From Here to Eternity   

From Here to Eternity   

Kavya sighed blissfully and leaned back happily in her comfortable chair, clutching their photograph to her. It was a typical wintry afternoon of Delhi, a weak sun trying to burst through the shroud of clouds; chill in the air, though warm indoors, thanks to all the doors and windows fastened shut. Clad in comfortable woollens, she relaxed in the recliner with her legs tucked underneath her to block out the cold. She smiled to herself, thinking of the reason why she was home in the middle of the week.

 She had got up feeling queasy and uncharacteristically fatigued. A sixth sense had told her the reason, but she had to be sure. Without waking up Tarun, she had gone to the bathroom and done the test. The stick had displayed two bright pink strips a few moments later to her intense delight. She had practically floated out of the bathroom and had woken up Tarun. He had been overjoyed with the news and immediately started fussing around her. He had told her to take the day off and fix up a doctor’s appointment without any delay. They had decided to tell the parents only after the tests results came in. 

 Tarun had taken the morning off and accompanied her to their family doctor. The genial doctor had examined her and sent her off for the routine blood and urine test which would confirm the pregnancy. All done by lunchtime, here she was sipping a hot cup of tea in the late afternoon. The test results were expected by next day and she couldn’t wait to tell their respective parents. She knew they would be over the moon. They too had been waiting to become grandparents, though neither her parents nor his had ever pressurised them to start a family; and for that she was forever thankful to them, as she and Tarun had had a rocky start and their marriage had almost unravelled even before it could take off.

But more of that later. Today was not the day to remember the past but to celebrate of things to come. A future filled with happiness she deserved, especially after what she had gone through in her young life. She looked at the photograph again. It had been taken on their honeymoon, by a kind bystander. He looked so endearingly boyish that her heart melted with love every time she saw the picture. Of course, the fact that she too looked good, with the camera catching her best angle, added to the eternal charm of this picture. 

The photograph in its silver photo frame, usually stood at a pride of place on the mantelpiece of their room. Though she saw it every day, today was special. She had to hold it and savour the picture. She remembered the day it was clicked and the circumstances that led to it. The picture emanated happiness and brought a smile to anyone’s face who saw it, but Kavya shivered thinking back, that it almost hadn’t happened. Even today, two years later, she still felt incredibly lucky and thankful that she had followed her heart and trusted her instincts. She shivered involuntarily again, at the thought of what could have been had she not taken this road at the fork and had gone the other way.

Yes of course, the whole credit for them to be together was not hers alone. Tarun too had done his bit and done it beautifully, she smiled bashfully to herself; remembering their ecstatic last few days of honeymoon, once the roadblocks had been cleared off their debris and the cobwebs swept away. Till today, when sometimes she was alone, she would get a prick of unease that how close she had been to losing it all— Tarun, whom she had loved on sight in spite of everything, their marriage and a wonderful future. She could not imagine how she would have survived without Tarun and thankfully it had not come to that. God had taken pity on her and saved the day, and for that she was eternally grateful. Their delayed honeymoon was the deal maker and since then they had not looked back. 

Reminiscing once again, she lapsed into the past…. the faraway past which she could never erase from her mind. Even today, the whole scenario made her shiver with anguish. The mere thought that she as so close to losing her life made her break out in hives….

Eight years back…

The Ambulance rushed through the crowded streets, blaring its siren and the beacon flashing light furiously. The evening rush hour traffic added to its woes. The van towered over the sea of blinking red lights, with no way out. The driver, an expert at navigating his vehicle out of chaos, was trying his best to inch forward by turning the steering in all directions and honking continuously for the cars in the front to give them a way.

Inside the van the patient, twenty-three years old, Kavya was being administered IVS fluids by the paramedics, to keep her conscious. To stop her bleeding, they had tied a tourniquet around her wrist, and covered her with blankets for her to overcome the shock. Her mother Rajji Oberoi, sitting beside them couldn’t stop crying. She closed her eyes to pray to save her daughter. Her husband and their son Aditya, were following the ambulance in their car. She could see their worried faces through the glass and knew they too were praying for Kavya’s life.

On reaching the hospital, she was rushed through the emergency for treatment. Rajji sat down wearily on a bench and let her son and husband take over. What had made Kavya take her life? Why had she slit her wrist? What had compelled her to take this drastic step? all these questions were swirling in Rajji’s head.

