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A Storm in my Heart – Lekhanotsav

“Oh Lord! How will Nitin come home in such a stormy weather?”

Standing by the closed window, frightened Naisha’s gaze was cemented on the road outside. The windows couldn’t be opened, otherwise the candle would be put off by the strong winds. Darkness had engulfed the entire surrounding, only the light of the candle in the house was giving some relief. But outside, every minute a lightning flashed through the sky, hurting the eyes and escalating the heartbeat.

 

It was a predicted cyclone, but no one had expected it to be of this magnitude. The walls of the buildings nearby had collapsed and many trees were uprooted. As if the clouds had burst and the torrential rain didn’t look like it was going to stop any time soon. Repeatedly, Naisha kept trying to call Nitin, but his mobile was completely out of coverage area. Naisha’s restlessness was growing by the minute. Out of the blue, her mobile vibrated in her hand. She quickly took the call and babbled immediately,

“Nitin, are you alright? You’re not stuck anywhere, are you? When will you come home?”

“Naisha, relax and listen to me. I’m out of the office, but it’s flooded everywhere. There’s not a single bus or a rickshaw in view.”

It was ten o’clock at night and hearing Nitin’s words, Naisha broke out in a cold sweat. Otherwise also, it took him two hours to reach home.

“So how will you come home now?”

“Naisha, I just remembered, Mansi’s house is somewhere around here, I’ll go to her place and once the weather is tolerable, I’ll come back in the morning.”

As soon as Mansi’s name came to her ears, Naisha became numb. The line went dead before she could respond.

 

Mansi …the most stunning and famous girl of their college. There was not a boy on the campus, who wasn’t attracted to her. Nonetheless Mansi was after Nitin. Although heart of hearts, Naisha loved Nitin, she always felt that she did not deserve him. Anyway, what chance did she stand in comparison to the beautiful and confident Mansi? That’s exactly why when Nitin proposed to Naisha, she was astounded.

“Naisha, I detest people who are fake and superficial. I’m actually floored by your simplicity.”

 

This was four years ago and since then, Naisha’s life has been nothing but heavenly. Howbeit today, she was dumbfounded when she heard Mansi’s name on Nitin’s lips. Nitin was going to stay at her house all through night. Was Mansi still a single, or was she married? Did she still love Nitin? Will she take advantage of this situation? Will she try to seduce her husband? The whirlpool of all these questions was creating a cyclone in Naisha’s heart and mind. Moreover, her internal storm was more terrifying than the storm outside.

 

Naisha couldn’t sleep a wink and with an agitated heart stomping in her chest, she only kept tossing and turning until the wee hours of the night. It wasn’t that she didn’t have faith in Nitin, but circumstances were bad and she had no control over them.

 

The doorbell rang at six o’clock in the morning. It was still raining, but the weather was quite peaceful now. She flung the door open and clung to Nitin like a koala bear. She didn’t even bother that his clothes were wet. Nitin smiled as he enveloped her in his arms and understood. Very gently he whispered in her ears,

“Has the storm in your heart calmed down?”

Naisha was shocked to hear his words and Nitin explained,

“I know, hearing Mansi’s name must have left you agonising to the hilt. But then, due to network issues, I couldn’t call you back. I met Rajesh on the way and he took me with him to his house.”

A ton of bricks slipped away from her shoulders. Nitin’s clarification swelled Naisha’s heart with happiness which she’d never experienced before, and it was reflecting in the huge smile that covered her entire face.

Shamim Merchant

You Complete Me – Monday Musings

“Rohan please! At least listen to me.”
Maya pleaded with her husband for the third time.
“No Maya, I’ve had enough. You’ve said all that you wanted to and I’ve patiently heard more than required. Not anymore.”
“Rohan please!”
“Maya, I’m running late for office, so cut it.”
Rohan was getting ready in front of the mirror and Maya was behind him, perched on the edge of their bed, crestfallen and frustrated. She was eyeing him hopelessly.

