“The Soul of the World is nourished by people’s happiness. And also by unhappiness, envy, and jealousy. To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation. All things are one.”
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
When Samir entered the room he only heard the last line that Somesh was reading to Priya from his iPhone.
Samir repeated it, “All the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. It’s profound. Where is it from?”
Somesh slowly took off his glasses, held the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger and pressed it down to release the pressure built. He looked at Samir and answered, “I was reading Priya her favorite book ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho. This book is her ‘Geeta’ and her ‘Bible’. Therefore, I downloaded it on both of our iPhones.”
“It seems that there is some truth in this phrase because Dr. Karni consulted the CT Scan results with a neurosurgeon and then told me that the clot is not that big thus they would first try Thrombolysis.” Samir told Somesh.
Somesh couldn’t understand the medical term but he was comforted by Samir’s relaxed expressions. Samir further explained him that it is a process of breaking the clot with the help of medicines. If Priya positively responds to the medications she wouldn’t have to go through the brain surgery.
Priya was still unconscious. She was connected to IV, which was supplying the necessary fluids and medicines to her body. There were few other cords and wires attached to her to monitor her vitals. When the nurse came into the room to administer some medicines into Priya’s IV, Somesh walked away from his wife’s side to the dark red sofa, by the window, meant for people attending the patient.
“She should be conscious in half and hour or so. After that the doctor will come to examine her.” Then she stopped, looked at Somesh and said, “don’t worry, she would be fine. She is in good hands.” She smiled and continued, “can I bring something for you Soomeesh?”
Somesh just nodded his head and said, “No, thanks Alice.” He read the nurse’s name from one of the many tags that she was wearing on a lanyard hanging around her neck.
“Thank you so much Aly, don’t worry I’ll be here” said Samir to the nurse.
She smiled again and left the room.
Samir pulled a chair and sat next to Priya.
Somesh removed his crocs from his feet, lifted his legs and stretched them in front. He was exhausted. “Samir, your mother was a good woman. She didn’t talk much but when she did, it had depth.” Somesh was talking again.
Samir turned back and looked at Somesh. He slid his chair backwards and turned it slightly to the right so that he could face both Somesh and Priya.
“When I came back home from Uday’s house that night, your mom was waiting for me. We didn’t know each other much. She was more of a stranger than a family member to me but I felt that she was the only one there who understood my anxiety during that crisis. While she served me food she spoke about a couplet by Rahim that stresses on the importance of being truthful in one’s relationship. I still remember that- ‘Rahiman dhaga prem ka mat todo chatkaay, tode se fir naa jude jude gaanth pad jaaye. (Never ever break the relationship of trust and love because if its break it will never be the same. Even if it joins, the knot will always be there. So, never hurt the feelings of the one you love.)I took it as a signal that my decision of talking and discussing the matter with Priya was right. Your mom had fueled in extra strength to the promise that I made to myself at Uday’s place.”
“Samir, at that time I was mad at everyone, even at my father, who was neutral to everything. I gave your Mom the benefit of doubt and respected her because of her composure. From her expressions, I couldn’t figure out if she was forced into that vile plan or she herself was so desperate to be a mother that she didn’t care about the chosen path.” Somesh stopped and then continued, “but one thing that I was always sure of was that she would be a wonderful mother. She was so good with my boys that they didn’t miss their mom even once during our stay in Haldwani.”
Samir got up and checked the IV bag. It was almost empty. He picked up the telephone and called the nurse station and asked her to come in. Alice brought a pitcher filled with water and some disposable glasses with it. She told Samir that lunch would be served in the cafeteria soon. He should go and get something for him and Soomeesh. He softly nodded and said, “sure… thanks, Aly.”
Somesh told Samir that he didn’t feel like eating at that time but Samir could go and get something for self. Samir shook his head and said, “I am fine for now.” And came back and occupied the chair he was sitting on earlier. Samir asked, “How soon were you able to reach badi Maa? What did she say?”
Somesh lounged back on his sofa. “Thirty years back it wasn’t as easy to connect with people. We didn’t have the mobile phones then. Having a simple phone was a luxury and not everybody could afford that. I booked a trunk call to talk to my wife but when the people from telephone department called me back my mother said that it must have been a mistake, we didn’t book a call and disconnected the line. My mother made sure that I was not able to talk to Priya. She went to the extent of cutting the telephone wires at our place. We didn’t have the Public telephone booths then. I was in a limbo. I sent Priya a telegram that she should come to Haldwani. All that meant more waiting but I was desperate to talk to her. So, I decided to go to Chennai and meet her.”
