knew I had to behave mature and hence only passed a smile in return. A girl I was waiting to talk to had started the conversation from her end and all I could do was smile. “Haye! Such pretty dimples! Slaying!” Sania spoke with a wink. Her voice, expressions and her eyes sounded so cheesy! My face showed tinges of crimson as I blushed to the compliment. “Thank You! You are sweet.” Was all I could sum up my bloom into. That afternoon, she walked along with me to the parking lot. The interaction was very formal and mostly silent. That feeling though was beautiful! I knew a very soothing and adorable relationship had taken its flight.
I was enjoying all the attention as I had been craving for those flirtatious dialogues ever since I got married. Dev was one of the most non – romantic people on earth. There was no essence in our marriage. We being a pair was a perfect example of the typical arranged marriage for responsibility concept. Sania, on the other hand, was expressive. Decent charming words were her forte. Almost the entire faculty fraternity was in good terms with her. I have always been silent and reserved; hence this mix and match were working wonderfully in our favour. Dev had never made me feel liked since we got married.
“Blue saree! Anything special?” asked Sania as she walked silently into my classroom in the pre-primary building of the campus. She had seen me in a saree for the first time that day. My tired and semi – pale face turned bright and cheerful when I saw her making way into the class. My lips broadened into a smile as I dragged a chair for her next to where I was seated. She sat down very close to me. “Not really dear. Parent – teacher meeting has a dress code. We have to stick to it.” I replied. “Blue is my favourite colour and honestly, it looks even prettier when beautiful people like you put it on!” spoke up Sania. “Thank you for the compliment! How are u?” I questioned shifting the topic of discussion. “Just the way I should be! Excited because of your presence!” replied Sania shifting the focus back onto me. There was nothing more soothing in my life at that point in time.
The working hours for us were coming to an end that day. Spending time with Sania, I never realised when time passed by and it was my turn to get back home. “Walk along with me na please. Just till my scooty. It’s boring alone and I like your company.” I requested. Sania instantly agreed to my request and came along with me out of the gate to the point where I had parked my scooty. For the first time that day, teachers from my department noticed the connection we shared. Not bothering about what the others thought, I started my vehicle and drove back home. Dev was already in the bedroom by the time I got into the house. I was not very delighted to see him there and hence didn’t make efforts to start a conversation.
Dev found my behaviour quite weird. He was observing the change in my reactions keenly. “Hey! I am home early today! You should have at least noticed that I was seated here.” Said Dev while he walked into the box room at the corner of our bedroom. Getting rid of the fancy saree I wore, I was slightly semi – dressed and found it awkward to keep standing there that way. I lowered my head and ran into the bathroom without giving him a reply. “I am talking to you dammit! Are you even listening? What’s up with you?” He raised his voice. I felt nervous.
Gaining courage, I decided to finally sit and talk to him once I was dressed comfortably. “Hi!” I said in a low vulnerable voice. “What was that behaviour all about?” Dev had his anger intact until then. “I was changing when you barged in. I couldn’t handle the scene. I am sorry.” My voice was trembling. As a man, Dev was short – tempered. “I am married to you. I have a right to be present anywhere. I don’t think I need to ask you before walking around the house.” He replied.
He was frowning. I couldn’t reply to Dev’s words. I felt it was safer to keep quiet and leave the discussion open-ended. Dev banged the main entrance door on my face and left. He didn’t come back home that night. My sleep was disturbed as I kept waiting for him all night to have our dinner together.
Our married life since that incident had started to fade away. It was eventually normal for me to have my dinner alone and go off to sleep without having Dev by my side. There have been so many days when we haven’t even seen each other for once. He was fond of his work and office much more than spending time with me. I had acclimatized myself to the situation and did not crave for his presence any more as interactions with Sania kept me happy. I didn’t feel like bothering myself with what my colleagues thought, I and Sania shared amongst each other. Though, I was aware that they didn’t feel it was a neat relationship.
