This was my entry for the creative writing competition in Carpe Diem, 2010. Carpe Diem is the intra university fest that we have every year. This was written in two hours flat with a 1200 words limit. So couldn't explore it much. Nevertheless thought of publishing it. Oh! it won the 3rd prize :D
“So should I wait for you or go alone?” Titir clearly sounded disinterested over the phone.
“I think I will be late.” Rajat was curt enough to match Titir.
A conversation like this was nowadays ordinary for Rajat-Titir. Over the years their relationship had seen phases of being pale and then turns a shade paler. Fourteen years ago they were campus sweethearts in one of the country’s best engineering colleges. Needless to say it was very difficult to convince Rajat’s proud Punjabi parents and Titir’s equally conceited Bengali family to go for a cross cultural marriage like theirs. But eventually they had to give in to the demands of this upbeat couple for a ‘love marriage’.
Titir often wondered about what went wrong between then and now. It all seemed picture perfect even the day when she told him about her pregnancy. Was it the miscarriage that made Rajat averse? Or was it because of the better career profile that Titir managed over the years while Rajat struggled for no particular reasons. Every single incident, be it Titir’s absence when Rajat’s mom expired or his refusal to father a child again, added to a greater darkness within the shadows that already clouded their relationship.
It was a particularly humid day. The traffic added to the woes. Titir was seriously contemplating asking Ira mashi why she had a fetish for scheduling all her children’s wedding during summer. She also could never sense the joy that her extended family gathered by asking her about Rajat. They all knew about the state of things. In fact Titir was happy that Rajat made up an excuse today. She clearly remembered what an embarrassment he was when he once came for a family wedding completely drunk.
“Titir, Why are you so late?” Her mother was standing in front of the stair case.
“Ma, you know I often get late while coming back from office. Besides that, the traffic was really bad.”
“Ok. Is Rajat coming?”
“I don’t know.”
“At least today you guys could have made an effort ton show up together.”
The last remark by her mother made her lose her cool. Didn’t her mother know everything about their relationship and what Titir had been going through?
“Why? What is so special about today? Or for that matter any day? Ma, I still have some prestige and dignity left. I am thankful that he declined to come today. Don’t you remember what he did for Chotomama’s son’s wedding?”
“Titir I understand. But you should always give people a second chance.”
“How may more “Second” chances Ma?”
“Titir for God’s sake, don’t you guys remember it is 22nd of April today, your wedding anniversary.”
For a moment Titir was stuck as to what to say in reply. She actually could not come up with a befitting one. She mumbled something before moving on to meet her cousin Rinku, the one who was getting married today. The very same day she had an elaborate wedding with Rajat, fifteen summers ago. How could she forget about it completely? And how could Rajat? They had planned so much about the wedding, the rituals, the shopping to be done and how the wedding album should be done up. All that seems yesterday and today they completely forgot about it.
The confusion regarding the last minute details of the wedding reached its peak. The groom’s family was already there and Ira mashi hyperventilated. Titir could not find a much more opportune moment to slip out of the venue silently. Her mind pondered only over Rajat’s ignorance to remember this day. She understood it was her fault too but couldn’t he surprise him by remembering this day once in their entire married life. Till last year she made some efforts to buy gifts and go out for dinner. And this year she also forgot. Is it an indication as to where is their relationship heading to?
All these thoughts cluttered her mind while she drove back home. Perhaps that place which she nowadays calls her own could provide some solace. Perhaps because it was a roof shared by two strangers who nowadays did not even bother to remember a common thread the legally still bound their lives.
She banged then door after opening it with her own set of keys. And there was a bigger surprise waiting for her inside.
Rajat was sitting in hall. The Asha Bhonsle song being played was of her choice, but she did not care to notice.
“You told you will be late, didn’t you?” Titir was seething with anger.
“Come on, why did you have to make up an excuse? Why couldn’t you come with me for my relative’s wedding?”
“I did not feel like.” Rajat was cold.
“Did not feel like it? Ok! Tell me once Rajat when you ever did something with conviction? You can only frown about things in life and never do anything about it. Do you have any idea that my relatives ask when you do not turn up for such a social do?”
“But Titir I think you once mentioned that I do not accompany you for such functions. Besides it does not seem that your family is particularly fond of me.”
“It is because you turned up drunk for such a function. What more do you expect?”
“That is fine then. Even you were not present when my family needed you the most.”
“Don’t bring that up or even compare. It was out of my hands, I was on an official tour when mummyji expired.”
“Oh! Please, do not give me that shit. You and your official duties always take preference.”
“Stop sulking Rajat and accept the fact that I am more successful. I could never understand why you are having an inferiority complex? Come on! I am equally qualified and did not drown myself in alcohol. I never lacked focus in my life, unlike you.”
“Yes. Focus in life that killed our child.”
For a moment Titir wished she was deaf, but it was not to be. Rajat had left the room.
The next morning was not any different from the usual routine. Titir was getting ready by her usual eight-thirty standard when she found a note besides the jewellery case Rajat had gifted her on their first wedding anniversary. Rajat had scribbled a sorry on it, the first one he had in all these years. Titir was impatient to throw it away when the concluding part of the note caught her attention.
I thought you had remembered our anniversary and returned early. I was waiting for you. I don’t know if I told you about this ‘Baba’ I met at the jogger’s park a month back. I know you will laugh at me but he inspired me to start everything afresh. But it was not meant to be the way I planned. I remember you never quite believed in ideal dates. Yesterday was one which went awry. Let’s make an unplanned start today, a day past the fifteenth year of our being together.”
Emotions overcome the better of one’s self and Titir was no exception. Only that this time Rajat was standing at the door to comfort her.