Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New year, new hope

               IT had never felt so cold in Mumbai. The winters in Mumbai were a joke, she had always thought. There were only two kinds of weather in Mumbai, hot and very hot. She had to dig out her entire wardrobe to search for the woolen scarf that she now had about her. She put on her jacket and stepped on to the streets. She had no idea where she was headed. Most evenings she kept on walking till she could no longer take a step and then hail an auto and  get back home. Today the streets were too crowded to give her any solace. The constant honking, chatter of ladies and shrieking children  made her irritated. The entire neighborhood was dressed up and colorful. It was, after all, the last day of the year. Everyone was in a mood to party all night.

              She made her way to the cafe in one of the lanes. It was usually full of college students but it wore a deserted look that day. Of course! The cafe served no booze and had been ditched by the regular patrons. She occupied a table and ordered a cup of coffee. The manager of the cafe smiled at her from a distance. It was a sad smile.

            The winter was never as cold as her heart. The winds were never as tormenting as the memories. It had been 3 months.. She was not used to being a widow yet.
            She woke up on a cold bed every morning, missing the warmth of him beside her. She sipped her tea alone, missing his banters. She dressed in dull shades to work, knowing how much he hated such colors on her. She mechanically went on with her work, panic stricken at the slightest human interaction. She walked like crazy and came home exhausted. Often she slept on the couch without having food. Over the days, she had lost inches and her face was as pale as a ghost.

            Every night she woke up many times, disturbed by the nightmares. She cursed the man who had caused the accident. Her David was always careful behind the wheels. It was the other man who had sped and led to the accident. David was dead on the spot.. as to the other man, she did not want to know.

            The manager himself brought the coffee. Her eyes were red with grief already. It had been a bad idea to come to the cafe. The manager knew David well. Now his sympathy was weakening her. She had steeled herself and made a pact to not break down in public. Her resolve was about to break.

           David had promised to take her out to a beach house to celebrate the new year. Last year they had not got a booking and spent the day cooped up at home. She had been very cross with him. That day, watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S back to back, feasting on the tandoori chicken ordered from a modest restaurant and drinking up on wine, snuggling close to each other and waking up late the next day, everything now seemed priceless. She would trade all the beach house parties of this world for that simple celebration with David. She was in tears remembering those moments..

         "May I join you?"
         She looked up. It was a woman dressed in a pale tshirt and jeans. She was smiling at her.
         "If you like."
         " I m Maya," the woman introduced herself.
         " Natasha."

         She did not feel like chatting but Maya kept making small talks. She fiddled with the coffee cup, avoiding Maya's gaze. What did this woman want from her?
         " I m sorry if I disturbed you. I was feeling very lonely. Its like the whole world is mocking me by being so happy about the year ending."
          This caught her unaware. How easily Maya put forth her feelings!

         "Its ok. I was all alone anyway." She stunned herself by saying this.
         " Where's your family?" Maya asked.

          Her family! Her family was in a coffin, a few feet below the ground. David was her family, since she went against her Hindu family and married David. He was a Catholic and her Brahmin family had broken all ties. They had gone as far as to consider her dead for them. Her mother had secretly come to the funeral. David's family on the other hand had kept their relation with her only because of  David. Now that he was no more, they had nothing to do with her.


          "Do you get nightmares too?" Maya asked her.
          " What do you know about nightmares?" she asked.
          "I can't sleep at all some nights. The pain is too much to bear. I want to reach out to him, hold him once more, curl up with him and never let him go, I want to feel the warmth of him, get drunk in his smell, I want to look into his eyes and summon up all the love that I feel for him and tell him how much I love him. All I feel now is cold and the nightmares of him slipping away from me, his hands pulling out of mine.." Maya was choked up with emotions. 
         "Who are you?" She asked Maya. 
         "The wife of the man who died the same night as your husband." 

          " Your husband killed my husband and me." She suddenly felt a strong surge of hatred. Those nights of cursing that man, the anger she felt towards him, was all coming out. 
           Maya broke down. The waiters at the cafe were watching the drama unfold. She would have been shy and walked away but today she was possessed. How dare this woman come to her and talk of pain! What did she know of pain? Her rash husband had claimed the life of her innocent David. 

          A plump woman, with a baby in her arms, came rushing to their table. The baby was asleep. 
          Maya took the baby into her arms. 
          " Ashish was rushing to come to the hospital. I was in labor when he was speeding. I saw him in the hospital a day after our baby was born. He was badly injured but still he managed to tell me that the accident killed an innocent man and I must see the family to ask forgivance. I m sorry Natasha. My husband's mistake destroyed your life. Ashish expired a week after the accident. If possible, please forgive him." 
          Maya planted a gentle kiss on the forehead of her baby who had woken up.

       She felt bad for the child. He would never know father's presence in his life. She felt sad for Maya too. She even felt sorry for cursing Ashish so much. He had remembered David and his family in his last hours.

      "Where's your family?"
      "Ashish was my family. We both grew up in an orphanage." Maya had a sad smile.

       She did not say any further and walked away from them. She paid at the counter and was about to walk out when her phone rang.
       "Madam, we are calling from Esca beach houses, you have a booking at our beach house today. We are calling to confirm."
       " Who made the booking?" she asked, surprised.
       "Mam, your husband David S had made the booking in September. We tried calling but his phone is switched off."

       Maya was still at the table. She was looking at her intently.
       "Maya, do you have any plans for tonight?"
       "No, why do you ask?"
       "Will you come with me to Esca beach house? I feel very lonely and I have no family."
       " Of course I will. Remember there is someone else who has no family.." Maya smiled at her.

      She knew it was David. David was watching over her. He had kept his promise. She finally forgave the man who had taken David away from her. She walked into a new year with a new family, a new hope..
      David was not pulling his hand away from hers. He was pulling her back into life. He was showing her the way..




Sreeja Praveen said...

I have just one word for this.... Goosebumps !!
I could see the scene unfold in front of my eyes....really really superb !!! :)

Many Many Hearty Wishes on this New Year !! :)

Soumya said...

Wow! I have tears in my eyes. Happy tears :')

Happy new year Maith! May all your wishes be fulfilled in the new year :)

Keep thrilling me with your posts as I already consider you as competition ;)

Pratikshya Mishra said...

:)... i've no words... loved it...
Happy new year...

Red Handed said...

OH MY GOD!!! MAITH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is one of the best narrated short story I read!!!!
I am in love!!
Happy new year love!

maithili said...

Thank you So much Sreeja :)
Hope you have a great year ahead :)

maithili said...

Thank you so much Soumya :) This year looks positive already !

maithili said...

Thank you so much dear :)

maithili said...

Thank you red.. This is one of the best comments I read :)

Vivienne Z said...

Oh, I don't know... I still don't think that is reason enough to justify speeding which lead to a fatal accident. The writing style really drew me in though, it was like watching a movie in my head.

maithili said...

Speeding is never justified, not in the least when it leads to such terrible results. Sometimes we just lose our judgement in the moment of extreme emotions and this was just one of them for Ashish.