Gradually as time passed by, Sania and I often met on the campus. Even if we were in groups, we made sure we found time to be with each other alone. I don’t remember when in those giggles, gossips, and gestures we exchanged our phone numbers. Our fondness for each other was different. This relationship was driving the other older and more senior faculty members jealous. Listening to a few taunts was fine with both of us as we had grown respectful for each other. I knew she had all she wished for in life and it was an easier choice for her to avoid interacting with me, but she kept up even in all the mess and that meant a lot to me. I felt her need to live through the chaos I was going through. Sometimes I wished if Dev would have tried to be just 10% of what Sania was to me, I would have enjoyed my presence at home in that city – Lucknow.
Getting back home, leaving Sania’s company was turning tougher for me. She kept me happy and active. A faded me had achieved life again because of that 12th standard girl. Dev could notice changes in my mood. I thought he would want to know the reason behind the sudden change in my behavior but he never bothered asking. His curiosity was limited to what I made for dinner. I didn’t feel it important to tell him about the bond with Sania either. Being a primary school teacher, I had loads of free time during my working hours which gave Sania the licence to be seated by my side. She used to help me out with work as well.
Dev found it boring to be at home and hence would be out in the city till late at night. On rare occasions, he came back by the evening. On one such encounter, I questioned him about his behaviour. I felt that we had a responsibility towards our family and we were supposed to keep up to it. “You; and at home so early. Isn’t the AC functioning properly at your work place?” I questioned and giggled. My tone definitely possessed sarcastic remarks. Dev gave me a furious look in return. “You face problems when you see your husband at home right? Great, I guess I should buy another flat for myself” he uttered. I did not want this interaction to take an aggressive turn. “It’s your house; do whatever you feel like. I would rather move in somewhere else.” I replied.
Dev was at the peak of his anger by the time I was done speaking. He grabbed me by my face holding my lower jaw firmly in his harsh and tough fingers. My body was half bent with my back facing the floor. The only thing that held me was his palm. “I will do whatever I feel like. You don’t have to give me advice” Dev shouted and dropped my body onto the ground with a thrust. I fell to the floor at once with tears in my eyes. My jaw was in pain, due to which I could not speak anything for the next few hours. “… And listen, dare not step out of this house. We are a married couple in the eyes of society. It’s better we behave like one.” Said Dev, displaying his authority as per the patriarchal social norms in full grace.
I chose to cry asleep and walked out of the house for school the next day without talking to Dev. I wanted him to feel that his reaction to a verbal argument was wrong and too harsh. “Hi! All good with you?” asked Sania who sat in my room since the morning waiting for my arrival. I was happy to see her there. I passed a smile at her. “Hmmm! I am good” I replied. The wounds on my face appeared fresh and painful even after medication. I could see, Sania was not very convinced with my answer, but without creating much of a fuss; she believed in my words and walked back to her class room. Dev made no efforts to apologise the whole day. I was agitated. A few random discussions and sparks of laughter was all I entertained that day.
“Oh! How cum you are so upset today… even after spending so much time with your darling Sania? Bored out of her?” taunted a senior teacher from our department. I was aware that they were not fond of the way Sania and I exchanged glances or talked to each other, but that was my personal life; I didn’t want people to barge into my space. “If you are so concerned ma’am, why don’t you help me get out of this!” I replied, maintaining both the sarcastic tone and the anger. A corner smile with arrogance was the reaction to my words from their side. On my way back home, I picked up a few groceries which included things that Dev was not fond of at all. I wanted to treat myself for being brave at handling such problems in life.
As Dev walked in, he saw me eating the whole tub of chocolate ice cream all by myself. “What is the celebration all about? And where is my share?” he asked. He sounded polite and sweet. There was no sign of regret on his face for what he attempted a night before. “The celebration is for having a failed and ruthlessly boring married life which contains an aggressive and short tempered husband! Share the tub with me if you want to join the party!” I replied. I thought these words were painful enough for him to understand his mistake. With a grin on his face, he walked closer to me and said “Great! At least you are happy. I have only ruined things for myself with your presence in my life.” He seemed excited that evening. A second later, he turned around and slapped me on my face; his exit from the house followed this scene. I kept staring at the wall with blank expressions.
