Around six that evening, when the doorbell rang, Eshan was busy getting
things ready for the evening's party. Wondering who had turned up so early, he
grumpily went to the door. It was Nathan. "I'm here to help you," he
said with a smile. "How much can you possibly do all by yourself." Holding
forward a single rose that had a long, slender stalk, he bowed dramatically.
"Congratulations. For now, you could stop being jealous," he sneered.
Eshan knew that the emphatic 'all by yourself' was hardly intentional, but it
In fact, Nathan's two double-edged
statements, Eshan understood obliquely and for a second unsettled him too. But
he had no mood for a face-off. Nathan being his one friend who could be relied
Nathan understood fully well how
Eshan’s silliness had derailed his ‘Apple Cart’ maybe forever. Eshan had a few
good friends who in fact, envied his good fortune in marrying a sensible girl
like Nikita. But Eshan’s childishness mistook his friends’ freewheeling as a
road to heaven, which he was deprived of because of his family. This immaturity
of Eshan always bemused Nathan. Poor foolish Eshan had not grown up indeed.
Despite his wavering perception about
marriage, things on the surface level seemed tolerable for Eshan till a few
months back, when Nikita suddenly left him taking along Appu his toddler son.
In fact, Nikita had been walking on spikes for quite some time and had
cushioned her feet to avoid the pricks. However, constant prick points do
bleed. Her suffocation got accentuated by the tyranny of silence, which had
slowly crept into their existential space. Misunderstandings piled up. Scowled
foreheads and pursed lips were tell-tale undercurrents of love gone sour.
Nikita who had been brought up under the canopy of the overflowing love of her
parents was devastated. Unfortunately, Eshan refused to accept
it. And this drastic step was the only option for Nikita to save her
With his self-centered approach,
Eshan took Nikita’s acceptance of his
idiosyncrasies for granted like traditional husbands. She’s not the nagging
sort. Her stoicism could weather storms and she had negotiated many. In between, she had tried to vent her frustrations a couple of times though. She hated
scenes as she’d do anything to maintain peace, maybe a fragile one. By nature,
she was incapable of harming him any which way. Yet his egotistical punches
remained unabated ignoring her frequent mild pleas. He balked when she reminded
him of his indifference towards her. He expected her to be at her sweetest best
A habit of his that was becoming a
major confrontational point was Eshan's throwing parties every weekend. All her
pending tasks would remain undone as she expended all her energies in fixing
dishes and finishing sundry tasks. For one who was meticulous and loathed to postpone
significant responsibilities, it was hard to run the household smoothly.
Thankfully, her mother had
painstakingly taught her the basics of cooking though she hated cooking as a
young girl. That obviously helped her come up with a fairly sumptuous fare
using her imagination and cooking skills. What piqued her, however, was Eshan’s
total nonchalance in not recognizing how she consciously tried to do
her best as a host. Perhaps for him, that was what was expected and so no big
deal. While he felt delighted, seeing people enjoying the food, she felt
miserable and ignored. His male ego was too proud to express a few words of
The early days of marriage were like
moonwalking. She had been crazy about him. He’s her hero. In fact, affection
for him carved its special place in her heart even before marriage. Each letter
after their betrothal would create sweet turbulence in her whole being making
her restless till the next billet-doux. The nostalgia of the romantic meetings
on weekends kept her buoyant. Was that phase real or just euphoria
she had tried unsuccessfully to figure out? Her caring feelings for him were
born out of those ecstatic moments and the consciousness of that allowed her to
bail him out of many rash skirmishes he was accustomed to creating now and
Even the bile in her heart didn’t make
her neglect him in any way. Over time his lack of concern and respect caused a
gnawing pain difficult to set aside. Maybe she thought what matters for man is
the conquering part. After the battle is won and the hormonal surge ebbs the
deeply rooted remnants of entitlements soon cloud the sensitivities. For a
woman, a cool serenity and joy take shape in her new role. Why she thought for a
woman even for an accomplished and professional one marriage continues to be
her lifeline? For Nikita, her home, husband, and child had been
the center of the universe. Her commitment to this aspect of married
life was total. But Eshan was a man first and foremost, woefully lacking that
Her eyes brimmed with stinging tears
remembering his callousness once at not informing her before, and coming back
at midnight even though she was in an advanced stage of pregnancy. Even today
she shudders thinking about the agony of those late hours she went through
without any communication from him.
She sometimes introspected and thought
how Appu her adorable son was nature’s gift to them but for Eshan it was
something which happened as a matter of course. She sometimes mocked herself
for passively accepting unjust responses while keeping the hurts locked
securely in the farthest corner of her heart.
