It was a late summer evening, when Indu was returning from her clinic. She dropped by at a book store, which was just a few blocks away from where she had lived. It was here, that she had first met Abhay. He was a man loved by all. Ever smiling and ever so cheerful. She always wondered as to how someone could be so happy all the time.
Being a vivid reader, she visited the book store often, and would usually see him there, all engrossed into the bookshelf, searching for the perfect read. They greeted each other often and soon became friends. They discussed their jobs, there works, how she never wanted to become a doctor and how he never wanted to join a bank. However they shared the same passion; which was books. That is what made them connect instantly, and Indu found the love of her life in him.
One day when Indu was busy scrutinizing her books, she was distracted by a sound of bells, approaching her from a distance. She glanced further, to see a little girl running towards her, looking behind and ready to collapse. Without getting time to realize as to what was happening, Indu slipped the book from her hand and grabbed the little girl. Having shiny blue eyes, with a sparkle of mischief, she had the same breathtaking smile which resembled that of Abhay.
She was followed by a lady; dark complexioned with thick black hair, tied together in a bun. Though not very strikingly beautiful, the lady appeared pleasant with her sharp features and a shiny white smile, which reflected prominently through her dark parted lips. The little girl hid further deep into Indu's lap, giving a wicked smile to her mommy, refusing to return back. The lady, instead of scolding or shouting back at her, smiled in return, convincing the little girl to come back to her. The duo had a perfect mother and daughter relationship that immediately caught Indu's eyes. They started talking, and Indu instantly became fond of the charisma and charm that spilled when Sudha spoke. Yes, her name was Sudha. She was Abhay's wife, who was soon going to be divorced, because of the fact that he had found someone else to fill the space in his life now.
Indu and sudha soon became best of friends, neither of them having any idea, about the common connection that was about to change their lives forever. Whenever Indu was free from her appointments, she would drop at Sudha's house and the two would chat endlessly.
That Friday evening, when Indu met Sudha all excited to brief her about the date this evening with her now boyfriend; Abhay, she found Sudha crying, sitting all alone, gazing from her window pane. She tried asking as to what the matter was, but Sudha remained silent. Sudha never discussed her marital life with Indu. They talked about their families, her daughter, her parents, her friends, her social circle, but never her husband. Sometimes Indu wondered if she should ask her about him; but preferred remaining silent leaving her personal life to be solely hers.
But today Indu just could not hold her tongue. The marks of fingers on Sudha's cheeks were very well visible, announcing the story few hours earlier, quite loudly. Indu forced Sudha to speak out. And finally losing all her strength, Sudha broke down. There were tears flowing down her eyes, like droplets of rain, scoring their way across the window panes. And with these tears, Indu could see all the sadness and all the pain, which Sudha had swallowed and withheld inside, since so long.
With every tear that came out of Sudha's eyes, Indu became more and more furious cursing the man who had caused her so much of trouble. Sudha told her how their marriage was falling apart, and how Abhay damned her for being a dark complexioned bitch, good for nothing. He cursed her for being a housewife, a burden upon his shoulders, which made him to toil even further. He cursed her for bearing a girl child, who could not carry forward a name for his family. Sudha told Indu that they were married for 7 years now and all these years after her daughter was born, all she could see was hatred and resentment in the eyes of her husband.
Indu wondered as to how a man could be filled with so much of abhorrence for his daughter, when he himself was born of a woman. Her thoughts lingered towards Abhay, as to how contrasting and unprejudiced he was in his thoughts, in comparison to this filthy man. This reminded her that it was getting late and she should be leaving now, in order to get ready for her awaited date tonight.
Indu consoled Sudha, promising to meet her the next day, leaving Sudha alone in her melancholy with her infinite scale of thoughts that lingered in her mind, taking her back to the days when she was much more than Mrs. Abhay Sharma.
Sudha was the topper of her college. A bright girl, well known amongst all the teachers for her sharp witted Intelligence and her strength of character. Nobody in the college dared to question her over anything. And like every year, she completed her graduation with flying colors and soon grabbed a job.
Then one day it so happened that her parents arranged for a meeting with a boy, all planning and conspiring to get her married without her knowledge. As she returned home after a long day at work, she was shocked to see Abhay sitting on a sofa of her living room with his parents.
Abhay was her colleague in the bank she had recently joined. A happy go lucky guy, strikingly handsome and a heartthrob for all her female colleagues. But why would he want to marry her? She was not that beautiful, neither did she talk to him much. Then why was he seated here? Abhay was equally stunned. He never knew Sudha was the girl his parents had arranged for him to meet. And finally the two were asked to chat alone so that they could decide if they were to spend a lifetime together in the next 15 minutes.
