That meeting with Shraddha ji two months ago was difficult but necessary. Amidst lot of denial, tears, fear, guilt and ambiguity Shraddha ji had somehow managed to show the right direction to Neha once again. She proved to be the North star for Neha one more time. Neha had promised her with a very heavy heart that she will not let her mind race back to Rishi and that she would do justice to Dr Tripathi, her family and their love for her. Deep within she knew it was the right thing to do but it was easier said than done.
She had taken time but eventually she had put herself together and stood up once again. Everyday bit by bit she was transforming back to being chirpy and joyful. The whole family was noticing this change. Dr Tripathi was happy to see his Neha back. Neha was happy too!
She had stepped out of the house for the first time in two months. Her son wanted to visit the park and she had readily agreed. So off went the mom and son duo! She was happily listening to the chatter of the little man about how he was going climb the slide and sway on the swing and run around the park. Just when they reached the park, the commotion caught her attention. She asked a passer by if he knew what it was about and he said some guy had passed out. She quickly called up Dr Tripathi to have an ambulance sent to the park and also appoint an assistant to handle the case.
She briskly walked towards the crowd and held her little boy tightly by his hand.
“Please.. everyone please move aside. Make way. Please do not crowd. I have called for an ambulance. My husband is a doctor and I will take him to the hospital.”
As crowd started dispersing, Neha was shocked to see who that guy was. Her face lost colour.
“Rishhhiìii…” a shriek escaped Neha’s mouth and in a fraction of a second she drowned into the sea of emotions. Exactly the same emotions she had felt when she had seen him in Dr Tripathi’s office. Tears rolled down her cheeks. She was lost. She wanted to hug Rishi and tell him that he was going to be fine. She couldn’t lose him, not again!
At that very moment, her little boy started howling. He was afraid of the crowd and all that was happening around. His loud cry brought Neha back to senses. She cursed herself for what she was thinking a few moments ago. How could she? She had promised Shraddha ji that she wouldn’t do anything like this ever. And most importantly, she would not trade her loving son and caring husband for anything in the world, or that’s what she told herself to believe in.
While Neha tried to calm down her son, an ambulance with a shrill siren raced towards them. Poor little boy got scared even more
“… dont cry baby… dont cry… mamma is with you sweety.. awww…… ” she held him close to her heart, patted his head gently and kissed his forehead. That was the moment of truth! She was sure that she didn’t love anyone more than him. Not even Rishi. Neha was now clear what she wanted from life.
The paramedics efficiently transferred Rishi to the ambulance and Neha accompanied them to the hospital. She could have gone home but she didn’t want to run away. She was going to be there and face it. Bring it on life!
Two days later when Rishi had gain consciousness fully, Neha went to the hospital to meet him. She knew that Dr Tripathi was away for a surgery at another hospital far away at the other end of the city. She had prepared Rishi’s favorite breakfast and got along with her. Her heart was racing. She was finally going to meet Rishi. She had contemplated this meeting a lot and was sure she wanted to do this. She needed a closure. Their relationship needed a closure.
She was standing outside his room. She took a deep breath, softly knocked on the door and stepped in.
They were standing face to face. Numb. Nobody spoke but eyes did. That was the forte of their relationship. They just knew what the other one wanted even before it was said. And it was true even now. Their chemistry was just the same in spite of all odds. The time lapse and memory game had not changed their understanding even a bit. Everything was just the same.
Finally Rishi spoke.
“Neha, I know you are trying to swim against the tide. But trust me, the shore on the other side of the sea is beautiful. Don’t stop Neha. Dont look back, keep going. It will be difficult, but it will take you to the right destination. I love you. I always will. And for that reason itself I will not pull you back. Don’t worry. Be assured that I will not spoil your life. Not even a bit. Even though I can’t even think of spending my life with anyone but you, I set you free. And I set myself free. Free from all the strings that are attached. We must move on Neha! Only I know how much I have prepared myself in the past 2 days for this talk. Life has given us a second chance Neha. We need to change a few things. Let’s say God has given me my memory back for a reason? And there could be no better reason than choosing what is best for you. Our love is sacred. We can’t malign it by cheating and breaking the trust placed in us. Our paths turn in opposite direction here onward. We will always love each other Neha but there is no need to prove our love to the world. We don’t need a formal relationship. Not at the cost of you losing the best husband, family and their love. Dont you also feel the same Neha?”
Neha didn’t know what to react. The lump in her throat had almost choked her. She wondered how this man could read her mind even today and how he can sacrifice anything in this world for her well being. Even though she had prepared herself for this, a part of her broke at this goodbye. It meant that she will not see Rishi again. Never ever, not at least in this life. Her heart sank. But it was needed that they part ways. Too much was at stake. She was obliged to too many people to do it. She had promised Shraddha ji that she will do it. Her husband deserved her undivided love and respect. Her son needed both his parents. Her family didn’t deserve the disgrace that will come along if she was to do otherwise. Yet, Rishi was a part of her too. She gently asked,
“What about you Rishi? Will you be able to live without me. I have my family at least, how will you cope?”
“Dont worry about me Neha. I will fix myself. God must have some plan for me. You should leave now Neha. My mom will be arriving here very soon. I am going to be discharged this afternoon.” Rishi turned his back to Neha and said sternly looking outside the window.
“Look at me Rishi. Look at me. We can do this in a better way. Come…. say a proper good bye. Hug me one last time” Neha said, crying and spreading her arms open. Rishi obliged.
She: “Promise me you will move on too.”
He: “I will. Promise”
She: “Promise me you won’t harm yourself.”
She: “Promise me you will pursue your career in history and become the best historian. “
He: “Promise. But I will do all this only if you promise to not check on me, ever again in life. Promise me that you will not try to find out my whereabouts. Promise me that you will be the best wife to Dr Tripathi. “
They released the hug, wiped the tears and moved on. Hard as it may seem, they had chosen the right path. For them, love was not about being possessive or destroying lives for selfish desires. Love is all about understanding what is good for each other. Love is all about trusting each other. Love is all about respecting the boundaries. Love is a lot about sacrificing. Love is only about love, not about cheating, snatching or destroying.
Destiny had played brutal game with them but they played along well. The game isn’t over yet. They have now graduated to level two of Memory Game. The game of cherishing the memories and making new ones!
20 years later:
“Mom..mom… see this…” Neeraj was jumping with joy with a letter in his hand.
“What is it beta…?” Neha asked lovingly.
“Mom.. this is the letter of confirmation that the great historian Mr Sourab Das has accepted my application. He is going to be my PhD guide!”
Neha took the letter from Neersj and read it several times. She caressed the signature which said “Mr. Sourabh Das” and muttered “Thank you, thank you for everything ” A few tears escaped her eyes.
“What mom, you are crying!?” Exclaimed Neeraj
“Nothing beta. You won’t understand. Call them happy tears.”
Love is an integral part of life. Love is everywhere around us. But we need to nurture it. Do not contaminate it with negative emotions. Do not let it intimidate your thought process and decision making ability though. Love is always beautiful. Its up to us to not make it look ugly.