Somesh’s friend Uday knew someone in Indian Airlines who promised him to get next days flight ticket from Delhi to Chennai. Somesh’s mother was furious when she found out that her son was flying to Chennai. She tried to stop Somesh from travelling. She repented why did she even break the telephone lines. She commented, “My stupid son is spending a fortune to go and meet that wicked witch of south. She has done some black magic on my innocent boy.”
Somesh wanted to get rid of that drama so he quickly packed and left. Outside his house, he was waiting for Uday who was coming to give him a ride to the bus station. Just then he saw Priya stepping out of a taxi, on the other side of the road. He trembled; he felt the goose bumps and his hairs rising on his limbs. He had never been so excited to see her in his whole life. He dropped everything, rushed to his wife amidst the honks from motor-cars and scooters passing by. He stopped before her and just hugged her in silence.
Last time when Priya heard from Somesh, he sounded different. And after that she didn’t hear from him for quite sometimes. She began to worry for her husband and her boys. Finally, she made up her mind and came to Haldwani with her Dad. Priya’s mom wanted to answer the trunk call that Somesh had booked and tell him that Priya was on her way to his place. But because of Somesh’s mom foul play they failed to connect.
Soon Uday arrived. He saw Somesh hugging a woman; he figured that must be his wife. Somesh decided that they would go somewhere else rather than going inside the house. Uday dropped both Somesh and Priya to a nearby restaurant. Uday took Priya’s Dad with him to his house.
Over the cup of coffee and some snacks, Somesh started telling Priya what had been bothering him for last couple of weeks and why he had been so anxious.
Priya listened carefully to what her husband had to say to her. Her mouth didn’t utter a word but her eyes did the talking. Tears continuously flowed out of her eyes. She was going through mixed emotions; happy and relaxed to find that her husband and kids were fine; sickened by the evil mess that they have landed in; worried that her husband would get in bed with other woman; distressed that her plan to unite with her husband’s family failed; exhausted by hours of travelling to reach from one end of the country to other.
She asked the waiter to get some water for her. She gulped the whole glass, wiped her eyes and asked Somesh to get up and leave that place forever. Somesh clutched her hand and stopped her. She was repulsed. “There is nothing to think about Somu, I hope your heart is not craving to get in bed with her!” Priya remarked sarcastically.
“No… It’s not that and you also know that that’s not the case…so stop making situations harder than they already are.” Somesh said looking at her. Then he started fiddling with water that had spilled from the jug when waiter poured the water in Priya’s glass. “There is something else that I would like you to know.” Somesh said still moving his fingers restlessly in that little puddle of water.
Priya calmed down to see his husband’s meek expression. She occupied her chair and settled down.
“Piu, you are not my first love. There was someone else in my life before we met. But I don’t love her anymore. She was my past but you are my present and my future. Please trust me, I never regretted once after meeting you that I am not with her.” Somesh was filled with remorse and kept talking without even looking at his wife. “I met her while I was doing my engineering in Delhi. We steadily went along for three years but I couldn’t gather the strength to talk to my parents about her. She felt cheated and left me… her name was…”
“Ranjana,” Priya had said.
Somesh stopped doodling with water and looked up in disbelief. His eyes widened, his brows twitched and then he asked, “How did you know?”
Priya smiled and said, “I have been waiting to hear this story from you for last eight years since we got married. But you never fully entrusted me with your feelings.”
She stopped and interlaced her finger with Somesh’s index finger with which he was drawing figures in water a couple of minutes back. Somesh kept looking, waiting for her to continue her story.
Priya spoke again, “Actually Ranjana and I were in same school for four years when my Dad was posted in Baroda. We were best friends and even after we parted we remained friends for many years through letters. She told me about you but I didn’t realize that you were the same Somesh until when I shared your picture with her, just before our marriage. I didn’t tell you about it because I wanted to hear from you … I asked you many times about your ex-girlfriends but you never told me. At first it was a silly prank but then after we had Sanjeev and Shobhit it became redundant so, I didn’t even care.”