Nikita recognized that Eshan possessed
an extraordinary intellect and was highly qualified (that was what attracted
her to him) but as regards the finesse of emotion he had not even entered the
kindergarten. His childish perceptions about people sometimes shocked her.
Her emotions for him had purity and
honesty. But she always sensed a streak of selfishness in his behavior towards
her and Appu. Her persona remained fresh, not even hardened by chilling
experiences at the hands of his bizarre family. If only she had not overlooked
their idiocies and had learnt to stand firm on the principles, she believed in.
However, Eshan would morph into a lamb with blinkers on in their presence. He
continued acquitting the brashness of the members of his family. The core
values she had inherited made her overlook their outrageous demeanour while she
persevered to guard her sanity.
She recalled with pain the bitter
experience when she accompanied Eshan to one of his bachelor friends’ party for
the first time. Under the influence of liquor, his inhibitions gone, he had remarked
how being married was so restrictive. She was aghast at the untruth of that
remark. Was his passion for her fake when he’s courting her? Feeling
embarrassed and small she noticed his friends sheepishly cast a sideways glance
at her while nudging Eshan to be quiet. In the morning he blurted out some
conciliating words. But for Nikita it was one more hurt added to the
Still, he could keep his hold on her.
Stupid girls can’t see through men’s tricks. So easily they’re taken
in. A few tender moments would blot those upsetting memories and a
false sense of rapprochement would prevail for a few days. Appu her cherished love
was the bond that kept the fragile threads of their relationship from snapping.
He loved his father. Though, disappointedly she always thought, “Can the
leopard change its spots?”
There’s another weekend party and he
had invited a number of his colleagues. It was back-breaking for her because
it’s luncheon and the maid came late. She had prepared the choicest dishes. She
even tasted each one though she never used to do that. In her excitement, she
unconsciously picked up her special dish and while offering it to one of the
guests remarked, “Please do try this delicious preparation.” A glance at Eshan
was enough to tell her that there was something amiss. After some time, all
guests departed and Nikita busily finished the winding up of the kitchen. As
soon as she went to the bedroom, he came from the study fuming. How he kept
that vitriolic subdued till then which he lashed upon her she could not fathom.
The anger on his face had enflamed his eyes and he spluttered, “How dare you
praise your own dish. What about your manners. What would my friends think?” A
deluge of spite followed.
Nikita was speechless. Her heart sank. How dare he! A storm raged inside her. In the heat of the moment, she made a decision which she had never contemplated before.
Her best friend and parents pitched in.
She shifted to a flat quite far from this house. She never wished to cross his
path even by chance.
It didn’t take her long to adjust. Her
professional life got its rhythm back. The maid took Appu to the playschool and
brought him back. He was happy because there were many other children of his age
group in the locality.
A couple of times Nathan tried to call
her but she didn’t pick up the phone. She didn’t wish to entangle any of his
emissaries in her private life. Eshan took the hint and retreated into a
Not that memories, remembrances did not
torment her but her decision she thought, was warranted under the
One day her friend rang her up to
inform her about a reputed music company holding a concert in the coming week. Many
popular singers were to sing their musical hits accompanied by a band of
trained musicians. She agreed and bought online tickets.
Nikita arranged with her maid to stay
with Appu until their return.
The theatre was almost packed. Only a
few seats remained to be occupied. Her friend and she shuffled a bit to make
themselves comfortable in anticipation of an entertaining evening after a long
time. As she surveyed the scenario, her heart missed a beat on spotting a
familiar figure trying to locate his seat. She was transfixed. Her gaze
following his each and every movement. When he looked over his shoulders the
pallor on his face was apparent. His gait did not seem self-assuring. There was
no mistaking who he was. The look was that of a lost animal. Was he the man she
loved? She could not bear that. The pent-up feelings of months flooded every
nook and corner within. The stream of consciousness-like placid waves in a
narrow stream obliterated all the sins of omission and commission. Love for
this lost soul who was searching for his foothold in the sea of strangers
around him flowed in torrents. There was no stopping the cascading tears.
Having spent a sleepless night Nikita
went to work as in a dream. Her heart was hardly in the job she was doing. Dark
clouds of confusion enveloped her thought process. In a sort of delirium, she
reached the foot of the stairs to climb up to her flat on the second
floor. She had a faint recollection of somebody coming after her.
She unlocked the door and looked back.
Dreamily she crossed the threshold. Eshan
followed her and gently latched the door.