Today (December 2022)
I have often heard, ‘we have only one life to live, and we should make the most of it.’ Sadly, I could not relish my life all these years. But now I will. Today I am a free spirit and no longer a prisoner, unlike a bird in a cage.
All my agony and ordeal have come to an end. I folded my hands in gratitude and thanked the Lord for bestowing his many blessings and giving me a second chance, a new life.
I now prioritize loving myself instead of being in a long-term relationship. Happiness seeped into my heart after decades, and I will not let anyone take this away from me.
There is a glint in my eye, and the dead silence has vanished. My confidence is back again.
My son Naksh is doing well in his studies and calls me often. I will soon be flying to the United States to be with him. The thought of this makes me feel good.
06th November 2022
Suyaan and I were returning home. Suyaan groused about a stabbing pain in his chest and felt restless. So after getting down at Borivali station, we took the elevator to go up instead of the stairs. As soon as we stepped out of the lift, he started coughing and throwing up.
I saw his smart watch, which checks on the heartbeat and ECG. The screen prompted, ‘Not well.’ I panicked. A bunch of people gathered at the spot. I hurried him to a neighbouring hospital with the assistance of a few of them.
This pain looked something different. His face turned pale. On reaching the hospital, the doctors informed me that it was a massive heart attack. I chocked.
The doctors immediately took him to the operation table. During the process, he got two more attacks. The doctors tried to revive him, but alas, his soul departed. He was pronounced dead by the attending specialists.
They covered Suyaan’s cadaver from head to toe with crisp white linen. His body was cold and stiff, and his nostrils and ears were plugged with cotton buds when the hospital attendants brought him home.
I spread a thick blanket on the floor where the attendants slowly put him down.
Later, I informed my family and close friends, who immediately rushed to console me.
There were no tears in my eyes. It was all dry. Eons ago, my emotions were dead and buried. The fabric of pain had faded to some extent, albeit not completely.
The final rites were carried out by my brother the following morning as our only son Naksh was in the United States, preparing for his exams.
Suyaan’s brother, Suresh, did turn up, but due to differences between the brothers, he refused to do the last rites and left the place after a few minutes. My other siblings and friends stayed till the end.
One month back (10th October 2022)
We had been together for 20 years. Suyaan desired to host a gathering for his friends and co-workers. I refused to go with him despite his requests for the first time. I had grown weary of such parties. Besides, my body had turned tired and fragile. Not that I was old, but stress played a vast role.
But he refused to take that ‘NO’ and slapped me hard. Blood started oozing out through my nose and ears. Our son Naksh tried to stop his father, but he ruthlessly pushed him. Naksh fell to the ground and hit the corner of the dining table. Luckily he did not get hurt much.
Taking Naksh close, I consoled him and asked him to stay away from all this.
Anyway, this party was much like the others. More than food, they served drinks all night long. I preferred to stay away from such parties.
Moreover, Suyaan never required a reason to consume alcohol. The anniversary was only an excuse. Every night he drank and hurled abuses at me. My mind raced with unsettling thoughts.
Six months back
I suffered from endometriosis for a long time. The internal bleeding and excruciating pain were unbearable now. My gynaecologist recommended that I get a hysterectomy done at the earliest.
When I discussed this with Suyaan, he did not pay any heed and refused to come with me to the hospital.
I requested one of my friends who not only came to the hospital but also paid the hospital charges. The operation lasted for an hour. I was discharged in 3 days and advised to rest for three months.
When I came back home, the house was in a mess. Clothes were lying all over the place. The sink was full of dirty vessels.
My elder sister came over and stayed for a month to help me. That’s the only period I could rest. Soon after, I started my mundane chores, including sweeping and wiping the floor, because Suyaan refused to keep a house help for any work.
The sad part was Suyaan never gave me enough money for daily expenses. Every month I had to beg even for our son’s education.
Despite all this, I continued to stay in this toxic relationship as I had no source of fixed income nor a house that I could call my own.
I had a good bonding with my siblings. But depending on them for my survival means additional responsibilities on their already burdened shoulders. So I always tried to hide my tears behind my fake smile.
