It was another usual morning, which started with the ever sickening, sinking feeling. A feeling which would pull down all the emotions, drawing her of all the excitement life offered, a new life, with a new day, which she told herself every day but it was not working. In fact, nothing was. A feeling which would make her heart sink, with a heaviness deeply embedded in her complete system. Her chest would feel heavy with a pain which she felt. Her eyes spoke of the pain she was going through, but that was something which would find its own ways to slide quietly and take over the gleam every time. Nalin would tell her that she can never be happy because she loves to sulk and enjoys all the gloom it offers. However, she knew that it was her dying marriage and its failed attempts, to survive, which got stuck in her like a black hole. It would not allow any other feeling to take over its darkness and would absorb all emotions to reflect its nothingness. That day while dusting her bedroom, she reached to that corner of the room where her, in fact their most favorite picture was kept. It was clicked three, four days before marriage. And it had something special about it. They smiled. Together, and with an amazing innocence, their dreamy eyes sparkled, completely unaware of what the future had in store ahead. It was indeed the best time of her life with Nalin. Young, bright pass outs from one of the best Hotel Management Institutes of the country, their moments were memorable because of the blissful togetherness. And things were falling in place. They got placed in the same city under one of the leading luxury hotels. They both convinced their parents and got married within a month of their placements. Mumbai, the city of dreams was shaping their life day after day, but it was their home where the world dawned and rested. They moved out together every day with brimming confidence to conquer the world and came back with a sense of achievement.
Neetie and Nalin were both bright students at college and academic rivals, but as they say, opposites attract. After months of rivalry they succumbed to the wit and charm of each other and thus cupid struck. And here they were travelling together to the same destination like before switching channels of FM. What changed was the destination and that they were now Man and Wife.
Although their departments were different at the hotel, they bumped into each other just to plant a secret kiss or say a mere hello. Life was all rosy till they received their first appraisal and Neetie did marginally better than Nalin. Although marginally but it was better than Nalin and with an incentive of consideration for promotion in next three months. That was a bit unusual and pretty fast too, but Nalin took it as a matter of pride. They celebrated the leap with shopping like crazy for each other followed by candlelight dinner at their favourite fine dining restaurant. The night was as starry as their life and sang to the tunes of their love for each other when the ethereal moments were interrupted with a familiar voice. “Hey Neetie. What a pleasant surprise!” There was Neetie’s boss standing and his eyes spoke with an unfathomable intimacy. And there was a sudden change of expressions on the beautiful face of Neetie which Nalin noticed. Neetie got up to greet his Mr Khanna and with an unusual request, he asked her for a dance which she obliged. While Neetie and Mr Khanna danced to the soft live music playing in the restaurant, something struck Nalin and he immersed into recalling certain incidents which he never seemed to notice earlier. But as Neetie left him to dance with his boss, he could’nt stop, but consider those moments of casual togetherness he had seen even earlier between the two of them. Pulling himself out of the uncontrolled reeling of thoughts, Nalin fixed his glance over the two of them again. It was a normal dance, but there was something disturbing about the way Mr Khanna looked towards Neetie and in turn she was trying to avoid the eye contact. And after a while she came back to Nalin bidding his boss goodbye. She looked a bit disturbed and requested Nalin to leave. Nalin, bit unsure of what was happening, cleared the bill and they both moved out to head home. There was a strange silence between them. None of them took turns to switch the channels. Nalin was expecting Neetie to speak, but she was lost in a bigger turmoil, which was going inside her. The tsunami of thoughts completely took over her and the voice of his boss getting played in her mind continuously like a loop. “The choice lies with you Neetie. Take the appointment and the promotion will be yours. You don’t even have to wait for three months.” Her boss offered her a post where she would be directly reporting and working under him. This out of the turn favour made her a bit uncomfortable and nervous. She kept thinking whether she should tell Nalin all what she has been facing for past few months or keep quiet as they were still new at the workplace.
With every passing day the suspicion of Nalin grew, resulting in frequent fights between them and finally, when Neetie realized the damage the untold truth is doing to her marriage, she shared it all with tearful eyes. But things were not the same, Nalin did not believe or may be did not wanted to believe. Life had moved a bit far for Nalin which Neetie never came to know. His growing mistrust and distancing from Neetie gave space to his new found interest in his colleague in the department. Neetie got betrayed not just by Nalin but by life and it hit her so badly that it started affecting her work. Things were already bad after her refusing Mr Khanna’s offer. Finally, she quit the job to give her and her marriage some time, but time was the only thing which was not right.
Sitting in the balcony the entire day holding the picture in her hand and going back in the aisle of time, she was motionless with only her eyes speaking. The busy life of the city moved under the balcony with its usual pace and although Neetie tried to pull the cords of her own life and stop everything for a while, nothing happened as she wished. She was still looking out at one more setting sun bringing down another hope, when the bell rang and as she suddenly got up with a sudden jerk, the picture fell from the hands and the glass broke. Nalin came inside as the maid opened the door. Neetie stood still, looking at the picture smashed below at her feet. Sensing something unusual Nalin joined her only to see their picture perfect lying in pieces. The picture was dear to him too. Brushing away the broken pieces of glass he took the photo in his hands. It had been quite a long time he looked it. In fact, he could’nt remember the last time he actually did as it rested on the other side of the bed. Looking at the frame of the bygone times he looked at Neetie in the picture. Smiling as beautifully as she always did, he realized so much had changed in between. Neetie down with several ailments looked almost ten years older now and lost weight also. The one thing which he knew, he was trying to not accept for past so many months was Neetie’s innocence. Let down by Neetie not trusting him to share his problems had filled him with hatred and a forced mistrust. Nalin actually became blind to what was in front of him like an open book.
Nalin looked at Neetie and she could’nt stop herself from giving herself in the arms of Nalin submerging herself to where she belonged. Although Nalin was not ready for this and held Neetie first with a bit of hesitation, but soon surrendered himself in the melting emotions and drew her closer to embrace the time which seemed to have lost somewhere. The glittering pieces of glass shined with the hope that the darkest hour of the night is just before the dawn which seemed to have gotten over.
This post has been written for Indispire for the prompt