She tried again,
“Rohan believe me, it wasn’t me who told Samir that our company’s tender has been rejected.”
Rohan turned in a flash and hollered at Maya.
“Then did Lord Ganesha come in his dreams to inform him? You know he’s my competitor!”
Nostrils flaring and seething with rage Rohan lashed out at his wife, taunting cadence once again.
“How could your brother miss out such a golden opportunity to laugh at me! He’s forever eagerly waiting to celebrate my downfall. And YOU served him that chance on a platter.”

His words were bitter and Maya’s eyes began to glisten with unshed tears. For the first time Rohan was acting so irrational and insensitive. What had happened to him today? Yes he was very angry, but was he even aware of what he was saying?

After ten years of a happy married life, this demeanor of Rohan was extremely shocking. Maya stood up and eating the distance between them, rested her palms on his chest. With uttermost care she voiced out her feelings gently,
“Rohan, I’m your wife. Your honour is as good as mine. How can I disrespect it?”

“Then how did Samir come to know? Only you knew that our company’s tender has been rejected.”
“He must have heard it from some external source.”
“No. I wasn’t expecting this from you Maya.”
Emotions clogged her throat and held back tears finally streamed down her cheeks. Her voice dropped an octave.
“Rohan, is this all that you have understood me in ten years?”
Rohan smirked sarcastically.
“I was proud of you Maya. But I was wrong. Now I don’t think I know you at all.”

Jerking her hands off his chest, he picked up his briefcase and walked away.
“I’m leaving.”
“Breakfast?”
“I’ll eat something in the office.”
“Rohan….”
Her words hung in the air. He slammed the door as he left, leaving Maya behind, crying and dejected.

When she heard the main door close, fresh tears welled up in her eyes and Maya fell back on the bed feeling utterly defeated. Never before had Rohan spoken so rudely with her.

On an impulse she felt like calling up Samir and questioning him about the whole aspect. But on second thoughts she pondered that in ten years she had never discussed the ups and downs of her family life with her brother, then why now? Even if the reason was her own brother. Moreover, this entire issue was not about Samir. Here the focal point was her relationship with her husband Rohan. It was all about their love and trust in each other. Doesn’t matter who the third person is.

* * * * *

Taking deep breaths Rohan made futile attempts to control his fuming anger. Any kind of behaviour was acceptable at home in front of Maya, but this foul mood was surely going to spoil work in the office. By the time the driver could reach him to the workplace, sitting in the car, he switched on his laptop and unsuccessfully tried to concentrate.

The morning argument with Maya was at the forefront of his mind. And as much as he was upset with her, he was angry with himself in equal measure. In the decade that they had been together, never before had he disrespected her or left her crying behind. Howbeit, he pacified himself with the false excuse that what Maya had done was also not right.

Behind all the foggy annoyance, a notion in his subconscious mind had gone on reply mode,
“My Maya would never do anything like this.”

As soon as he reached the office, without bothering to greet anyone, Rohan went to his cabin and locked himself inside. A few minutes later, there was a knock on the door. Before he could acknowledge it, Suresh strolled in and took a seat across from him.
“Hi!”
Rohan’s stare was glued to his blank monitor screen and he didn’t look up. Suresh was not only his business partner but they were good friends as well. Prolonged silence stuck between them and Suresh understood his buddy’s mood was off. Suresh had brought a file with him and a discussion was needed for the meeting ahead. Nonetheless, seeing Rohan’s agitated face, he realised the discourse was going to take a different direction. Keeping the file on the table, he sat quietly, eyes cemented on his friend.

Minutes passed by and Suresh did not budge his stare from Rohan’s face. Eventually Rohan’s patience faded away and he burst out.
“What’s your problem Suresh?”
“Shouldn’t I be the one to ask that Rohan?”
“You entered my cabin.” Rohan pointed out.
“Right. I had come to discuss our upcoming meeting. Albeit, seeing your mood, I don’t think you’d be able to accomplish anything today.”
Suresh shot back and continued to glare at him.

