The Dawn After Dusk

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Commercial Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Netra is a strong woman. Its her story of how she goes through ups and downs in life and still emerges a winner. Its a story about love, marriage, separation and the other side of the story too. It could be similar to a story of someone you know. It could be your story too.

Life does give chances for the better and yes you need to be a fighter.

Submitted: May 10, 2016

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Submitted: May 10, 2016

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Netra was already starting to feel sick. The smell of the medicines & the atmosphere in the hospital was just making her feel like a patient. She wanted to get out of there.

‘Just 2 more hours dear and you can take the cutie home’ said Sarita. She was the Head nurse & she remembered Netra. Netra was the most peculiar person she had met ever.

Netra had been to that hospital after 5 long years. She hated Hospitals & the Doctors. She had a peculiar aversion towards both. They made her feel so giddy. The last time she was in the hospital was because of Rahul. She had to give birth to him in a hospital because no one agreed for a delivery at home at the risk of having a complication. She hated the stay there however comfortable it was.  She could not even take care of her kid properly. She sometimes thought she had a strange phobia towards hospitals. She smiled at the thought of rejecting a proposal that her Uncle brought just because he was a Doctor. She had refused to even see his photograph, though her parents kept telling that he looked very handsome. She then quickly brushed off the thoughts aside, she had no time for flash backs. She had to get back home & start working. She had come back early from work to care of Rahul & needed to send the approval after reading it back to Vivek.

‘Rahul, don’t do that. ‘ she screamed as she saw Rahul picking his nose. ‘God! Where did you get that habit from? Next time if I see you doing it again, I am going to punish you very badly.’  Rahul did not  bother & as soon as he saw his mom was waiting for the Doctor to discharge him outside his room, he started doing it again.

Netra tried contacting Nitin, his mobile said he was busy. Busy where? she thought. She hated instances like these where she was the only parent taking care of the child &the father was not around. Not even after she has messaged him that Rahul fell off the stairs at home & had 4 stitches. And where the hell was the Doctor who is suppose to discharge Rahul she thought.

“Hey Mumtaz Darling!! You look wonderful today. I feel like building a Taj Mahal for you right here.” said a guy to the nurse. The nursed smiled & said Thank You. Netra looked at the guy. He was tall, handsome & had lovely hair. Did he just have the looks of Richard Gere? She thought to herself & then quickly murmured “Netra dear you are getting older stop looking at guys, & then he looks like one of those flirtatious guys you keep seeing everyday’.

Netra was the Editor of Bright Faces Advertising Firm. She had reached there quickly, while others were still struggling to get to the mid-management. She was highly ambitious, hard working, smart and extremely intelligent.

She had seen many men make advances towards her. Why not, she had a slim & slender figure with an oval face & long hair that was left open till just above her waist. She had a pretty fair complexion. Her nose was sharp & her dressing sense was amazing. Everyone complimented her for that. But she made sure her goal was clear which kept her away from swaying. She never flirted with anyone or had an affair. She was 32 now. She got married to the guy of her parents’ choice 6 years ago. Nitin was an IT grad from a reputed University in US & returned to India to take care of the family business. He was successful, smart & a go-getter. Netra hadn’t bothered too much during that time as she was at the peak of her career. She could marry just about anyone for the heck of it & she wouldn’t care. They got married went for a quick honeymoon to Switzerland & got back to work. Bother their parents thought things will be fine once they had a child. She got pregnant immediately after her honeymoon &she wanted to abort the baby. She had no time for kids. Just because her parents pressurized she went ahead with the pregnancy. During her entire pregnancy she felt that the pregnancy had limited her working capabilities & was eager to get out of that phase.

Once she had the baby, things gradually changed. She started taking interest in Rahul. He was so cute & adorable; she could not take her eyes off him. He had a dimple on his right cheek which made him all the more sweet. He had pink lips and a cute little nose. He had thick hair for a child so young. Even his fingers were long just like hers. He was so much like her. So very attractive and then she beamed at herself & the kid.

 

She would go to work early in the morning, leaving Rahul with her mom. Come back from work & pick him. She had no time to cook if she wanted to spend time with Rahul. Netra’s mom made some curries ready for her to pick up & she just had the simple job of cooking rice or making rotis. ‘Oh What would I do without you Mom’ she said lovingly kissing her on her cheek & then rushing towards her car parked on the road, with the little Rahul running behind her. Hurry Up..she would say  & this would happen every day.

She looked at her watch it was 5.15PM already. Can you please tell me how long do I have to wait for the doctor? I have already waited 3 hours. Sarita was annoyed at the way Netra spoke to her, but then she understood. ‘Here he comes’ she said  as she smiled at Ritesh. Hello Sexy someone has been waiting for me? said Ritesh looking at Sarita. “Ritesh behave yourself you are on duty now”. ‘Oops sorry Nurse, that just slipped off my mind’ said Ritesh winking at Netra. ‘Is he the Doctor I have been waiting for?’ Netra was highly upset. He was good looking no doubt but his attitude was unforgivable. He had no manners & nothing of his nature seemed mature, nor did he. He looked like a 20 something guy unsure of his future, though she knew he must be at least 25 to 28 years old & that was keeping in mind his qualification & his job.

‘Do you doubt my caliber lady? I am sorry I forgot to bring in my certificates along while I was coming to the hospital’ he said joking. Netra was not interested in talking to him. She was looking at Sarita for answers & then Sarita had to tell her Ritesh was experienced & she could be at peace with him.

Ritesh had handed Rahul with a candy & Rahul had already started to like him. “How did you know I like candies Uncle?” “ Hmmm..good question.. but then I am very intelligent Rahul. Everyone whose name starts with “R” is intelligent. Like  R for Rahul R for Ritesh & I just knew you would love candies”. He smiled & Rahul smiled back.

‘Ok now let me check the problem & let us get it out of here’. ‘Ok ‘said Rahul. “In the mean time tell me about your friends Rahul.” ‘I have only one friend & her name is Ritika. She stays next to my grandmother’s house. She plays with me every day. She also gives me chocolates sometimes. We both eat icecream in the afternoon at Nani’s place. Nani brought me so many toys & she said I could share them with Ritika. We both go to the same school. It is called St. Joseph’s’. There are many kids but I only like Ritika” he went on.

‘Ok then I will also buy you and Ritika an Icecream will you be my friend too?’  ‘Yes, sure, Rahul nodded but I will ask Ma once.’ He was naughty but also very smart kid for a 5 year old thought Ritesh.

Netra interrupted & asked ‘can I take him home now Doctor?’ She was a little quiet after she saw how good he was with Rahul. Rahul had not even realized the pain.

Oh sure you can but there is a problem. Netra panicked if everything was OK with Rahul. She raised her eyebrows & the anxious look on her face with so much going on her mind made her look funny. Ritesh started laughing, Netra was puzzled. “Please pay your bill at the counter, that’s the problem. After that you can take him home.

Netra was furious. For a moment she nearly had a heart attack. She gave one of her serious looks to Ritesh & said, “Doctor let me tell you one thing clearly, your sense of humor is extremely disgusting”, and she walked away to the payment counter.

Ritesh said goodbye to Rahul & went back to have a look at the rest of the patients. He had a night duty today & nothing much to do. The first patient’s mother had not done anything to make his day seem nice either. But Ritesh was a happy man. Nothing could make him sad; the lady in that room was stupid. His sense of humor was amazing. He was a handsome man & the females were lucky to get noticed by him & a statement from him generally made their day.

