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Falling in love, marriage, a hidden secret, divorce. Despite all this, Vinita noticed her life was full of love that came in various unexpected shades!
“Aap jinke kareeb hotey hain, woh badey kush naseeb hotey hain…”
Just as Vinita was settling down into the cab seat, the driver put on music and the song started to play. It took her back immediately to that evening ten years ago, when Gautam had sung that very same song to her on the first evening they had met. She could remember every single detail of that evening so very clearly.
She had been at Usha’s 30th birthday. Usha’s tiny flat had been crowded with friends. Vinita had poured herself a vodka tonic and walked onto the balcony. She had been standing there, enjoying the breeze while sipping on her drink. There had been the sound of footsteps and someone joined her on the balcony. She hadn’t turned to look.
That’s when he had started to sing. She had turned around then and said, “That’s one of my favourite ghazals. You have a lovely voice.”He had bowed and said, “Thank you, I was actually singing it to you.”
She raised her eyebrows, “Is that your favourite pick-up line?”
“I don’t have any pick-up lines, favourite or otherwise. I just felt like singing that song as soon as I saw you. Whoever is close to you is indeed fortunate,” he had said, translating the meaning of the song.
She had been embarrassed and changed the subject. “So, how do you know Usha?” Vinita had asked. “Usha and I studied architecture together and we got along really well. So, we stayed in touch. What about you?”
“We have been best friends since kindergarten. I think the only time we spent apart was when she chose to study architecture and I chose Literature and Fine Arts,” she had replied.
“What do you do for a living then?”
“I write and illustrate children’s books.”
“Wow! That sounds really interesting.”
“Oh yes, I love what I do,” Vinita smiled. Then she had happened to catch a glimpse of her watch and said, “Oops, it’s 8 and that’s my dinner time, I’m going to grab some food. See you later.” She walked off. Usha had beckoned and she had joined her.
“I see you and Gautam have met. I was planning on introducing the two of you. He’s the perfect match for you, Vinny. Two of my best friends getting together would be perfect!” “Usha, for heaven’s sake, stop match making! I’m perfectly capable of finding a man for myself. Let’s talk of something more interesting, okay?” And so, they had changed the subject.
Vinita had said her goodbyes to everyone at the party and was at the front door, when someone opened it for her. She had looked up to find Gautam next to her.
“Can I drop you somewhere?” he had asked.
“Depends on where you’re going.”
“I am going where you are going, so shall I drop you?”
Amused by his persistence, Vinita had laughed. “I’ll accept your kind offer, then,” and they left.
In the car they conversed easily like old friends. In the course of their conversation, they discovered that they shared many common friends and interestingly most of their interests coincided. Making a mutual decision to keep in touch, they had exchanged numbers. They met as often as possible given that both of them had hectic schedules, he with his projects and she with her book tours. When they did meet, it was like the intervals in-between were immaterial.
Within a year, to Usha’s great delight, they were married in a very simple ceremony. It was attended by a few close friends; the only family members left from either side had been Vinita’s mother and Gautam’s sister. Gautam moved into Vinita’s apartment as it was compact, just enough for the two of them. Their love for each other was so apparent, that they were the envy of everyone they met. They shared all the household chores and to Vinita’s surprise he had turned out be a chef par excellence.
One evening while she was sipping a drink and watching him cook, Vineeta asked, “Gautam, how did you learn to cook so well? I’m the envy of all my friends, you know. They keep telling me that you are the epitome of an ideal husband. You are an ace at cooking, you are comfortable with household chores…so tell me, what’s the secret?”
“I told you my mom was a doctor, right? So, she was always in and out of the house. When my sister and I were old enough to handle the stove, she taught us the basics of cooking. As for household chores…Well, both of us were expected to pitch in. She firmly believed that each of us had to be responsible for ourselves while we lived in the same house. She had told us then that she was ‘enabling us for the future’, to make us independent,” Gautham had replied, smiling in recollection.
Days passed into weeks into months and before they knew it, they had celebrated their third anniversary. Their marriage had seen frequent arguments and disagreements, but they had sorted it out together. Yet, after these three idyllic years, things had started going downhill.
One morning, Vinita had woken up with a sharp pain in her pelvic area. It was so intense she had gone to see her gynaecologist. The doctor had examined her. “Doesn’t seem like anything serious but just to be on the safe side let me do an ultra sound,” she’d advised, concerned. Looking at the ultra sound screen, she had exclaimed, “Vinita! You’re pregnant!”
“What? How’s that even possible?” Her first thought had been of Gautam. How would he react?
They had discussed children before getting married. One evening she’d asked, “Gautam do you want children?” “No, never. In fact, I’m glad you brought up the topic. I’m not cut out to be a dad. It’s something I decided when I was younger, that I never wanted children. What about you?” “I’ve never given it a thought simply because I have a condition called Primary Ovarian Insufficiency, which basically means I can never conceive.”