The day had dawned as usual. Rajji had got up early, like every day to make their breakfast, which on weekdays was basic eggs and fruit, followed by instant coffee for all. Bikram and she worked long hours; she as a HR head in a computer software company and Bikram had his own architectural firm. 

The morning, like all mornings, had gone in a flurry of activity, with all of them getting ready for the day and leaving within half an hour of each other with their tiffins in their bags. She had not noticed anything unusual about Kavya that day. Yes, to be sure, Kavya was in a fragile bend of mind and Rajji had been keeping an unobtrusive but constant eye on her.

She had noticed that Kavya had started behaving strangely since the last couple of months. The mishap had occurred almost a year back and it had seemed that Kavya had got over it and was on the mend. Kavya had been engaged to her childhood sweetheart Aman Gill for a year, before the accident. Aman had just graduated as an architect from The School of Planning and Architecture. He was employed as a junior architect in a city firm and looked forward to a long innings, with Kavya at his side. Bikram was looking forward to handing over his company to him when the time came. Kavya was a psychologist and worked in a reputed school.  They were planning to get married after saving some money, as they wanted to host their own wedding. They were quite firm that they wanted a small intimate affair with only the close family and friends for the function. Both the set of parents had given in good naturedly and the happy occasion was being looked forward to.

But the tragedy had struck most unexpectedly and thrown their lives askew. Kavya and Aman had gone to Sona—a weekend picnic spot in nearby Haryana — with their friends for some weekend fun and a sort of last fling as singles before they tied the knot. It had been Aman’s idea and Kavya was all for it as they had same set of friends. They were ten of them and were to go together in three hired cabs. But last-minute work at Aman’s office had made them change the plan, with Kavya and Aman following them in his father’s car after a few hours.

It was on their way back that the ghastly accident had occurred. A speeding truck had dashed into Aman’s car from behind and the car had turned turtle and struck the road divider with so much force that the windshield and the bonnet had been totally crushed. He was killed on the spot and Kavya had suffered serious injuries to her spine and head. Her friends had rushed her to a nearby hospital and informed them about the unfortunate incident. An innocent life lost, for no fault of his. The driver of the truck had absconded, but caught later. He was found to be drunk while driving.

Rajji and Bikram had been aghast to see Kavya.  Still grieving for Aman, to see Kavya all bandaged up, tubes poking out from here and there, in a semi-conscious state was the last straw. Rajji had collapsed on sight and it was Bikram who had to remain strong and take charge of the situation. On conferring with the consulting doctors, he had made arrangements for Kavya to be shifted to AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) as soon as they could and soon she was comfortably ensconced under expert care.  

But it had been a long road to recovery. Kavya had been operated on twice for her spinal injury and had been in the ICU for almost a month. The road to recovery was slow and painful.

Nobody had dared to tell her about Aman, in those initial days. She had to be told eventually, when she became more and more persistent and insisted on knowing about him. Kavya had become hysterical on hearing the news and had to be forcibly calmed down by tranquillisers. The doctors had warned them that she will need tender and patient care for her to come out of this trauma and had advised them to take each day as it comes.

After a two month stay in the hospital, Kavya had been discharged and had come home, physically recovering but broken inside. It was heart wrenching to see her lying listlessly on the bed, lost in her own thoughts. She had to be coaxed into eating and the family rallied around by cooking her favourite dishes so that she could gain her strength back at the earliest. 

Being young and resilient, Kavya had soon got on her feet, physically. To Rajji’s dismay, her young effervescent daughter had changed into a quiet one, speaking only when spoken to and wanting only to be by herself. She and Bikram had thought with time she will bounce back and things will come back to normal. How wrong and short-sighted they had been!


Ringggg…the phone intruded in Kavya’s stream of thought. Jerked to the present, she picked up the phone to see ‘Tarun’ flashing on the screen. Smiling, she answered.


“Hi Kavya, just thought I will check up on you! Hope you are resting?”

“Oh Tarun, don’t worry, I am fine. And this is just the beginning. We have nine months to go. And yes, will follow your instructions diligently,” she smiled. “I am taking it easy. In fact, I was lost in my thoughts when you called.”

“Now, now Kavya, no more thinking of the past…. we have to look forward now. Happy thoughts please. I know the accident and the aftermath will always remain an irrefutable part of you, but now we both have something to live for! So, from today onwards, promise me …no more revisiting the past?”  

“Yes, Yes, I promise” she laughed.

But it was easier said than done.