“Piu, I am sorry but I was scared that you wouldn’t understand and you would hate me for having an affair. I am sorry but this will never happen again … She please excuse me darling.”
“humm… It will be my rain-check.” Priya said and laughed. “By the way, Ranjana is in Delhi these days… if you like we can see her before flying back to US…Then you would know that I am the bestest.” Priya said jovially.
“I already know that sweetheart.” Somesh smiled back and softly pecked on her cheek.
Priya’s hand twitched slightly. She was waking up. She tried to turn her head towards the window from where the light was coming. As soon as Somesh saw the movement he jumped up the sofa and was right next to her. He held her hand with one of his hand and put the other palm on her forehead. She rolled her lips to say something but words didn’t come out of them. Few drops of tears rolled out of the corner of her eyes.
“I wouldn’t let you go so easily … you lazy bum.” Somesh tried to make her laugh at their husband-wife joke, “come on get up …let’s go home.”
Samir came into the room with Dr. Karni. He shook hands with Somesh and started examining Priya. He started asking her questions- “What is your name? What is today’s date?” Pointing towards Somesh he asked, “Who is that man?”
Somesh eagerly waited to hear her voice. She slowly began to answer the questions, “Prrrriya Sharrrrmaaa, June 29, 2011.” She stopped and looked at Somesh and said, “Somu, my husband.”
Somesh was relieved. Even through her voice was not clear, she slurred. The date wasn’t June 29th but 30th. At least she was comprehending and responding. And most of all she remembered her Somu.
When Dr. Karni left, Somesh went closer and sat next to her. He took her hand and rested his forehead on it. “I was so scared Piu…so scared that I even told Samir his truth.”
“You did???” Priya whispered. “We had to tell him sometime … you did the right thing. Is he okay?” She asked slowly.
“He has been going through some ups and downs but he is willing to hear. He has been here since morning and taking care of…” Somesh stopped as he saw Samir coming in with their older son Sanjeev.
Samir had updated Sanjeev about Priya’s condition. Sanjeev asked Somesh and Samir to go to the cafeteria and get something while he stayed back with his mom.
Somesh followed the instruction and walked out with Samir.
Samir broke the silence and told Somesh that Dr. Karni has suggested to call American Stroke Foundation who would help Badi Maa in her recovery. He said, “we are fortunate that it was not a major stroke and only a small part of the brain is impaired, which is also temporary. She will be all better soon.”
Somesh patted Samir’s back twice and smiled, “You are a good son.”
“Bade Papa, when Badi Maa refused to even think about you being the surrogate father how did you manage?”
“There was nothing left to manage. It was ‘The End’ of the story. I didn’t even think about it any further. We went back to the house to pack our stuff and pick our boys. Your grandmother was happy to see me back so soon. She thought that I had changed my mind and have come back to her but when she saw Priya behind me she was agitated. She started cussing her. She was hyperventilating; she was so angry with me that she started spilling out all my secrets to Priya. Everything that my wife already knew then but my mother didn’t know that she knew.” At last she said to Priya, “If he could not be loyal to his mother and to his pre-marital family where his roots are… do you think he would be loyal to you …Witch???
Priya who was quiet till then faced my mother, looked into her eyes and said, “Yes, Mrs. Geeta Sharma, I have no reason to doubt him.” Then she walked away into the hallway that lead to my room where your mother was playing and taking care of my sons, Sanjeev and Shobhit.
Shobhit jumped off Samir’s mom’s back when he saw his mother walk in. Sanjeev came and hugged her too. It was a happy reunion. Priya looked at Samir’s Mom carefully, “So she is the one,” Priya thought to herself. Samir’s mom sensed the tension in air, she left the room. Shobhit also followed her. Samir’s mom felt the little steps following her; she turned and picked him up, kissed him and took him with her upstairs to the terrace.
Priya started picking up her kid’s and husband’s clothes and other stuff. Within a couple of hours they were packed and ready to leave. Before leaving Priya went back to Somesh’s Mom. His mother turned her face away from her daughter-in-law. Priya said, “I know your love for your family is devout and you can go to any extent to keep’em safe and happy but Maa …love is not about keeping your loved ones encaged in a golden cage but it’s about giving them wings and then waiting to see if they come back to you at the end of the day.” For the first time Somesh’s mom turned her head to look into this young woman’s modest, graceful, kind face. She didn’t say anything but her eyes were brimming with tears.
