Starting A New Business? 7 Key Points To Keep In Mind.

The Wild Flowers

Aparna and Atul have been married for five years now. It had been a fairy tale love story where everything had fallen into place perfectly…

Trigger warning: This post contains descriptions of suicide and mental health symptoms that could be triggering to some readers.

The garden was wild and untended. But the flowers bloomed in abundance. A prismatic riot of colours. A strange fragrance wafted in the air. She couldn’t understand why it disturbed her so much. Creepers spread along the ground like a tangled carpet. Not a leaf moved. It was hot and sultry. She stood still, fear gripping her. Something warm and sticky trickled down her legs. Looking down she saw a pool of red. 

Before she could even react she heard the laughter. Wild, eerie and bone-chilling! She screamed in terror and woke up sweat-soaked and shivering uncontrollably. Atul came running and gathered her in his arms holding her quietly. His voice was soothing as he gently calmed her down. The nightmare was always the same. The pool of blood surrounding her in the garden, the wild laughter and she always woke up screaming in terror.

Aparna was running late. And this was the third time in the last two weeks. Vikram, her boss, was fast losing his patience with her. She was well aware of it even though he had not said anything as yet. But she knew it was a matter of time before he confronted her. As she stepped into the elevator she had a feeling that the time had come. She would have to deal with him soon. 

But what on earth was she supposed to tell him!! That she woke up terrified from a nightmare and sat shivering for an hour before her husband could bring her back to her senses! Getting off on the 6th floor, she walked towards her cabin. As she opened the door, she was glad to see it empty. Her best friend and colleague Diya was nowhere to be seen. She just needed a few moments alone to get herself together. She poured herself a cup of the insipid coffee and sat at her desk. Holding the cup between her palms she let the warmth seep into her. 

Aparna and Atul have been married for five years now. It had been a fairy tale love story where everything had fallen into place perfectly. They were perfect for each other. Both are very good looking and charming. Hardworking and ambitious, both loved to travel. Even the families were delighted with the match. The wedding was an intimate affair with all their close friends and family in attendance. The week-long honeymoon in the Maldives was a dream come true for both. 

A month after the wedding, they moved into a new apartment in Bangalore, where they both worked for different companies. Life was great. They enjoyed their work, had friends and partied often. They travelled a lot. Time flew and soon enough the couple found themselves celebrating their first anniversary together. They threw a lavish party for their friends and colleagues. 

Never miss real stories from India's women.

Register Now

A week after the celebration, Aparna was setting the table for dinner when she heard Atul come in. His footsteps told her that he was excited. And she was not mistaken. He walked into the kitchen laughingly, picked her up and swung her around before putting her down. Still holding her close, he announced he had been promoted. He was to be at the helm of the entire South Indian operations of his company. It was a powerful position. And the impressive salary hike thrilled them to bits. It meant bigger responsibility though. It included more travel. 

As expected, once he took over the new position, life changed for both of them. Atul was often working late. Aparna found her evenings dragging on forever. She hated having dinner alone. Now, she found herself eating alone most evenings. And once he started travelling officially, she found herself alone at least three days a week. Though her work kept her busy, she missed his presence terribly. 

A few months before all this, Atul and Aparna had been tentatively thinking of a baby. In fact, a few weeks earlier, they had almost agreed it was the right time. Consequently, she had even refused a high profile project that had come her way in the office sometime back. But now it seemed Atul wouldn’t even think of it. He barely had the time to sit with her and have a cup of coffee. Even his weekends were spent hunched over his laptop. Aparna hated it. She barely spoke to him. It didn’t take too long for resentments to build up.

Now sitting at her desk, sipping coffee, she felt utterly lost and desolate. She wondered when things had reached such crescendo of emotional upheaval between them. They had barely been civil to each other for months. Ranting and raving more often than not! She had never lost her temper quite so often. Everything about him seemed to annoy her now. The last straw was his affair with a colleague! 

Though he had always denied it, she was sure that there was something between the two. Mithali had joined his company about a year ago. Fresh from college, smart and attractive, she soon became a popular figure in the office. Add to it she was assigned to a project that Atul was keenly following. And that meant he was forever on a call with her. Which proved rather detrimental to an already fragile relationship. 

Aparna began suspecting his every action. If he walked out onto the balcony to take a call she felt sure it was her at the other end. If he said he wouldn’t be home for dinner, she was sure he was meeting her. She didn’t have the nerve to confront him. Knew she was not prepared to handle the consequences.

Diya walked into her office to find her friend lost in thoughts. When a couple of cheery good mornings elicited no response, she walked over to her and gently touched her on the shoulder. The look on Aparna’s face when she turned around, shook her to the core. She didn’t need to ask anything. Like a dam waiting to burst, tears poured down her cheeks. Divya let her cry, held her tight, not saying anything. 