“Please Suresh, at the moment go from here, or I might say something harsh to you too.”
“Oh! Who else became your scapegoat today?”
Rohan breathed a ragged sigh and shook his head. Should he open up in front of his friend? If yes, to what extent can he disclose? Rohan sure had a weakness. He just didn’t know how to keep things within himself.

Sitting forward, he rested both his hands on the table and briefed Suresh on what had transpired between him and Maya. He concluded saying,
“I didn’t expect this kind of backstabbing from Maya.”

“I’m sorry.” Suresh whispered.
“What? Why are you apologizing?”
“Because I’m the one who informed Samir.”
“What??” Rohan was flabbergasted.
“Suresh! Why on earth did you tell him? You have completely baffled me. You know he’s our competitor!”

Feeling guilty, Suresh lowered his eyes and launched into giving his excuse,
“I’m a common friend of you and Samir. Moreover, Samir is your brother-in-law. I thought maybe he’ll guide us or at least give us some sound advice.”
“Sound advice my foot! You still don’t know that snake. He’ll whack you from behind and say I was helping straighten your back.”

“Look, I’m sorry. But Rohan, even if Samir knows about the tender, how does it matter? It doesn’t affect our progress or hamper our success in any way. One small rejection means nothing. Don’t forget we have four more.”
Suresh tried his best to show light and reason out with his homie.
“You are right. Nonetheless, I hate to think that he’s got this opportunity to laugh at us.”

“Forget that. Don’t you think you have been unjust with Maya? She’s always stood by you and you should have faith in her.”
Rohan snickered at Suresh and passed a sarcastic remark.
“And this lesson you are teaching me, a divorcee!”
Suresh was stunned, howbeit he was a good friend and this was not the time to feel bad.
“Yeah, I am a divorcee, I know how it feels. Probably, that’s exactly why I’m telling you. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. Go and apologize to Maya.”

Rohan was aware he was stepping in Suresh’s private space. But he simply had to know. When the awkward silence became unbearable, he gathered courage and said,
“Till date you never told us what happened between you and Sudha, that it reached till divorce.”

Suresh craned his neck and glanced up at the ceiling. Emotions clogged his throat as he walked down the memory lane once more.
“Over a very trivial issue we had had a dispute. But then one aspect led to the other and I didn’t realize when things got out of hand. My ego was the biggest culprit in all of this.”
Unshed tears glistened in his eyes and he lowered them to the carpeted floor. Nevertheless, his heavy, husky voice gave him away.
“Sudha didn’t leave any stone unturned to save our marriage. She tried to talk to me, joke and laugh, take things easy. But my head was in a muddy puddle at that time. I only kept finding faults with her. She was willing to bow and bend in every possible way. But as I said, male ego.”

Rohan was speechless and couldn’t bat an eyelid. Suresh rubbed his chest as if finding it difficult to reminisce all those sorrowful memories.
“All these wise thoughts hit me after she left helplessly. Today I curse myself every time I enter the house and find only lonely walls and long sinister silences welcoming me.”

Rohan went totally blank and couldn’t fathom how to pacify his friend. Before today, neither had he ever asked Suresh about his divorce nor had he taken any interest in it.

Suresh stood up and said gently,
“Today as much as I’m repenting, it gives me zero solace. The love of my life is not with me anymore.”
Whilst he was at the door, before leaving he turned to Rohan once again,
“Yeah I’m a divorcee. I know how it feels. Anyway, I’ll handle the meeting. You take rest.”

With Suresh gone, Rohan was lost deep in thoughts. Time passed by and soon it was noon. And just as Suresh had predicted, he couldn’t get any work accomplished. Peon brought his tiffin and placed it in front of him. Maya had the habit of putting a tiny love note in the last box everyday. In the beginning, he found it very childish and filmy. Nonetheless, later he not only got used to it, but started liking it too.

Now the temperament was such that, he was more enthu to read the note than see what was for lunch. Very apprehensively he opened the last box. He was right. It was empty. Who cared what food she had sent? Without checking the other tiffins, he messaged Suresh and raced out to go home.