Somesh mentioned that some of the clothes were drying on the clothesline upstairs. So, Priya got up and went to the terrace to get them.
“ I didn’t see your Mom and Priya exchanging any words but something was going on. As I was carrying the luggage out of the door, Priya held me by my shoulder. She looked at me meaningfully and said, Somesh, we have one more week in India. Instead of touring we will spend it here with your family.”
Samir gave Somesh a confused expression. They had picked up some bread and pasta and went to the cash counter. There Samir showed his card so they didn’t have to pay. They walked to the corner table and started eating.
“Samir, it’s difficult to understand women. They are so unpredictable, especially Priya. I was also confused when she said that. I was surprised because it was her decision not to stay in Haldwani any more. Then all of a sudden why this change of heart?”
“Priya signalled me to stay quiet while she pulled me to the terrace. She stopped at the door and pointed towards your mom. She had stuffed some clothes in Shobhit’s t-shirt and pretending as if that bundle was her baby. She was humming the tune of, ‘Yashomati maiya se bole nandlala radha kyon… and in between she kept cuddling, hugging, and kissing it. She seemed so happy and content. She didn’t even notice that we were there. I turned to look at Priya, she was crying.”
Then when we came down to our room, Priya narrated what she had witnessed earlier, when she went upstairs to pick up the clothes. “Priya told that your mom was talking to that doll and saying, ‘Samir, your Chacha and Chachi are leaving and Shobhit is going with them. You know Shobhit made me realize that I am visible, people can see me and I am a living person.’ Then she hugged that bundle ‘of joy’ and started sobbing.”
That was the turning point that made Priya decide that she had to give a life to Samir’s mom. Priya had said to Somesh, “I’d like to use the rain check that I gave you earlier today… please give this poor woman a life; a child whom she can call her own.”
Somesh interrupted her, “It’s not right…Piu.”
“Somu, right or wrong but we have to do this,” Priya said with a shrill in her voice.
Somesh asked her back, “will that not effect our relationship?”
To that she replied, “I trust you fully and you are just a donor. At times, there might be some repercussions but I promise it would be temporary.”
Their discussion went on for sometime and finally Priya said,”I know it’s not easy for any of us but we will share our sins. I am ready to be your partner in Crime.” Priya stopped and wiped Somesh’s eyes with the a small towel lying there.
“Yupp… mom had told me that she had named me Samir even before I was born.” Samir said excitedly. He took a sigh of relief as if he was travelling back in time and was present there with his bade papa, badi maa, parents, and grandparents when they told their decision to their family. He cheerfully added, “I am sure, Dadi must have hugged you both when she found out that you had made a decision in her favor. Now I know… Why Dadi and Mom made me call you Bade Papa and Badi Maa. It was out of their reverence and love for you guys, even though you were younger to Dad. I am sorry Papa, I misjudged you. Please excuse me.” This time there was no hesitation in Samir’s mind or his tone while calling Somesh ‘Papa’.
Somesh smiled. He threw his dirty disposable dish and cutlery into the trash and went to the restroom.
On the way back, Samir asked “Papa, what happened to your friend Uday?”
“Oh! he is doing fine. He and his wife got together, two months after we met. They had four kids and they are also doing well. We try to meet them when we go to India.” Somesh chirped.
As they walked into Priya’s room they saw Alice was measuring Priya’s temperature. Sanjeev was on the other side of the bed adjusting pillows by his mom.
Alice saw Samir and asked, “How are you related to the patient?”
Instantaneously Samir looked at Priya and said, “She is my Fairy Godmother and I am her youngest son.”
Somesh and Priya looked at each other and smiled slightly. But this time it was Sanjeev’s turn to give those confused expressions.
The signboard painted in yellow on a three-lane highway indicated- FREEWAY ENDS 1500 FT. The road turned slightly to the left and soon Somesh and Priya were on a narrow road running through an orchard. The Orchard was blooming with pinkish-white flowers. Hundreds of 8-10ft long trees were perfectly aligned. Each plant was 1.5–2 feet apart. Like always, Priya got excited to see nature’s beauty, she said, “It’s heavenly! These are peach trees Somu, please slow down; there must be a fresh-fruit stand near by. Please stop there, I feel like having one.” Somesh smiled and shook his head in agreement.