Once Aparna had calmed down a bit, Diya sat down next to her. “What happened honey?” She queried softly. And the agony of the last few months came out in an outpouring of desolate grief and frustration. As Aparna spoke to Divya, Aparna realised that she was actually in worse shape than she had imagined. She had been crying herself to sleep for months. And the nightmares on most nights! The way she had been losing her temper, it was almost as if she required a course in anger management.

Diya heard her out patiently. She knew depression when she saw it! After all, she had seen her own sister suffer for months before giving up on life! As long as she lived, she would never forget the shock of walking in on her sister’s lifeless body. Unable to cope with the pressure, she had taken her own life. The next few months were the most harrowing and miserable months of her life! Her parents had still not recovered from the tragedy. 

Aparna had stood by her like a rock during those months. And now seeing her in such a state was rather unnerving for Diya. She couldn’t fail this time as she often felt she had failed her sister. If only she had realised the depths to which her sister had sunk, she would never have left her to deal with it all alone. By the time the family understood the problem, it was too late. She couldn’t let her friend go through the same.

She sent a message to Vikram, saying that she had to urgently go out for a few hours and that she was taking Aparna with her. No explanation, just that they needed to go. She knew he wasn’t going to like it. But she would handle that later. Right now her priorities were something else. 

“Let’s go out for lunch”, she announced as Aparna returned from the washroom. Listlessly Aparna agreed and they left the building. Walking into their favourite restaurant, Diya dragged her to their favourite table in the far corner. Once seated, she turned to Aparna and said gravely, “Honey you need help. You do realise it, don’t you?” 

Just for a moment, as Aparna looked up, her eyes flashed angrily and she almost snapped! But then she merely nodded her head. “I know someone and he is really good. I will make an appointment, ok?” There was no response but she knew the answer anyway. She sent a message to her friend Dr. Prakash Kamath, explaining the situation briefly. The two friends sat talking for a while, had lunch and were back in the office two hours later.

Two days later Aparna found herself sitting at the doctor’s clinic waiting for her turn. She had refused Diya’s offer to accompany her, saying she needed to do this on her own. Ten minutes later she heard her name being called and walked into the doctor’s cabin. She liked him immediately. Felt she could trust him. He had that kind of an aura. He smiled, indicating the chair opposite him. She sat down and smiled at him. “Tell me”, he said, looking at her. 

It wasn’t easy. Suddenly she felt embarrassed and reluctant. He did not insist either. He told her about himself though. He was married and had two kids. His wife too was a doctor. He even told her where they met and how they got married. She listened and then felt like a fool. Pushing the chair back she got up thanking him. 

“So when shall we schedule our next appointment?” He asked! She looked flustered and mumbled something about calling him and walked out. “This was a crazy idea!” She thought to herself as she hailed a cab and headed for home. As she was getting off the cab, she saw them. Across the street, Atul and Mithali were deep in conversation. Standing in front of her favourite cake shop, they were unaware of her presence. Fury like she had never known whelmed up inside her. She wanted to scream. She wanted to cry. She wanted to run across the road and slap him. She did none of these things. Instead, she paid her taxi fare and calmly walked towards her apartment.

Once inside, she lost control and let out a wail of sheer agony. She was sobbing uncontrollably when Atul walked in. He came running, his arms reaching out to her. “Apu, oh my God! What happened? Are you alright? Talk to me, baby. What is it?” The concern in his voice infuriated her. She glared at him furiously, pushing him away. Surprised, he moved back. “What is it, Apu? Is everything alright back home? Why are you crying like this? Tell me please!”

“Why do you want to talk now?” Aparna snapped at him angrily. “You didn’t seem to have any interest in talking to me these past few months. Or has it been years!”

He had the grace to look ashamed at least, she thought rather maliciously. He gave a wry smile, one that turned her heart upside down.

“Look honey” he said, taking her hand in his and raising it to his lips. “I know things haven’t been too good between us, but for God’s sake Apu, we are still a family! Or have you forgotten that!” 

“Don’t talk to me about family”. She shouted at him. She was just too angry and hurt to care anymore.”Where did you go with Mithali this afternoon?” She blurted out. For a second he looked stunned. 

“Mithali? What on earth has she got to do here now?” He asked, perplexed.

“Just answer me! What were you doing with her this afternoon? And don’t bother to deny it! I saw the two of you together!” She snapped.

