Enakshi Johri

Drama Inspirational


Enakshi Johri

Drama Inspirational


The Turning Page

The Turning Page

9 mins 24.6K 9 mins 24.6K

“Please?” His voice was so persuasive, making it almost impossible for me to resist and deny.

“Alright, but only on one condition.”

“Whatever you say,” he agreed, without even hearing me out completely. I loved his instant reciprocity.

“I will meet you at Tapri’s. But I’ll leave as soon as we finish one cup of coffee.”

“Just one?”

“Yes.”

The next day I met him. I was half an hour late as the Jaipur traffic kept me from reaching on time. However, when I reached, I found him waiting for me, with a bouquet of lavender orchids. I loved his gesture. He had come to Jaipur on an official tour and had taken out time to meet me. We talked for a while and then placed order for coffee. The aroma of the black coffee and the scent of the roasted beans, prevailed through the ambience of the roof top restaurant, bridging the physical gap between us. I wanted to stay longer but I had to follow my rules. We were not married, yet. Although engaged, the families did not quite permit us to meet out alone. But since Rajeev had insisted, I could not refuse. It was the second time we were meeting. The first time we met was when he had come to my house with his parents. Both the meetings were short but wonderful.

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He worked in Delhi and I had my own clinic in Jaipur. I was a physiotherapist by profession and Rajeev worked as Assistant manager in Punjab National Bank. Our match was an arranged one. My aunt had been breaking her back for finding a perfect match for me. In fact, sometimes I wondered that she cared about my wedding much more than my parents actually did. She was like the cat on hot bricks who brought the photograph of new man every other week, persuading my parents to arrange for an official “ladki dikhao” ceremony. It was frustrating. Every time she handed me the photograph, I felt like being stabbed in the neck.  But when she showed me Rajeev’s photograph, my eyes were out on stalks. It was a portfolio picture and he was wearing a white collared shirt with leather cuffs and grey trousers. His black hair were disheveled but probably that suited his face cut. His eyebrows were strongly arched and eyelashes were thick and long. His deep brown eyes were mesmerizing. The rugged and manly look on his face made my heart skip a beat. I had no choice but to cork up my feelings for it was not considered right to openly express your thoughts, in our society. As expected, my aunt coaxed my parents to arrange for an official meeting and the task was planned. Rajeev was scheduled to meet me three days later, at my house. Everybody in the house had ants in their pants and got themselves so involved in the preparations that they forgot the real essence of setting this all up. Eventually, the D day arrived. Rajeev’s family was supposed to reach by 11:00 AM and so my mother forced me to be the first one to get ready (for I had to serve snacks and tea to the guests). I had worn a light pink sari, put on matte pink lipstick and a little foundation and eyeliner did the trick.

Time flew fast. Just like the traditional system, our marriage was fixed and the date for engagement was decided. I and Rajeev were officially allowed to exchange phone numbers (more like we got a way to know each other better before tying the knot). Since my grandmother was not well during that time, the engagement was set for the next month. And I was happy. I liked Rajeev. His looks delighted me. And I was pretty sure that I would definitely like him as a person too. We started chatting, talking on phone for long late night hours and shared our stories. I connected with Rajeev so well that I myself could not believe. Though we did not have similar likings, we respected each other’s choices. And this made the bond even more special.

Our courtship period was a long one as the auspicious date of marriage was somewhere after eight months. And this was indeed a blessing in disguise for both of us. We got more time to discover about each other. But still the tradition of not meeting before marriage, prevailed. Our talks were limited to phone calls, Skype (rarely) and chatting. We were learning to open up our hearts to each other, gradually. Rajeev told me about his job, his work schedule, his angry boss and his “frustrated with life” colleagues. In return, I blabbered about my clinic, my “not so healthy patients”, the “wrong” cases, and the other medical stuff. The best part was that we both tried to fit into each other’s lives. He used to call me after 8:00 PM and I was perfectly ok with it.

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It was after five months of courtship that I had agreed to meet Rajeev (the second time) at Tapri’s. But life is not a bed of roses. The tables started turning, one month after, when Rajeev’s sudden ignorance towards me increased. Our conversations became limited to small talks and the general whereabouts. He would not pick up my call in the first go. After calling him for two- three times, he would pick up and answer, “Hey, I am still at the Bank. How are you?”