As Somesh’s head fell back, he woke up. He found Samir sitting beside him when he looked around. “When did you come back? And where did you get hold of these?” Somesh asked Samir looking at his hand.
“About five minutes back. You looked so peaceful that I didn’t feel like disturbing you. These peaches were in the cafeteria, I thought you haven’t eaten anything since morning, so, I brought’em for you.”
“Interesting!!!” Somesh said with a smile. “Samir do you know, peach and peach blossom are considered to be good omens in Chinese culture?” He didn’t wait for Samir’s answer and continued, “the blossom is a symbol of spring, marriage and immortality, while the peach is a sign of longevity.”
“Bade Papa, we should keep our fingers crossed. The pager, I got earlier, was from Dr. Karni. I called him, he told me that they are preparing to take badi Maa for CT Scan to find out the damage the injury has caused. After the scan, they will transfer her into a private room. We would be able to see her after that. I hope that it hasn’t caused much damage. May these peaches bring us some luck too.”
“Samir, Piu had been such a health freak. She had been exercising regularly for years now, just to avoid the hospitals. And she of all people has to go through this pain.” Somesh lamented.
“Please Papa, please tell me, who my real mom is? One who died two years back or one who is suffering right now?” Samir asked softly trying hard to hold back his tears .
“You are a grown, mature man and I hope you would understand Samir” He stopped and then spoke again, “Priya is not your mother. The woman whom you have been missing for last two years is your mom.” Somesh said.
Samir tilted his head backwards and rested it on the wall. Tears trickled from the corner of his eyes and fell on collar of his shirt. “So, my mother was cheating on my Dad?” just the thought made him shudder, “And that makes me a bastard.” He was struck with revulsion. He tried but failed to articulate his own words. He spoke incoherently, “How can you??? How can you guys? And you call this, a family? Why did you do that to Dad? He never ever asked for anything from anyone and …”
Somesh interrupted. In a controlled voice he said, “no one cheated on anyone. And yes, your dad never asked for anything but when he did, I was left speechless.”
Samir once again looked back in Somesh’s direction. “So, he knew?” Samir asked.
“Of course he knew. He was the one who started everything in the first place. He unearthed the love affair, I had before marriage and based on that he threatened me to do a vile act.”
“Why? Why would a husband do such a thing as to ask his brother to be intimate with his own wife?” You guys make me sick.” Samir snapped.
“He didn’t want anyone to find out that he was impotent and I was scared that he would ruin my relationship with my wife and my family.” Somesh tried to explain him.
“Scared??? That’s your excuse for getting in bed with your sister-in-law. That’s pathetic Mr. Somesh Sharma.” Samir was angry. His heart was pumping hard. His pulse began to shoot up and tiny beads of sweat began to appear on his forehead. He rushed out of the main entrance to get a wisp of air.
“Samir, it wasn’t easy for any of us.” Somesh tried to stop but he was gone.
Samir briskly walked for about fifteen minutes when he saw a convenient store at the corner of the street. He went in and bought a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. He stood at the edge of the wall and smoked. His mind was running like the 12 inch gramophone records of eighteenth century. The needle stuck on his self composed song, “I am my mother’s son but my father is not my dad“. Samir was frustrated. He ridiculed the idea that his dad asked his brother to get cozy with mom to save his male ego and my uncle obeyed. My dad became the Rama and Somesh became the Lakshmana of the Sharma family. Samir gurgled and spat.
The young lady with stroller who was waiting to cross the street looked at him with disgust but Samir didn’t notice. He was too busy fighting his own thoughts. “Why wasn’t their any guilt in anyone’s behavior or words? How was badi maa involved? Can anyone be so insecure or scared that he would agree to such an odious deed?” He turned back and started walking towards the hospital.
When Samir returned, he saw Somesh talking on the phone. He was telling his elder son Sanjeev about his Mom’s condition. Samir couldn’t see any other expression on Somesh’s face and tone but ‘concern’ for his wife. He waited for him to finish the phone conversation.
“I don’t know how to react to such circumstances. I realize that even though I don’t like hearing it but still I need to know. You are the only one who is in the condition to make me aware of my past. So, please tell me- how was your wife involved as you had said earlier I was born because of her?” Samir asked.
