I hated to stand in front of these people. Damn these parties. This is too personal to talk before a group of people. But I have been in the audience for quite a number of times and I know what to talk. Rathi was sitting there all nervous. I know she sweats a lot when she is nervous. The tissue in her hand should be wet now.
This has been 40 years. I wouldn’t say 40 long years because I savored each and every moment of it. Life with Rathi is the best thing that had happened. Together we never worried about the destination but we just wanted our journey together to be sweet. As you can assume, she is the patient person you can ever see, putting up with me and my kids. I would like to hear from her more than me talking. I just love to listen to her.
She was thinking something when somebody woke her up. She was shocked. I knew her speech is going to be short. Like it had been for the last 40 years. That was my mistake. A mistake, I still regret. I have killed a soul and spoiled another 40 years of what was left in her. When she finished the speech, I was blushing. I didn’t know she could say something like that about our life together or she could lie this efficiently. Whatever happened, it was between us, no It was buried inside me.
Sekhar, who is rightly called as motor mouth in our surroundings came and spelt it out. ”Rathi,you are lucky to get somebody like Prasad.I am sure that he must have not hurt you even once”.
Hurt her? I nearly killed her.
I was 26 when I saw Rathi. I knew she was her from the moment I saw her. I saw her as a light to my gloomy world. I talked to her for two minutes. But that was unnecessary for me. I would have married her then and there if her family obliged. But fate had other plans.
My father had a family in the village as well. Nobody knew about it. When it was my marriage, my half brother tried to use the situation to his favor. He wanted to go abroad and settle down and he needed 25000 for that. My mother tried to commit suicide and father fell ill. I did not want to give away our family name at this moment. And I had a difficult choice to make. 25000 is not small amount . I decided to ask Rathi’s parents.
I had to be curt. Her brother and father were stunned. But they assured me that the money will be ready. And I knew Rathi knew all about it. But she never questioned me all these years. That made me guiltier. After marriage, I made it a point that every wish of her to become true. Our kids came as a blessing. I was always considerate and she was caring and we looked after each other.
But like all couples we argued, fought and then that look will come in her eyes. Just for a fraction of second which will make me drop all my arguments. I had done the gross injustice to her. Talking to his father as if his daughter will be accepted only if the dowry comes along with her. I had paid them back twice through various means. I was like a second son to them and their last days were spent with us and I took care of each and every wish of theirs too. All to rub off that look that crosses her eyes when we fight, in our intimate moments, while making love, while she stares at me when she thought I was asleep. I just close my eyes unable to stand the look in her eyes. It was hard to sleep.
I was looking for her to pour my heart out today. I cannot take this anymore. 40 years is more than the sentence given to a murder convict.
She was in the terrace staring at the distance. She was dressed in a beautiful saree. She still had that elegance. I wanted to call out her name but all I could manage was
She trembled and looked back at me.
It was cold outside. She gets headache with cool breeze. I just walked up to her and held her hands.
“What are you doing here? That too it is cold out here. Come on..” Lets start a new life together, Bless me with a guilt free life, A life sans that look. A life assuring your love to me without that stab I gave you in the back.
She didn’t move. I looked back.
“Prasad, I love you” she said. There was that thing in her eye. Even though I have grandchildren, I know what it was. It was of pure love. May be she had forgiven me. Damn! I do not know how to react.
“I love you too Rathi. But.. Lets go.. It is cold” I do not know why words rushed in my mouth.
She hugged me tight. This is the moment I was waiting for 40 years. Though we were intimate like every other couple, only the husband and wife can tell what was missing. Today it was complete. She made me complete. “I love you Prasad” She said again softly.
May be her wound got healed now. May be she did it with her love for me. Or by our love for us.