Then I discovered that I was pregnant. I
was deliriously happy. I called him up in excitement. But his response was
unexpected. He was furious. He said, ‘I expect that you will ask me to marry
you now. The extent women will go to, to trap us in marriage.’
I could not believe that such hurtful
phrases were pouring out of his mouth. Our discussion left a sour taste in my
mouth. He would answer very late to my messages and sometimes not at all. I was
devastated. How could the person who seemed to be my ideal soulmate change so
drastically? I had been trying to call him but he was not picking the calls.
Finally, a few days later, he called back, ‘Madhu, I suggest you abort the baby,’
he curtly said.
I was shocked and then furious. ‘How
could you even suggest such a thing? It will be murder,’ I raged.
‘Don’t be silly,’ he said. ‘At this
point it will be difficult for me to marry you. Aborting the baby would be the
best solution right now.’
‘Well, you could always come back.’ I
‘What are you saying, Madhu! Are you
crazy? You know I cannot do that. Just because you are irresponsible and do not
give a damn about your career does not mean I can do the same.’
I disconnected the call then. He did not
call me back though I hoped he would. As we were now in different projects,
there was no occasion for us to interact professionally.
I became very depressed. I could not
eat. I could not sleep. My instability made suicide seem a romantic and
courageous solution to my distress.
On hearing the news of my pregnancy, my
mother came down to visit me. She wanted me to keep the baby. I fell into her arms
and cried buckets of tears. She simply held me in her arms and waited for the
storm of tears to subside.
‘You have a whole lifetime ahead of
you. This one mistake need not destroy
your bright future. I’m here for you and will help you in whatever way I can. I
will take care of the child. I am so glad that you chose life and did not go
for an abortion.’
One day in the evening after office, she
forcibly took me to the cinema. Halfway into the movie she felt queasy and had
to leave the theatre and go home. She insisted that I finish watching the
movie. I was not paying any attention to the movie but was rather wallowing in
my misery. Suddenly I came out of my reverie to find people running towards the
exit. I became aware of the acrid smell of smoke. The theatre was on fire.
There was a mad rush to the narrow exit on the far end of the hall. People were
pushing and falling on each other to reach the exit. There was a haze of smoke
in the room and I began to cough and splutter. I could feel the heat beneath my
feet. The smoke and heat were too much for me… I felt that overpowering
suffocation. Suddenly someone was wrapping a piece of cloth round my face.
Urgent hands were pulling at me. ‘Quick! Run! Run with me.’ I was being dragged
through the heat and it was almost unbearable. I was outside in the cool air
and then being helped into a car. A male voice was saying, ‘Don’t worry you are
safe now with me. I am Vishal. Tell me where do you live? I will take you
I was in bed. My mother made me lie down
to take rest. Vishal seated himself by my bed, like a guardian angel, as if
determined that, having saved my life, he would continue to protect it.
After he left, in the comforting warmth
of my bed, I discovered that I was not ready to die even though I had thought a
few hours back that life was not worth living. I had desperately felt the need
to see Abhishek and to spend time together. Yet I realised at that moment that
we really were not compatible. My loneliness had moved me to make some very
Vishal and I soon became good friends
and he became my friend philosopher and guide. When he came to know that I was pregnant,
he supported my decision to keep the baby. He was a pillar of strength in my
most difficult times.
My baby was born prematurely. It was not
surprising considering the stress I had gone through. My mother and I doted on
When Vishal stood looking at my son, I
saw the regret in his face and I said: ‘What is it Vishal?’
Then he looked straight at me and said,
‘He is a grand little thing, but there is one thing wrong with him.’
‘What’s that Vishal?’
‘He ought to be mine.’
This was an oblique way of proposing a
more committed relationship. But then again I was assailed by doubts. How much
did I know Vishal? Would he also be a good father to my child? I was the mother
of a defenceless child. I could no longer afford to let my heart rule over my
head and make mistakes in my life.
In the meantime, the IT bubble had
burst. I heard through common friends that the client in Holland had stopped the
project and all employees from my company would come back.
It was a Saturday. I was at home playing
with my baby, when the doorbell rang. I opened the door to find Abhishek
standing at the doorway. I was shocked to see him, but invited him in politely.
He sat down awkwardly staring down at
the baby. Then he said, ‘So this is my baby?’ I simply nodded. There was an
awkward silence. Clearing his throat, he asked, ‘What’s his name?’
‘Aditya. But how does it matter
Abhishek? You abandoned me ten months back. Don’t tell me that you have
suddenly started to care for us.’ I said bitterly.