Somesh rested his hand on the arm of the chair and slowly began to narrate one of the most difficult chapters of his life. “I was not the bad guy at that time but I suffered. After twenty-eight years it still isn’t easy for me to tell you what happened. It was not a mistake and I don’t regret that I am your Papa. Your Badi Maa is a great woman. She did what no other woman can easily do. So, please stop judging us.”
Samir sat next to Somesh as he started, “Geetesh Bhaiya, invited Sanjeev, Shobhit and me to celebrate my parents 40th Anniversary. He explicitly said not to bring Priya along. I didn’t want to go without her but she forced me to. She always carried an olive branch and wanted to have peace with my pre-marital family. She thought that it would be good idea that my parents meet their grandchildren. They might accept Priya for their sake. So, we all travelled to India but Priya went to her parents in Chennai and I came to Haldwani.”
“My parents were happy to see us. I thought Priya was right and hoped that everything would return to normal but the needle turned. After the party Geetesh bhaiya unveiled his preposterous demand. I tried to talk him out but he was adamant. When I refused, he threatened that I should not share this idea with anyone else. Nobody should know that my brother was not manly enough and he was unfit to give a child to his wife or he would ruin my life as well,” Somesh said.
He stopped and took a deep breath and then added, “I didn’t know what to do, whom to turn to? I wanted to save my family. Priya and my two sons were more important to me than anything else. But I couldn’t muster the courage to share my past with my wife nor I could imagine the truth being revealed to her by anyone else. I couldn’t sleep for days. I was a mess.”
Somesh felt uncomfortable reviewing the events he experienced decades back. He was anxious but he went on, “Seeing no way out I went to my parents. I knew that they did not approve my marriage but I saw a glimmer of hope that they would help me and talk Geetesh Bhaiya out of it. My mother was a strong-minded person and if she was willing she could force anyone to change his or her mind. And I have seen that work many times in my favor when I was growing up. She used to change my father’s ‘no’ into a ‘yes’ within no time.” Somesh gave a little smile thinking about the good times he had with his mother.
Somesh was surprised to find out that the mastermind behind this horrifying plan was his mother. She had suggested Geetesh and his wife to have one night stand with Somesh so that the matter Geetesh’s impotency would remain within the family. According to her, Somesh was her son and he owed that much of loyalty to the family. She tried Somesh to agree on her plan through love and emotional pressure but when she failed she blasted, “Your wife is a wicked witch of south who stole my son from me. We used to be such good friends and now you don’t want to look at me. She is heartless; she is a baby stealer. She would not let you do this as she would never understand the pain of a childless woman. She is a never-ending eclipse on our family. Just because Sanjeev and Shobhit look like you, they are fine otherwise they would have been a disaster like the witch herself. I don’t know what you saw in her …” And she continued
Somesh couldn’t stand the filth anymore. He dashed out of the house. He didn’t know where to go and whom to talk to. It had been years since he left his hometown. He hardly knew anyone there. He wandered around like a stray dog. After walking for sometime he stopped at a street café and ordered some tea. Half way through his tea, he felt somebody touching his shoulder. He looked up.
The man asked Somesh, “Are you Somesh, Maharishi Vidya Mandir School, 65 batch?” Somesh looked carefully and behind a slightly wrinkled face and receding hairline he saw some resemblance. That was his school friend Uday. Somesh’s heart jumped with joy; he forgot his pain and hugged him.
Uday took Somesh to his house. It was not far from cafe where they were. It was a nice and cozy house decorated with his wedding pictures. Uday informed that his wife was out of town. They spent hours talking about their lives after leaving the school. Uday was a businessman. His shop of ladies suits and garments was in Ranibagh.
As the evening turned, the two of them raised a toast to old days. Under the influence of whisky, Uday started telling Somesh about his wife and their marriage. They had been married for three years now but something had been missing. She was a good wife but Uday couldn’t give her the attention she deserved. Actually Uday didn’t want to get married to her but only because of the family pressure he agreed. Uday was madly in love with some other girl and even though she married someone else, he was unable to forget her and get on with his life. Uday’s wife tried to gain her husband’s attention but whatever she did had a negative impact. After sometime she stopped trying. Uday was relieved as she stopped bothering him but then one day she left him. It had been two months since she went to her parents’ house in Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh.