“Are you okay with that?”
“I’m okay. I don’t think I want the responsibility of being a mother.”
To hear the doctor telling her that she was going to be a mother, had shaken her really hard.
Gautam was due back from a trip that evening and she had waited impatiently for him. When he had arrived, he looked extremely disturbed and unhappy.
She had waited till he had a bath; and when he had sat down next to her, the first thing he said was, “Vinny, I have something to tell you.”
Vinita had waited long enough, so before he could speak, she burst out, “Gautam, I’m pregnant.”
“What, how is that even possible?” He was incredulous. “You must be joking!” When she remained silent, he said, “Well, okay, when are you scheduling the abortion?”
She had looked at him, hurt. “Gautam, it’s not that easy. I’m confused. I need some time to think about it.”
“What’s there to think about? You know that I don’t want a baby, neither do you, so let’s get this done as soon as possible.”
“Gautam, I told you I’m confused. What if my mother wants to become a grandmother?”
“What?” The words had exploded from his mouth. “You actually want to have a baby so that your mother can become a grandmother? What kind of foolishness is this, Vinny? I can’t believe you’d say something like this!”
When she had remained stubbornly silent, he had gone out and hadn’t come back till she had gone to bed. In the next few days, there was only silence in the apartment.
Vinita had spoken to her mother and Usha, the two people closest to her. Both had said the same thing. “Vinny, you can’t make the decision here. A baby needs both parents. Please don’t do this to Gautam.”
A few days later, the decision had been taken out of her hands when she suffered a miscarriage. The moment the doctor had told her this, a huge surge of relief had coursed through her body, followed almost immediately by immense guilt. “I lost the baby because I didn’t want it,” she had cried out many times.
Gautam had been there right through holding her, consoling her, while she had wept through the days and nights. She had fallen into severe depression and after much persuasion, had agreed to go for counselling. It had taken more than a year of constant therapy for her recover from that painful experience.
About a year and a half later, they were watching a film together when he had dropped a bombshell.
“Vinny, I need to tell you something.”
“Why so serious, Gautam?” Vinita had asked, worried by his grim expression.
“Vinny, I want a divorce.”
For a minute, Vinita had been dumbstruck. Had she heard right?
“What’s this Gautam? What’s happening? You’re asking me for a divorce just like that?”
“Yes Vinny, please, I beg of you to give me a divorce,” he had replied, without offering any explanation. It was as though he was desperate.
“Gautam, you can’t suddenly spring this on me. Wait, is this something to do with the baby that we lost? Are you worried that I may get pregnant again? You know the doctor confirmed that there’s no chance ever that I’ll conceive again,” she had gabbled, not giving him a chance to talk.
“Vinny, please, this has got nothing to do with that. In fact, I wanted to ask you the day I came back from that trip. But all this baby stuff happened and you were going through so much. I couldn’t bring this up.”
“So, you mean to say you have been wanting this for some time. Are you seeing someone else then?”
“I wouldn’t do that to you Vinny. I’ve been in a terrible state for a long time and I need to break free from everything. I’m a total mess and I need to get away.”
He had put his head in his hands, fingers gripping his hair tight. Vinita had never seen him like this before; his very silhouette was one of utter defeat.
“Please let’s take a break Gautam, I’ll wait for you –”
“No, Vinny,” Gautam had cut her off, not looking up. “This isn’t about a break; I need to get away and sort myself out.”
“You mean to say you don’t love me anymore? Or perhaps you’ve never loved me?” Vinita’s eyes had begun to tear up. They had only just sat down to watch a movie, and here they were, their lives changing at the speed of light. Vinita would never have expected this conversation to happen, let alone in such an abrupt manner.
“Vinny, I do love you, but not in the way you expect or deserve. Please Vinny, I want a divorce, please let me go.”
Vinita had looked at him bitterly, wiping her tears away. Voice shaking, she had sneered, “What makes you think that I would want to hold on to someone who doesn’t want me anymore? Get out, Gautam. And don’t come back.” He left then, shutting the front door gently behind him.
Vinita had sat there completely devoid of any feeling. Then, it had struck her that Gautam had left her forever. She had called Usha almost on auto-pilot, and all Usha had said was, “Wait for me, Vinny. I’m coming.”
And then Usha had come; and she had been there days on end, holding Vinita, comforting her. Listening while she had raved and ranted at Gautam, at life, and the mess she was in.
Her mother had moved in with her when Usha found it difficult to manage both Vinny and the work pressure. Vinita had gone back to therapy. She had taken to running marathons, yoga and meditation – anything that could keep her thoughts at bay.