The school had announced the annual function’s date and the practice sessions kept me busy for the next few weeks. During this phase, Dev’s presence was equivalent to a hunter in my life. He would hit me for pity issues and would scream and shout on me for absolutely nothing. I silently kept bearing all of it. Sania showed up in the practice corridors in order to keep our interaction flowing. We would chat for the whole of the evenings through WhatsApp. We never called up each other as I was not comfortable with that. With Dev being at home, it was safer to avoid phone calls. “Your baby isn’t here today?” the query was put up by one of my close associates. “We are just very close to each other and nothing else. She has classes, must be busy there.” I replied in a subtle manner. “… and by the way, she has a name. It will be sweet if you refer to her as Sania.” I added. The expressions on the face of my fellow teachers were not pleasant after the interaction.
Sania and I couldn’t find time to talk to each other in the school and therefore, the chatting began immediately as I got back home. We often sent emoji’s which had hearts and kisses to each other on texts. It was no big deal for us to interact that way. I had saved her phone number as ‘ST ❤’ in my contacts. That evening, I had left my phone on the table as I was busy in the kitchen. A slight vibration in the phone tempted Dev to scan through it. Dev read the messages I was receiving from Sania, believing that I was in an affair with another guy. “This is why you don’t care if I hit you or stay away from you.” Spoke Dev in an aggressive tone holding the phone in his hands with Sania’s chat window open on the screen.
“You are in a relationship with someone! I can’t believe you did this to me.” Dev added. “look, you are taking it in a wrong sense. We are just close to each other and she is a student in school.” I replied with all the politeness I had in me.
“what closeness?... wait… you just said ‘SHE’. You mean it’s a girl you are dating?” Asked Dev. He sounded confused.
His facial gestures indicated that I could laugh out the situation. “Yup… SHE! It’s a girl… Sania. And you really thought I was dating a guy. Relax, there is nothing like that.” I answered with a chuckle. Dev smiled in return. “Are you even normal?” He questioned again after a few seconds. This statement got me furious. “How ridiculous! Only scoundrels like you can think that way. I am very much normal and in love with you. We are married… I suppose.” I shouted; my eyes looked straight onto him. “Then prove it! Prove it to me. Sleep with me tonight. Let’s use the husband – wife advantage to its fullest.” Dev’s voice was authoritative but canning. Before I could say something, “Prove it dammit!” he shouted and pulled me towards himself.
Picking me up in his arms, he walked into the bedroom and dropped me onto the bed. He got rid of his shirt and switched the lights off as he tried to pull off my dupatta from my neck. I was repulsive. “I am tired Dev. I can’t believe… you… you need a proof for this.” I tried speaking. My voice was trembling as I was not ready to go ahead with Dev’s desires. I felt him closer to my body when I finally gained the courage to push him away. “STOP! Nothing beyond this.” I screamed making my way out of the bed. “Ha Ha! Obviously! Go… your ‘girlfriend’ must be waiting” Dev replied with a sarcastic remark. “How cheap can you be,” I spoke in a heavy voice. Dev held me by my arms and turned and twisted my bones. He scratched my face and pushed me to the floor, leaving me bleeding with numerous scars. No other words were uttered. I spent that night on the sofa in the living room.
Sania was there in my class again the next morning. Her bright and cheerful face brought a smile on my lips. “Hey! What’s with these marks on the face and arms?” she sounded curious. “Good morning! You seem so cheerful today! I am fine. How are you?” I replied. “ I am good. What’s with the scars?” she questioned again. She didn’t seem in a mood to let the matter go. “Nothing dear. I fell off the stairs yesterday and hurt myself. I’ll be ok soon. Don’t worry!” I answered, trying my best to give her a satisfactory reply. Saying so I gently pulled her left cheek and gave her a sweet smile. I didn’t want to wait for more concerns from her side and hence bid her a good bye and got into the practice room on the edge of the corridor. She gave me a glance and left the premises.