Somesh felt as if all marriages were falling apart. He hoped that he wouldn’t have to ride the same boat as his friend. He wanted to help him therefore he spoke, “I am sorry to hear about what’s going on but I don’t blame your wife. Your pre-marital affair was your past but once you agreed to get married, your wife is your present and as Alice Morse Earle has said- The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.”
“I just can’t forget my true love” Uday replied. “My wife is nothing compared to what she was. She understood me so much better.”
“But, did you ever give your wife the time that you gave to your girlfriend? It’s easy to play the blame game. Uday, somebody recently told me that marriages are built on four T’s – Time, Trust, Truth and Touch. Did you tell her about your past? You are complaining but did you ever try trusting her with your true feelings? Why are so scared? It still isn’t too late …contact her and tell her the truth. Truth has some amazing powers. You might be surprised with what may happen in the end. You will not loose anything just give it a try.”
Somesh didn’t realize that Uday had left the room to get some ice for the drinks and he was talking to himself. “…just talk to her, tell her the truth- the past, the present; everything. Don’t hide anything from her. She might be your savior…she is the only one who could help you get out of this mess.” Talking out loud helped Somesh to understand the importance of Truth and Trust. They are not just any five-letter words but are the founding pillars of a marriage.
As somebody has said, the darkest hour is just before dawn; The light had dawned on Somesh. That darkness was about to end. Solutions to his problems were inside him. He had overcome his fears and insecurities. He was a winner; and was ready to take up the challenge. He thanked Uday a million times and happily walked back to his parent’s house.
Somesh was walking ahead of Samir. Even though Samir was thinking about what Somesh did after departing from his friend but he couldn’t help noticing the bounce in Somesh’s steps. He was excited at the prospect of being with his wife. The nurse had just informed them the CT Scan was complete. Priya had been transferred to a room number 117 and they were allowed to see her.
TO BE CONT…
Part 1: The Secret Revealed
“Is this it? Is this the time when I am going to loose her forever? But she is not even sixty? Is it because of me? I nurtured my fear of loosing her so much that I have attracted her demise even before it was destined? Isn’t that what the Law of Universal attraction states- Like Attracts Like” Somesh speculated. His nephew, Samir, a junior doctor and other staff of Stanford Medical Center, were moving Priya, Somesh’s wife into the Emergency wing from the back of the ambulance.
While following the ambulance carrying Priya, Somesh had called up Samir. He informed him about his wife’s condition. Yesterday, she slipped in the bathroom and hit her head on the wall. She had a slight concussion but she came out of the bathroom herself. After laying down for sometime, she was fine. In the evening she complained of headache, so Somesh had given her some over the counter pain relievers and then she slept early.
Somesh, giving a quick glance at the rolling stretcher, repeated what he had already told Samir, “This morning when I woke up she was lying still by my side. I tried to turn her but she didn’t move, her face was swollen and she didn’t move.”
The nurse stopped Somesh from going in with Priya into the ward. He was left anxious in the waiting area. Samir had just been relieved from his night shift and stayed back with his Uncle. He made him sit on one of the chairs that lined the brown colored wall with a huge art-piece having lots of concentric circles in it. The wall ended in a big glass door with “EMERGENCY” written on it in big, red font.
Samir brought Somesh a cold glass of water from the nurses’ station. Taking a sip of water he moaned, “Samir, save your Badi Maa. It’s because of her that you are here. Save her. Please save my Piu.” Somesh couldn’t control his grief and tears began to flow out of his eyes.
Inquiringly Samir looked at Somesh. He failed to hide his curiosity about what his uncle had just said.
Although Somesh felt tired he immediately realized that he had spoken too much. He wanted to say to Samir, “I am sorry son. I understand that you are confused; you are not that many years old. So, how can you be held responsible for something that happened prior to your birth?” But before he could gather the strength and courage to express himself a nurse came. She gave a clipboard to Somesh with few yellow, pink and green papers clipped on it. She asked him to fill out the hospital forms. He wiped his eyes and carefully started filling out “Patient’s Information.”
Name: PRIYA SHARMA
Date of Birth: 07/07/1951
Medical Record Number: 0029518
Somesh noticed Samir getting up slowly and going inside the glass door leading into the wide, spacious gallery.
“What do I have to do with my Dad’s younger brother’s life?” Samir mumbled.
Somesh and Priya had been in US for last 30 years. Whereas for Samir it had just been two years since he came here after his Mother’s death to fulfill her dying wish. She wanted him to be close proximity with his Uncle’s family. His dad had already passed away four years back.