 

Netra went home to find the house empty, while in the hospital she had messaged Nitin to be back home early so she could finish her work & he could take care of Rahul. She picked up the phone to call him, then chucked the idea & called her boss instead. ‘Vivek, I am sorry but Rahul needs me & Nitin is not home yet. If you don’t mind can you get Jatin to do this just for this one time?’ “Its a very short notice Netra you should have given me a call little earlier..” “I know Vivek but please understand I was in the hospital with Rahul & you know how I feel in a hospital”” Oh yeah..i do don’t worry I will arrange it & if Rahul needs you, you can work from home tomorrow” “ No Vivek, I don’t think that is required, but Thank You so much for the concern” “My pleasure Netra. Remember I will get the extra hours done for being so extra nice with you” “Sure ,anytime Vivek””OK then Take care of Rahul & yourself”. “Yes I will. bye Vivek”. “Bye”

She hanged up the phone & went into the kitchen to make some chicken soup for Rahul. That was his favorite. She hated to cook & her mom was not in town just when needed most. Netra’s parents had to attend a wedding of her cousin’s which she couldn’t go due to her assignments at work.

She hated herself for missing it. In the past few years her appearance at social gatherings had reduced drastically. Her only world was her office and when she came back from office her kid. She would work for some more time before going to bed & the minimum time she spent with someone whom she saw everyday was Nitin. The distance between them increased with every passing day.

Nitin was getting busier with work too but earlier he used to ask her if she would be a part of his corporate parties, the past few months he had never bothered. She was not sure if it was because of the missing love or because he knew she wouldn’t come that he had stopped asking.

It was 11.15PM & the door knob turned, Netra woke up suddenly from her sleep on the couch with Rahul lying beside her. They both had watched Tom & Jerry after having soup. & she made his favourite butter paneer with hot paratha’s. Rahul was happy with his dinner & soon went to sleep. Netra was tired of her day & went to sleep beside Rahul on the couch, she was waiting for Nitin till the time she went to sleep.

Nitin opened the door slowly & walked inside. “How is he feeling now” “He is fine”, said Netra. ’Good’ .

“I have a meeting tomorrow morning Netra, I need to get up early & leave soon. I am going to sleep. Are you sleeping with Rahul?”

“I need to talk to you Nitin”. “Yes we will, but not tonight I am tired & I have already told you I have a meeting tomorrow”

“What is it with you Nitin? I need to talk to you & you don’t have time. Do you even remember how many months ago did we sit & talk to each other?”

Nitin was not bothered; he walked towards the bathroom door & closed it. He came out after 5 mins in his shorts & got ready to sleep.

“Oh hell with you Nitin, you are acting absolutely stupid & I don’t think I have the patience to take it anymore”

“Oh really? I don’t have the patience to take it anymore Netra. You & your office. You are asking me after 9 months what happened to our conversations. What happened to you Netra? I knew I married someone who loved her career, so did I but you have got so involved in it, that I feel like a stranger with you now. You don’t even ask me if I had my lunch or dinner or if I starved the whole bloody day. You just don’t care whatever happens to me. Did you know I had a sprain in my leg last week? Did you notice that I have been depressed since the past 3 months? You wouldn’t have obviously. Did you know I was seeing a doctor to cope up with my stress? You know nothing Netra absolutely nothing. I don’t even know if you love me anymore or if I have any love left for you. I don’t know if we should continue this relationship. I am so torn apart Netra. I don’t think I can handle it anymore.  I have been thinking about it for some time now. I think we should call it quits. I think we should get separated.

Netra sank on the bed behind her. She had never thought in the wildest of her dreams that something of this could ever happen. She had no time to think about all of it. Just 15 minutes ago she was sleeping happily & now her entire world had shaken. She did not have words to say, she was searching for her breath to open her mouth & utter..’You really want to leave me?’

She got down the stairs from the bedroom, came into the hall and just sat on the couch. Her mind was blank. She could not think anything beyond what her eyes were able to see and that was also drifting away from her vision. She did not sleep the entire night. At 7AM Nitin came downstairs & said he was leaving to go to office. She just stared at him. He was fine, looking absolutely fresh & handsome in his blue shirt & black trousers with his black blazer to match with his trousers. His perfume, the new“ Beckham” which she bought at her office that one of the advertisers offered as a gift of her good job. Did she dream last night or was Nitin acting as if nothing happened. Her eyes were sore with lack of sleep & they were burning. She managed to ask, “Last night…” she then trailed off unable to speak anymore.  “We really need to talk about it Netra”, do you want to talk to your parents first or can just both of us go & meet a lawyer?”

She understood, it was neither a joke nor a dream. It was all happening & happening to her. She now had to take charge of things. “Let me know when we can meet. I don’t want to talk to Mummy and Daddy immediately; I will speak to them later on this. I can’t trouble them when they are not in town”.

“I will call & let you know, I think we shouldn’t delay anymore. Lets meet today”

Nitin left. She looked at Rahul still cuddled to the blue cartoon blanket Netra covered him in.

She thought Nitin always loved Rahul, he would spend his entire weekends with Rahul while weekends for Netra were busy with her Ad campaigns. She would find some more free time as Nitin was available to take care of Rahul. Had he forgotten Rahul too? They never discussed about Rahul in past 10 months or more. What had happened to him.

She tried to remember the last time they cuddled up with each other. She was finding it difficult to remember. She guessed 6months?? Nah it’s been almost a year..”A Year” she thought and she winced.

She could not imagine now & she was thinking of it that she was with her husband in the same room on the same bed but they were strangers to each other. How could she not realize it? She had lost complete control of her private life & it showed. But by the time it showed she had lost it all.

She wanted to talk to Nitin & sort out things she decided. It has been 6 years since they have been married & a lot of people she knew had gone through such phases in their married life. This will pass as well she convinced herself & went it to the bathroom.

She looked into the mirror. She looked awful. She had sore red eyes & they asked for sleep..She dint have time. She had to get to office & if Nitin called she had decided that she had to go and meet him. She will not ignore her family anymore.

She went into the shower & drenched herself with some cold water.

Nitin got out of the car & locked it behind him while rushing towards the Psychology Department at Nivedita hospital.

He was late. He was supposed to be there by 8.30AM. It was 9AM already. Only if Netra would’nt have stopped him in the morning & wasted that 10minutes.He would have been safe with the traffic too.

“I am sorry I am late”, said Nitin. “That’s fine I have been busy too with some unfinished work. Give me another 15minutes can you? I can otherwise do it later, if you are running late.”

‘No, I will wait’ said Nitin & he smiled. “Thank You”.

“OK, thank you for waiting. I am done”, she came & kissed Nitin on the cheek. She was so glad he waited. “No Problem, Divya lets go”, he kissed her back on the lips. She quickly pulled herself away. “Nitin...you are at the Hospital Baby. ‘OK I am sorry. Now let’s go’.

 

Nitin had met Divya 6 months ago. He was unable to take control of things between Netra & himself. He tried speaking to her a few times & she brushed him away saying she was busy. He could never get the strength to fight with her. He had been thinking too much about it which affected his work until he decided to see a doctor. Divya met him & tried to cheer him thinking that it was normal in relationships. He was impressed with her & the way she was handling the situation. She had a dusky complexion, was of average height, petite & dressed simply. The only accessory she wore the first time Nitin met her was her earrings, they were like dew drops so small he actually dint notice them until she came to him, put her hand on his shoulder & said, “Things will change, you just need to wait. Speak to your wife, she will understand”.

