And before I knew it, I had hit ' Send'.
I sat staring vacantly at my laptop screen , unmindful of the ' your message has been sent' notification flashing at me.
I couldn't undo it now.
It took a few minutes for the horror of what I had done to engulf me.
Oh my God ! I had just mailed him that I wanted him to grant me a divorce.
How could I ? How could I let go Sisir ? He was my life….
I had met Sisir on my first day at Globetech Solutions, the IT giant I worked for before taking up freelance journalism.
He was my team leader; he had joined the company three years before I did.
Young, dynamic, handsome, soft- spoken, well-educated – a guy any girl dreamt of.
Time bonded us so well, that we both didn’t know when and how it happened
But happen, it did.
It was as silent as a flower unfurling; you never know it till the fragrance fills the air around.
That’s how it was, for both of us.
Sisir was everything I wanted my husband to be ; and to him , I was the world. He loved to look into my eyes, with a deep gaze and I found myself blushing every time he did that.
In more ways than one, he invoked the femininity in me….and I loved him for it and much more than that !
After a year of whirlwind romance, we got married, with the blessings of his parents and Father John, in whose orphanage I had lived ever since I lost my parents.
And that was when I called it quits at Globetech and got ensconced in my new role of a homemaker. I took up freelance writing for newspapers to keep me occupied and at home, I learnt the nuances of my new status as Sisir’s wife and a good daughter-in-law of the household.
All was fine, till the day it happened.
I was at the gyneac’s clinic, many scans and medical check-ups later, waiting with a sweet expectation to get the good news from her that we would be parents soon. Sisir was inside, talking to the doctor. When he came out, I was quick to notice the lifelessness in his eyes.
“Sisir, tell me….why do you look so troubled?”
“ No no nothing, Astha. Can we go home now” ?
“ No, Sisir. Tell me…..am I not pregnant? What did the doctor say? Why do you look so sullen ?” I wanted to know.
His tone was firm , “ Astha, can we go home and speak on this, please?”
I chose not to ask him further, but I desperately wanted to know what the doctor had said. It was fine even if I wasn’t pregnant, but Sisir’ s attitude was what made me uncomfortable. Why wasn’t he ready to tell me anything?
He was thoughtful all along the way home.
Later that night, as we lay in bed, Sisir embraced me gently.
“ Astha, shall I say something ? It is very important. Promise me that you will be with me.”
I turned on to my left to face Sisir.
“ Sisir, don’t you trust me? Don’t you know I am devoted to you? I promise , Sisir. I am all yours. I shall be with you, no matter what.”
“Astha, we must stop thinking of our own child.”
My world crumbled that instant.
“Why ? Why, Sisir ? Why so ?”
Avoiding my eyes, Sisir patiently recounted what the gyneac had told him. How the scan for pregnancy had detected a tumour in my uterus. How it had been followed up with a test for malignancy. How it was diagnosed to be cancerous and why hysterectomy was the only option…
I looked at Sisir, even as my world of dreams of life came crashing down with a reverberating roar.
His eyes were moist.
“ I can’t lose you, love. I want you to be with me till death. So what, if we don’t have kids ? Aren’t we happy with each other?”
“Sisir, I am sure there’s a mix-up somewhere. This can’t be , Sisir. Why don’t we take a second opinion?”
“ It has been done, Astha. Dr Gia has already done that. The confirmation comes from AIIMS”.
I don’t remember what happened in the weeks that followed. I have vague memories of Sisir convincing me for the surgery, myself being wheeled into the theatre and waking up hours later with a numbness.
Of senses and soul.
A part of me died that day.
But I still had Sisir with me. The next few months passed fast, with me nursing my health back after the surgery. I took up a small job as the sub-editor of a local newspaper , to divert my mind.
We were trying to be happy as a childless couple, hoping to discover new realms of life with each other.
My surgery hadn’t gone well with my in-laws. They wanted a grandchild of their own, and Sisir was their only son. Now that the hopes had died, they were bitter. I could sense their resentment in their behavior and this increased my sense of guilt.
One day, when Sisir was away at Mumbai for a week on an official call, Ma approached me.
She spoke in what was her matter-of-fact voice.
“ Astha, look here, I have nothing against you whatsoever. But don’t you feel that we need to pamper a grandchild born in our own blood? Don’t you think you are being more of a sentimental fool , hanging on to Sisir like this? You know you can’t give him a child. You also know he will not let you go. Don’t you think you should do something about it soon? Why don’t you be practical?”
As discreet as that.
The meaning of what she said pierced me so hard, that I felt my heart burst. Without Sisir near me, I couldn’t live. How could I leave him ?
What did she want me to do ?
Run away ? Where to ?
Initiate a legal separation ? Why ?
I lay crying the whole night.
No, I couldn’t imagine a life without him.
But I also wanted to see him happy.
Yes, Ma was right. I was denying them a pleasure in life. I had no business to. I couldn’t stop Sisir from having a new life. I owed it to him. His happiness was mine, wasn’t it !
Two days of thoughts later, here I was, sitting down and writing out a long mail to him.
I was breaking the promise I had given him that night, of being with him no matter what.
I was surprised that it didn’t ache anymore. I firmly put him, Ma and Pa before me. I told myself, even as I wiped my tears away that my Sisir must get to live a happy life. My presence should never hinder his happiness.
And before I knew it, I had hit ' Send'.
I was speechless. I knew what being an orphan meant; I knew what it was like for someone like that to get a family to call his own.
I hugged him tight and sobbed into his chest, against his heartbeats.
Those were mine too.