It was a lazy Saturday but Meghana was busy preparing Animesh’s favourite Aloo Parantha with Pudina Chutny as he had agreed to come for breakfast that day. He was leaving India that night so Manu suggested that they invite him for breakfast at least, before he leaves.
It had already been a week since that day when Meghana left the house without paying any heed to her household responsibilities… without even caring for anything… But Animesh’s entry into the scene suddenly allowed her to look at things differently. She knows that she can’t go back to her old self as that will be so impractical because they both have changed, people around them have changed, their situations have changed. But she realised that there’s something that needs to be changed to restore the beauty of their marriage. She kept on pondering about this the whole week, especially Manu’s absolute silence.
Meghana had shared with Manu about Animesh and his plight – all that he had gone through in his life, yet how he had been managing to be happy and cheerful all the time. So Manu was careful while talking to Animesh when he came for an hour and had his favourite food along with them all before bidding goodbye to his best friend and her family.
Manu left for his work after Animesh’s departure and Kabir went along with his Nana ji as Meghana requested him to do so for this weekend. Her parents always loved the presence of their grandson. Kabir too loved to be pampered by them.
Meghana began with her usual household chores one after another. She checked all the pockets of Manu’s shirts and trousers as she wanted to put them in the washing machine for a wash. But a piece of paper caught her attention. It was a receipt for a coffee bought from Blue Moon Cafeteria which startled her. She remembered the owner of that cafeteria… ‘Shikha Ma’am’. She had tried to encourage her when she was so frustrated and bitter that day. She really wasn’t attentive to her at all and came out of the café after sometime without heeding anything that she had told her. But how come Manu was there? Why did he visit that place? Was she missing out something? Is this why he remains so quiet these days?
Questions like these popped up in her mind and disturbed her. Many things came to her mind which she tried to brush off, but could not. She quickened her hands and finished all her work as soon as possible. She took a quick shower, ate her lunch and walked out of the house.
“Welcome back my child…” came the words from the owner of that cafeteria as soon as Meghana pushed open the glass door of Blue Moon Cafeteria.
She smiled back and nodded, “Hello Ma’am, thank you… How are you doing?”
“I am absolutely fine… How about you?” Shikha led Meghana to a table in the comfortable corner of the cafeteria and leaned over with her fists resting on the table.
“I am better… than how you saw me last, Ma’am.” Meghana replied with a gentle smile on her face as she sat down pulling a chair looking up at Shikha.
“I am happy… I was thinking about you all this time because I see myself in you.” Shikha responded clasping Meghana’s hand with hers.
Meghana was astonished to hear that. ‘Shikha is such a concerned lady…’ She thought and clasped back her fingers within her both palms. “You are so nice Ma’am… I was so rude that day… I apologise for that. I kind of lost myself that day… and…”
She was interrupted by Shikha when she started speaking, “Now don’t apologise to me for that… I felt it. I saw it in your face that day… I saw a young distressed Shikha in you, that day… Yes, I was like you… very jovial and very cheerful but my inner angst towards my life and towards my husband at a later stage destroyed my marriage… And when I realised it was too late… When I came to him….” She paused and sat down in front of her as tears rolled from her eyes. Meghana was confused seeing Shikha’s condition. “Ma’am…. What happened to him?” She asked.
Shikha continued wiping her tears… “I am sorry… I became bit emotional… He is still with me but lifeless… like a dead man… He met with an accident and severed his nervous system. He is paralysed for life.”
Meghana’s heart started to pound listening to Shikha. Her mind wandered around Animesh’s life story. She felt so blessed to have Manu still with her, safe and sound. She felt relieved as well as troubled thinking all that. She even forgot why she came here to this café when Shikha asked, “So what made you come here again dear?”
Meghana hesitated for a bit thinking what Shikha might think but decided to ask about Manu. She took out a photograph of Manu and showed Shikha asking, “Do you know this man who came and had a coffee here?”
Shikha smiled and said, “Yes, this man who is your husband came to this cafeteria an hour after you left that day. He was with a client. When he flapped open his wallet to pay me on the counter I found your picture in it coincidentally… And asked about it… He smiled and let me know about the female in the picture as his wife. And I thought of letting him know that you came and were very troubled and distressed. I also told him that probably his wife needed him desperately in her life. He went away without saying a word. I am sorry if I had disturbed your life more, dear…” Shikha was in an apologetic posture when she said that.
“No no… Not at all… in fact I thank you for doing that… He came to me immediately that day and I see a bit different Manu after that day.” Meghana gave a delightful glee when she came to know the secret behind Manu’s silence.
As they kept talking to each other more, Shikha let her understand how important her part in a marriage was, being a home maker. She also made her feel that Manu loves her so much and is equally struggling to come back to his old self as she is. She went back home with a new zeal and new enthusiasm to give it a try again after clearly understanding, ‘What’s a home?‘ in real sense though the result was still invisible and not evident to her then.
When Manu came back that evening he found her dressed with a beautiful red saree that he had given her in the initial years of their marriage. He was quietly admiring her beauty in his mind. Meghana smiled and brought tea, snacks etc. for him… She sat beside him with a hope as she wanted to say something but was apprehensive about it.
“Do you want to tell me something?”, Manu asked.
She felt her fingers go cold and mouth go dry. A negative response from him can push her back to her bitterness… But she decided… she will try… She will definitely take chances without caring about his responses… She smiled looking at him sipping his tea.
“Let’s go for a long ride, Manu!” Meghana uttered those words more in a requesting tone, with her fingers crossed and expecting a ‘NO’ from him. But to her surprise he agreed immediately without uttering a word. Lo and behold soon they hit the road on his bike instead of their car.
Meghana sitting behind her beloved’s back, wrapping her arms around him, pressing her head on his back, feeling the force of the cool breeze hitting at her literally, blowing all her agony off her life at that particular moment. She knew it very well that nothing had really changed so drastically for her till then but she could surely see a ray of hope shining for her – for both of them. She didn’t think much but just closed her eyes feeling the warmth of love at that very moment instead of getting hyper for the unseen future.