He had tried speaking to Netra for the next 3months but she never had time for him. Frustrated, he had to meet the Doctor once again & this time after a few meetings they grew close. She was so unlike Netra in almost everything. She was a career oriented woman but family came first before anything else. In her busiest of schedule she made out time to call her Dad and check if he had taken his medicine after lunch. Every passing day was a new Divya he met. She was simple & sweet. She smiled whole heartedly & her eyes were radiant. They were like the mirror of her heart, clean & pure.

She had tired telling him that he should talk to Netra but Nitin felt that there was nothing left. She had over the past few months seen the pain & anguish in his eyes & had been very supportive. Though she felt she might be acting as barrier between a couple, she knew Nitin was a nice man & he needed support. During the past few days she had realized she had fallen in love with him & she dint mind getting married to a divorcee. After all, what is the harm? For all she knew her father would get her married to someone she dint know & who knows how he would treat her. Nitin was handsome, mature, understanding, loving & caring. If Netra dint realize it, it wasn’t her mistake. She dint want to miss out on her love because of Netra who never realized it.

They got back into the car & Nitin drove it. They headed straight towards the lawyer’s office. The lawyer was a friend of Divya. He had been her schoolmate & had known Divya for long. He tried speaking to her once after she met Nitin. He knew she was mature & would take right decisions but he wanted to make sure he was doing the right thing for her as a friend. After he had met Nitin sometime ago he was happy for his friend, though the only thing he was sad about was that Nitin would be marrying Divya for the second time.

‘Hi Amit, how are you’? “I am doing great Nitin, both of you look a little worried what’s wrong?”

“Amit, Nitin spoke to Netra yesterday finally. I think you need to meet up with her”, said Divya.

Amit was quiet for a few seconds & he said, “So finally, the stage is set when we can meet?”

Amit wanted her to come to his office but Nitin was not convinced.

‘Amit, I want to make it as smooth as possible, can we meet in a restaurant?’” OK”

“Let’s meet at Blue Elephant for coffee” “Sure Nitin & please make it 4PM today, should be good”

“Thanks Amit”.

“Divya, I will meet you after the meeting”. ‘I will come along with you Nitin, don’t worry I won’t sit with you, I shall wait in the car. I just want to make sure I am with you. I know it’s going to be tough for you’.

Nitin was not sure but he let it be.

 

Netra was ready to go to work & she was telling Rahul “Suma Aunty will be here, please don’t trouble her & run around like yesterday; you hurt yourself too badly, you need to take rest”.

Suma Aunty was an elderly lady, a little elder to her mother. She stayed in the house next to theirs. Her husband had earned well but they had no kids. He passed away couple of years back & she would keep travelling 9 months in a year around the country to her relatives. Luckily, she was here on the right time when even Netra’s mother was not around. She knew Suma Aunty would take care of Rahul. Only she could not run around Rahul as he was naughty & she was hefty.

‘God!! What a combination’ she said to herself. On top of it was Diwali time & the school was off for Kindergarten for 2 weeks.

‘Rahul I hope you will listen to Suma Aunty, Mummy is already late to work”.

Rahul nodded his head, then bent it & said, ‘but she doesn’t give me icecream in the afternoon & tells me to eat yucky food.’

“Rahul behave yourself, bad manners. Aunty gives you good food, its healthy. If you be a good boy I will buy you 2 icecreams in the evening.”

“Promise?”

“Promise Rahul”. She then quickly kissed him on the forehead. She turned to Suma Aunty, she wore a stiff white cotton saree with a light pink floral print & had a Black bindi on her forehead. She had a chubby face & a small nose ring. She was fair & had long hair. She used to plait her hair, but since her husband passed away she had started to put a knot. It made her look much older.

 “Aunty Mummy will be back tomorrow please handle him for just this day & I will be greatful.”

 “What are you saying Netra I don’t have anyone else to look after, I am so glad you let me take care of him, don’t worry & just go to work”.

Netra rushed towards her car & drove away. On the way her mobile started to beep.

 “Hello..” “Netra are you coming to office today?”

” Of course I am, I am a little late but I will reach in the next 20 mins”.

 “Ok so you better reach by then coz there is a client meeting & Vivek doesn’t want you to miss it”.

 “Fine I will be there”.

She hurriedly walked up to the elevator & pressed the 7th floor. She quickly looked into the mirror. To make sure her lipstick was not too much; she pressed her lips while combing her hair one last time with her fingers. She knew as soon she got out of the elevator she had to pick her laptop & rush for the meeting.

She made it just on time. “Oh Thank God”, she said to herself.

 “What a timing Netra..well done” said Vivek.

 “Thanks but who is the client?”

“Hmm you will be happy now, Nestle..” he was excited.

 “WOW when did this happen?”

“Just yesterday you were busy & Lalit got the client”.

“They are ready to experiment with a new vendor; if we get them Netra I tell you there will be a hike in all our salaries”.

“And lots of chocolates for Rahul “Netra said. She was completely excited.

The meeting started at 11AM. At 11.25Am her mobile beeped. It was Nitin. She had fogotton to keep it in silent. “I am sorry”, she said. She disconnected the phone. She suddenly remembered, this was not like any other day.

She excused herself from the meeting & Vivek was surprised. He had never seen Netra go out of a meeting ever. She would be the one involved in it from the beginning till the end. She had spent 3 years now with the company & he was the one to get her there. He had heard about her from the professional group & recommended her to the CEO. As a VP he was good at convincing & brought her in at a good package. He promised her growth based on performance which she delivered & he couldn’t object. Must be her son, he thought as he brought himself together to the ongoing meeting.

She dialed Nitin again.

“I..I was in a meeting &  ...” before she could finish Nitin interrupted & said, “I want to meet you at 4.00 at Blue Elephant for coffee”.

“Why don’t we make it a lunch Nitin? It’s been really long we have been out for lunch together.” “4.00PM for coffee, does that work?” “She was surprised at the way he spoke to her but she finally agreed. “Ok, will see you there”.

 

Netra was thinking that this was probably the first time Nitin had said so strongly about the meeting time. She was the dominating spouse in the house. Nitin had never raised his voice on her. She never allowed him to.

The rest of the day passed quickly. Once the meeting finished. She went to have her lunch. From then on she was busy thinking how she would start the conversation with Nitin. Should she speak first or let Nitin speak so she could finally convince him & get things back on track. She decided after today things will be fine. She will make sure she takes care of her family which included her husband. Nitin was a nice man, she dint want to lose him & then Rahul needed him too. She won’t repeat her mistakes.

She dint want Nitin to feel that he was waiting for her again, so she told Vivek that there was an emergency & went out by 3.30PM.  She reached the Café by 3.45PM. She was there waiting at the terrace place. She ordered for a Coffee as she knew that she was a little too early. She had just taken the first sip of her coffee & someone came close to her shoulder & asked “How’s Rahul?”. She turned to check who it was & was not very happy with the person.

“He is fine, Thanks”, she said and started having her coffee.

 ‘Can I join you?’

“Sorry doctor, I am waiting for someone”.

“You don’t have to call me Doctor all the time, my Name is Ritesh. Nice name isn’t it? And by the way waiting for your boyfriend or something? This is such a beautiful place”.

” It’s none of you business Doctor”.

”I just told you not to call me a Doctor”.

She was getting irritated with him & just as a savior a guy came by & shook hands with the Doctor. “ok got to go now, will see you some other time”, said Ritesh & left to another table.

“Thank You God”. She was drowsy now she could do with another 2 cups of coffee as well. The previous night had left her a little weak without any sleep. But she said to her, “Just a few more hours & everything will be as good as new”. She was happy with her decision. She looked at her watch it was already 10 minutes past 4 PM.

 “You have been waiting for long?”

“Oh hi.. no not really, just about 20 minutes.”

