Okay People, my first attempt at a short story (so far I've only written stories that even though have a good base, don't seem to be going anywhere and more importantly, don't seem to have an ending!) I've posted the first part here and I plan to complete it in another one or two, maximum three parts (I don't intend to drag it on like the soaps!!) So Happy Reading!! Enjoy!!
Denial, Acceptance and Healing...
She had known for about two months now that he had been cheating on her and those two months had been the hardest so far. The gut-wrenching pain was too much to bear. She looked across the room to see her three year old sitting under the window and playing with her toy horse; smiling happily every time she managed to push and turn it over. She realized that she was more powerful than the horse and that delighted her.
As Naina saw her daughter play with the horse she was reminded of the day almost three years ago and the pain and agony of childbirth. But compared to what she was going through now, she would gladly go through childbirth over and over again just if it would help her get rid of the hurt she was feeling right that very moment. She looked down at her grown belly and felt a movement inside that almost said to her, ‘Don’t worry Ma, I won’t hurt you,’ and she managed a smile.
She continued to sit on her comfortable couch, watching Ruhi play with the puzzle now after having thrown the horse away to a corner of their living room. She looked around, to check if something was left to be done before it was nap time when Ruhi walked up to her, rubbing her right eye with her rolled fist, “Ma, I’m sleepy!”
Naina knew it was time. Babies didn’t need a clock to see when it was time to eat or sleep. They just knew. She wanted to carry Ruhi in her arms but couldn’t and Ruhi had made it known to her mother than she was missing that for quite some time now. “Can you carry me Ma? Please?” she pleaded with those drowsy eyes and soft pink baby lips.
It was something she couldn’t say no to. With a little difficulty, she carried her baby in her arms and slowly and carefully walked towards the bedroom. She sat down on the bed with Ruhi still in her arms and held her close, tears almost rolling down her cheeks. Ruhi snuggled up to her mother, yawned and closed her eyes while still sitting on her mother’s lap with her head nestled on her mother’s bosom. Naina rocked back and forth for a while until she knew her baby had fallen asleep. She gently pulled her legs up on the bed, rolled over and tucked Ruhi in.
She lay down beside her daughter, looking at her lovely little face; her dusky skin just like Naina had; her high cheek-bones, curly brown hair that dangled up to her shoulders, her deep brown eyes that were hidden beneath her closed eye lids. She placed a soft kiss on Ruhi’s forehead and cheeks, and her baby smiled in her sleep. Naina then lay on her back, unable to comfortably lie down in any other position, and tried to fall asleep. But all she could think of was that day about two months ago.
It was a Sunday and they had been invited for lunch at her mother’s. It was seven in the morning and Naina had woken up to Ruhi’s cries of thirst. “Ma, paani…” she had said and smiled broadly when Naina got her water in her favorite Aladdin glass. She gulped her water down and went back to sleep, cuddling up with her father. Naina watched the father-daughter sleep like they’d been tired for weeks and smiled. Since she was up already, she decided to see from her window, what it was like outside.
It had been raining heavily for the last two days and had abruptly stopped the previous night. She saw from her apartment on the eleventh floor that the sky was clear; the sun was up and bright. There weren’t many people out on the streets and there were still huge puddles of water, although the mini-streams that the heavy rains had created had disappeared overnight. At least we’ll be able to go to Ma’s without worrying about the rain, she thought.
She looked over at the two people who meant more to her than anything else in the world and saw them fast asleep. Rakesh never woke up before eleven on a holiday and Naina didn’t bother to wake him up as she knew that incomplete sleep would make him cranky.
She decided to call her mother and confirm that they would be able to make it. She picked the cordless instrument up and pressed TALK. There was no dial tone. She tried disconnecting telephone cable from the instrument and connecting it again but didn’t get a dial tone even then. She looked around for Rakesh’s cell phone and saw it lying on the night stand next to the bed.
She picked up the phone and unlocked the keypad. While she was doing that she didn’t realize that there was a new message and accidentally pressed the left key twice which opened the new message.
It was from the service provider promoting ringing tones and caller tunes. She deleted it and returned back to the inbox, where she saw the next message. She opened it without intending to and read it. She stood there for a few moments staring in shock at the screen of the cell phone, re-reading the text message just to make sure. She slumped down on the nearest chair, holding her then five months pregnant belly tight and fighting her tears.
She didn’t know what to do. She looked over at the bed again, saw her daughter and husband, and then looked at the cell phone screen again, still unwilling to believe something that was right in front of her. She felt guilty that she was invading his privacy but at the same time felt betrayed. She felt a rush of emotions; anger at him for doing this to her; hurt because she always thought that he was someone who would never let her down, betrayed, sad, confused as to why he did that. She began to have doubts as to whether she was a good wife, a good friend and a good home-maker. Where had she gone wrong? Like every other wife, she started to blame herself for his infidelity.
Since she had already seen one message, she decided to confirm her doubts by seeing if there were other such messages before she could conclude that he was in fact cheating on her. She scrolled though his message inbox and saw a few more messages from the same person. She didn’t open each individual message, but the one line preview she got was enough to confirm or dispel her doubts. She couldn’t control her tears anymore and began to sob silently, trying hard not to wake either of them.
She put the cell phone back from where she took it walked out of the bedroom into her living room and looked around. She was still in shock and decided that she needed to talk to someone. She had no intention of discussing what just happened, but some casual talk would do her good. She picked up the receiver of the instrument in the living room and began to dial but there was no dial tone. She then remembered that she had to call her mother and that the phone lines were out maybe due to the rains. She reluctantly went back into the bedroom and picked up his cell phone, took a moment to pull herself together and dialed her mother’s number.
“Good morning Ma. Naina,” she said plainly when her mother answered the phone.
“Morning beta! How are you feeling?” asked a concerned mother to her pregnant daughter.
“I’m fine Ma. I just called to say that we’ll be able to make it to lunch today since the rain seems to have stopped.”
“Oh! That’s nice. It’s been long since I saw you and Ruhi,” said her mother excited about seeing her grand-daughter. “Is Rakesh at home or is he working even this weekend?”
“He’s at home Ma, still sleeping. We’ll be there by one. Don’t do anything elaborate and trouble yourself, please,” she told her mother.
“Nonsense! I’m not doing anything for you Naina. I’m doing it for Ruhi. That kid loves to eat and I’ve already made arrangements for making most of the things she likes. You worry too much. I’m not that old,” a grandmother spoke.
“Okay Ma. See you at one,” Naina almost hung up when her mother interrupted.
“Are you okay? You sound very dull,” there was that concern in her voice again.
“Yes Ma I’m okay. Haven’t been able to sleep well for a while now, that’s all. Don’t worry Ma,” she managed to say. She didn’t think that her mother was convinced, but she had not thought about how she was going to deal with the situation. Mothers have a way of knowing when you lie to their face. But since Naina was pregnant, she thought she could get away by giving that as an excuse.
“Oh! Very well then! You take care of yourself beta. I’ll see you at lunch. Bye,” said her mother almost believing her, but not quite and the line got disconnected.
Naina sat there wondering, her mind blank but still thinking, processing the information that she had just come across. She went back to replace the phone on the night-stand, when Rakesh stirred and turned. He opened his eyes momentarily and saw her standing there.
"Hey!" he said smilingly, "Good Morning! What time is it?"
Click here for Part 2 of this story.