“…The End & They Lived Happily Ever After!”
Mrs. Nikita Jaiswal finished her novel, turned off her kindle, and habitually she took her diary. Nikita is an IAS officer and social activist, her current posting was at Bhopal district, M.P. Diary writing was her perpetual habit, despite her busy schedule.
21 Dec 2020:
To the eyes of society, we are a power couple, adorable couple, blah blah… But inside these four walls of my so-called home, we are just two different people holding a bleak attraction in the name of marriage. If I retrospect my life, there was no such problem, my husband isn’t a bad guy, he isn’t abusive; he is a kind-hearted man. He is good just that…that he is not the one for me as a soulmate; however, we are good company.
Life is peaceful, work is usual, and now is the time to tick-off my remaining bucket list. Nikita had a bucket list of around 10 things that she always wanted to do. She turned to the first page of her diary to check her bucket list.
My Bucket List:
- Empower women – widows and single moms.
- Help the poor, uplift them.
- Reduce domestic violence & abuse.
- Making this place women-safe, women-friendly as much as possible.
- Educate street & slum children, girls from a lower sect of our community.
- Own a small terrace garden.
- Watch sunrise & sunset from a prime spot.
- Visit New York – solo trip.
- Spend a full day at the beach.
- Do something adventurous like scuba-diving.
Today, I can confidently say that I have completed 8 of 10 on my bucket list. The first 5 in the list are never-ending and I feel content that I have been keeping up with it to date. And God willing, I shall continue doing that till my last breath.
Nikita closed her diary and reminisced how she had ticked off her bucket list except the last two. She loved beaches as the waves resonate with her life. Nikita had a glorious career graph. Professionally, she had acquired a prominent status and received several honors, awards & recognition for her social work. She has been a legendary example for many junior women officers who were next-in-line for this top position. She is not just a good leader but also a live wire. Within a short span, she had made several new reforms for the welfare of society.
Nikita had struggled a lot during her childhood. Hailing from a middle-class family, she had seen an unpredictable wavering life and emerged as a brave, strong-headed young lady with a heart full of desires and goals. She wasn’t a fickle-minded person who would change or could be manipulated by any person. There were times when she was under the influence of many corrupt minds, nevertheless, she was a hard shell to crack. And this pigheadedness of hers paved a new path for her despite a lot of hitches.
Her struggle gave her the strength and determination to uplift the poor and the needy ones, who are mostly ignored by society. Nikita worked on the roots, she visited all the slums in Bhopal and helped them with employment to end poverty. She started teaching street kids in the late evenings after her day’s job. This gained quite a momentum and the youth volunteered to assist her; thus, began an ‘Each One, Teach One’ coup. She did put an end to illiteracy by changing social norms, investing more in educating slum and street children, especially girls.
One such kid was Meera, who is now her P.A. Meera was the lucky one to have met Nikita at an early age when she was abused by her father and accidentally fell in the good hands of Nikita. Meera became the unadopted child of Nikita. She has been living with Nikita for almost 15 years now. Meera, now as a token of gratitude, looks after Nikita in every possible way. Also, Meera continued the legacy of teaching the underprivileged, putting an end to illiteracy, and in a way helped Nikita tick one off her bucket list.
Nikita gave an ultimatum to all the factories/industries running in the residential zones illegally and had them move to a different area after they received approvals appropriately and got the documentation straight. All this wasn’t easy but Nikita fought her way off and saw that the residents’ plight came to an end.
Nikita also initiated many eco-friendly reforms like ‘Go Green’, ‘Recycle’, ‘Zero Carbon’, etc. to create a sustainable future and combat global warming. Nikita was always conscious of her surroundings and was a climate activist. She created a lot of awareness in society by running campaigns, donating saplings, rewards for plantations, etc., and turned barren land into a lush green forest. She was honored with a prestigious award for her effort to end deforestation and increase greenery.
Nikita’s husband Rajeev, a brilliant data scientist, was based in Mumbai. She came to Mumbai for 15 days this time. Meera was brewing tea and making breakfast hurriedly. Nikita went through the daily morning routine but today she was slightly disturbed. Today was their 7th marriage anniversary and Rajeev seemed to have left for work at the wee hours.
‘Did he forget our anniversary? He didn’t even leave a note.’ – wondered Nikita.
That’s when her phone buzzed. It was her Mom calling her.
“Happy anniversary, Niki’ – chippered her Ma and Papa.
‘Thank You, Ma, and Papa!’ – smiled Nikita.
‘Where’s Rajeev? Would like to wish him, princess’ – said her father.
‘Hmm, Papa, he left early to work. I too shall be leaving in another 10-15 mins’ – Nikita said coldly.