“I am surprised you came before me”

“I knew you would think so, but I am here to sort things out Nitin”.

“Amit pull up your chair too”.

“I thought you were coming alone Nitin.”

“Please meet Amit, Amit this is Netra ummm, my wife”.

“Hi Netra”

“Hi Amit, never seen you before with Nitin”

“I am a lawyer, I specialize in divorce cases”. Netra’s body went numb. She was speechless. She dint know how to react.

“Netra I was thinking it is better to sort it out within ourselves instead of dragging it to court. Rahul will be affected. If you want the custody of Rahul, its fine with me. If you don’t then I don’t mind taking care of him.”

“What are you talking Nitin, we can sort it out. We don’t need a lawyer. What divorce are you talking of. I know I have not given you enough time but you can’t do this to me. We have a family together. We have Rahul. We have had good times too Nitin, how can you forget everything so easily.”

“Netra I have not come here to discuss all this. As I told you yesterday I don’t think we can continue our relation any further.”

Netra had closed her fist as she couldn’t do anything more than that. Her nails had now started to hurt her palms but she couldn’t stop herself. She had never felt or understood defeat before. This was the first time & she felt helpless.

“Netra try & understand. It is best for both of us to get divorced. You think Rahul doesn’t understand. He has never seen us together. If you are around, he doesn’t see me & if I am playing with him he doesn’t see you. What difference do you think it will make even if we get divorced. We are already two people separated but living in the same house.”

“Nitin I never realized what was happening. Please, Please give me just one more chance. I know it all has been my mistake. Why dint you ever talk to me. I am willing to change things”.

“I tried talking to you so many times Netra. I tried talking to you for months together. Can you tell me when was the last time when you were willing to listen to me? Everyone around you & everything around you was more important to you than me. I was no more than a showpiece for everyone to know that I am your husband. That was it. Genuinely can you tell me of one instance where you felt that I should have a say in some things. You were never willing to listen. It’s too late now. I am sorry. The best thing according to me now is to file for a divorce. If you are willing for a mutual divorce it will be easier for both of us, else we will have to move to court & it might make things look ugly. Choice is yours.”

“Choice? Choice. Right..great. Why are you being so unfair to me Nitin? I have just asked for once chance & you leave me with a choice.”

Nitin dint want to discuss any further. “I will send you the divorce papers tomorrow.”

“And what do you want me to do, just sign it for you. Hire someone who can do that. Go to hell Nitin. I don’t care.”

 

She left the coffee charge under the coffee cup, got up from there. She dint bother for the first time that her green skirt had wrinkles after sitting on the chair for some time. She was furious more than anything. How did Nitin get so much of courage? How could he talk to her like that? She just got up & walked out. She was just about to get down the stairs when she noticed something. She went closer to the roof top garden & looked at Nitin’s car. There was a lady standing next to it & she had hugged Nitin as soon as she saw him.’ Who is she?’ she thought. Nitin held her hand and opened the door for her to get into the car.

She couldn’t stop herself, she screamed from the top..’Is this the bloody reason why you wanted a freaking divorce? You creep. You were having an affair with that ugly looking woman & want to leave me for her??”

Nitin pushed off his car from there. He dint want to get involved in something like this. Netra was furious & he dint think it was right for him to talk then.  This is what he feared when Divya wanted to accompany him.

“Whoo fooo.. you are creating a scene here..Take a chill pill sweetie”, said Ritesh.

“Get the hell out of here, how dare you interfere in my personal matters you jerk”

“Hello Hello Hello, I am not interfering, you are the one interfering with your loud voice, and just have a look around”

Netra looked around to see everyone watching her from their tables. She had lost her temper & she dint realize it. She was shaken. She had not seen it coming & she was completely unprepared. She pulled over her hands to her face & she started to cry. She cried & she dint care who saw. Her life had been shattered & she dint care whatever she looked like to others. There was no point; her life would be public in a couple of days. She had to answer her friends, relatives, her parents & most of all Rahul. Even if she dint have anyone else to answer she had to answer her conscious.

Ritesh held her & she needed support. Ritesh was there, how much ever she hated him. She needed him right now at this point to calm her down.

“Shhhh ok ok now, stop it. Things will be fine. You are a strong lady..calm down calm down..shh quiet..umm uhhh Naina”

She looked up between her sobs. “I am sorry I forgot your name, isn’t it Naina?”

“Netra”, she said wiping her nose with the tissue he had ready in his hands.

 “Oh sorry Netra..but wats in a name and anyways both mean the same” He chuckled & she stared at him. “Ok I am sorry”.

She smiled & he thanked heavens.

He knew she could not drive back home. He asked her if she was fine with him driving her home & she nodded.

He left his car in the car park at the restaurant & pulled out her car from the parking lot. She sat beside him unable to say anything. She had too much in her head right now. What would she tell her parents, they would be in town tomorrow morning? How could she face them? There was never a divorce that had occurred in their family for generations or ever & today she had to deal with it herself. She had lost contact with all her friends in the past few years busy with her job & dint have anyone lean back on. Her office colleagues were not so close to her personally though she spent most of her time with them. She always spoke to them about work & that was the most important thing.

How would she deal with it? Who would she talk to? “You ok?.. Netra are u alright?”

“Huh..did u say something?”.

 “Of course I did. I asked you what’s happening with Aishwarya’s career after her wedding..Dint see many movies of hers of late..”

“Whhaatt? What are you asking?” “Oh ok Great so you are listening & you are fine, just checked that.”

She managed to smile in between her tears which dint seem to stop. She wasn’t crying but the tears just flowed. She dint know how to stop them.

“Straight to the roundabout & right”, she weakly said.

“OK, here we go”.

“3rd house on to the left”.

“OK aaaand here we are”.

He pulled up in front of Netra’s house with a screeching noise & she couldn’t stop from saying..”dats my car, you are driving Doctor”.

“Call me Ritesh or I will drop you back at the restaurant”. She smiled & said

“Thanks Ritesh”. She found him to be sweet for the first time since yesterday.

“You are not going to call me inside for a coffee?”

“aa huh..yeah sure”

Suma Aunty came out of the house wondering whose car was it. “Netra is it you? What happened? You look terrible. Is everything ok?”

“Yes Yes, Aunty everything fine. Is Rahul doing fine”.

‘Oh yes he is absolutely. But are you sure everything is fine?”

“Yes Aunty thank you. I will take care. Thanks for staying with Rahul.”

“That’s fine Netra”. She gave a suspicious look at Ritesh. He was quite a handsome guy. His maroon t-shirt was giving way to his complexion & he looked like quite a dude she thought. She dint ask any questions though. She walked towards her house next to Netra’s.

 

Ritesh followed Netra as she entered her house. Rahul came flying to her with his Helicopter.

“Ma, see what I have got here. Zooooo..ooooo..drrrrrrrrrrrrr..thhhhhhhhaaa”. Netra tried to smile between her tears. Rahul dint take notice. He was pleasantly surprised by Ritesh, his friend from the hospital.

“Hi Uncle, have you come to buy me ice creams you promised yesterday? But I don’t want them today, Ma promised me 2ice creams today. You go now and come back tomorrow. I will eat your ice cream tomorrow. How will I eat so many ice creams in 1 day?” He was pushing Ritesh away so he could spend some happy time with his Mom. “Rahul, Rahul” she shouted. Rahul was suddenly scared his mother never shouted at him like that. Was she angry with him? “But she promised to buy me ice creams. I am a good boy, I even ate the yucky lunch Suma Aunty gave”, he now held on to Ritesh while he murmured. He was holding Ritesh’s jeans very tightly with his little palms just above his knees.

