The house looked beautiful. Everything was perfect right from the table mats to the crockery to the guest lists. If he was honest, the entire credit went to Sakshi.
Sakshi was his better half, an interior designer and the woman he married after an arranged meeting, for 19 years now. Their sons had grown into such lovely individuals, courtesy of Sakshi’s liberal and modern upbringing. He was always at loggerheads with them, be it about a cricket match or who would win the upcoming election, but with Sakshi, they bonded over everything under the sun, right from who won ‘Big Boss’ (Sheesh, though I’d act all classy and busy on my laptop when the three of them rooted for their favourites, which incidentally was the same for all, I’d sneak peek at the screen to catch up at the ongoings) to the most difficult decisions, “What is going to be the Menu for the day?”
Yes, I agree, I wasn’t the most ideal husband or father. My father himself had suffered a lot to make ends meet and to give me and my sister the life he dreamt for us. I had decided early on that my family wouldn’t ever suffer as we did, that they’d be entitled to a life they deserve with no compromises.
Seeing Sakshi wind up the party, I felt a tug at my heart. She was the same all these years. Nothing had changed. Her calm demeanour, her silky smooth skin, her smile, the way her eyes twinkled when she bit into her favourite tender coconut ice cream, except for perhaps her love.
I knew she wasn’t too happy with my frequent travels and long nights at work and she also understood. Whatever misgivings she might have had with me, she trusted me completely and for that, I couldn’t be happier. Busy making a life for myself and fulfilling long-sought ambitions, I missed on giving time to Sakshi who, trying to put the family together, felt undermined.
I was going to rectify that. Going behind her, I was about to hold her in my arms, when just at that moment, she turned with tears in her eyes.
“I can’t do this anymore. I’m tired of playing the perfect wife and mother, of playing host to people I barely know. I’m tired of sleeping alone on our marital bed for nights on end. I know you are working to give us a better life, but did you ever think, maybe me and the boys need you more than the luxury you splurge us on. It’s been 19 years, 19 years where I hoped every single day, the next day would be different, your priorities would change, guess I was a fool. Let’s end this, saying so she burst into inconsolable tears.
Shell-shocked and frozen at what just transpired, just when I was about to speak, Sakshi started rumbling. On reflection, I held her before she could take the full fall and carried her to the nearby sofa. She had passed out. In my panic, I called my family doctor, Paresh, who asked that she be admitted to his clinic for some tests.
The entire time she was in the examination room, I paced the corridor like a lunatic. There was so much I wanted to tell her, explain my side of things. Ask her to forgive me and to give us a fresh start, but it all would have to wait till they discharge her.
Paresh, out of the room, asked me to meet him in his cabin. His demeanour made me worry more.
“Ravi, was Sakshi tense recently? Her blood pressure has shot up a lot, and she seemed to have a problem with her vision. You should get that checked.”
Ravi immediately booked an eye specialist appointment for Sakshi and after nearly an hour of examination he said, “age-related macular degeneration (AMD)”. Her tense state of mind and high BP aggravated it. She is losing her vision. 6 months max, it might turn into total blindness”, the doctor explained.
Ravi started spinning. No, this is not what he had ever expected to hear. If anyone should suffer, it should be him, not his Sakshi.
The eye doctor couldn’t have been more accurate. Sakshi started seeing things blurry more often. She could hardly oversee the day-to-day household activities any longer and her presence at work was no longer beneficial as she couldn’t distinguish between designs and colours anymore. She felt dejected and sullen. The things that gave her a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in all the years when she felt neglected by me, were being taken away from her.
I would catch her fumbling to find the glass of water near her bedside, many times, I’d see her holding out her hands trying to find her way to the washroom. She was losing her sight at a rapid pace which was exactly what the doctor had predicted, but coming to terms with it was an altogether different issue.
In all the frenzy between appointments and consultations, the discussion of the party night had taken a backseat. I could feel it in Sakshi’s behaviour and helplessness that she wanted to discuss the incomplete matter, which is exactly what I planned to do. Pending matters should be put to rest, enough of running.
2 years later
Ravi watered the plants and marvelled at the thriving garden. In his hectic schedule, he had forgotten the simple joys and pleasures life offered. His sons, both working for multinationals in their respective fields, had moved out of the nest and were to visit them for lunch today. Sunday was family day, he had declared.
He picked up the roses and carefully removed the thorns, tying them into a bunch. He set them into the living room vase, exactly where she liked them.
As if on cue, Sakshi sauntered in and wrinkled her nose, a habit she had developed post her vision loss. She had relied more on her other senses. She now didn’t even need the stick and had got attuned to the house layout, the one designed herself with love and skill. She laid the cutlery with the same ease and grace as before. So much had changed and yet everything was the same.