‘Oh ok. Can’t you both take a day off and spend some time together, today is your D-day!’ – her mother chided.
Her father quickly came to her rescue before her mother could start a proper lecture, ‘Niki, I need to rush to work, you carry on with your work. Let’s catch up later and hope you enjoy your day later with Rajeev. Have a good day, bye!’
Nikita bid bye to them and was feeling blue. Lately, this has been the norm in her household. Rajeev and Nikita both have been busy with their work and whatever little time they got was spent arguing about something or the other. Their love life seemed to have met a dead end.
Her in-laws were not supportive of her, all they needed was a grandkid. They were not happy with her, neither did they appreciate her working much as they were of the opinion that she had achieved enough and now she should be staying at home, looking after the family. Nevertheless, Nikita didn’t let it affect her and continued her job, for it was just not a 9 to 5 job, it was her dream. She was passionate about serving society, the people, especially the underprivileged ones.
Nikita sat on her swing chair and Meera brought her tea and breakfast to her room.
‘Meera, please inform the staff that I am on leave today but in case of any emergency, ask them to reach out to me.’ Nikita told Meera, who was ready to leave.
‘Okay, Didi. Are you okay? Should I get you something or I can stay if you are not feeling well?’ asked a worried Meera.
‘No, no Meera; I am perfectly alright. It’s just that today I want to spend some time out…with your Jiju’ – said Nikita.
‘Oh ya, I know, silly me! Happy Anniversary, Didi. Please convey my wishes to Jiju also’. Meera said cheerfully and left for work.
Nikita sipped her tea and called Rajeev. Two rings went by unanswered. She thought to herself – “Is my marriage a happily ever after or will 2020 be ‘the end’ of this institution?” Shrugging off these thoughts floating around; she took her car keys and zoomed out locking her house. She went on a long drive towards the outskirts of Mumbai – Alibagh. Nikita decided to tick off yet another bucket list – spending an entire day at the beach.
Nikita decided to enjoy the day at the beach, sans Rajeev. It was lunchtime when she reached Alibagh. She had a scrumptious lunch at a local shop on the way and relaxed at one of the resorts in Kashid beach. This impromptu trip gave her an adrenaline rush and also soothed her hyper nerves. Over these years, she was bruised beyond measure and that taught her to rejoice alone.
As she guzzled in her fresh tender coconut water, her phone rang, flashing the name ‘RAJEEV’. ‘Finally’, she muttered to herself and received the call.
‘Hey, I was in a board meeting. So, I had to leave early today and couldn’t pick your call. Tell me what’s the matter?’ – came a hoarse voice from the other end.
Nikita (N): ‘mhmm…You could have dropped me a message, the least.’
Rajeev (R): ‘Yeah, I was about to but my boss called in for an urgent meeting with a few investors. 5-6 meetings are aligned today with no breathing space; I somehow managed to make this call.’
Nikita: ‘OK. Just leave it. Call me when you can and do let me know if you remember today’s date and occasion if any’.
Nikita hung up on him furiously while Rajeev pondered about her uncanny behaviour.
Nikita brushed her hand through her wavy shoulder-length hair, started towards the beach water, and took a stroll on the sandy beach with water playfully gushing in and out of her feet.
She thought to herself – ‘Rajeev doesn’t need me nor does he care for us. I don’t know why the hell I got married? Never has he taken a stand for me nor did he ever rebuke his parents for their wrongdoings. I never wanted a hen-pecked husband but definitely, I expected someone who can stand up for the right.’ She felt sad but peeked at the blue waters ahead and calmed her mind.
She reminded herself to savor the moment and played with the waters. Every time the waters tried ducking her feet, she would step back and another big wave would hit the shores.
She kept walking along the shore, picking up a few decorative shells, and then found a place that gave the perfect sunset view. She sat down keeping her legs straight immersed in the water and gazed at the orange sun amidst the orange-pink hues of the sky. Waves continued to hit her legs, sometimes drenched her up to her thighs and she thoroughly enjoyed it. The sunset symbolizes that there’s always an end looming around and it also gives hope of fresh life.
Her mind wandered around her 6 years of married life and what was in store ahead. Nikita went into retrospection. She grilled herself into how their relationship matured or drifted apart? Has the new-found love lost somewhere or come to an end? Was that the reason behind this bitter-sweet relation status at present? She closed her eyes as tears welled up as she thought about her past.
It had been 6 years into their marriage and still, she didn’t meet the expectations of her in-laws and society, couldn’t bear their family’s heir. Strangely, none of them spared her and broke into vituperation. Rajeev supported her then and they moved out to their personal space. Life was still good, their relationship too blossomed but there were discrepancies. They tried a lot but something didn’t click and pregnancy never happened. After much pestering by their family, they frequently visited doctors and the stress, both mental and emotional, unfortunately, took a toll on their relationship. Slight differences led to arguments, that culminated in bitter fights and ended on a sour note.