Life got back to being the same eventually but Dev and I never shared a good equation again. Sania and I continued the relationship we shared with all the beauty intact. She was in 12th and I thought I was piling myself on her at a time when focusing on studies was important for her.
The other teachers had also started taking the closeness in a negative manner. They too accused me with the same allegations as Dev. I decided to halt the unstoppable synergy between Sania and me. Sania walked down the road to the parking with me, as usual, that day as well. That was the moment when I chose to talk to her about it. “When are your exams?” I asked. “2 months away. There is a lot of time and I am preparing well.” She replied. “Why do you like me so much?” was my next question. She passed a smile and seemed a little bewildered. “I enjoy being by your side. A hectic day comes to an end on a smiling note because of you. That’s it.” Came her answer. “… of course, I feel you are lucky for me!” she added. A faint smile showed up on my lips. I did feel very happy after listening to her reply, but domestic violence had made me a victim and Sania was not responsible to save me from that. It was not her duty to take care of me.
“Look dear, people out here don’t understand the depth of this thing. They say a lot of things which is neither good for you nor for me. You have your exams in a few days and they are very important. Maybe I should let you focus on that. Let’s give a pause to these daily meetings. I know you’ll understand.” I gathered all the courage I had in me and spoke up to her. It was not easy to say that but it was meant to be. I believed that was the best thing to do then. “Fair! Hope you stay good.” Was all she said, waved a good bye and left. I felt my eyes getting wet. Sinking my tears into myself, I got away from there as well. The number of texts reduced, she never came to that side of the building and we only passed smiles when we met elsewhere.
I felt low on life and deserted. Laughter, gossips, hangouts and a lot of more things reduced drastically as I didn’t feel like taking part in group discussions anymore. I preferred being alone. I missed Sania’s presence but I had chosen that for myself. I spoke to Sania on rare occasions. “Is your Sania now done with you or did she catch hold of somebody else?” questioned my colleagues as they noticed the declining meetings. I never bothered replying and would quietly walk off when such queries were raised. Being tortured by Dev and chiacked by my fellow teachers was the common agenda of my working days. Since the annual function practice kept me occupied, I held myself from shattering because of these problems. I made attempts to keep Sania informed about the activities scheduled for our department. I would text her once in a week or on days when I felt extremely upset and broken. She replied back with the same care and affection each time.
The D–day had arrived. The annual function was finally on its cards. All the teachers had to report in the afternoon and help the students prepare themselves before the event began in the evening. My blood clotted arms and the wounded body was beautifully covered in a blue silk saree. Bright makeup with expensive cosmetics hid the scars on my face. “It’s an evening to cherish for all today. We can sit together and talk for long. I have been focusing on my studies for the past few days. I am sure I deserve a sweet break.” Said Sania. She stood right in front of me the moment I reached the classroom. I was so delighted that I gave her a hug immediately and instantly agreed to share the seat with her in the audience. “Thank you for coming. Sweet of you to come even when class 12th students are not allowed to perform.” I said humbly.
“You are looking mesmerizing in the blue saree!” Sania spoke while we were seated in the audience. The charm, delight, and happiness were back. I blushed like I used to before. “Thank you!” I replied just the way it used to be when we first exchanged those words. The same expression and the same bloom in the eyes! My dimpled cheeks turned pink as I pulled her cheeks gently. It was a beautiful feeling. A few of my friends sat next to me but that did not stop me from focussing on Sania’s glamour. Our eyes barely saw the performances. We kept talking for nearly an hour before I received a message from Dev which read ‘I am waiting for you at the parking lot in the school. Please see me there.’ I ignored the text initially, but a call from him got me into action. I rushed out of the venue and briskly walked to the parking. All I told Sania was “I’ll be back. Soon.”