Gradually I started taking tuition in his absence and used the money for my daily expenses. But one day, he came home early and saw me teaching kids.
He yelled at me in front of all the kids. They got scared, and I had to ask them to leave for the day.
He abused me and demanded to stop taking tuition. I gathered courage and refused to listen to him. “If you had supported me with enough money, I wouldn’t be doing all this. With the meagre money that you thrust into my hands each month, how am I supposed to run the household? I murmured.
My words fell on deaf ears. Suyaan slammed the door behind him and went out again.
I didn’t want my scars to define me. So I fought by myself, but things worsened, and I had to give up.
Eight months back
Naksh moved to the United States for his higher studies. Although his father, Suyaan was not keen on sending him there, Naksh and I convinced him. He ultimately agreed and took a loan from the bank.
At least he will be now away from these bitter experiences. I thought.
I felt more lonely and sad without Naksh but consoled myself. Naksh was a bright student, and he deserved the best.
In addition to my tuition, I started stitching clothes as Suyaan stopped giving me money.
He spent thousands on parties, charity work, and aiding colleagues and strangers. However, he never had the money for his family. He was kind and a thorough gentleman in everyone’s eyes.
Our neighbours envied me since they believed I was fortunate to have Suyaan in my life. But none of them knew I was concealing all the physical scars beneath my clothing and emotional sorrow buried inside my chest.
Five years back
I saw no hope as things kept getting worse. He got addicted to alcohol and came home every night drunk. The physical violence and beatings got so bad that I had to buy foundation and cosmetics to cover the bruises.
I decided to end this relationship and wanted a divorce. But my heart said ‘NO,’ and refused to concur with the brain and made a ruckus. I was confused. Both my heart and brain were not on the same page.
It was Naksh’s birthday, and Suyaan promised to come home early before cutting the cake. But as usual, he did not turn up. Naksh was very disappointed. I somehow comforted him and served him dinner.
We were about to hit the bed when our landline rang. I answered the call. The voice on the other side was not familiar.
‘Hello, who is this?” I asked
“Mam, I am calling from City Hospital. We found a visiting card from the wallet with Suyaan’s name printed on it and a phone in his pocket. Yours was the last dialled number. Hence we called you. He has met with an accident.” Said the receptionist.
I reached the hospital. “where is Suyaan? How is he?” I checked with the receptionist.
She pointed her finger towards the room on the left. I rushed in.
“How is he doctor? I am his wife, Neena.” I said with a feeling of tightness across my forehead.
“He is fine. Please calm down. It’s a hairline fracture in his right ankle.” Doctor informed.
I sat beside him. A couple of hours later, they discharged him. On our way home, I wanted to talk to him about our divorce, but before I could, he took my hand in his and promised me that he would change his attitude and be a good husband and father. He said he needed me. He wept and apologized.
My heart melted, and I once again decided to stay back in the relationship and give him one more chance.
Ten years back
He asked me to quit my well-paid job to be a full-time housewife. I wanted inner peace and harmony back into my life, so I agreed.
But he was never satisfied with my work and carried a bucket full of complaints that never ended.
My mother-in-law, with whom I never gelled well, started staying with us. She tortured and hurled abuses at me on trivial issues. Whenever she did that or hit me, Suyaan would enjoy and remain silent.
I found it difficult to concentrate on my work and frequently felt exhausted and weak.
I don’t know from where the strength to bear everything came. Maybe I still believed that I would not be able to live without Suyaan and that this phase, too, shall pass.
I suddenly recalled a few events that happened during our courtship period. Those things repeated and kept happening. I observed Suyaan’s sudden flares of temper on and off, but as soon as he apologised, I would let it go, and things would turn normal.
One day, as we walked through the park, hand in hand, we got into an argument. I felt a stab of pain in my arm. I was shocked to see he had dug his nails into my skin. My eyes welled up with tears. When he realised this, he instantly apologised, and I forgave him.
