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She was 18. He was 21. She belonged to a poor family and studied till primary. He owned a small sweet shop outside a big temple and was illiterate. Families met and happily sealed their futures. Both were excited to start their new life. Everything was just perfect for the new best friends. They were blessed with a beautiful baby girl followed by a son within five years of them being together.

He was burning the candle at both ends to keep his loved ones happy. She too went that extra mile every day to fulfil the needs of her only world. Years passed, and the relationship turned monotonous. They say all marriages are made in heaven, but so are thunder and lightning. The happy couple started drifting away gradually. She wanted his time for her while he was busy getting his business straight ignoring his other half with open eyes. She found her lost faith in teenager next door. She was still young and beautiful and went off limits with the young lad. The cat was taken out of the bag by neighbours, and the drifts turned into confrontational substance. He made every effort to save their small world. She felt this effort as torture on her newly discovered independence and morphine overdose shambled their small universe. Before he could digest anything, he was left all alone with his two innocent buds.

Her dying declaration landed him behind the bars within hours. His in-laws took his children away, and he served in jail for months with no one to defend him out. When out on a bail, he went to meet his kids, but the in-laws demanded a large pay as maintenance. On refuting their demands, he was falsely framed under section 498A of the Dowry Prohibition Act and was sentenced to non-bailable imprisonment for 10 years.

When he came out after serving the term, he went straight to meet his children. But a decade-long separation and the strong brainstorming of children by his in-laws gave him the biggest punishment one could only imagine of. His only hope, his kids, refused to recognize their father.

The realization was too strong, and the morphine again did its work.

Duty, Expectations, Lust, obliviousness and the shattered universe.

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