Archive for April, 2010

Flashback

April 10, 2010

Humid weather, crowded streets, noise pollution, smell of fish…. I was back in Mumbai! And it was a great feeling. I had missed this city like hell in my last two years of stay in the UK. Had missed this feeling of “being at home”.

It was six o’clock in the evening when I parked my car at the Kala Ghoda parking lot. My wife Komal had an appointment with a famous beautician having her spa near Watson’s Hotel.

“Sumeet, it will take me two hours at the spa. What will you do till then?”

“I will hang around at the Jehangir Art Gallery. Give me a call once you are done.”

“Will do.”

She kissed me on my cheek and got out of the car.

It has been eighteen years since we are married. She has put on some weight over the years and does not look as stunning as she used to. But she has been a great wife. And a great mother.

I studied my face in the side mirror. I simply look “handsome”. My friends call me Mr. Clooney because of my dimpled chin. My father also had a dimpled chin. Even his father did. It just adds a star to our handsome Punjabi looks.

I locked my car and walked down to the Jehangir Art Gallery. There was an Indonesian painting exhibition.

I was observing a Persian miniature when I saw her.

She looked at me at the same moment.

And the time was locked.

My mind wheeled back to around twenty years.

To the days when I was working as a sales guy for an FMCG company. I did not have a slightest idea at that time that I would move on to become a very successful businessman in future.

But she always knew that I was going to make it big in life. She was just too confident about it.

Her name was Anamika. Her friends called her “Anu”. I used to call her “Annu”.

She was a Maharashtrian girl from Pune. One year elder to me. Used to work for an accounting firm.

We had a common friend who introduced both of us. And it started from there and soon converted to an affair.

I was madly, truly, deeply in love. And so was she.

We used to meet at the Churchgate station every evening. We just loved being with each other.

It went on for almost two years. On one Sunday, she said to me,

“Sumeet, I am getting worried. It was supposed to come ten days ago.”

I thought over it. I knew she used to take some pill. And when we made out that month, it was “safe period” too.

So I reassured her,

“Don’t worry. It does get delayed sometimes, doesn’t it?”

“Hmmm… yes it does. But not for this long too.”

“You did take the pill, didn’t you?”

“Of course I did.”

“And if your calculations were correct, it was safe period as well!”

“I guess so…”

“Then we don’t have anything to worry about. Let’s wait for another 4-5 days.”

We did.

But it did not come.

I asked her to visit a gynecologist.

She did.

“The test was positive.”

“Positive means?”

“I am pregnant.”

“What? Are you sure?”

“See these reports.”

“Oh my god!”

That was the last thing I had expected.

Maybe I should not have been so careless.

I should have worn it.

But that was immaterial now.

“Sumeet, what do we do now?”

What kind of question was it?

“Of course, we get rid of it!”

“But why? Can’t we get married? I will talk to my dad today…”

“Don’t be stupid. Both of us don’t earn enough to get married and raise a child in Mumbai. I still stay in a rented house with my parents and 2 sisters. It is just not possible!”

“Please don’t take a temperamental decision. I know you will succeed fast and we will be rich soon. We will together make your dream of owning a steel plant come true. We will work hard.”

“Stop being foolish. Let’s consult an abortionist. “

She protested some more.

But finally gave up.

It was a Friday evening.

The abortionist had suggested a surgical abortion as it was too late to perform a medical one.

It was supposed to be done on Monday morning. Annu was needed to stay in the hospital for the whole of that day.

I called up at the office and informed them that I would not be coming on Saturday and Monday.

She did the same.

It was going to be a horrible weekend.

She never blamed me alone for the whole thing. She kept saying, “It was our fault… We should have been more careful… probably there is nothing called safe period as such… etc etc.”

But somewhere in my mind I was not convinced.

How was it possible?

We had been doing that since over a year. It never occurred before.

Safe Period + A Birth Control Pill = No Pregnancy.

No. Just not possible.

I actually said this to her,

“But we did take precautions, didn’t we? It was a safe period. You took the pill before. And after too. How can everything go wrong?”

“I am also wondering about the same thing Sumeet. But the fact is, something did go wrong. Let’s face it now.”

I was still not convinced.

I drank for the whole night.

I was so badly betrayed.

I trusted her more than myself. Always thought she was loyal to me.

It was my first ever affair. Had never even touched a girl in my life.

Put so many restrictions on myself. Never thought of another girl even in my dreams.

She also said it was her first affair.

But she did not bleed the first time, did she?

She said that not all the girls did. And I believed her.

Bloody characterless woman.

I should have known from the start… sometimes she used to behave mysteriously… used to make me wait at Churchgate station for hours… used to say she had a lot of pending work at the office…

But how would I know if she was telling the truth?

I did not know what she used to do after 8:30 in the night. I used to drop her at her place and we used to get to speak only the next day. What did she do the whole night?

Sometimes she used to talk so highly of her boss. His talent, personality and stuff.

She was an ambitious girl. Wanted to excel fast. Wanted to get promoted fast.

You never know about a girl’s character.

You never know.

She called me at our house phone number on Sunday. I said let’s directly meet at the abortion centre on Monday as I was very much disturbed.

She wasn’t breathtakingly beautiful. Wasn’t so smart either. I wondered what made me fall in love with such a girl. Probably because I thought she was good in character. But that wasn’t the case anymore.

She had taken advantage of my trust.

No, I could not fall victim for someone else’s fault.

No.

I sat down for drinking again in the night.

And found myself crying too.

Bloody I loved her through all my heart and soul.

And she did that to me.

With shaking hands, I took a pen and paper.

“Anamika (not Annu anymore), thank you for making me realize that I should not trust any woman in this world. That baby is not mine. I don’t know if the actual responsible person is your boss or anyone else from your big circle of male friends. And I don’t care too. I never put any restrictions on you and I let you hang out with anyone you wished. I did not use to quite appreciate your going for parties/dinners with a group full of boys. But I never objected to it as I trusted you. And I am paying the price. Please never ever try to contact me again. I don’t even wish to see your face. Get rid of that sin tomorrow. And be careful in future. Please avoid playing with someone’s feelings, if possible. Goodbye.”

I took an envelope, put that letter and some money into it, sealed it and drove down to her hostel. I left that envelope with the security guard and requested him to give it to Anamika, first thing in the morning.

And I never saw her again. She never ever tried to contact me.

She never contacted our common friend as well.

No one knew where she went after that.

And here she was. In front of me. Tears rolling down her face.

I wanted to say something but could not gather enough words. My hand was about to raise to touch her hair when a tall, handsome guy came to her and said,

“Mom, let’s leave now. I am getting bored!”

She turned to leave. Walked a few steps. Again turned around, looked at me for a long moment.

Then she left.

And the world around me started moving.

Not because I had seen her after so many years.

But because I had seen the dimpled chin of her son.

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