After hearing Suresh’s sad story, he interrogated himself again and again. “How is life even possible without Maya?”

When Rohan entered the house, he found Maya in the kitchen. She was startled to see him and began babbling,
“Rohan? What happened? Aren’t you keeping well? How come you’re home at this hour?”
Rohan went close and cupped her face in his hands.
“I’m sorry Maya.”
“Rohan?”
“It was Suresh. I should have listened to you, I should have had faith in you.”
Maya eyed him with a coy smile.
“Rohan, I’ll always be by your side. It’s us against the world.”
Rohan gave her a cursory nod and put his arms around her.
“I know darling.”
Maya stared at him mischievously and questioned,
“Ahuh! Really? Then where was this trust in the morning?”
Rohan chortled.
“My logic had gone to dogs.”
Maya giggled along.

He kissed her forehead and said lovingly,
“Maya, I’m here because of you and if our love is flourishing, the reason is you. Life is nothing without you Maya.”
Maya was pleasantly surprised beyond expressing. Her cheeks flushed to the deepest shade of red.
“My, my! You’ve never said anything so romantic ever before.”

“Well, you could say I’ve come to my senses. Anyway, did you have lunch?”
“No. And I presume you haven’t eaten either.”
“Right. Your note wasn’t there, so I didn’t bother to open and see the rest of the tiffin.”
Maya burst out laughing.
“Everyday do you fill your tummy with my note?”
“They are heartwarming and immensely satisfying. And only then do I enjoy my lunch.”
Maya was filled with delight and was finally feeling lighter. All the anguish burden since morning simply slipped away, making her tension free.

Rohan pulled her closer and whispered,
“Maya, you and your notes are the most important things in my life.”
“And you complete me Rohan.”

🖊️Shamim Merchant

A Selfless Relationship

“If it weren’t absolutely necessary, I wouldn’t go at all.”
“Don’t worry aunty, I’m there na, I’ll look after uncle.”
Rama patted Mariyam’s back and showed gratitude. “God bless you my dear.”

Her brother was extremely ill and all of a sudden, Rama had to leave for Ahmedabad. Her seventy years old husband, Hiren was a heart patient and the old couple lived alone. Their only daughter was forever tied up with her family and lived quite far. The sole pillar of support was their ever helpful neighbour, Mariyam. They relied on her heavily.

Although Hiren had given permission to Rama to go see her brother, he just couldn’t do without her, not even for a minute. Barely had Rama reached Ahmedabad from Surat, Hiren fell sick in her absence. To such an extent that he didn’t have the energy to stand or help himself to anything. Mariyam came by in the evening to ask if he’d like some tea. But to her utter horror, Hiren was gasping for air and his eyeballs had shifted up.

She thought maybe water will give him some relief. Mariyam immediately got into action and with great difficulty, helped Hiren to a sitting position. Before she could process what was happening, Hiren vomited on her face. She was soaked in his puke and for a minute was flabbergasted. Howbeit, she knew he hadn’t done it intentionally. In fact he wasn’t in his senses at all. Trying to pacify him, Mariyam said gently,
“Nevermind uncle, I’ll quickly wash my face and change. Then we’ll help you out.

Without any further delay, she was back in a flash with her husband Sadik. He put on fresh clothes on Hiren and called for an ambulance. Once Hiren was admitted in the hospital, Sadik dialled all the important numbers and called up Hiren’s immediate family. His daughter came the next morning and Rama arrived after three days. Till then Mariyam and Sadik stuck in the hospital with Hiren, took all the precautionary measures suggested by the doctor and looked after him.

Hiren and his family couldn’t stop thanking their neighbours and were immensely grateful. Rama embraced Mariyam in her arms as she cried in gratitude. She kissed Mariyam on the forehead and said between sobs,
“Dear, you aren’t related to us in any way. Nevertheless, you have truly taught me how to value relationships and maintain them.”

🖊️Shamim Merchant