Here's the second part of the story. I guess I'll be able to finish it in three parts after all (Phew!! That's a task! Conciseness isn't my strength you see...) Thank you people for the appreciation (and critical analysis) of the first part. It made me feel wonderful knowing that it made you want to read more. I hope I have been able to do justice to the second part and the flow has been maintained. As usual, comments and criticism are welcome; they'll only make me improve... (Only comments will be made public... Criticism... let us save that for phone conversations...) Happy Reading!! :-)
Denial, Acceptance and Healing...
(Continued from Part I...)
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?"
"Hey!" he said smilingly, "Good Morning! What time is it?"
When she looked at him, she could feel the love bouncing off the smile on his face and reaffirming his feelings for her. He couldn’t do that to me, he wouldn’t. He loves me just the same, she thought and smiled back at him; momentarily forgetting about the text messages she had just read.
“It’s still early for you. Go back to sleep if you want. We have a lot of time before we have to go to Ma’s,” she told him and judging by the look on his face, she added, “You do remember, don’t you?”
“Yes yes, I remember now. It had slipped my mind,” he said; now sitting up and turning Ruhi over to the other side. “Since I’m up anyway, I’ll catch up on some TV I’ve been missing for so long.”
“Oh… okay… I’ll get breakfast ready by then. You go watch your TV,” Naina said.
“Thanks!” he said planting a kiss on her cheek and jumped out of bed like a little child before he rushed to the bathroom.
The moment she was out of the bedroom, her mind started to wander again and she sleep walked through the entire process of making tea and sandwiches. It was as if one part of her was telling her that Rakesh was not the kind of person who would cheat; he loved her! And the other part was arguing with facts! Are you so blind that you fail to see what’s in front of you? You just saw the message Naina. And not just one, multiple messages. Are they not enough; the other part asked her.
She could hear Rakesh in the background, while the thoughts in her mind were still arguing with each other. She heard him come out of the bathroom and switch the TV on, his excitement when he discovered the match was on, his cheers when one of the players scored, his sighs when they didn’t; all the while debating whether what she had just found out could be true.
While she was still making sandwiches Naina didn’t realize that Ruhi had woken up, until she came and hugged Naina in the kitchen.
The morning passed with breakfast and conversations at the table about Ruhi, her daily activities, the new baby and how well Naina was getting along with it. When Naina announced to Ruhi that they were going to Nani’s place for lunch, she jumped with excitement which helped Naina speed the process of bathing and dressing her.
Ruhi kept chattering as her parents were getting ready. She was eager to show Nani her new dress and the doll that Papa had got for her. Rakesh was excited to see his daughter grow up so fast and regretted not being able to spend much time with her. He saw how closely she resembled Naina with each passing day and he loved it.
Ruhi continued to talk animatedly all the way, holding her doll tightly until she settled into the backseat of their car. Just as Rakesh was about to start the car his cell phone rang. He took one look at the phone screen and disconnected the call without a change in his expression. Naina felt odd. He hadn’t even started the car. Surely he could have at least answered the phone and said he’d call later. But then why didn’t he? What if it was her? Would he talk to her in my presence? Naina thought. Just that very instant Rakesh received a text message on his cell phone which he didn’t bother to check immediately and put his phone away. Naina was tempted to see who it was, although she was pretty sure she knew. She remained quiet for the rest of the journey and the father-daughter duo’s conversation more than made up for the silence.
Naina could sense that Ruhi was missing her father and grabbing the opportunity in order to make up for his long absences. He was doing the same. She knew he adored them both. Then why was he with another woman? Naina didn’t have an answer for that.
The lunch at her mother’s went of smoothly, except for the fact that her mother made a huge fuss over how pale she was looking. She used the same excuse and said that it was because she wasn’t able to sleep comfortably and got away with it. Ruhi’s grandparents were as excited as Ruhi was. They were glad to see Rakesh as well. The afternoon stretched to evening without any hassles.
Naina wouldn’t have noticed anything strange in the next few days if she hadn’t accidentally read the message the other day. She noticed that he didn’t answer calls when he was at home, his phone was always busy when he was traveling back home and Naina tried to call him, he had become very attentive towards Ruhi and took utmost care of her and the little brother or sister she was about to have. He wasn’t overtly romantic or attentive towards Naina as she thought he would do, just so that she wouldn’t guess; and that surprised her a little too. He continued to be just as normal as he always was as if there was nothing wrong. It was as if life was just like it should be after five years of marriage – routine and devoid of unpredictability.
Naina at first could not believe what she thought was happening. Such things happened to other people. It wasn’t happening to her. But then gradually, she realized with every sign that stared at her in her face; that it in fact was. She didn’t know what to do. She was drowning in pain and distress. She tried not to think about it, but she couldn’t. It wasn’t easy to know that Rakesh was with someone else. By now, she had come to terms with it. She had prepared herself for every possibility. She knew that any day he could come up to her and say, “There’s something I have to tell you,” or “I have a confession,” and then it would all be out in the open.
She shuddered at the thought and had cried harder each time there was a stronger reason for her to believe that he was having an affair. She tried to hide it from him and especially from Ruhi. She didn’t want to hurt her baby. She thought of her unborn child and the pain it was going through all this time and that hurt her even more.
She knew that talking to someone would help her but then who could she tell? Her mother would want her to talk to him as soon as possible and say that the stress wasn’t good for her and the baby. She could talk to her friends, but then she didn’t want them to know about it. And Rakesh’s parents; even they wouldn’t be able to do anything and it would be unfair to put a burden on a really old couple. Friends, brothers, sisters, aunts – she seemed to want to talk to none of them.
Should she talk about this to Rakesh, confront him and get it out in the open as her mother would have advised her. It seemed to be the right thing to do. But she was never good at confrontations, ever. She felt trapped without any recourse. Wasn’t there anything that could help her get her life back? And she cried again – for the pain she was in; for the answers and solutions she was unable to find; for the love that she thought she and Rakesh shared; the one she thought would last for life; for Ruhi who would be devastated when exposed to such anguish; for her unborn baby who maybe wouldn’t have the perfect world after being born.
One afternoon, as Naina was sitting on the chair by the window where Ruhi usually played, she couldn’t control her tears. It was the worst feeling when Ruhi came up to her and asked, “Ma! What happened? Why are you crying?” and Naina had no answers. What could she tell her three year old? How could she explain the hurt to her? How could she tell Ruhi that she didn’t know if her father was going to be with them forever when she didn’t know it herself?
She had asked that question too many times and every time it remained unanswered; even today, as she lay next to her sleeping baby, wondering how on earth she would be able to live without Rakesh.
Click here for Part 3 of this story.