Co-Authored with Divya Venkateshwaran
Looking at the heavenly vault
Hidden depth of the blue skies
The myriad in its color voicing exalt
That innocent smile, a feast to my curious eyes
The room smelt acrid with a pungent odour of medicines and blood. The heart monitor beeped in cadence with the buzzing of the fluorescent lights. The faint drip of the transfusion and the humming of the fan as if all were in harmony.
The silence of the night was disrupted by moving trains announcing that everything was well and life would go on. To the right of the bed was a roof terrace rife with flowers, a bird feeder hanging, where birds visited occasionally. To the left of the bed was a radio-equipped with tapes and CDs. The favorite station was tuned to classical music.
I took pride in pushing Dil’s wheelchair and taking care of her while Dil showed a sign of contentment on her face and she had complete faith in me. We were ever so in love, smiling at each other and there was an aura of understanding around us. I had to travel a great distance and spend a lot of money yet wanted the best treatment for Dil.
As time passed Dil became violent and the failing treatment started showing on her health. Doctors were insisting on a medically induced coma but I had second thoughts. Dil was in pain and I wanted her to rest. Families were playing a vital role in making it difficult for both of us. I was not equipped to handle the situation especially when the person who was suffering was Dil. Every time she went in, she was diagnosed with something new. She was getting panic attacks and sometimes it felt awful when she couldn’t catch her breath.
She was on a respirator to stabilize her vitals and in a medically induced coma. Dil’s parents and I would talk to her often while she was in a coma. They updated her about the routine they followed. I cracked jokes, only to not get a response from Dil.
I was thinking aloud, “If she comes out of this I am going to propose marriage for sure,” unaware that Dil’s mom had already entered the room and overheard my thoughts.
“What are you up to? Whatever gave you this idea!” She ground her teeth as she questioned me.
I was jolted out of my reverie. Dil’s mother was glowering and I told her that it was not what she was thinking. That seemed to calm Dil’s mother and she sat down by her daughter’s bedside. As I walked out of the room to catch some air, I was taken back to the day Dil appeared.
“I am sorry” I said, as the nurse, whose leg I had stepped on glared back. I realised that it was the hospital and looked around the lounge. A number of people were catching up on their sleep as they waited for their loved ones. I knew that it was going to be a long wait for Dil to recover but I was going to be there no matter what.
For me it was a never-ending dream. I could hear them, my brain could sense it but the brain was not processing the word ‘respond.’ I also ran out of sense of time.
In my comatose mind I went back to that day when I first met Rusham.
It was a pleasant afternoon when I walked into that huge bungalow. As I sauntered in I saw someone sitting by the pool immersed in a book. Not noticing me, the bartender was called out to and asked for a drink. I went on without paying much heed myself.
By evening, the house was abuzz and Rusham was surprised. Unaware that there was a new housemate, Rusham walked in on me decorating the barren walls of the house. Though annoyed, Rusham liked what was happening. Even better, I had found a place in Rusham’s heart. Over time, we both had grown close. Even when we weren’t together at home, we remained connected. None of us wanted to miss out on the other and our meeting ground was our phone.
As sleep set in, I was taken back to those days.
After having known Dil for six months, I knew that she was the one. I had known a lot of people but had never felt so for anyone. The question was whether Dil knew how I felt about her and how she would react to what I was going to tell her. I knew the chance had to be taken, else it would never be known.
Everything had been arranged for at the country resort that we were going to, for the weekend. I had booked the entire resort to surprise Dil. Everyone had been instructed of their roles well in advance. I hoped that it would be the best weekend! As Dil walked to the dinner table that evening, she was surprised that there was silence around.
“Is this place haunted?” I laughed nervously.
“No it isn’t, but deserted for the weekend yes”, Rusham smiled at me. “I have booked out the entire resort for our stay. In case you decide to beat me up after what I have to say, at least there won’t be a crowd jeering”, Rusham added.
I was looking around curiously and as soon as I turned around I saw Rusham down on one knee. Tears started streaming down my cheeks and even before Rusham could say anything, I was holding Rusham in my arms.
“What took you so long? I have been waiting for this moment but thought it would never be mine.”
“You have been named apt just for me. You are my heart and my life now”, Rusham replied.
I was on Cloud Nine and I knew that there was never going to be anyone else for me.
A year into the relationship, which we had managed to keep hush, it was that fateful night that I saw Dil in shambles. I woke up with a jolt, to a droning noise echoing in the room. As the light came on, I saw Dil in the far corner of the room cowering and muttering under her breath. As I approached her, Dil’s muttering became clear. She kept saying, “Leave me alone, leave me alone.”