Netra walked away and sat on the sofa. She closed her eyes. She was sleepy, tired & her thoughts never left her mind.  She tried to push them away for some time as she had a severe migraine with whatever had happened in the last 24 hours. She desperately needed some sleep before anything else but she couldn’t.

“I am sorry I forgot about your coffee”. She saw Rahul running away to his room upstairs but she dint have the energy to call him or console him.

“That’s fine Netra, can I ask you something if you don’t mind.”

“aaaa..yeah..”, Netra was scared he would ask her about what had happened & she dint want to discuss about it with a stranger. He had been nice to her, & she was greatful. She was attempting to be the same by not being harsh to him but she prayed he wouldn’t ask about Nitin.

“ Can I take Rahul with me today? I think you need rest. Or if you want I can drop him somewhere at any of your friends or relatives place.”

“Thanks so much Ritesh, but I will manage. I don’t want to trouble you, my parents are out of town & they will be back in the morning. I should be fine”

“ Netra I insist. You look tired & worried. I won’t ask you what happened but I think you need time for yourself. Don’t worry Rahul will be fine with me. You can check my records with the hospital”, he smiled while rubbing his shoulders. The ground floor in Netra’s house was getting colder. Netra dint realize.

“I am not sure if Rahul would come & then you would have to go to the hospital tomorrow.”

“I am off these 2 days. I had worked last weekend. Don’t worry.  I can take care of him”.

“I am feeling so bad for spoiling your holiday.”

“That’s fine Netra. Do you want me to get you something to eat?”

“I am not hungry. I just need some sleep”. She picked up her mobile & the first thing she did was call Vivek. “I won’t be in office tomorrow Vivek or the day after. I will probably call you back when I can come back to work. Till then please ask Jatin & Avantika to share my responsibilities”.

“Is everything ok with you Netra, you left office early, I shouldn’t ask but off for 2 days?”

 “Please Vivek don’t ask me anything right now. I will talk to you later” and she disconnected the phone.

“I will take Rahul with me now. You have a good sleep”.

“Rahul”, Ritesh called while walking up the stairs towards Rahul’s room. “Rahul was sitting in a corner with his red car in front of him. He was trying to fix the remote. Ritesh sat beside him & took the remote. “Lets fix this, done”, he said. Rahul was quiet. “Rahul, your Ma has had a bad day. Don’t you want to be nice to her. Lets go for an outing. I will take you wherever you want to go”. “Is Ma coming with us?”

“No she is not. It will be just you and me. I am trying to be your nice friend.”

“But why?”, said Rahul.

Ritesh murmured, “Stop asking so many questions dude, you sound like a 90 year old guy behave your age.”

“Are you talking to me??”Asked Rahul

 “To you?? No no  no..i was talking to myself. I was telling myself that I have to be nice to you, now let’s go and have some ice creams”.

Ritesh walked down the stairs with Rahul in his arms & saw Netra in the couch. She was looking weak & helpless, so unlike yesterday he thought. Yesterday she looked so radiant, beautiful & strong in her black & white attire. He could make out that she worked with a big company at a Senior level to wear that kind of an outfit in India.  Today she looked so different. Just a day could change a person so much. “Life” he thought.

“OK I am leaving you can close the door. I will bring him back tomorrow morning at your door.”

She thanked him again. She looked at the clock it was close to 7Pm & the windows outside looked dark. It was getting cold & she was tired. She chucked the idea of having her dinner. She was neither in a mood to cook nor had the energy. She wasn’t even hungry.

She started thinking how things had suddenly changed her life, in the last few hours. She had none of her own people she could talk to. She had no friends she could turn to. Her parents were not with her at this point when she most needed them. She had to turn to her husband in crisis but he was the one who had created the crisis or was it she who was the root cause?

She had entirely depended on a stranger whom she met at the hospital yesterday. The worst part was she had allowed him to take care of the situations she was in right now. She had sent her only son with him and she wasn’t even interested in the look of him yesterday. 24 hours. Less than 24 hours she thought, had changed her life upside down. A stranger was the one she trusted completely & for some reason she dint mind trusting him.

She dint realize when she dozed off thinking of the people around her, how her parents would react, why she trusted Ritesh so much. She slept on the couch the rest of the night till early morning. Nitin dint come home that night, but she dint notice. It dint probably matter to her anymore too.

Part 10

She was running so fast she couldn’t catch her breath but she couldn’t see what she was running after. Something that she wanted too badly was running away from her. Suddenly her phone rang. She was trying to find it in her bag, but she couldn’t find it. The phone dint stop ringing & she was frustrated, it distracted her from running. She was irritated & she threw her bag. She hit her hand & it was hurting. She quickly opened her eyes. “Damn I was dreaming”, she said. She looked at her mobile it was 6.30AM. She had slept almost 12 hours. She had 5 missed calls from her Dad. She called back. “Daddy where are you?”

“Where are you Netra? You dint pick up the phone & we called Nitin, he said he wasn’t home yesterday night. Has he been working too much?”

“Aaah no, no i..i was sleeping. Just got up. Have you guys reached home already?” Nitin dint come home at all last night she thought.

“No we will be home in the next 1 hour. We have some news for you”.

“News for me Daddy? What is it?”

“Neeti is coming to India this month.” “Di is coming to India. Wow..when..why..i mean so suddenly”

 “Yes, Vikesh’s cousin is getting married & their in-laws insisted that they come & attend the wedding. Pratik is coming too. Rahul will be meeting him this time & will talk to him. I am not sure he remembers Pratik, except in the pictures..hhahaha”

“Dats good news..huh..good good..umm can I call you back Daddy?”

“Yeah ok, we will call you once we reach home, you can drop Rahul on the way to office.”

Neeti & Vikesh were Netra’s sister & brother-in-law. They had a son Pratik who was 9 years old. Neeti got married 12 years ago. She was 8 years elder to Netra.  She was living with her husband & son in NJ since the past 11 years. She was very different from Netra, though they looked a little similar looks wise. Neeti too was a beautiful woman, but was much simpler in nature. She had worked till the day her son was born but then after that she made sure she was with her family full time. She had dedicated herself to taking care of her husband & kid. Her husband was a quiet man, who never had anything much to say except smile very often for anything & everything. He was into IT & was so much into computers all the time. Netra was never very fond of him. They had come to India 3 years ago but Netra dint have much time to spend with them. Before Neeti got married the sisters were quite close, but once they got married Neeti got busy with her life & Netra got into a job too. Since then there had been no looking back, for both of them.

“Di is coming home. What will I tell her? Will Nitin at least wait until they leave?” But she wasn’t sure she wanted to do that. Her sister was smart; she would pick up the slightest hint of the differences between her & Nitin. Neeti had even known when Netra had once gone on a lunch date. She still dint know how could her sister know, but she knew.

She was clueless. Should she talk to Nitin she thought. Let’s wait she thought again.

She went into the bathroom dragging herself & trying to prepare herself for another long day ahead. Initially she had thought she wouldn’t tell her parents about all this but after yesterday afternoon it was quite inevitable. Nitin was not interested in the relation anymore & she knew she wouldn’t be able to convince him.

By 7.15AM she was ready. She still looked tired & had a shadow of sadness which made her look sick. The door bell rang. She went to open the door & found a pack of sandwiches & coffee with apple juice that Ritesh was holding.

“Good Morning. I thought I was late for breakfast.” “

“No. Did Rahul trouble you too much?” Netra was looking at Rahul who looked well awake at that time in the morning. 