I noticed Dev standing next to our car. He had dressed in one of my favourite outfits. The shirt he wore that day was the one I presented to him on our first wedding anniversary. What are you doing here? Why my school? Wasn’t waiting for me to get back home a possible choice for you?” My voice was rude. I had barely reached him at that moment. “Hey, baby! Chill! Remember you always said that this shirt looks lovely on me. I realised it today.” Said Dev, as he walked forward to give me a tender hug. He was sweet and sounded a little romantic, unlike usual. “You know, I got free early; so, thought we could spend the evening together,” Dev added. I possessed mixed feelings. This change was nice and soothing. “I have to be with the teaching department backstage. You get seated in the audience.” I replied. Sania could have joined me backstage was what I planned then. “I wanted to be with you dear. Fine anyway. Get me seated somewhere.” Answered Dev.
We walked together close to the entry gate. He gently fiddled with my fingers and then finally grabbed my hand. “Listen, I forgot to tell you something. I got a promotion. They are sending me to the head office in London!” Dev’s voice was soft. He spoke these words holding me so close to himself that I could feel his breath on my neck. “and… and… and… I requested them to allow me to take my wife along. They agreed to my condition. Amazing isn’t it!” he added, grabbing my hands gently. My feet stopped the moment I heard him say that.
The transfer was good news. Relocating me as well was not. It sounded like a thunder clap. I couldn’t control my anger and shout back at him. “No! It’s not as amazing for me as it is for you.” My voice was powerful. “What? Did you just refuse to me?” He seemed amused by my reaction.
“Listen Dev, it is not easy for me to move to London. I have been beaten up by you. How will I handle myself in a lonely place?” I raised my concern politely. “I am sorry. Let’s make a new start. Just forget the past.” He replied. “It’s not that facile Dev. I am sorry too but I can’t trust you.” I spoke up again. This time my pitch was slightly higher than before and tone depicted anger. He kept staring at me. The gently held arms were getting squeezed by him eventually. I could feel his nails piercing into my skin. He was tightening his grasp. “You are hurting me Dev… Dev its hurting me… Its painful Dammit!” I shouted and got rid of his paws. “This was the way I requested them to allow a promotion for me. This was the pain. Are you even aware of how tough the whole procedure was? It is only me in the entire department who got this opportunity.” Dev said grabbing me in his hands again.
“I am not going. Get that clear. Take your promotion and go. I’ll stay here alone.” Was all I could say on the school premises. “How dare you?” Dev shouted. “I let important progress in my life go because you want to flirt around with a student in this city.” He added keeping his vexation intact. The argument took an ugly turn. “Oh of course, I should have known that all your sweetness was only because you wanted to convince me,” I yelled at Dev. ‘Dhash’ came the sound; loud and clear. Dev had slapped me again and really hard this time. I fell to the floor, hitting my head on the edge of the gate. Gaining all my courage, I stood up and punched Dev on his chest. My intentions were depicted clearly.
In return of the thrust Dev felt, he grasped me by my hair; pulling them hard, he walked to the car. I got dragged all through. As he released my beautifully tied bun splashing my hair open, I noticed Sania walking up to him. “Don’t you touch her that way!” bawled Sania. She was holding Dev’s hands firmly and looking straight into his eyes. “How dare you torture her?” she added. Dev’s face gloomed into a smirk. “Who are you to question my deeds, madam?” Asked Dev addressing his words to Sania. Watching both of them frown, I felt the need to step in between. “Stop! Sania, he is my husband – Dev” I said in a low but heavy voice. “Sania! Ha Ha! Oh, your baby uh!” exclaimed Dev turning the situation worse. I held onto Sania’s hands to cease the indignation in her.
“So, what? What difference does it make if he is married to you? He can’t hit you.” Averred Sania. Silence followed from all the ends. Defending the scene was not a favourable thing to do and agreeing to Sania’s words was not simple in Dev’s presence. “Love I tell you! Ruins things little girl.” Taunted Dev. “I can see what love has done to people. You don’t know how divine it can be.” Refuted Sania. Without uttering anything else, Dev was violent enough when he hit Sania. I could see her lips bleed. This behavior gave me an impulse to fight back. ‘Thash’ was the sound. I slapped Dev for misbehaving with Sania. “You… You ladies should know your place in society. Respect the man; that’s all you have to do.” Dev could be noticed grumbling.
