The protagonist, Nandini, was orphaned at the age of five, when she lost both her parents in an accident in the Western Ghats, in India. She was being brought up by her uncle and aunt, who were more interested at the substantial sum of money they received for looking after her. A lonely person, brought up in neglect, was chosen by a successful, US-based doctor to be his bride. Her whirlwind five-day romance, hurried marriage and her travel to America slowly changed many things. Her husband got busy and she lonelier. But life had other plans. Find out what happened when she met a saxophone player, Brad, suddenly. Here’s Anumita’s story, in two parts, in the regular column, exclusively for Different Truths.
She wiped the counter top one more time, and bent down to check the shine from the reflection of the sunlight. It was spotless. What should she to do now? There was nothing to be done. Picking up her cell phone, Nandini glared at the blank screen. No message, no calls, no updates. The coffee maker stopped, she turned her attention to the brimming mug. Picking it up and wrapped her fingers round it. She stood on her small terrace, and closed her eyes. The warmth of the mug seeped through her fingers and coursed through her veins. A strange hollowness filled her. Her eyes stung below her lids, a drop of tear crawled its way down her smooth cheek. She needed to get out, now.
Setting the mug on the small table, she turned and grabbed her purse and stuffed her feet in her clogs and dashed out of the door.
She did not know where she was going, nor did she care. The walk felt good for Nandini. She walked and walked, without noticing her way. When she stopped, she was at a park. It was a huge open space with trees and ponds, pathways, and not much people out at this time of the day. It was 10:00 am, all the joggers had left, and few stray late risers were strewn here and there. He would call she reassured herself. He will this time. Her own words sounded hollow to her ears.
Three years, yet all she could say about the man she has married that he is a doctor. Their whirlwind romance of five days and marriage at the speed of lightening had left her breathless. Then she had to leave her country.
Nandini was born in a small town outside Pune. She loved her little town. She was a good student and so made through her school and high school irrespective of her financial scarcity. She had lost both her parents in an unfortunate bus accident while traveling through the Western Ghats. She was five years old. Love was always a feeling she hankered for. A little bit of attention and she would give
Love was always a feeling she hankered for. A little bit of attention and she would give her life for that person. She took two busses and walked miles to finish up her graduation in college. She did not mind all this, as at the end of the day, her cousin hugged her and said she was the best thing on this earth. Her aunt and uncle were indifferent and ignored her completely.
They kept her in their household because of the substantial sum of money they received every month from the trust fund her father had kept for her. The clause included that the money order clerk should see her when they delivered the money. The old clerk would pat her head and smile, knowing very well, that not enough of this money goes in her upbringing.
Nandini forgot to complain. Her soul purpose of living was the little cousin of hers. She had a physical disability. She walked with a limp.
Then one day, her few friends in college wanted to organise a picnic. She decided to be part of the organizers and soon the day came. She was busy getting the supplies in place when she noticed a handsome man watching her. She ignored him but could not shake him off. Later during the day, one of her classmates was talking about him. His name was Vivek. He was a new doctor, living in the US and was here visiting his cousin, who was Nandini’s classmate.
During lunch Vivek sat down beside her. Nandini felt warmth spread out on her cheeks. Vivek introduced himself and started talking about himself. In between he would ask innocent questions about Nandini. By the end of the day Nandini was at ease and happily chatting with Vivek. That night she dreamt of Vivek. The first time in her life she dreamt of a man.
Next day as she was walking back home, she noticed a shiny car at her uncle’s house. Once she stepped in her aunt pulled her aside and told her to get dressed quickly. Confused she did as she was told and then went to the living room. Vivek, his parents, some relatives and her classmate was there. They had come over to ask for Nandini’s hand. She looked up lost at her uncle and aunt. But, they had a glitter in their eyes which only money could bring. Sensing her withdrawn feelings, Vivek asked to talk to her privately.
They walked out to the garden and sat down on the wooden bench. Vivek cleared his throat and said, “I know this may sound kind of sudden, but believe me I did not plan it this way. My parents were pressing me to get married and they had hundreds of girls ready for me to visit. I do not like this ritual of choosing a bride after meeting many. I met you yesterday, and I instantly knew I would want to marry you. Call it a rash decision, but I am just like that. If you say no, it is ok. If you want time, I can’t give you that, as I fly back to US next week. We can go out next three days, and then you can decide if you like me enough to marry me.”
As Vivek talked, he moved his hands and his eyes changed emotions. Nandini watched it all. His breathing also changed, especially now that he is a bit anxious. She pressed her lips and thought what she should do. She accepted the idea of going out with him and then making the decision.
The next three days were the most beautiful days of her life. Vivek took her to movies, to restaurants and shopping. Some things she had never done in her life. She was basking in his attention and each second was falling in love with him. Even before the third day ended she knew that she would marry Vivek.
The wedding was kind of a downer as it took place in a hurry at the court. Then Vivek took her around to finish all the formalities for her visa. It seemed a bit harried yet she told herself that he was doing everything for her.
Then all of a sudden it was the day for Vivek to leave. They had not had a proper honeymoon. Their conjugal nights were mellow, she told herself that it is just the circumstances, and that once she moves to the US things will be different.