Samir failed to understand the mysterious pact going on between the families of these two brothers. He always remembered that his mom made sure that he always regarded his Somesh Chacha and Chachi and referred them as, bade Papa and badi Maa respectively. He had been curious since his childhood, why mom and dad revered them so much. They were no special than his friend’s uncle and aunty living abroad. He had not witnessed them doing anything special for Samir or his parents. They didn’t even get him the expensive video game that his friend Sanjay got from his aunt who lived in America.
Whenever Samir raised his doubts to his mom, she said, “Because they are family.” He was never satisfied with their incomplete discussion but his Mom used to change the subject quite skillfully. He secretly started to despise the word “family.” He had never heard his mom or dad say any negative things about his younger brother or his kins. They had always agreed to what Somesh or Priya had to say to them. Even Samir’s career choice was not his own. It was his Uncle’s ‘wish’ that he become a doctor. So, that was it. Soon Samir was preparing for medical exams. He got way too busy in his own life that he hardly had the time to care about others’. He stopped thinking, “why some people become so important that their simple wish becomes a command for others?”
While Samir was striding into the Emergency Wing, Somesh was treading back in time. He began his life with Priya thirty-five years against his family wishes. Priya and Somesh used to work in the same office. She was the most unpredictable person he had ever met. At times she would be younger than a five year old and at other times her advise and discretion would easily pull him out of the gravest problem. She was more sociable and likable than he was. Her amiability and popularity was a reason that made Somesh feel insecure. Although she never gave him a reason to distrust her but he always feared that she would leave him alone and be gone forever. He loved her so much that he couldn’t imagine his life without her, without- her free laughter, her poor jokes, her silly comments, her bad singing, and her loud sneezing. Even the thought of loosing her made him numb.
Another ambulance siren was approaching the hospital. Somesh was pulled out of his past; the staff was running towards the main entrance. He turned his head and looked in other direction towards the emergency door. Samir was approaching to him. On reaching him, Samir took a deep breath and said, “Bade Papa, Badi Maa is not doing too well. After doing an ultrasound doctors have found out that there is a clot in her brain.”
“Is she conscious? What’s going to happen?” Somesh asked him.
“No Bade Papa she is still unconscious and we don’t know anything yet” He stopped and said, “Doctors’ are doing the tests and we have to wait to find out what they have to say. Worst case, she might have to go through a brain surgery.” Samir replied.
“So, she would be fine after that?” Somesh enquired but Samir remained quiet.
The nurse who gave Somesh the forms came back to check of its completion or if he needed some help. Somesh filled out his credit card information and handed back the forms. Samir looked at Somesh- he was staring at the emergency door. Samir couldn’t help thinking about what Somesh had said earlier. He wanted to ask him why but was not able to make up his mind if the time was right.
“I am not your Uncle, Samir.” Somesh said with a straight face. “I am your father.” Samir fixed his gaze on Somesh in disbelief. The secret was revealed but the events leading to the grand finale yet remained to be disclosed.
“Bade papa but how and why?” asked Samir.
Somesh looked back at him and began opening the pages of his past to his youngest son Samir.
“Priya and I married against the wishes of my family. My mother wanted me to marry someone of her own caste but Priya was a South-Indian. It was something very unacceptable to fanatic north-Indian Brahmin she was. She didn’t even come to our wedding. We began our life without her blessings but I think we did fine because soon with the help of Priya’s brother, who was settled in US, we moved here. And after coming here, we began our family. As you know, Sanjeev and Shobhit both of them were born in America. Oh! Did you call them to inform about their mom’s condition?”
“Yes, Bade Papa…” Samir hesitated, “Bade Papa or just Papa…” He thought. He skipped that part and informed Somesh that his sons are on their way and soon they would be there.
Somesh was feeling lighter. The shackles that were holding him back from expressing his attachment and love for his son were now broken. He stood up and stepped towards Samir and hugged him.
“Papa…so, Badi Maa, is she my real mom? Did Mom and Dad adopt me?” Samir asked Somesh holding him tight.
‘Beep…beep …beep…’ It was Samir’s pager. He looked at it.
“I have to make a call. I would be back soon.” Samir left saying that.
Somesh just gave him a frail smile in return.
TO BE CONT…