“Well not really but you know I am talented”, he smiled at Netra. “I am a pediatric Netra I have to be good with kids to have work”.

“Come in lets have breakfast together”, said Netra.

“I wish I could but I will let you have some personal time with your son. Have fun. I will catch up with you again”, he turned to leave & suddenly remembered she dint have his number. He handed over his business card to her. Then left after kissing Rahul on the cheek. He told him he will see him next week on Diwali.

Netra was in no mood to go to work. She decided she needs some time for herself. The last 2 days had been hectic. She needed to think & decide on what to do next. She decided to drop off Rahul at her parents’ house. She wanted to come back home & take some decisions. She had breakfast with Rahul. Then after she had him ready, she dropped him at her parents place. Her parents were puzzled after she left as she didn’t talk much & didn’t look like she was going to work. She didn’t dress like she was going to work. She hadn’t even asked about her sister’s arrival. They did not ask her much because they didn’t feel she wanted to tell them anything & they didn’t push. They knew about their daughter, she was strong & if she ever needed help or support she knew her parents were there with her always.  She left immediately after spending a couple of minutes.

 She had to pick up a pack of cereal for Rahul’s breakfast. She quickly got out to the supermarket on her way back home. She was in the queue for billing when she saw a familiar face.  She had seen the lady somewhere & she was tagging along an elderly person. The lady seemed to know the staff there as they were smiling at her as she passed the aisles. Netra tried hard to remember but she couldn’t remember who the lady was or where she saw her. She got her bill & moved out of the supermarket. She was opening the door of her car & suddenly something struck. She ran towards the supermarket. She saw the lady at the till. “Can I speak to you for a minute?”

 

“I am sorry but do I know you”,  said Divya.

“I guess so, can we talk?” said Netra sarcastically.

“But that’s strange I don’t seem to know you”.

“Oh so you would have surely heard of me, Miss Nobody. I am Netra. Your so called married boyfriend’s wife.” said Netra.

“Netra, Hi. I, umm ..I am sorry I dint recognize. So what did you want to talk about”. 

“I wanted to talk to you about your new found relationship. I wanted to see what attracted my husband to you”, she looked at Divya in a demeaning way which obviously was very hurting. She then turned away from looking at Divya to show she was not finding her any interesting.

“Time Netra..” Netra looked at her surprised. “Yes Netra, time is what you could never give your husband. I am sorry if you feel that I am talking too much but the fact is that your poor husband didn’t expect much from you ever. He always wanted to spend some time with you. You neither had weekends nor weekdays to give him some time. He tried talking to you for 3 long months & you never had half hour to spend with him. You probably never thought why he tried speaking to you so many times. Initially I had tried telling Nitin to try & talk to you. But after I saw his depression & worried face I wondered if you had any love for him at all. I really am wondering still Netra, did you ever love Nitin, because if you really love someone you are concerned about them. You don’t have to answer me right now but at least answer yourself. Goodbye. I wish I won’t have to meet you in such circumstances again. By the way I am not Miss Nobody my name is Divya”.

Divya left but Netra, she dint know how to react. She was furious. “How dare she talk to me like that”, she thought. She had no right to ask such questions. She fumed like someone threw a furnace onto her. She drove fast to reach home. Once she reached home she had to drink chilled water to cool her head.

She sat there on the couch for some time. She looked at the flowers on the coffee table, they hadn’t been changed since 3 days & they were dead & gone. She then went back to what Divya had said. She tried to think why she never realized about Nitin’s pain & the support he needed. Her thoughts went back to what Nitin had said to her 2 days ago, that she had never bothered. She tried to analyze & think what she gave to their relationship. There hardly was any time they spent together, or any expression of love. She realized she had never really loved Nitin. He was there because he was her husband. He was her husband because of her parents. They wanted her to marry him. But what did she want? Did she really want to live the rest of her life with him? She thought about it till late afternoon. She remembered how she never wanted to get married at all.  But her parents forced her & she had to marry someone. She remembered the torture she saw happening to her own aunt. She remembered the abuse that she was a victim of. It killed her to even think of it. She had till date not discussed it with anyone. Finally she decided she probably dint want to spend the rest of her life with him. The insecurities she felt was because she dint have many people around & those whom she knew she dint know how to face them.

 

She wanted to speak to Nitin’s parents too. They were nice people. She knew Nitin wouldn’t have spoken to them. They had migrated to a Babaji’s ashram after Rahul was born. They had a longing to see a grandchild.  After Rahul was born it was fulfilled. They would call 3-4 times in a year. They would visit them for a week or less than that.  Nitin was their only son & Netra felt it was her responsibility to let them know what was happeneing.

Initially she had thought she would talk to Nitin & let him not send the divorce papers until her sister leaves but now she knew what to do. Nitin would have surely agreed to keep quiet until they left but she dint want to see him suffocated in the relation. The tough part was to tell & convince her family. But she had to do it.

She reached her parents house in the evening. She had spent the afternoon thinking what she would tell them. Once she reached there, she saw they were talking to Neeti.

“So you are going to be here for Diwali? That’s such good news Neeti. We are all waiting for Pratik as well. Here talk to Netra, she has just come. She will be so happy to see you soon”

“Hi Di. How are you? No..i am fine..Just a little tired. I thought you are coming sometime this month. Oh ok..yeah it is a good idea to be here with all of us at Diwali. When is the wedding? Ok di..see you soon. Take care. Yes I will.”

“Have they just decided that they will fly this weekend? Asked Netra while her Dad was sipping some evening tea.

“Yes, they wanted to come this month sometime when we spoke to them yesterday. Now they call up & say they want to be here for Diwali with all of us. We will be very happy to see both our daughters & their families together.’ Said her Dad.

“She quietly went to her mom & said “Mom I need to talk to you.”

“Yes, your Dad will take care of Rahul, let’s go into the study”.

“Hmm..Now tell me..I know something has been bothering you but I had decided not to ask until you tell me. Is everything alright?”

“No Mummy, it’s not really alright. We have decided to get divorced.”

Netra’s mother was shocked to hear. She shouted at Netra. “You have gone out of your mind, what are you talking. There are fights that keep happening, it doesn’t mean that every couple goes ahead to have a divorce. Just go home & talk to Nitin. Things will be fine. If you want, I & Daddy can talk to Nitin & sort things out.”

Netra said, “No Mummy it’s me. I don’t think it’s right for us to go ahead.” She dint want the blame to be on Nitin anymore.” I have not been able to give enough time to our relationship & things have gone beyond control. Both of us cannot go back now.”

“Netra I am telling you, you are making a big mistake. There is nothing that cannot be sorted. Just talk & it will be fine. Most of the time its lack of communication.”

“I don’t.. I don’t want to talk Mummy. I have decided. I don’t want to talk about it any further. Now can  I talk to Daddy also?”

“Netra let me tell you one thing I am not with you this time, your Dad will agree to what I say too. You are behaving childish. Have you for once thought about Rahul. How can you do this to him? “

Netra dint have anything to say to her Mom while her mother was visibly upset & bothered about Netra’s decision, she was looking up on the ceiling to stop her tears from rolling down her cheeks.

“One final time I am telling you Netra either you rethink on this or forget about our support.” Said her mother.

Netra hoped so badly that things could work again but then she knew it wouldn’t help.

“I am sorry Mummy, she said softly.”

Netra’s mom was angry with her for not being able to take the right step after so many years of marriage. She called her husband & he had tears in his eyes after listening to what Netra had to say.  He told her he was not happy with her decision. He told her there will be a thousand questions that he & her mom will have to answer.