After Vivek left Nandini finished her exams and was very sure she would pass with flying colors. She waited for Viveks phone call every day. He called but not frequently. She told herself that he was busy, as a new doctor he had all ungodly hours to fill, which was true to some extent.
After three months, Nandini got to travel to the US to her husband’s home. Vivek was at the airport when she landed in Chicago. He looked different. He looked older in her eyes. It was just three months. Vivek had grown a beard. May be, it made him look more than his age.
He hugged her and all her fears vanished. He held her face and kissed her full on her lips. Nandini’s eyes widened and she blushed red. Pull away a bit she said shyly, “What are you doing Vivek? We are not inside the house.” Vivek pulled her up against her and kissed her again and winked, “Here I can kiss you where ever I want to.”
Nandini felt giddy with love, as Vivek showed her his skills in bed. He took time to savour her body and taught her things she never knew her body could do. She glowed in his love. Although Vivek had a crazy schedule, he would find time to love her and take her out. Nandini forgot the pain of her separation from her cousin. The money Vivek’s parents gave them, was going to be used to get her cousin a prosthetics, which would correct her limp. She was happy for her. She knew that now she had a chance in life.
She was getting to know her neighbors and creating her own social circle. Then one day Vivek came home very happy. He had applied Rush University Medical Center, and got his appointment. He was over the moon. Nandini was happy for him, but this meant that they had to move to the proper city. Leave the outskirts of town, which she had got used to. She did not mind as long as she was with her love.
Just before fall they moved. The apartment was considerably smaller, but then how much space does two people need, she told herself.
Days turned into months and months into years. Vivek’s love took a different course. His work became his love and Nandini was left alone. In the city, she could not find much people to talk to. She started writing. Her solace was in it. Her professors had insisted she continue writing as she had the gift of words.
Vivek did not come home some days, his work extended to other hospitals in the city too. He bought a new BMW and was talking about buying a posh condo in an upscale neighborhood. He gave her few credit cards and kept telling her to go to the spa, or nail salon and pamper herself. Nandini was not sure why he wanted her to do all of these now. Did he not find her attractive anymore? He bought her expensive jewelry, perfumes and clothing. He asked her if she wants a car. Nandini refused saying that she hardly needs one when all is in a walking distance.
Every time he left home he said that he would call if he was not coming back that day. Those messages or calls never came. She was falling into a deep vortex of loneliness. It was not that she did not understand his demanding job. It was the lack of communication among them, which she feared.
Breaking from her reverie, Nandini noticed that a man was looking at her, rather staring at her from the bench across. She looked up and he was still looking at her. Annoyed by his gaze, she stood up and turned and pulled up her phone to look at its blank screen. Then slowly she turned her head and found that man still looking at her. As if just noticing her objection the man waved to her and started walking towards her. Nandini was confused. Did she know him? Why was he smiling and walking towards her?
Extending a hand the man said, “Hi, am Brad.” Nandini extended her hand but said nothing. His long fingers curled around hers and engulf her hand. The hold was firm and warm. She looked at his fair skin fingers on her brown ones. His voice was softer, “Do you speak or understand English?”
Nandini looked up and mumbled, “Yes, I do speak and understand. It is just that I was thinking if I have met you before?”
Brad smiled and his blue eyes sparkled. “You would not believe it, but that is what I was thinking for so long. You were sitting on that bench lost in your thoughts and I kept wracking my brain to place you. Just could not remember.”
Nandini thought, if this is a pickup line, it was the most genuinely spoken. Brad kept talking about himself and asked if she would mind having coffee with her at a nearby coffee shop. He was going to get one. Remembering her the full cup on the table in her apartment, Nandini agreed. Brad was a musician, a saxophone player, to be precise.
Brad spoke about the music he was composing, and where he got his inspiration from. Nandini listened to him talk and strangely felt a calm settle around her. Her void did not seem to be so gapping now. Brad never asked anything but when they finished their third coffee, and Nandini stood up to go back home, he smiled and said, “At least can I know the name of the beautiful lady I shared a lovely morning with?” “Nandini,” she said and walked towards the door.
The walk back to her apartment felt different. As if she was noticing the world all over again. She felt happy after a very long time.
That evening she had her dinner alone and listened to music, saxophone and remembered how Brad’s eyes twinkled when he spoke about his new composition.
With the vision of his eyes looking at her she drifted to sleep. Next morning she decided to walk back to the park. A strange wish to meet Brad was in her mind. The moment she reached the lake her eyes fell on the golden-haired tall man with the most incredible smile sitting on the bench. Brad almost jumped up in joy and jogged his way up to her. His joy was of no bounds, as he came near and suddenly hugged her tight.
Taken aback at his frankness, Nandini’s eyes widened, but her body felt perfect as he wrapped his arms around her. It felt as if she wanted it. He mind was not in coordination with her body. Brad was telling something about his dream. He wanted to see her here today and tell her about it. But, all Nandini could think about was the warm spiral of heat pooling in her…
(To be continued)
©Anumita Chatterjee Roy
Pix from the Net.