She had thrown herself into her work. She brought out a series of books and illustrations. Her publishers were happy, but for her there was no longer any joy; it had become a place to escape her thoughts. In short, she did everything possible to keep her mind off Gautam.
Like it’s said, time heals everything, and so it was with Vinita. It had taken 3 years for her to get her life back on track. In that period, she had adopted a puppy, and moved from the flat into a small independent house along with her mother. Together, they had planted trees and flowering shrubs, bonding over the gardening.
Life had finally started getting back to normal, when Vinita came home to find a thick envelope addressed to her in Gautam’s handwriting. It was a long letter from him. She had read it over and over again. She wept, not just for herself but for both of them. The letter had explained everything, and finally, finally, she had been able to gain complete closure.
Vinita’s daily commute hadn’t changed in years. Every day, among the trees and residential buildings, she’d watch as the board of an orphanage flashed by. It got her thinking, and she slowly began to do some research. After months and months of deliberation, Vinita had mustered the courage, and walked in. She went straight to the lady in charge of adoptions. She informed her that she was interested in adopting a baby girl.
“Please apply madam, but it’s going to take a very long time. There’s a long list of people who have already applied.”
Vinita hadn’t stopped to think twice – she filled up the application and left. She was willing to wait. Which is why she was really surprised when she had received a call about 6 months later, and told that there was a new-born baby girl looking for a home.
Vinita had rushed there. She had found out from the social worker in charge that the baby had been born with a serious heart condition and would require immediate surgery. There were high chances that she wouldn’t survive. Nobody else had been prepared to take the risk, and as a last resort, she had called Vinita.
When Vinita saw the tiny baby, she knew she’d found her family. “This baby is mine now. I’m willing to take the chance.” Her determination and firmness convinced the agency, and that had settled the matter.
For the next few months, Vinita had put her life on hold. Her days were spent between the hospital and home. The baby had undergone several surgeries. In between, there had been many anxious moments, but each surgery had proved successful and finally she had taken her home. They had named her Satva which meant ‘brave warrior girl’.
Satva had grown into a happy, bubbly little girl surrounded by so much love. Her grandmother and her mother had doted on her. Sakhi, their dog, wouldn’t let Satva out of her sight and followed her everywhere. Satva had now turned two and was beginning to talk.
Vinita returned from an outstation trip when she found an invitation card on the table. It was from Gautam. She opened it immediately, and read it, silent. ‘Celebrating love, Abhi and Gautam are inviting you to join us for Cocktails & Dinner. We would love to see you there.’
The date was for that same evening. She pondered on it for a while, and then decided that she would go. She had her dinner with Satva and her mother. After getting dressed, she put a sleepy Satva to bed, and then called for a cab. She looked and felt good.
As she reacher, her eyes scanned the room for Gautam, and saw him almost immediately. He had his back to her and was standing a short distance away with a small group of people. As if he’d felt her gaze, he turned around. His eyes lit up when he saw her. He crossed the distance between them, holding out his hands. “Vinny, you made it! I’m so happy that you’re here.”
Holding her hand, Gautam led her back to the group. Putting his arm around a man who was the same height as him, he said, “Vinny, meet Abhi. Abhi, this Vinny.” Vinita smiled, and said, “Hello Abhi, happy to meet you.”
“Pleasure to meet you too, Vinny,” answered Abhi, with a charming smile. He looks so sweet, the perfect match for Gautam.
Aloud she said, “Congratulations! Wish you both much happiness.” Vinita was surprised to know she really meant it. Gautam introduced her to more friends, a few familiar faces from when they’d been married, every one welcoming. It seemed like a lifetime ago.
“Gautam, I need to leave now, it’s getting late and I don’t know if I’ll get a cab this late.” “Have something to eat at least, Vinny, and don’t worry about a cab, my driver will drop you back.” “I’ll have to refuse because it’s getting late and the drive is rather long,” she replied. “I would appreciate the drop though, thank you.” Gautam nodded and they walked outside together.
While they waited for the driver to bring the car around, Gautam turned to her, concern in his eyes. “Vinny, are you happy?”
Vinita laughed, and nodded, answering without hesitation. “Very happy Gautam. And I’m happy for you and Abhi, too.” “Thank you, Vinny, for coming. Really. It means a lot to me.”
The car arrived and she got in, waving as the door closed and the car pulled away.
There are so many different shades of love, she thought. The love her parents showered on her, the love she received from Usha. She was sure Gautam had loved her too – not in the way she had wanted, but in the only way he could possibly have loved her. She had Sakhi’s unconditional love, too, in all of her canine capabilities. Satva’s innocent love for her had made her life so bright, so full of joy!
So many different shades of love, indeed – Vinita settled herself more comfortably for the long drive home, the ghost of a smile on her face.
Image source: Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd
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