“Oh dear God! Is that what this is all about? I just don’t believe this!” He exclaimed, slumping on the bed. “I thought we had already been over this Apu! You know this is ridiculous!” She did not respond! “This afternoon”, he continued, thoroughly exasperated. “We had a meeting with our clients. And not just Mithali, the entire team involved in the project was present. Akash left a little early as it was his son’s birthday. Unfortunately, he forgot to buy the cake his wife had asked him to! In desperation, he called Mithali, who lives in the same street as him, and asked her to pick up a cake for him. And I suggested your favourite cake shop right across the street from here! We got into a cab and I got off here and came straight in and I presume she would have bought a cake and gone to Akash’s home with it!” 

He looked at her a tad annoyed. She stood there, not knowing what to say. She looked so sad and forlorn, he longed to take her in his arms and comfort her. But he sensed she needed some time to come to terms with her own feelings. 

“Baby we need to talk”. He said gently. “Why don’t we freshen up and then go out for dinner? We really do need this talk honey.” Before she could answer, his phone rang and he was surprised to see it was Diya calling him. He didn’t answer immediately. 

“I will freshen up and change.” He heard his wife say. He smiled and nodded. As soon as he was out of the room, he called Diya. They spoke for about twenty minutes and it was enough for him to understand the gravity of the situation. Still, when Diya mentioned the therapist, he was slightly vexed. But then she reassured him. 

Aparna needed help to come out of the shell she had gotten herself into. She was not opening up to them. Maybe a professional therapist would help her open up about her insecurities. She reminded him of her sister and he needed to hear no more. Thanking her, he disconnected. A quick shower and change of clothes and he was in the living room within ten minutes. 

He found Aparna rather irritated at having been made to wait. A quick apology with a hug intended to reassure her turned out to be the cause for another bout of tears. Atul felt miserable seeing her in such a low state of mind. She had always been so full of life. So full of positivity! How did he let this happen? And what exactly did happen? He wondered as they got into the car.

After a long time, the two of them had a calm evening together! In the last few months, if they were alone, more often than not, they ended up shouting at each other! Atul realised he had been too caught up in his career, which was going really great. He didn’t see how lonely Aparna had been feeling. He certainly didn’t see her insecurities about Mithali and him bothering her to this extent. He felt like an idiot! 

As he looked at her sitting opposite him, he felt such an overwhelming surge of love for her, that a tremor went through him, at the thought of losing her. He was glad Diya had called him. He understood and desperately wanted to help Aparna. He reached out and took her hand. Patiently he told her about the biggest project his company had been working on. It was a prestigious project and his whole team had been working on it dedicatedly for over a year now. And it was not only Mithali, all the others too called him often. Mithali being the junior-most was probably called often by everybody, to get all the little details sorted. There had never been anything more than a friendly relationship between them.  

“I love you too much to let anything or anyone come between us.” He told her looking into her eyes earnestly. And she started crying.

“I don’t know what came over me, Atul. How could I ever suspect you of being unfaithful to me!! Oh, God! I have been so miserable. I think I need help, Atul. I think I need to see a therapist!” He nodded. 

“We will find someone good and fix an appointment,” he told her.

“No, I already know someone. And I will call him first thing in the morning.”

“I would like to come with you please,” he told her sincerely. She was glad he would be there with her.

The next morning Aparna called Dr. Prakash Kamath! And so began the sessions that were not at all easy, to begin with. Despite Atul’s support and presence, she found it extremely difficult to go for it with an open mind. It took weeks for her to get comfortable and reveal herself and her insecurities. It was painful for Atul too. He was literally living her agony now! He realised somewhere along the way, he had begun to take her for granted. His career had become the top priority. Everything else she would take care of! 

And what about her career? She had been doing equally well! But she had automatically pulled back. He hadn’t even given it a thought. Never even asked her if that was what she wanted! God!! She had given up a major project because they had decided to have a baby! He had completely forgotten! With his promotion, he was on such a high that nothing else mattered! He felt like such a cad! 

Aparna had been willing to take a step back to start a family. Their family! She was in fact looking forward to it. And he had just completely shattered all her dreams. He knew if he had just taken the time to talk it over with her, she would have gladly stood beside him in his desire to climb the ladder of success. But he had simply ignored, even dismissed her needs, her sacrifices from his mind. They didn’t matter at all! That probably broke her apart! He wondered how he could make it up to her.

“Did you know about the nightmares, Atul”?

Suddenly he heard the doctor addressing him and came back to the present in a daze. He nodded and said, ” Yes doctor. In fact, the frequency has increased of late.” The doctor looked at Aparna reassuringly. “Who is Vedhika”? He asked, shocking them both. Aparna remained quiet. 