Abhay drove her to the coffee shop, stealing a quick glance at her from the corner of eyes. In a plain black sari, Sudha look beautiful with her striking features. He had never noticed any of this in the office before. But now it was something different.
They talked for nearly two hours in the coffee shop, somehow finding comfort in the awkwardness of the situation. Hours later when they reached home, their families were eagerly waiting for them, with all their eyes glued to the door. On entering, Abhay immediately nodded a 'yes' and Sudha in spite of being a strong headed tomboyish girl, could not hide the shyness from her eyes.
Few months later they got married and moved in together. Abhay's parents did not consent on having his wife working. Sudha agreed just for the sake of his love, and around 2 years later she delivered a baby girl. She was looked down upon by her in-laws who had expected a boy, to carry the name of the family. There were frequent quarrels in the house and Abhay and Sudha moved into a smaller flat, near his office.
The entire blame of having to leave his parents and work extra hours to fulfill the financial requirements of his now growing family, was on Sudha. This resulted in the differences growing between the two to further increase. Lately, they talked less and argued more. The dinner dates turned to formal mandatory outings and the late night parties turned into early morning routines.
Today it had been on 7 years since the day Abhay had first met her at the coffee shop. They always celebrated this date together, but now she was alone, sitting at the window pane, gazing outside ,waiting for some miracle to happen that would set all things right and give them a new start.
Meanwhile as Abhay waited for Indu at the restaurant, he was all engrossed in his thoughts. Was what was happening actually correct? Was he doing the right thing by betraying Sudha? The responsibility of a family was not just his, but also hers. Then why did she not take up a job to help him meet the needs? Had Sudha become too lazy to work? Even if she did not want to work, she could have at least asked him if she could help. Or what if she did not do it because she did not want to hurt his ego? Even he could have told her directly. Maybe she would have understood. But what in the world gave him the right to hit her? Was he slowly turning into one of those monstrous men who hit their wives to satisfy their egos? But what was Sudha's fault in all these things? After all they were staying together for 7 years now, and it was their anniversary today. Oh! It was their anniversary, and he did not even care to wish her. Instead, he was sitting at a restaurant waiting for some other girl. Did he actually love Indu? Or was he just trying to find solace in some other person.
Maybe their relationship deserved another chance. How did he not think about his five years old daughter, just because he always wanted a son? What would happen to her, when she would come to know that her parents were getting divorced? Will she ever be able to come out from this trauma?
Hundreds of thoughts and hundreds of questions raised his mind, as he sat there waiting for Indu. Few minutes later, when Indu reached the restaurant, Abhay was nowhere to be seen. She knew he had reached the place an hour ago, because of the text she had received from him. Then why did he leave? Was she too late to arrive? Was he angry with her? Or maybe he would come back in sometime. She waited there for another hour; trying to contact him on his switched off mobile, and finally left.
That evening when Abhay reached home, he was a changed man. With flowers in his hands and a gift for his wife, he encircled Sudha from behind, and whispered a soft 'sorry' in her ears. There were tears in her eyes, but this time it was happiness that flowed. Yes! She melted. Yes! She had forgiven Abhay for all that took place, few hours earlier. After all she had loved him. And the miracle she longed for had finally occurred.
The entire night, Indu was sad, as to what could have caused Abhay to leave? She tossed and turned all night, remaining sleepless.
The next morning, when she reached her friend’s house, she was pleased to see Sudha, all happy and joyous. She asked her the reason behind, and Sudha told her all. They chatted for hours and Indu could very well admire the sparkle in Sudha's eyes that had finally returned.
As Indu was leaving, she suddenly tripped at the door mat. Getting hold of the table, to balance herself, her eyes caught a photograph, which made her heart skip a beat. It was a marriage photograph with Sudha and Abhay looking at each other, with their eyes full of love. She had never seen this photograph there before, no matter how many times she visited Sudha. For a moment she was dumbstruck. There was anger, there was fear, and there was guilt and a multitude of emotions that filled her heart at that instance. Oh! How she wished what she saw was just an illusion. How she wished the man in the picture was not his Abhay. But alas! Nothing was to be done now. She entered the room again thinking how was she to tell all these things to Sudha? As she moved in she saw Sudha happily talking on the phone. And from the talks she overheard, she could clearly make out it was Abhay on the other side of the phone. Sudha was giggling and blushing like a teenager as she talked. There were tears in Indu’s eyes. She could not muster the courage to take away this happiness from her, and silently left.
Indu moved out of the city and left for Lucknow to live with her parents there. She remained constantly in touch with Sudha but Sudha never came to know about their common connection. As for Abhay, he never came to know where Indu had vanished all of a sudden.