The car halted without a sound, near the huge gate with a name plate hanging loosely near the main door. Her team insisted for dinner once more, after all it was a success party for a great deal being knocked off. How can someone not be interested in celebrating it? She stole a quick glance at her home and turned to the car again. Holding the roof top of the car, she bent halfway to speak through the window pane, Her smile has been the constant which never left her when she was with the team but today she had to put in extra effort to contain her emotions. She denied the offer once more and turned over before anyone could request again.
She walked briskly towards her door with a straight face and a composed walk till the sound of the car went far off. When she was sure that the car was no more in sight, she stopped by the garden to look up at the stars in the night sky. She smiled half heartedly staring blankly into the dark sky. She pointed her finger towards the Great Bear constellation and started marking the figure in the sky. Suddenly she felt the same excitement as she felt when she was a young girl, safe in her father’s arms. The image of a young girl with short hair and a floral tunic raced in front of her eyes. She was brought back to her senses with a stinking feel in her feet. She bent down to check only to find a garden insect stuck to her skin. She picked it up and smashed it below her feet, fuming at her husband’s forgetfulness or rather carelessness. She shook her head in disappointment while a sleek stream of blood dripped from her feet. She smiled a sad yet satisfied smile and walked towards the door. Her stomach hurt because of hunger.
She entered the house, totally exhausted, only to find Rishabh already home. He was lying on the couch with some pop corns and his favorite movie, “Dil Chahta Hai”. He was chewing upon the popcorn and was laughing his heart out which was quickly overshadowed by silence. He was angry, more so disappointed in her but he knew there was no point speaking it up. Also, she wasn’t the one to be blamed entirely. Though she had herself offered to take up the responsibilities to allow him his creative freedom, he for sure has taken undue advantage out of it. Despite realizing that it was him to be blamed as well, he could not just get over the fact that she forgot their anniversary or that she does not feel the need to talk to him, sit next to him holding his hands tightly. His eyes were full of despair, disdain and hopelessness. She threw a cold glance at him and went in to her room to change. Rishabh called out from outside, “Meera, change quickly”. His voice calling out her name almost felt like a therapy to her, like a melodious song she had loved but couldn’t hear since a long time. She quickly peeped in the mirror and then to their picture clicked on their first anniversary, exactly 6 years from today. She gazed deep into the eyes of a 6 years younger image of herself, more confident, more care free, more lovable also. Holding her by her waist, there was a different Rishabh altogether. The picture had a man whose eyes were fixed on her wife’s face as if she makes her feel alive. She can almost hear the voice in her head, his husky voice, calling her for a picture. She remembered how much she hated posing for pictures and how much he just wanted another capture for him. She was his muse, the paint of her paint brush, his passionate canvas. She smiled at their picture and sat on the bed next to her staring hard into it as if she was trying to recognize the two people who smiled back at her.
Hobbies are important, she realized only after joining the painting class, she was totally naive to. She wanted some relief from the boring, strenuous MBA classes. Although she had minimal idea about painting, but then you don’t join a class if you had already mastered it, she reasoned herself. And that very first day of her hobby class she met Rishabh, not as a batch mate but as a teacher and from the very first day, she was mesmerized with the beauty his hands can paint. He has captivating eyes, his eyes were more like a dew drop on a leaf in the morning, they were soothers and his voice was a pain reliever, Meera had never heard anyone speak so seductively. His slender fingers held hers, a bit more tightly but gently every time she asked him to help her perfect a stroke. In all his paintings it was she who was reflected, either in the form of a care free river or a humble tree or a stubborn rock. She never expected anything from him ever; he was just perfect to fall in love. The chemistry between them was as evident as the dark clouds before rain. Even those who had known them slightly could tell both were in love and she felt that too. She loved the way he touched her, loved to hold his hands. It felt good to be with him, to share life with him, but it’s no more same now. She felt that her love was there to stay between them, forever.
She was 6 years back when Rishabh’s voice diverted her attention, “I am hungry, will you eat?”
Her stomach was hurting out of hunger but her heart ached more. She suddenly felt a void engulfing her, making her feel suffocated. She was choking of the memories which flushed her insides, She wanted to call him out and ask him if he has totally forgotten the “thing” between them, to care for her, to make her feel important, to hold her on their anniversary but her throat didn’t support her. She gathered all of herself and uttered, “No, I have had it on my way back home. I am not hungry.”
Rishabh sat on the chair with his dinner on the plate. He was not hungry. It was her favourite dish, he smiled gently. This was the thing she used to be mad about some 6 years back. He remembered how she used to make him cook and used to laugh sitting at the window. He misses her smile. He had been in love from the very first day he had seen her. She was the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to him. He loved her for everything she was. Smart, talented, confident, stable, she was just lovely. He recalled the time having dinner was just not about having food, life felt wonderful and complete with her. He placed the small card in his pocket along with his emotions written all over wishing her, their anniversary. He can never forget the day she entered his life. He removed her favourite tulips from the table, blew off the candles lit on the table and placed the food in the refrigerator. He stood in the balcony, water dripping drop by drop on the ground with an introspection into all those which got lost somewhere between them in those 6 years. May be, it was when he decided to quit his regular job, may be because he had not really been able to take care of her. He never expected anything from her. But being alone hurts him. She is no more the same person he had fallen for. May be responsibilities have changed her this much.
He entered his bed room and looked at the girl who was once his lifeline. She saw the deep wound on her leg, she has dressed it but he could still tell that it hurt. He felt anguished, for his carelessness for not maintaining the garden but also because she didn’t tell her about the wound. Has he lost the connection they had? The lamp on Meera’s side was off already, lying beside which was a small card which read ‘Happy Anniversary! You still mean the world to me Rishabh” but it laid in utter darkness, much like Meera. He felt like touching her, hugging her, talking to her, may be crying with her as well. He extended his hand to touch her but something silently stopped him. He turned and lay down on the bad, without uttering a word, knowing she was still awake. She felt an urgent need to go to the stars, to locate them, to feel safe again, the way she felt with her father but there was no escape. She loved him and maybe he did as well. A tear escaped her eyes, looking at the wall poster of a bird flying off the cage and the night ended into another morning.