I had to reach early today for an important meeting. I picked up my files and shouted as I hurried out of the bedroom.
“I will be taking my breakfast along. Please, hurry up.”
As I reached the dining table, to my dismay, there wasn’t any packed breakfast waiting for me. After a moment, I realized. What was I even thinking? I jolted myself to the reality and left for office.
While I skimmed through the important points on my way, the grumbling stomach reminded me that it was the first time in the past 8 years that I was going to office without breakfast.
I couldn’t help but wonder what went wrong. We didn’t even fight yesterday unlike the other times. I don’t understand. I gave up on the thought process and busied myself studying the files again.
I was through with half the day, restless throughout, seeing the phone so peaceful. I kept checking it but today, it didn’t buzz with the constant regular good luck messages, or reminders for me to have food. I was missing what I would take as disturbance otherwise and wouldn’t text back until my lunch.
I couldn’t stop myself from rereading the umpteen love messages in my inbox. Few that were sent just two days back. Messages, that would reach my inbox every single day without fail.
Was it because of the baby? Had we not discussed about it already and agreed to wait until a year or two? But there weren’t any negotiations on this either yesterday.
“I can’t keep doing this anymore”, Kunal had told me yesterday.
“What are you talking about? Anyway, I am getting late. Can we talk about this in the evening?”, I replied.
“I wouldn’t be here in the evening”, he said in a flat tone.
I laughed it off and left. How was I to know that Kunal would actually leave? Eight years of marriage, a new home, perfect plans. We were happy. weren’t we? Then why?
Why couldn’t Kunal wait for another year or two until my promotion? How was I to go ahead on his assurance that he would handle everything. But the last fight we had, he had agreed to wait.
Then why? I can’t fathom.
I returned home early. How many days had it been since I came home early in the evening? May be, months, or years. Today, Kunal wasn’t there to welcome me. Hear my office troubles, or share my happiness on today’s success.
He would understand why I had to be up late and run office early. Why I would miss planned dates. But they could wait, couldn’t they? It was a question of mere one big promotion. It was for us. He had worked equally hard, both at office and at home. Everything was so fine, then why?
I couldn’t sleep the entire night. Many a times, I thought I should call him but then, how could I? He didn’t even tell me why he had left. How could he?
I called office and informed that I would be on leave for a couple of days. Surprise, would be short, for I hadn’t missed office even when sick. They were more than happy to oblige.
Few hours later, I walked around in the empty house that was now haunting me. I was angry. I finally tried his number but I couldn’t reach Kunal. I idled away an hour or may be two, or three. The “switch off” programmed tone was getting on my nerves now. I looked up in FB and called his closest friend.
“Hey Aarav, this is Prahishna” I hesitated. “I couldn’t reach Kunal as his phone is switched off. Any idea where I can find him.”
“Isn’t he at home? He didn’t come office informing that he isn’t well.”
An awkward silence followed as a mix of emotions surged in me. I was embarrassed and worried. I shoul d hang up now. Aarav must have grasped the situation, as he added right before I could hang up,
“I am not sure, but there’s a place he goes to every evening without fail. I am forwarding you the location”
I nodded. “thanks a lot”.
I followed the directions to the place. The driver had stopped few meters away informing me that the vehicle couldn’t go any further.
I stepped out in my heels on the uneven muddy road not sure if I was to head further.
With great difficulty and more anger I kept walking. I would definitely kill Kunal the moment I find him. However, I was more scared of the shady place I was walking into. Was this a trap? I shuddered at the thought. I should have asked the driver to company me.
I should probably return. Kunal wouldn’t come to a place as this. I took a step further into the narrow lane.
And then, I stood there transfixed.
I saw a guy with his shirt out, the top buttons unbuttoned, sleeves folded. The shirt was mostly covered in dirt.
I saw a guy away form every manner I would expect of him.
No. I didn’t see Kunal. Instead, I was seeing a guy who was surrounded by kids and was laughing his heart out. He was sitting on the floor ahead of a small board and they were tickling him.
A tear trickled down slowly from the right corner of my eye.
I don’t know why. May be, because, after 7 whole years, I was seeing the guy I had fallen in love with. Precisely, why I had fallen for him. The guy, who I had married and had forgotten about this charm years down the lane.
I cried realizing why Kunal had left. Why he ran away from a women who thought about perfecting a future for him that he never wanted.
I removed my heels, walked bare foot to him with tears.
“Kunal, I am…”
He stopped me as he saw me. Pulled me down right beside him and whispered, “you don’t need to”
Few kids surrounded me asking Kunal who this pretty woman was. We laughed, talked few silly things, and then Kunal said,
“Is this any less than the perfectness you seek? I tutor these kids everyday. Have been a part of their festivals, and much more with them for sometime now. I couldn’t tell this to a woman who wanted to build a castle of success and secure future.”
He kissed my forehead and added, “this here, is my wife. I knew you would find me her and..” from corner of his eye, he wiped a tear and added, “..I would find you”
We both laughed hugging each other.
“I love you, Prahishna. Let’s not join the mad race again”
“I love you, Kunal. I wouldn’t ever”
How could I ever tell him that he had saved me yet again, giving me a life that I had forgotten. Giving me the smile, small moments to cherish. How he had once again broken the shackles of do’s and don’t’s I was living my life with. How, he had once again won my heart all over giving me a world beyond perfect.