These are indications you should understand and take it seriously. Break up with your so-called husband now and set yourself free. My mind stated. No, No, I shushed my mind.
When my friends found out what he had been doing to me, they became furious. They warned me to leave him immediately, but I gave excuses. I loved him deeply. How can I leave him?
Days and months passed. Things did not improve, and Suyaan broke my spirit through manipulation and isolation tactics to feed his ego.
How I wish I had heard the voice in my head or listened to my friend’s advice and did not ignore signs and instincts. But it is too late now. I thought and heaved a sigh.
Twenty years back
Suyaan and I met at a mutual friend’s place and instantly got attracted towards each other. I was always merry and mingled well with everyone. He was an introvert but a caring and loving person. My heart skipped a beat whenever I turned around to look at him. Little did I know he also had his eyes on me.
Soon I fell in love with Suyaan profoundly but hesitated to express my feelings.
One day he visited my place with a beautiful diamond ring and proposed to me. I felt thrilled and immediately accepted his proposal.
We went on dinner dates, held hands, went to movies, spoke over the phone for hours and spent time together till we couldn’t think about anything else. I-will-die-without-you kind of love.
Within three months of our courtship, we tied the knot. We shared a great rapport. Our marital life had all the required flavours, and our only priority was each other.
A year later, Naksh was born, and Suyaan was extremely happy. He took leave for almost a month to look after Naksh and me. He cleaned the house, prepared food and treated me like a queen.
I enjoyed every bit of it and felt blessed.
As Naksh grew, he took him to school and did all that a good father does. I felt very proud of him.
I started working again after a long sabbatical. Our son stayed in day care after school, and one of us picked him up in the evening. We led a beautiful life.
One day while Suyaan and I were returning home from work, I got a call from an unknown number. I ignored it. A few minutes later, the same number flashed on my phone again.
This time I answered. “Hello, who is this?”
“Hey, Neenu, did you not recognize me?” a male voice replied.
“OMG! Varun, is that you?” I asked because no one called me Neenu except him.
We spoke almost till I reached home. Suyaan was curious to know to whom am I talking for so long.
When I told him about Varun, he just nodded his head. But as soon as we entered our house, he started yelling and throwing things.
“What happened? Why are you angry?” I asked, bewildered.
“I don’t like you talking to men or mingling with them. You are no more college-going girl.” Did you get me or not?” he screamed.
“But…but…he is my childhood friend. We were talking casually and reminiscing old memories,” I said softly.
“Old memories and friends, my foot. Don’t you dare argue with me,” he warned me.
“Pl….please,” even before I could complete my sentence, his pitch went higher, and he slapped me hard, showing his true colours. I stood aghast.
A person who showered words of praise now hurls abuses. This drastic change in Suyaan was indigestible. I couldn’t believe my ears.
I was tossing and turning that night and couldn’t sleep a wink.
The following morning before he woke up, I was already in the kitchen making breakfast and lunch. He came and stood behind me.
There was still that fear on my face.
“Good Morning, sweetheart. You got up early today?” he said, tucking my loose strands behind my neck and kissing my forehead.
I was perplexed but wished him good morning with a smile and continued my chores.
The next few months were as smooth as before. One evening Suyan came home very late and what surprised me was that he was drunk. His co-worker had to drop him off as he was in no condition to stand on his feet, let alone drive his car.
From that day onwards, I saw a dire change in him, and he was not the Suyaan I knew.
Several times I asked him if he was going through any stress. But he never shared anything with me and got into drinking alcohol.
Twenty Five years back
Immediately after completing my B.Com, I went on to pursue my B.Ed. After its completion, I took up a teaching job at a school close to my place.
Our mother was a housewife, and dad had his steel vessel shop that was doing well.
Unfortunately, the sudden demise of our father shattered our family. My mum was the one who was affected the most. She could not take this up and departed for her heavenly abode in a couple of days, leaving us behind.
My siblings took care of the business, and I continued teaching. As the years passed by, my sister and brother got married. I had no immediate plans to tie the knot and stayed with my brother. My brother and sister-in-law were very supportive, and we led a good life.
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