The universe had its way of conspiring serendipitous events, as if taking a cue from her life. Who could have thought Leela mused, that after so many years she would see Sameer again? They had been classmates together; but had rarely interacted— she being the nerdy one and he only into sports.
One day, he had accosted her at the library entrance and voiced his feelings. She had been taken aback at his audacity; how could he even think that she would be interested in him?
Life moved on. She studied to be a doctor and married a boy of her parents’ choice. She had entered her ‘happily- ever -after ‘ phase. But, fate had something else planned.
A failed businessman is worse than a lazy one. She had soon discovered to her horror that they were swamped in debt. His swagger was only for the outsiders; behind closed doors he was a devil incarnate. The thorns were prickly, the roses faded fast.
“Whackkk….”, she felt the sting on her cheek. He face burned. “Please stop it, Mukesh…..why??What now ?”..she whimpered. She knew what was coming. As if on cue, she felt his kick in her stomach. Stumbling, she fell down and hit the corner of the study table. She lay there, without moving, dreading what was coming next. …… he kicked her once more and left the room.
She felt the tears stinging her cheeks. What had her life come to? With a strength she did not know she possessed, she decided she had had enough. No more would she be a doormat, no more would she be his sadistic pleasure, …. ten years of it…. ENOUGH….time to reclaim her life …..how did she, a spunky, enterprising, courageous girl end up like this?
Decision made, she packed her bags, picked up her young daughters and left town. No backward glance. She chose a place where he could not find her-Conoor, in the Nilgiris.
Years flew by. Her practice grew, but loneliness never left her. She often thought of that innocent encounter in school. ‘What if?’ played like a broken record in her mind. What if, she had been little kind then? had got to know him?
Lost in her thoughts, she turned the path and almost collided with a person coming from the opposite direction.
“Oh,..I am so sorry,” she began and stopped in her tracks. She was staring at Sameer. He too looked stupefied, his hands forward as if to stop barging into her. Recovering swiftly, he took her hands in his and smiled delightedly. “What a surprise! What are you doing here,Leela? Last known, you were in Delhi.”
They talked. He was widower. Son settled abroad. She told him about Mukesh—her married life, his passing due to alcoholism….everything. Sameer had just shifted to Conoor, the draw of the hills was something he himself could not fathom, he being a total city boy …but now like a jigsaw puzzle things fell in place!
They were meant to be!!
The first line of the story has been taken from Gowri Bhargav’s A Serendipitous Encounter
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