Suddenly he took me in his arms and
said, ‘I am sorry Madhu. I have missed you so much. Please take me back. I
cannot live without you.’
I felt dizzy at his sudden appearance
and at his proposal. I was also extremely furious. I pushed him back so hard
that he nearly fell down. ‘Am I a doll for you to play with? You will love me
whenever you want, and throw me when you get bored and pick me up again?’
He kneeled down on the floor and with
folded hands said, ‘Yes – beat me – I do not deserve you. But I love you Madhu…
I was a fool to leave you. Take me back Madhu.’
Tears were streaming down his face. I
softened a little on seeing the regret on his face.
‘It isn’t possible. It is out of the
question. I have changed – and not in a way to bring me closer to you.’
‘I can’t see any change in you.’ He
hesitated. ‘We could have more children, you know. I could put up with more children
for your sake.’
My heart hardened again. ‘I couldn’t do
it, Abhishek. I already said it isn’t possible.’
‘Perhaps I didn’t make it clear, Madhu.
I was suggesting we get married. I am asking you to marry me.’
He said it pompously as if he was
conferring me a great benefit. I laughed aloud.
‘A marriage proposal isn’t something I
feel passionately grateful about Abhishek. I can’t think of any good reason to
marry you and I have one very good reason against. I don’t want to. Also, I am
engaged to another person now. I am sorry I cannot go back to you.’
It had been difficult to get rid of
Abhishek but finally he had gone.
But in the evening, after I had settled
down Aditya, I was again filled with doubt. Aditya was not Vishal’s biological
child. Would he be able to love him in the same way that he would love his own
child? Would he not think of my previous lover every time he saw Aditya?
Next day Vishal took me out for dinner .
Over dinner, he told me about a job he had been offered in Mumbai. ‘It would be a great opportunity for me,’ he
‘When would you go?’
‘I would need to join in three months’
time.’ He hesitated and I found myself holding my breath. ‘Would you consider
living in Mumbai Madhu?’
Would I? I could get away from Abhishek
if I moved to Mumbai with Vishal. But to commit myself utterly and so soon….? I
laid my hand over his on the table.
‘Let me think about it. Give me a little
time, will you, Vishal?’
‘I’ll give you all the time I have. I
was sure you’d say no. You’ve made me ridiculously happy by not just saying
Next evening Vishal had come to meet me.
He was playing with Aditya when the doorbell rang. It was Abhishek. He pushed
passed me into the drawing room as soon as I opened the door.
‘What’s going on?’ Abhishek asked
truculently. ‘Who is he?’
‘I think you can be more polite
Abhishek. This is Vishal. And why have you come?’
‘Oh come off it! Six months back you
were telling me you were desperately in love with me. You begged me to come back to India.’
Vishal interposed, ‘I think you have
said enough.’ I sagged with relief at Vishal’s intervention.
‘Enough? I haven’t even started,’
Abhishek retorted angrily, ‘I don’t know what game you two are playing..’
‘It’s no game.,’ Vishal told him softly
‘I love Madhu and she loves me and
that’s all you or anyone else need to know.’
‘She is mine. Why don’t you back off?’
There were two men fighting over me like
dogs as if I was a piece of meat they both wanted. I felt disgusted. I looked
coldly at both of them and said, ‘Oh back off both of you. Both of you make me
sick. Please go home and leave me alone.’
Both Abhishek and Vishal tried to see
me. Both pledged their love for me. I was amused by the irony of life. At one
point of time, nobody wanted me. Now two men were fighting for my love.
However, who did I love?
It had been two months since I last saw
Vishal. Though he tried to see me, I had avoided him. The departure for Mumbai
was less than a month away. Finally, I reluctantly agreed to meet him. He rang
the doorbell in the evening. Aditya was sleeping peacefully.
‘I am not coming with you,’ I said,
moving out of his embrace. ‘But you have guessed that already, haven’t you?’
He looked sad. ‘I know you are not. But
I cannot guess why.’
‘I am sorry but I do not care enough for
you to uproot myself and follow you all the way to Mumbai. I love you, but just
not enough. I love my son more and want to focus all my attention on bringing
He just would not accept it. ‘We could
try six month’s separation. You could see how you felt after that.’
‘I shall still feel the same.’
I knew I would never see Vishal again
after this evening. Neither did I want to see Abhishek. I cried a little after
he left. However, I knew I had deliberately mapped out my life on these lines.
Aditya cried out in his sleep. I hurriedly picked him up in my arms. With a lot
of hope, I rocked him. He was my world and I would be there to help him, guide
him and support him for as long as he needed me. He was my universe, my life.
We completed each other. He was the one who had after all made my life