Rajji had started noticing little things at first. One morning, she heard Kavya talking to her friend on the phone and making plans for going out for a movie. She was however surprised at the slightly shrill babyish tone of her voice. Also, the fact that she wanted to for a movie of an actor whom she didn’t like at all. Not giving it a second thought, she was happy that Kavya was getting back to her old self. So, she was surprised when she called her later, to hear Kavya was still at home, and was taken aback when Kavya denied of making any such plans and had no recall whatsoever of talking to a friend.

Kavya had always been an avid reader and occasionally penned some poems. Post-accident, Rajji to her utter amazement, saw Kavya making beautiful water colour landscapes, blending and shading done as if by a seasoned artist. Kavya hummed to herself while painting and her face reflected happiness. Rajji was relieved that Kavya had picked up a hobby. So, her bewilderment was complete when Kavya asked her one afternoon about the paintings and wanted to know who had painted them. A small little seed of niggling worry planted in her mind.

Kavya had changed into a different person. Sometimes her usual self, reading and helping her in the kitchen; sometimes so distant and stranger like, her gaze unrecognising that Rajji felt a sliver of fear. She had severe mood changes within a day. Happy and painting in the morning, she would suddenly retreat in her own world and mope around the house. By the evening, she would be singing in a different voice, songs which they had never heard her sing before. It was as baffling as fish flying in the air. 

 Kavya had also taken to throwing violent tantrums. She would lose her temper on something as trivial as the food not to her liking or breakfast not ready on time. She would stalk off in anger, without taking her lunch tiffin and would not answer Rajji’s calls. Sometimes, to Rajji’s dismay, she would be quiet, uncommunicative and refused to speak. It was as if she would be shrouded by heavy mist, which none could penetrate. This phase worried Rajji no end. She feared that Kavya would harm herself when in this mood and hovered around her, protectively.

The accident had taken a toll not only on Kavya but even on her family. They never knew which Kavya they would see on any given day. All three of them had taken to treading carefully around her lest her violent bouts triggered off. But the most disturbing aspect was that Kavya had no recollection of her vicious angry outbursts, after she had calmed down. She would give them disbelieving looks and be horrified that she could be accused of being aggressive.

Though Kavya had re-joined her school, she never mentioned Aman or the accident. Her colleagues also rallied around and avoided talking about him and that fateful day. She never asked about him. Initially, Rajji and Bikram thought that once the shock wears off, she would be curious to know the details. But that never happened. She had gone back to her routine of pre-accident days and they had let the sleeping dogs lie.

Which had turned out to be their biggest mistake. They should have heard the warning bells, especially when she had once caught Kavya with a bottle of sleeping pills and had been fobbed off with some lame excuse of having trouble falling to sleep and so had the doctor prescribe them, just in case. Why had she not questioned her motives then? When had Kavya decided to end her life? Or was it just a cry of help?

For the life of her, Kavya had no re-collection of slitting her wrist with the kitchen knife that day. She only knew that she had woken up in the hospital room and surrounded by her family hovering around with worried looks on their faces. She was told that she had tried taking her life and was now in recovery. 

 A battery of tests had been conducted on her. As was the protocol in an attempted suicide case. the police had been informed. A day or two later, Kavya was discharged, but not before the doctor summoned them to his consulting rooms. A physiatrist had come and evaluated her. They were informed that in all probability she was suffering from DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder)— a condition brought about by extreme trauma suffered by the patient. Kavya losing Aman and the horrific accident had left her in a shock, which she had dealt by detaching herself from the memories. She had regressed to the time before the accident; in layman’s terms, the trauma had triggered off some stress related reactions in her brain and different personalities had emerged out. This had been her way to cope with her distress. 

He had advised them to show Kavya to a therapist who would suggest a line of treatment for Kavya to recover her ‘memories’ and retrieve her past. It was a long arduous journey ahead, he warned but with treatment she had a chance of living a normal life. 

And so, another round of doctors had started. But this time, the recovery was smooth as Kavya was a willing patient and wanted to lead a normal life. With the right treatment, compassionate doctors and a helping family, Kavya soon jumped back to being her sunny self, Aman and  the accident, though an irrevocable part of her past, slowly faded into the background. Her medication also was slowly tapered off and soon she was declared to be out of DID phase.


Theirs had been an arranged marriage. As is common in many Indian families, they had met through mutual acquaintances. Rajji and Bikram had liked his family and met his parents before the two of them had met. Till date, she does not know, whether her parents had told them about Aman and her past. She didn’t want to know too. She was clear that she would tell Tarun, or anyone else for that matter whose proposal was considered by them, about Aman and the aftermath.