Sania looked at me with compassion. “Why didn’t you get him arrested?” she questioned. I had no answer as usual. “A middle class family in India never has an option. Their status is very important to them” spoke Dev. He was arrogant even after being slapped by me. “I am doing nothing wrong. It’s my family. I have a right to decide for her.” Added Dev. His words built Sania’s hatred for him. She turned furious. I supported Sania in her revolt praying that Dev would be a changed person because of this. Dev and I got into an aggressive argument. We fought with words and wounds. A few seconds later, Dev pulled out a knife from the inner pocket of his blazer.
He waved the sharp knife in thin air, aiming at my body. A fraction of a centimetre away was his knife from me when Sania barged in between the edge of the knife and my skin. By the time, I realised what she had attempted to do, the knife had sliced past Sania’s stomach leaving her shivering. Dev stood still. I sat down to hold her. Sania descended to the ground placing her head on my lap. Looking into my eyes with pain she said “You know how charming you are. You have all the capabilities to live independently. Leave this man and live your life… peacefully. I LOVE YOU!” Tears rolled down on my cheeks as I bent down to kiss her forehead. Before I could respond to her, she had stopped breathing. The last heartbeat was felt in my arms.
“Stay away from me you coward,” I screamed looking at Dev. “Who gave you the right to decide my future? Why does a man have the advantage of moulding things according to him?” I added in a heavy voice. I was shattered with Sania’s death. I didn’t feel like waiting for Dev’s reply. I don’t even remember if his expressions showed that he was sorry for his actions. I picked up Sania, the blood–stained knife and the car keys and drove out of the campus. I haven’t seen Dev since then. Her last rites were performed with all her family members with proper Hindu guidelines. I kept the knife as Sania’s memory and also as a stint to remove all evidence against Dev. I didn’t want to take the matter to the court.
I moved to Darjeeling and settled down here alone. Sania always wanted to take me out on a trip to this pace and she was right, it’s amazing here. I wrapped the blood – stained knife in the blue scarf Sania had presented to me on my Birthday. This broch on the scarf was pinned on Sania’s clothes the night she was murdered. I wish I could let her know just once that I really loved her. I wish I could make her feel how much she mattered to me in my life…” Shipra concluded the narration of her fate with tears in her eyes. She grasped the knife densely in her fingers. Trying to avoid eye contact with me, she gazed at the changing weather through the window.
What a roller coaster ride her life has been! The plight she took me through, was the truth of the existence of numerous more women across the globe. A question worth asking is what was responsible for all the beating and prolonged misbehaviour. The answer to this is very clear – it was Shipra’s silence. Sania Talwar would have been alive today, had Shipra revolted to the abuse. Even after Sania’s murder, she destroyed evidence against her husband and allowed a scoundrel like Dev to walk away freely. Shipra is in turmoil as an accidental murder stole the heartbeat of her only source of happiness. She sits in this Grenary’s cafe outlet quite often, weeping and repenting her inability to tell Sania about her affection towards her.
There are two lessons that I learnt from this interaction. First, that any torture needs to be revolted to, the moment it starts, to avoid its worsening and second that time is very precious. It needn’t be valued only in the professional sphere. It is very important to respect time in personal interactions as well. One never knows what is written in fate. We can never predict what comes next in life, so live the moment and tell people how much you love them and value their presence around you. We never know, when we won’t get to see our near and dear ones again.
As Shipra continues her sobbing with the scarf in her hands and I contemplate at her eyes, an old Hindi classic – ‘Tere bina zindagi se koi, shiqwa toh nahi, shiqwa nahi… Tere bina zindagi bhi lekin, zindagi toh nahi, zindagi nahi…’ plays in the background…