Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Shade of Love – II


VJ had always been a part of our band of cherubic hell-raisers in school before he took up science and the rest of us moved into commerce. But he'd stayed in touch with Kobita and through her, the rest of us. Having said that, I was still surprised to get an email from him after he had left for what was then Bangalore. Maybe he thought I'd understand because other than him, I'd been Kobita's closest friend in school…

" Pickles (that's what they called me…) I don't know why I'm writing this to you. Don't expect you to help… just wanted to share this with someone, and who'd understand this better than you… We're like two fishermen who sailed in the same river in a village, distant, but always connected by the current. On the banks, they might wave and talk a little. But then one day the river runs dry and both run to the city to make ends meet. And in the city when they meet, they meet like brothers, talking endlessly, of the river. And while they talk, the river runs again, coursing through their lives as it coursed through their veins… Kobita is that river, and while I talk of her to you, I feel she's here, with me… though her life may have changed course, irretrievably…

Pickles, my emotions are running away with my thoughts. 'Come away with me Kobita' I had told her when we met. 'I know you want to… I see it in the way I make you laugh the way no one else can; in the way I understand you the way no one can and I know it in the way you touch me, carelessly, almost accidentally… but your touch betrays you Kobita. It tells me things you haven't. Your fingers, in a moment's brief contact tell me that they long to linger but can't; that they wish to be held, to be enveloped by a warmth that they've yearned for, that they want to touch not just my skin but gently caress my soul…

Kobita, don't misunderstand me. I've loved you as the woman you are from the day I knew I was a man. I was wrong not to have said this earlier, but do you have to punish both of us now… and Nik too? I know he loves you in a good-natured way but, isn't there more to life than just affection? What about love, real love, and romance… and passion… why deprive ourselves of the magic we feel for each other? And Nik, he doesn't need your charity. Perhaps he too will find someone who completes him the way you complete me. By staying with him, you're taking that possibility away from all of us… Why're you so quiet? Are you angry? Why are your eyes welling up…? Is it Koel? I've thought about it… I know Nik's a great dad but Koel likes me too… we'll be great together… And every now and then the three of you could spend time together, for Koel's sake and for your own… What do you say, Kobita? … Kobita, where are you going… Kobita…?' And she was gone… without a word… That was the last I saw or heard of her… that bright red sari disappearing in the inky blackness of a winter evening. It's been two weeks and she hasn't taken my calls or responded to messages. I've ruined what we had but I have no regrets… at least she knows. I don't have the courage to call Nik… I've done nothing wrong but I still feel guilty when I think of him. I told Che-chi (his elder sister) about all this… she says I was wrong… Wrong to have asked a married woman to leave her husband and deprive a child of her father. "What kind of a woman would she have to be to leave them behind after so many years of marriage? Not someone you'd want to live with, VJ…" she'd said. And maybe she's right. I'm being selfish and it's wrong to expect her to be the same… I love Kobita and I know she loves me… she always has… but it doesn't matter anymore, does it, Pickles?"

I did not reply to VJ's email. After two days, I opened my account to read it again, and I saw a new mail.. from Kobita…

"Koel is asleep in bed with her head on my lap as I write these words. And on her head rests Nik's hand. He's asleep… They make a beautiful picture… It's a picture that speaks of family, of togetherness… and of love. This picture is every woman's dream. I can feel pins and needles in my legs from sitting still for so long but I don't have the heart to move for fear of waking them up and spoiling this picture… Then why on earth would VJ think that I would leave it all for anything on the planet… even him???!! I know you know, Pickles… Did I go wrong? Did I bring this upon myself? You've known us both… did I ever send out a sign saying I was unhappy, that I longed for him? For if I did, I never intended to… I was happy, I am happy… and even if I did feel about things the way VJ does, isn't it wrong… isn't it unfair… to Nik? …to Koel? I love them to death… Nik's a good, strong man… and a beautiful father. I respect him… a little too much some say… but so what? Marriage, they say, is always 'work in progress'. Couldn't we work on it, so that we too can feel the magic… the way I can with VJ… Oh god, why me? Why couldn't I live out my life in quiet contentment like all my neighbours? Why do I have to burn the way I do? Pickles, you know how VJ makes me laugh and feel alive… I don't know if I love him but I love the person I become when I'm with him… he makes me feel good about myself the way no one else can… If that is love, then in love I am. But why does my happiness have to be at the cost of someone else's… I can't give them this pain, nor can I bear this pain.

'Where do you draw a line? What if it's someone else tomorrow?', isn't that what you're thinking? I don't know, Pickles, but why, in this world of adults do I have to know…? why can't I follow my heart?

Sorry for putting you through this…." Just then, a chat box popped up. It was VJ… "Pickles… awake @ this hr? u know… you might say things would've been different if she wasn't married… didn't have a child. But so what if she is? God didn't make marriage, we did… and what changes in that one public ceremony meant for total strangers? Wouldn't Koel be happier spending time with three happy adults instead of with two parents who'll never be able to touch her life with the exhilaration of true love…?"

I'd had enough. I signed out, shut down my laptop and picked up my phone…

It's been five years since that day. Today, VJ is back in Bengaluru, waiting for Kobita. She returns next week from Kolkata, with Koel, and Krishna, her son and VJ's. Koel shares her long holidays between Kolkata and Bengaluru and seems to be having a normal, happy childhood. And are the others any happier? Well, they say so… as do the photos they send… Honestly, I can't tell from here… maybe you should meet them and find out…


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2 comments:

  1. A wonderfull story.. Ur right, inspite of being in love or having several around us, we do feel LONELY! How do we overcome this??

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