“I am good. Free to talk?” is what I would ask him next and he would say, “Probably, not the right time. I will call you later.” And his words would trail off. He would never call “later”.  Rajeev, whom I met at the time of engagement and Rajeev, whom I was dealing with then, were two different personalities. At first, I felt I should tell my parents about this sudden “accidentally on purpose” change in behavior, but then I felt that perhaps my imagination was overriding my ability to think logically. I decided to wait for some more time as it was financial year end and the workload was high. It was almost around fifteen days that we talked (longer than one minute). But to my utter dismay, this continued even after that. Rajeev even started avoiding my calls, leave alone him, calling me. He did not even reply to my messages.

Finally my patience gave in and I spilled the beans before my mother.

“Since how long has he been avoiding you?”

“A month or may be more.”

“Why did you not tell us?” and this was followed by more taunts and comments from my mother, my aunt and my other relatives. My father did not utter a word. I did not understand his behavior but somewhere I knew deep within, that he knew what I was going through. What I heard next, was that my aunt tried to talk to Rajeev and he responded in his most pleasant way. There was no way my aunt could point out a finger at him. But how was I supposed to prove my point? I ran to my father for help and as expected, he listened. The next day he called Rajeev and asked about the matter. Yet again, Rajeev beat a hasty retreat. My father then decided to meet him at his bank, without informing him on a prior notice.

He woke up early, the next day, and got ready. When he was about to leave the house he called me and consoled me. I could not speak but merely hug him. The day went by very slowly. The clock struck seven, in the evening, and still there was no news of my father. I could not even call him because he had left his phone at home, on purpose. Just when I had started to dial my uncle’s phone number, for help, the doorbell rang.

“Dad, where have you been? I was so worried,” I said and hugged him. I could feel the tremor of his breath on my face.

“What is the matter, dad?” I questioned.

“Where is your mother?” he demanded.

I called out to my mother and she came out running from the kitchen, with specs of flour sparkling on her forehead.

“What is the matter?” questioned my mother.

“This guy is a fraud. When I reached his bank today, I was told that he was on leave. The Bank staff asked me to sit in the manager’s office. I could not help myself but ask him about Rajeev as a person. What he told me next was equivalent to dropping a bombshell. The manager strictly denied the fact that Rajeev is a good person. In fact, he told me that Rajeev was having an affair with a married woman since the last two years and that he was being forced into this marriage.”

I was taken aback. Was I dreaming? Or was this real? I could not understand. My father found out all the details about Rajeev and the next thing I realized was that Rajeev was a barefaced liar. My parents broke off the engagement immediately after that incident.

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The sound of dropping marbles interrupted the loving intensity of my thoughts. It was my 4 years old daughter, Ziya. I dropped the bill receipt of Tapri’s coffee and ran towards the kitchen. Ziya was crying. I helped her get up as she had slipped on the marbles and patted her back. I made her lie down on the bed and started talking to her so that her mind gets diverted from the incident. In a jiffy, she forgot her pain and started laughing. Probably, presence of parents is what every child needs the most. After ten minutes or so, she returned to her playing room and got herself busy in playing with her dolls. I came back to my chair, only to find the bill lying below the table. The memories were still fresh. It had been seven years now, but the wounds were still there. I married Sameer, five months after that incident and was blessed with a beautiful daughter. But Sameer was unaware of the bitter truth of my past and I did not plan on telling him either. Probably healing does not mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls the life.

As I look back on my life, I cannot help but believe that every time when I was being rejected from something good, God was probably re directing me to something better. After my break up with Rajeev, I could not picture myself surviving. My hopes were shattered and my life had become a total mess. I often wondered what destiny had in store for me and what these numerous lines signified until the day these lines fit perfectly into Sameer’s. It is true that you cannot really start appreciating life until it has knocked you down a few times. You cannot really feel love until your heart has been broken before. And you can’t really begin to realize happiness until you have known sadness. My parents helped me walk through that valley by getting me married to Sameer and it is now that I realize that the view from the mountaintop is breathtaking.

 

 


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