One fine day, Nikita came home early and prepared dinner for Rajeev. However, Rajeev was hooked up at work, had a rough day, and came home quite late, a little after midnight. Nikita was pissed off and the doorbell rang.
N: Rajeev, why are you this late? I have been waiting for you since evening.
R: Oh please, as if you wait for me every day. I come home by 7 pm daily whereas you come home as your work permits. And one day, if I am late, then what’s the big deal? Can’t you be a little patient with me?
N: Of course, I can but someone doesn’t have the courtesy to inform or leave a note about coming home late!
R: Look, just let me breathe, and don’t pester me with your regular grilling; you can do that at your office.
Rajeev sat on the couch, taking his dinner plate, and turned-on Netflix. While Nikita lost her appetite; she retired to her room, changed into pajamas, and flipped through her smartphone. Although she scrolled through her social media handles, her mind was kinda playing hopscotch.
Nikita contemplated if she should take a break from her work and focus on her marital relationship with Rajeev. Her brain mused with different ideologies. On one hand, her lucid mind wanted to leave everything for Rajeev, and on the other hand, her wacky mind questioned her if doing that would solve everything and set things right? Nikita was in a pickle and her heart too began to mete out. In reality, both Rajeev and Nikita were good souls, with a different set of expectations ruling their hearts.
These puerile fights continued and in due course, became a daily ritual for them. The outcome was aloofness; both of them avoided meeting and talking to each other in their home, but they couldn’t avoid social gatherings. The hearts that were filled with pure love was swapped with sheer acidity. And when Nikita was offered a transfer to Bhopal, she immediately agreed and left to pursue her goals and most importantly “her bucket list”. Both Nikita and Rajeev alleged that they required some time and space to retrospect their life equation.
Nikita missed Rajeev’s constant blabbering, care, and support but her wacky mind made her doubt if love exists between them, if he is her real soulmate? She felt lonely a couple of times after returning home from work. Her parents pestered her a lot that this was not a correct decision and asked her to go back to Rajeev.
Rajeev urged her to come back as he won’t be able to travel to Bhopal at the moment. So, she started spending a few days with Rajeev in Mumbai and the rest of her time in Bhopal.
Rajeev welcomed her with open arms as he realized his temper issues was a major drawback and promised her that he would work on it. He never impugned his love for Nikita. Rajeev never sought separation instead he deems Nikita to be his best ‘better-half’.
Solicited by Rajeev’s parents; Nikita and Rajeev started following ‘Art of Living’, practiced yoga, meditation regularly, and listened to many motivational speeches on life, marriage, and relationships. They decided to end their expectations from each other and start accepting each other as they are. Both of them vowed to try and mend their equation, giving them one last chance.
This was their one last chance. Their 7th anniversary day was their ‘H-hour’ and as usual, Rajeev forgot such an important occasion. Tears ran down her cheeks, as she stood still in knee-deep waters. She didn’t know if this was the end of their marriage or not? But she felt one thing staunchly – their love was lost somewhere. As she walked along the beach, she read the banner ‘Scuba Diving’ and impetuously went for it.
Meanwhile, in Mumbai, Rajeev had finally stepped out of his comfort zone and decided to throw a surprise party to sway his wife. Nikita always believed in Bollywood heroes (which was not known to many) and Rajeev was absolutely a non-filmy guy, who never understood this bolly romance. But he shifted gears and wanted to be the man Nikita dreamt of!
Nonetheless, destiny had something else in store. Unfortunately, their time had come to an end. Rajeev’s phone buzzed, to notify him of his wife’s accidental death while scuba diving. Rajeev yelled in agony.
He enquired the executive – ‘Why and how could you allow her for scuba diving? She doesn’t know how to swim. What do you mean be she drowned? Where was the safety gear?’ His friends tried to assuage Rajeev, they all drove to Alibagh and reached the spot in the evening.
As the sun sets this evening; two lives came to an end, not just one; but neither Nikita nor Rajeev wanted to end their marriage. It took a long time for Rajeev to realize the value of their relationship. He harked back to their good times and lamented the end of their relationship. As every end has a new beginning; Rajeev too thrived to pursue Nikita’s unfulfilled dreams, goals, and ‘her Bucket List’.
P.S.: Life is uncertain and unpredictable. End negativity and enrich yourself with positivity, and then there shall never be a single gloomy day. Relationships are delicate and need to be handled with care but without losing your ‘self’.
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