“Vedhika was Apu’s best friend’s sister. Atul told him quietly. “But how did you know about her?” asked Atul. Prakash merely looked at Aparna. To their shock, they realised the incidents involving Diya and her sister had affected her very deeply. Somewhere she had also sensed her deep fall into depression. The nightmares were probably a desperate cry for help from her subconsciousness.

Aparna was prescribed some anti-depressant pills and asked to meditate every day. During the next few sessions with the doctor, she managed to express herself a lot more freely. Atul was glad to see glimpses of his old Apu. One evening, he heard the doctor asking her about her favourite memory. One that always made her smile. He watched mesmerized, as a smile lovelier than he had ever seen appeared on her face. 

“The wildflowers.” She whispered. “My parents always took us on picnics to the hills behind our home. My brother and my cousins joined us too. We used to spend the entire day playing games, having the time of our lives. The most beautiful wildflowers bloomed on those hills. They had a wild, delightful fragrance too. I remember plucking a whole lot of those flowers every time we went there. Those were such wonderful days”. Atul heard the wistfulness in her voice and reached for her hand. He smiled lovingly when she looked at him. Prakash too smiled and said,” Keep those wildflowers in your heart always. Whenever you feel low, just close your eyes and look inside.” It seemed so easy to hear him say it. 

“It is quite simple you know.” He said softly. She looked up at him surprised! Does he read minds too! She wondered. 

As they were leaving the clinic, her phone rang. It was from her office. She was required there urgently. She turned to Atul ruefully. He shrugged off her apologies and told her to take the car and go. He would take a cab and home.

Aparna didn’t need much time to finish her work at the office. On the spur of the moment, she decided to pick up some of  Atul’s favourite Lebanese food and surprise him. There was a wonderful Lebanese joint not too far away. She was there within ten minutes and as she parked her car in the driveway, she was glad to see it wasn’t too crowded. She got her food packed neatly in no time and walked back to the car. 

It was as she was turning the corner, that the blood drained from her face. Hardly a few metres from her stood Atul and Mithali. She couldn’t believe her eyes. But they were actually hugging each other and laughing. They looked incredibly happy! And she felt miserable! She wanted to throw the entire bag of his favourite Lebanese food at them! She was furious with herself for having let him fool her. She would not make a bigger fool of herself here in this crowded street! 

She told herself. She closed her eyes. She told herself to calm down. The wildflowers! She saw those beautiful, wild, untamed flowers fluttering in the breeze. She saw her parents watching them play and laughing. She heard her mother’s voice telling her softly, as she often used to. “Look at those wildflowers sweetheart. Look at them growing so wild, without a care in the world. That is how I want you to live your life! Grow wherever you are planted and blossom in all your glorious shades.” 

When she opened her eyes, Atul and Mithali were not to be seen. She was glad they had not seen her. With heavy steps, she walked to the car. She didn’t remember anything on the drive back. Later she would realise and be glad that she hadn’t run over anybody in the state of mind she was in!  When she reached home, Atul wasn’t back yet. She set the food on the table like a zombie. Even took out a bottle of his favourite red wine. She heard him opening the door a few minutes later and braced herself. 

He came in smiling, hands behind his back. When he reached her, she realised she was trembling. All of a sudden he was holding out a bouquet of wildflowers in front of her. “For you, my love.” He declared, laughter in his eyes. “I couldn’t go to the hills near your home and pluck some wildflowers for you. But I did the next best thing. Got some from a florist”. Aparna didn’t know how to react. She felt drained as she smiled wanly and accepted the flowers. He looked like he wanted to say something, but he didn’t. Instead, he walked towards the table, saw the food and the wine. “Perfect ! Let me put those flowers in a vase for you,” he said, “It’s been a long time since we had Lebanese. I’m glad you did this Apu”. 

He continued as he opened the cabinet and took out a vase. He kept talking casually and she heard nothing. She wasn’t even aware of what she was doing. Suddenly she heard him say, “By the way, I met Mithali near the florist’s place a while back. She said hi to you. And guess what? She is getting married next month! The lady is deliriously happy, to say the least”. He said laughingly.

All the colours of the wildflowers she was holding in her hands came rushing back into her face as she clutched them tightly to her bosom. “Honey, you will ruin those flowers”. She heard him say. And she looked at him and said with a dazzling smile that almost took his breath away and said, “Never!”

Image source: A still from Dear Zindagi



About the Author

Chandralekha Prakash

I can hear the sound of words in every beat of my heart...and I wish to turn those words into stories that captivate and casts a lyrical spell on all those who read them. read more...

1 Posts | 2,225 Views

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!

Women Leaders in Communications Discuss The Responsible 5G Revolution We Need

All Categories