Like Aman, Tarun was also tall and had that swag which Kavya always looked for in men. So, it was no rocket science, it was a definite ‘yes’ from her side.  He was polite, soft spoken and dashing to boot.

Matters progressed smoothly and within two months, they were married. She had found it a little bit unsettling that she had had no opportunity to tell him about Aman. He always seemed reluctant to talk and was not too keen to converse on the phone, which she mistook for his shyness. She consoled herself with the thought that maybe she will get a chance later to tell him her story. The niggling doubts about him —his reluctance to meet her, to talk to her on the phone, were brushed under the carpet in spite of her sixth sense and she happily got involved in being the ‘radiant bride’, to her mother’s delight.

Happy faces could be seen everywhere at the wedding. She knew they made a handsome couple and were the talk of the evening. She saw her parents’ beaming faces; overjoyed that their daughter had finally found happiness, and now she could put her past behind her. The family had finally laid the demons to rest.

Considerate of their awkwardness, her in- laws had booked them in a nearby hotel for the first few days. Still shy around him, she had waited breathlessly for him to join her in the room. He came in eventually but looked a trifle uneasy and uncomfortable. Hesitatingly he had come up to her and taken her hands in his. Slightly alarmed, she had looked at him questioningly, never imagining that her idyllic world was about to come crashing down.

“Kavya, I don’t know how to tell you this but then I don’t want the past to ever intrude in our future. I wanted to start our marriage without any secrets. I was in a relationship for the last five years and was set on marrying my girlfriend. We have obviously broken up now, but it was not because of me. She outgrew me, quote unquote”, he said bitterly. “I am still hurting as I was very much in love with her. “

She had been devastated. “Then, why did you marry me?” she blurted.

He looked upset too. “I married under parental pressure, as they thought a right life partner will help me heal. I have not been coerced into this marriage. I too want to give myself another chance at love.  I promise that you will not lack for anything. All I am asking for is some more time. I too want our marriage to work. Am I asking for too much?” he asked.

 Her world had collapsed around her. She had not even got a chance to tell him her story. What was the point of even mentioning it now? She blamed herself, ostrich like she had buried her head in the sand, oblivious to read the writing on the wall and now it was too late. 

She looked at him through a blur of tears. He looked so woeful, as if genuinely upset with the turn of events, that her heart melted at sight. She decided against her better judgement, to give him a benefit of doubt. After all, she had nothing to lose and everything to gain. She had read somewhere, “Stay patient and trust your journey.” She decided to do just that.


 “Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Khanna, “the concierge smiled at them. Kavya and Tarun exchanged glances and followed him into their room. They were at a small boutique hotel in Geneva, Switzerland. The room was warm with a small fire burning in the fireplace and the bedcovers had been thrown back invitingly to make them feel at home. Kavya drew the curtains to see the white splendour outside. The trees were topped white, oozing like vanilla ice-cream cones and the ground was a dazzling white carpet till the eyes could see. The snow glittered like diamonds in the lights from their cabin.

Mrs. Khanna, the man had called her. She wondered what would he say if he came to know that soon she may no longer answer to that name. She stole a glance at Tarun but he was busy raking the fire in the grate. How she wished he would stoke up the dying embers of their marriage instead. 

They were on their honeymoon from which neither could backout. This was Tarun’s parents wedding gift to them. This was the first time since their wedding they were alone with each other, without their families about them.

A little later, in the lounge he relaxed over the drinks served by an attentive waiter. The liquor, true to its name, worked its magic and he slowly opened up about his past. Turned out that his girlfriend had cheated on him with his best friend; the humiliation and hurt he felt on being deceived by them had completely devastated him. She had found his friend more dashing than him, had found him ‘staid and boring’ and had promptly changed course. It had been a shock to him to see her in this new light; according to him a relationship of five years settles down after the first giddy flight of exhilaration, but she craved excitement and so ‘outgrew’ him, in her words.  Once the dam broke, then there was no stopping. She let him talk; she knew that this catharsis was important if they were to have a chance. Over dinner, they discovered their common likes; they loved having coffee after dinner; their favourite ice-cream was salted caramel; both loved crime thrillers; were avid readers and Saturday nights were reserved for binge watching.  The clincher-DDLJ was their all-time favourite! They both looked at each other with renewed eyes!