Netra could not stop herself. She hugged her father & cried, cried till her tears dried. She told him that the only thing left for him is to trust her. Her father quietly nodded & left the room.

She took Rahul & left to go back. Her mom didn’t stop her. Neither did she go to the door to say bye to her dear grandson. By the time she came home, Suma Aunty walked towards her & said she had a courier which she picked up for her. Netra feared receiving it but thanked Suma Aunty. She took it from her & opened the door of her house. She played Rahul’s Mickey Donald to watch & left to her bedroom. She opened the envelope & as she read she strangely felt that she dint feel bad anymore. She was not sad or upset. Infact, there was no feeling at all. After a couple of minutes, she smiled mildly. She dint know why she had smiled. But she had a smile that lasted for about 5 minutes & that was a smile that she had after about 50 hours. She felt good.

She called up Nitin.  “Nitin, I have got the papers. I want a divorce too. I shall sign & send them at the earliest”, and she disconnected the phone.

She got a call. She thought it was Nitin again. “I will send the papers..oh sorry I thought it was ..uuhh..so anything important?”

“Well I just called to tell you Penelope Cruz has proposed me & I am thinking of saying yes. What do you say?

“Doctor..oh sorry Ritesh, what are you saying?”said Netra

“Obviously I called to check on my new friend Netra & you are asking me so sadly if there is anything important. Cant I call you just to enquire how you are doing?” said Ritesh.

 “Of course you can. I am fine Thank You, I dint think you would call.”

“Why not, I don’t forget friends. Can we catch up for coffee tomorrow?”

“I don’t think I can make it Ritesh. I will be a little busy. I have to go to work tomorrow. May be some other time”. She decided that was the only place she would start feeling better again deeply involved with her work & career.

“Ok , as you like.” said Ritesh.

They said Bye to each other & disconnected the phone.

 

Ritesh appeared at her door the next day morning. He told her that if she couldn’t make it for lunch, he thought he could drop her off at work at least. He could drop her & go to the Hospital too. She dint mind. Both of them dropped off Rahul at her mother’s place & left. She was glad in her heart he came. He had made her feel better & strangely though she had many people around, he was the safest person she could speak to. She dint have to answer him. He dint have questions for her. He just made his presence felt & gave his support without notice. He made her smile, as a real friend would. She was surprised how it had happened in such short span. He was God sent she thought.

“I need to talk to you Ritesh”, she said suddenly.

“Yes lady go ahead. What can I do for you? Can I buy you the Moon?”

“Ritesh..”

“Oh ok I am sorry, tell me what is it?”

“Ritesh do you know..umm..i mean..I need to…”

“Hey ..what is it? You don’t have to feel embarrassed. You can trust me. Remember I even got your son back home.”

“Do you know of any counselor?”

“As in..??”

“I have issues Ritesh..i need to discuss a few things with someone in confidence. I cannot go the church & discuss it with the Father in the Confession Box I need Science to help me with that.”

“I know a Doctor called Nafisa Salim. Not sure if you have heard of her but she is quite a well known practitioner. She is good. It is tough to get an appointment but she’s a friend so we can manage”.

“Thanks Ritesh”.

Ritesh immediately called Nafisa & she told him she can meet Netra in the afternoon post lunch.

“Do you want me to drop you there Netra?”

“Yes & Thanks Ritesh once again. But how did you know I might not go to work?”

“Once upon a time a beautiful lady called her boss in front of her handsome friend & told the boss that she wouldn’t be in office for the next few days”

Netra smiled at her stupidity. She had underestimated Ritesh or probably forgotten. Ritesh left Netra at his friend’s clinic & went to work. Netra grabbed some lunch from the canteen outside the clinic. The receptionist called Netra at 1.30Pm.

“HI..Netra?”

‘Yes Doctor, how are you?”

“I am good Thanks. Tell me how can I help you”.

“Doctor I know Ritesh is a friend of yours but I just want to make sure that this would stay just between the two of us.”

“Netra we are Doctors we don’t discuss our patients case with each other.”

“Thanks Doctor, your clinic doesn’t smell of any medicines..”

“Hahhaa that’s because I help people to relax their mind. I don’t sell any medicines. At the max I could give some stress relievers or sleeping pills for someone with sleepless nights. I am sure they don’t create a bad smell”.

Netra was a little uncomfortable earlier but after she spoke to Nafisa for a few minutes she knew she could talk the Doctor & trust Nafisa with her secrets. The moment her heart knew that she had tears in her eyes. She opened up to the Doctor like she had done ever before with anyone, including her parents or Nitin.

She told the Doctor about the summer visit to her Aunt’s place when her parents & sister were in Baroda. She was 10 year old kid & used to watch her uncle beat up her Aunt Savita till she had bruises. She saw the pain and tears her Aunt had. She remembered the day when her Uncle was stinking. He was drunk. He came to Netra & had tried to molest her. She had cried & Savita Aunt had not known coz she had fainted after the beatings. The incident had left her scarred. She was too young to realize what had happened to her. The only thing she knew was that she was scared. She had become very quiet for the next few months. Her parents had thought that it was just home sickness. Savita aunty had died after a couple of years. No one had known except her of what used to happen to her. Savita Aunty never told her parents about it. Netra had even hated herself for a few years. Later she had realized that it was not her mistake. Netra wanted to tell her parents but knew they would not trust her. Even if they trusted her she dint know the end result She dint dare to tell her parents. As a little girl she had thought they will get her married to him if they knew there was something wrong. Netra hated that Uncle. She was scared of him. She kept quiet. Till date she never told anyone anything about the incident. As the years passed & she realized what happened to her, she wanted to become strong. She never wanted anyone to sympathize with her. She grew up to be a strong woman. She had known a few years back that her Uncle had died of Cancer. She was so happy. She had thanked God for having him off the Earth.  But somewhere she started hating men. She dint want to get married for the fear of sex. She hated the word. If she ever got married she wanted to the one dominating the husband. When she married Nitin & went to her honeymoon, she was too happy to be in Switzerland & got drunk. She dint realize when they consummated the marriage until she got to know she was pregnant. She hardly wanted anything else from Nitin after she had Rahul. She wanted to be the stronger spouse so she got involved in her work as much as she could so she had a better position both at work & at home. She wanted to look good & dress great so that no one notices that there was something wrong. She had till now hidden her insecurities behind her career, her busy life, her son & her dressing. She had always felt no one would realize the real Netra if she has a great career, great looks & if she is a good mother to her son.

She had started to like Nitin but she could not accept that she had to give in to a few things. She knew she dint love him, but she was not sure if the liking would ever turn into Love. She was just used to him. Now Nitin wanted a divorce & she dint know what she should do.

“I understand Netra, what you went through at that age was terrible. It leaves such a mark on your life. But remember you are not the only female who has undergone that kind of trauma. There are so many other cases. You will be surprised to know that you are one of the stronger persons I have met otherwise most of them become quiet & withdrawn or some of them even have hallucinations. We will have a few sessions together. I am sure you will start feeling better. Now at this point in life the only thing you need to decide is do you love Nitin. Forget about people, forget about what they will think, just decide on what you want.” said Nafisa.

“I don’t think I LOVE him Doctor, but I am worried about Rahul.”

“Netra when parents do not have any love for each other & they live under the same roof just for their children the children sense the suffocation & they feel it too. So don’t worry about Rahul. If both of you are happy & still care for him that is what matters the most.”

She had a hectic day, but she was feeling so much lighter in the heart. She had discussed her secrets with someone & vented out the pain & suffering she had undergone since ages.