Sitting down beside her I held her close to comfort her and that took some effort as she resisted. I knew that Dil needed to be consoled and cared for as she had told me of all the horrors of her life. I knew what Dil was going through as I had been in situations that couldn’t be mentioned and hence, no one in my family knew.
I had vowed that Dil was always going to remain in my life. The love for Dil that I felt had made me stronger and happier and no one or nothing was going to take that away. I knew what it was that we were heading into, but that had become my guiding force.
As I held on to Dil, she calmed down and drifted into slumber. Carrying her to bed and tucking her in was something I enjoyed. I sat by Dil’s side all night so that she would not have to go through anything alone if she did wake up to a nightmare.
“Hey Sweetheart, wake up. What are you doing on the chair here?” Dil was running her fingers through my hair and that was the best way for me to wake up. I knew that Dil had no memory of what had happened last night.
“I wanted to keep looking at your face as you slept. Didn’t realise when I fell asleep. Let me make you breakfast in bed.”
I decided against telling Dil anything and went about making breakfast and ensuring that Dil was calm and had rested well. I knew had to consult someone to be prepared for any such events henceforth.
My parents and Rusham took turns at the hospital. My parents didn’t want us to be together. They didn’t like how Rusham took care of me and managed the home front. They chose to stay at our relative’s place.
Daily trips to the hospital were taking a toll on Rusham as well as my parents. Rusham had shared with the visiting nurse about taking care of me at home. Rusham was also running out of money and home would be a better and safer place for me.
Rusham knew that my parents would never agree for us to be together but that was something that would never happen. Rusham was determined more than ever to get me out of the condition I was in. Rusham wasn’t one to give up easily.
Rusham made arrangements for my parents to live in another of Rusham’s houses, which of course they didn’t know about, before I was brought to stay there. Rusham wanted to be there for me all the time. Rusham’s love for me was the only thing Rusham lived for now.
It was time Rusham took a stand about our relationship. Rusham was planning on how to tell my parents about us. Rusham wanted them to understand how we were the best fit for each other, that we have been the happiest ever since we had met. That our union was the only way for my survival was what Rusham wanted my parents to understand.
I was draining out each day. Dil’s deteriorating health was bringing with it a real sense of hopelessness, uncertainty, and pain. If only I could take away that suffering from her. More than anything we wanted to build a life together. I was cooking tasty food for her, putting on loads of washing, and being there with her to listen to her silence. I ached to feel her kiss, her throwing the blanket over me before she headed for work or snuggle into her arms.
I travelled often, as an event management professional, wandering forth into various states, and no trip was longer than two to three days. This time it was a week and both Dil and I couldn’t think of being without each other. I returned a day earlier, only to find Dil ill. Not that e had not been in touch over video calls. Dil felt uneasy through the night and she couldn’t get out of bed, the next morning.
“How come you are back a day earlier?” Dil was surprised to see me.
“Anything for you Dil, and you know I can’t do without you. Look at you, I was not here and look at what you have made of yourself!”
As I recovered, my parents saw how dedicated Rusham was. Rusham ensured that they were never left wanting for anything. Rusham was working round the clock with all the travel and work that was coming in but making time for me. They were beginning to thaw and knew that had it not been for Rusham, they would have lost their daughter. They knew they had to talk to Rusham about what was to be.
“Can we have dinner together tonight? We need to talk to you about certain things.” Rusham knew that trouble was knocking as soon as my father said this at the breakfast table but there was no other way. This was an opportunity that Rusham had been seeking – time alone with them with their willingness.
“I will wrap up my meeting and be here by 8:00 pm. I hope it won’t be late for you.” Rusham wanted as much time to prepare for the evening and knew that it was the only chance to tell them how we felt for each other.
“8:00 pm then”, said my mother.
Rusham took their leave and rushed to office anticipating the dinner meeting. My fervent prayer was for everything to work out. The day seemed to be ending real quick, but there was no escape from whatever was going to come.
“Good evening Rusham. We have been eagerly awaiting your arrival”, father said.
Rusham nodded and was stupefied at the scene in the living room. I was there, all bedecked, at my best. There were decorations and a cake sitting in the middle of the table.
“Sit down Rusham. We would like to make an announcement. It is about Dil’s marriage”, my father continued.
I could see Rusham’s heart sink! I could see Rusham’s eyes moisten. Rusham had told me ealier in the day that my parents would be told about our relationship.
“Dil told us everything about your relationship and we have seen how dedicated you have been. We announce your wedding and are thrilled to have you as our daughter’s life partner”, said my mother.
Rusham broke down. It had turned out better than she had anticipated. She knew that it was going to be a wonderful life that she and I were going to have. All that we had gone through together had brought us to this moment.
Ours is a ‘Forever Love Story’.
Liked the story
Liked your take