As the pale winter sun heated the days that followed, she could see Tarun slowly warming up towards her. He appeared relaxed and the strained look around his mouth melted into softer lines. His eyes twinkled with good humour and many a time she found him chuckling at her rejoinders. Tarun was finally letting his guard down and seemed to get over his past. She sent a silent prayer of thankfulness to her in-laws, who in their wisdom may have sent them on this extended honeymoon, knowingly.

She knew the time had come for her to tell him about her past. He had been absolutely honest with her; albeit, after the wedding. This she saw as a boon; now he would never ask her why had she not told him about Aman earlier. She finally understood the reason why she had not got a chance to tell him before this. She believed in destiny. God had willed it to happen. God had wanted them to marry before they would talk about their individual pasts. 

That night at dinner, she finally belled the cat. Taking a deep breath, she said, “Tarun, I also have to tell you something. This may come as a shock to you, but believe me, I had tried to tell you after we met, but somehow never got a chance. I always found you distant and reluctant to talk. Of course, now I know the reason and do understand, but my story is more numbing than yours.”

Tarun looked at her askance. “Well, my friend, spill it out. I am ready to listen. I am not naive you know; we all have our pasts. Mine you know now; and let me tell you speaking about it, telling you has been like a huge release. Talking about it is the best thing I have done. Now I am seeing the whole episode from a distance, like a third person and realising that I had unnecessarily given it an importance that it did not deserve. So, go ahead, tell me …who knows? Talking about your past may also release you from its grip?

So, she told him. Aman, as her childhood friend, then her fiancé, their courtship days, their plans for marriage, their horrific accident, his death and the aftermath. He heard it till the end, with full attention, without interrupting even once, dinner forgotten. After she stopped talking, the silence hung heavily between them. Fearfully she looked up at him, and saw empathy and ……respect? shining in his eyes. 

He leaned forward and took her hands in his. “Kavya, I cannot even try to fathom what you have gone through as I have never been in that situation myself. To be honest, when Ria dumped me, I did feel very low but I am thankful that I never contemplated committing suicide. I am not belittling your grief and everyone reacts in different ways but …. maybe I am cynical, but I don’t really think any of that stuff works for anyone who is truly broken. Serves us better to just keep barreling forward and hope the demons can’t keep up, so you might as well be who you are. By that stuff I mean, taking your own life…. remember, when you reach rock bottom, the only way is up and now only upwards it will be for both of us,” he said, eyes compassionate.

The next day as planned, they went on a long hike; a picnic hamper thoughtfully provided by the hotel staff. Tired and happy, as they trooped into their room in the evening to freshen up Tarun suggested they stay in and order from room service. 

Sensing a change in the atmosphere, she felt a sliver of excitement run through her. Her senses were fully heightened and aware of Tarun’s every move. She felt, rather than saw him come close and put his hands over her shoulders. She shivered involuntarily. Gently he turned her around and raised her face to look at him. Love and a slight embarrassment gleamed in his eyes. She felt herself tearing up. He gently wiped her eyes and hugged her close. Caressing her face, he said, “Kavya, I am so sorry for being such an idiot. These few days together have made me realise that you can leave your past behind. You have taught me to live again. I want to make up for all that you have lost. I never want to see sadness in your eyes again. You have suffered enough for a life time. I love you. I can’t thank you enough for not giving up on me. Can you please forgive me for causing you so much heartache and for being such an insensitive brute? I promise never to hurt you again, darling.”

She smiled tremulously up at him. Before she could reply, he added tongue-in-cheek, “We have our parents to thank for this, don’t we? Sending us on this honeymoon, they sure knew what the outcome would be”, he smiled down at her, impishly. 

Tears flowed down Kavya’s eyes unchecked and her heart swelled up with love. She clutched him closer and burrowed deep into his arms. He picked her up and gently laid her on bed. As he went to draw the curtains, she could see the frost thawing outside, as if to mirror the thaw melting inside; signalling the bloom of their relationship. “Thank you, Mama and Papa” she whispered softly as Tarun hugged her fiercely to himself, and pressed his lips on hers in a throbbing kiss. As they kissed, his hands slid down her body exploring the crests and the troughs. His expert touch had her shivering and wanting more. She teared at his clothes as did he.  A passionate night and days followed. 

She was finally home.


Kavya felt someone gently shaking her shoulders. Looking up drowsily, she saw Tarun smiling at the familiar pose she made. He crouched down and took her in his arms, enveloping her, the photo and their memories to himself. 

Kavya’s cup overflowed with happiness. She could see many more photo frames joining her favourite one on the mantelpiece, in days to come.
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Vaishali Chandorkar
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