I had cut down my work hours and spent most of my time with Sakshi doing the things we never could. We had travelled to places on her bucket list, where she saw them from my eyes literally.
Probably when Sakshi lost her vision, I gained back mine.
The night when I was rushed towards the sofa wasn’t easy. Everything was getting blurry until Ravi called our family doctor. Since that unforgettable night, full of nightmares, not just for me but also for my kids and my husband.
I screamed all the emptiness, I screamed as my vocal cord would have been damaged. It wasn’t the pain of losing my sight but the pain of every night which just exploded like a volcano.
We all have read this metaphor in our geography classes. Life seems much more difficult when we are at school but life, exactly, is a superficial reality. Haha, I’m glad I remember such lessons from school too to provide you with a comparison.
The marriage was solemnized with luxury. Yes, I am a daughter of a multimillionaire, and also a daughter of a lonely mother. When I saw Ravi’s photo 19 years ago, I just closed my eyes to feel his simplicity. I never wanted an image of my father’s doppelganger. I have seen enough in my childhood as a dysfunctional family. The family has every luxury, crazy dinners, vacations full of shopping, but no time for each other. Let me clear out, on vacations, my father was either still on call or just sent us to fill our albums.
I still remember, the other day when you (to Ravi-(actually to herself) asked, where is your father in most of the photos?
I felt like I was there, right to show you and scream at you!
But I have all the luxury now, as per you! Your favourite dialogue, I never let you feel any less than your father’s home? Have I?
I hope the nights I used to turn towards your side to find you, my hand could touch you, feel you!
The touch when you ran towards the sofa where I was flabbergasted by your touch on my waist. The naked area between my blouse and saree. It seems like ages like I felt your touch. I wanted you to love me, make time for me.
I would have never gotten it. I am glad I got you due to this illness. “To have something we are supposed to lose something” seems an appropriate saying to me.
Along with this illness, I failed even science, the bank balance is not of any use. As I am not being operated on and am not lucky to even get the transplant.
My kids have enjoyed being with me along with you as if they have hit a lottery. I mean it’s not only your touch, it’s about being with you without your Bluetooth headphones. As a child, I have missed a lot and I never wanted the same for our children. The legacy will be continued but not the emptiness in our lives.
I have a confession to make. It’s been a while you have completely changed towards your family. And I have seen it with the eyes of my heart. This slowly poor vision has the privilege of feeling your love like never ever.
I have seen the way you devoted yourself to set things as per my need. Like from putting extra cushions on the sharp corners of the furniture to removing the sharp objects from the kitchen and every other corner of the house. From taking care of my medicines to reading something to me every day. I could keep my hobby alive because of you!
But the confession I want to make may not ever be made. Just whatever I have, we have today wouldn’t be possible without our friend and our family doctor.
He made me learn to live like a blind woman way before it was all planned.
Yeah, you have heard just right! Actually, you haven’t heard it at all. I am talking to myself. I still am!
It was Paresh. Whom I approached before you finally approached him regarding my illness. But my approach was different. I approached him to seek a lawyer to mutually separate our
ways. He asked me that if I still have a love for you in any corner of my heart then he has a solution. My answer to his question was obviously yes, I love you for what you are. Even after being busy and staying far from me for days, you haven’t given me any chance to doubt you. You loved me truly but you loved your work more like my father.
It’s true, all dysfunctional families aren’t the same. Not all have extra-marital affairs or love triangles or divorces. Even families having issues like mine are considered dysfunctional!
So Paresh showed me the way to the blind school. I learnt and adapted blind ways way before you got to know my illness.
Oh darling I am just glad to confess, yet silently that I reached that pinnacle to find your love where you would not be able to think of!
Haven’t I too perfect to be an actor?
It was Paresh to whom I owe my life. He helped me to get you back in life.
Hey Sakshi, It’s your medicine time.
Uhmmm… she tightened her lips, she took the glass of water in her hand and yet once again pretended to eat those plethoras of capsules. And it might now give birth to the capsule tree!
Remember, in our childhood when by mistake we used to engulf something that was supposed to grow a tree in our stomach.
So, let those trees grow like weeds in the pots of my house. But, as Paresh promised me that he will never let anyone know about our plan.
Sakshi sauntered in and wrinkled her nose, a habit she had developed post her vision loss(apparently). She had relied more on her other senses(in fact the plan). She now didn’t even need the stick and had got attuned to the house layout. She laid the cutlery with the same ease and grace as before. So much had changed and yet everything was the same(Isn’t it?).