“I also have fear for Doctors & hospitals..”said Netra

“Don’t worry you have Ritesh as your friend so that part he will make sure that you don’t have any more fear for Doctors or medicines”, she smiled. “You never know you might end up falling in love with someone who is a Doctor.” said Nafisa.

“I am not sure of Love yet Doctor” said Netra

“No, Netra never be discouraged or disinterested in Life. There is so much to learn from small things in life don’t let these issues pull you down. You will soon be able to start a new life & find someone you really love, just don’t ignore the love when it knocks. It could be anyone you know or you might meet up in future.”

“Lets wait for the Mr. Charming if I Can find him.. Doctor, oh feel like I have gone back to my teens”, Netra said.

Netra was so relieved after the visit, she called Ritesh to Thank him again & felt she so much better.

Netra was fearing her sister’s arrival. She hated to face things, with her sister’s family but she managed.

She had had a few more sessions with the Doctor & she was feeling better. She had started to feel much secure.

3 days before Diwali Neeti had arrived with her son & Vikesh. She came to her parents house the next day. Netra was there though her mother was not in talking terms with her.

“Hi Di how are you? She hugged Neeti.”

“I am good Netra, you look a little slimmer. Have you been dieting? Mummy Netra is definitely the beautiful girl amongst both of us” Neeti observed there was silence between her mother & Netra.

“What happened both of you don’t look very happy?”

“Ask your sister, whatever she is up to. We have never had such disgrace in the family before. Everyone always used to think so highly about us.”

“Arundhati, if Netra has decided, why are you talking to her like that. Our discussions don’t seem to be changing her decision. So just keep quiet.” Said Netra’s Dad.

Netra told Neeti about her divorce decision.

Her sister was not obviously happy about it & dint want anything to do with her future. They all had a very quiet Diwali. There were no crackers or lights or sweets. Ritesh had gone out of his way to take Rahul with him on Diwali. She was happy Rahul could have some fun. Pratik had gone to his grandparents.

Netra got divorced from Nitin. Nitin was quite understanding the entire time. Both of them had realized that they were not made for each other. Nitin married Divya a few months later. He would take Rahul every week with him & Rahul also had started to like Divya. She was nice & she gave him home made cakes. Netra got back to her job on weekends too. She was happy she had more time on hands to work. She smiled to herself thinking was she really a family material??

 

She got back to her original self. But this time she was so much better. She still enjoyed her work in fact loved it but she had realized that spending time with friends & family was important too. She had got a really good friend in Ritesh. She thanked God for his gift.

Rahul liked Ritesh too, he would take him to special outings once in a while.

After a few months Netra got a Promotion & a good hike in her salary. Ritesh called up & said he was coming home for a treat. Netra called him for dinner. After dinner he told Netra, he had something to tell her. He looked different & strange in the way he said it.

“I need to talk to you Netra”.

“What is it Ritesh, is everything alright?”

“No, actually I am having sleepless nights & I am dreaming 24/7”.

“Dreaming ??but why?”asked Netra.

“I don’t know Netra, someone is constantly disturbing me & my thoughts. I have tried to push them away but if I don’t think about it I still feel sad.”

“I dont understand Ritesh, what are you trying to say”

“I am not saying anything. I wanted to ask you do you think it could be love?

Netra paused for a minute. “Is he suggesting he is in love with me?”, she thought. She panicked. How could he? She thought of him as a friend. A good friend. Did he do all of this only to impress her. He was good looking & nice no doubt, but she dint think of him like that. She decided she is happy to lose a friend but she will not give in to any nonsense.

“Rietsh I don’t think it’s possible?”

“What is not possible Netra?”

‘The love part of it. I think you should forget about it. It’s not meant to be’.

“But why?” he asked.

“Ritesh try to understand, it’s not possible”, she shouted now. She was upset.

“Hold on Hold on..is there a problem. Do you know the girl by any chance?”

“By any chance? Of course I know her Ritesh.”

“So is there a problem with the girl? Is she not of good character or something or an affair with anyone else that I don’t know?”

“Shut up what are you talking. There is nothing like that. But it’s not possible. There are no such feelings?”

“No feelings? But then why did she send me a letter?”

“Letter, what letter?’

“This”, he pulled out the letter & showed it to her. He dint understand Netra’s behavior.

Netra read the letter, it said the other person was in love with him & wanted to marry him. She quickly scanned the letter again. It was not her handwriting & in the end it said “Love , Yours Shraddha”

“Shraddha….Shraddha wrote the letter”said Netra.

“Yes Shraddha, the same girl whose pictures Mum sent me, I dint realize until she saw my picture too & we realized we were classmates as kids”, he laughed saying he couldn’t think he would ever be in love. “She always had on a crush on me while in school & so did I. But we never told each other. Till yesterday I used to think it was puppy love.” He was smiling endlessly. “I never thought I would be in love except harmlessly flirting with all the pretty women”.

“Oh..fruit..what a fool I made of myself’, Netra was giggling.

“No don’t tell me..”, said Ritesh & Netra nodded.

“Yes I thought you were here to propose marriage to me & I was irritated.” They both laughed till they had tears in their eyes & Netra had a stomach ache. She had not had the chance to laugh so much in years. Ritesh was happy to see Netra. ‘You look so beautiful when you laugh”

“I am very happy for you Ritesh. Finally you have found the love of your life. At least now stop flirting Shraddha might not enjoy it quite much.’ she smiled.

“hmm..i am not going to change, for Shraddha or for Angelina Jolie..She loved me the way I am & I have already told her I won’t change..” he was smiling throughout.

“Do you have a brother or someone Ritesh?? Just curious.” said Netra smiling she was playing with her son’s airplane.

“I don’t have a brother but I surely know of another handsome guy called Atul Khurana”. Ritesh winked.

“Atul..you mean the cardiologist whose conference were in the papers last month?”

“Well..i think so. Did you find him attractive?”

“He was definitely good looking, I must say” said Netra

“He is quite a nice man too.”

“His wife would be upset if you release any further details Ritesh”, Netra was laughing.

“Don’t worry about it Netra, Atul is a widower. He lost his wife 3 years back. He hasn’t found anyone interesting yet.”

Netra looked interested in the guy & Ritesh told her she could meet up with him during his wedding.

Netra did most of the shopping for Ritesh. She had finally taken a break for a few days. She dint get involved with anyone’s marriage so much since a very very long time, not even her own, when she got married to Nitin. She missed Nitin once in a while but that was fine. He was happy with Divya & she was happy with herself & her adorable kid. Rahul even danced during Ritesh’s wedding & he had become a little star.

“If I am not wrong the stunningly beautiful woman beside me is known by the name of Netra & the lovely kid up there dancing & having fun in the wedding is called Rahul”

“Aahh Atul..I am sure I am not wrong & Thank You. I am flattered”, Netra was smiling. She looked like a teen who had met up with a blind date.

Ritesh was watching both of them from a distance during his wedding &thinking finally Netra has foregone her fear for Doctors weather she likes Atul or not, she will not be any more scared of Hospitals & Doctors. He then got busy with his wedding.

Netra was happy with her work & her few close people around including her friend Ritesh. Nitin was happy now with his life. He was stress free. Netra’s parents finally accepted her as she was handling her life well. Netra was now waiting for a lunch meeting that Atul had arranged with her. She was waiting for some good time with him. She had even asked for a couple of hours off for lunch from Vivek already even though the lunch was arranged for the following Tuesday.

But somewhere in the midst of all the hustle & bustle Neeti was looking at the wound on her right hand the reason for which was Vikesh & wondering, if I ever want to live alone would I be able to handle it? Am I as capable & strong as Netra.

 



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