Each time Nasreen came to Mumbai she made a point to meet Sayed. After all, who forgets the first love? After Sayed married Gayatri it was sort of very awkward for her to meet him in Gayatri’s presence, but nevertheless, she never missed an opportunity to see her love. And this love for him made her extremely worried and brutally honest. It tore her heart apart to see Sayed in this condition. And Nasreen had vowed that she will not let Sayed spoil his life any further.
Nasreen had dragged Sayed out of the house and forced him to pull his car out. It was a Sunday and Nasreen had the whole day to herself as her inlaws had gone to meet some relative. Nasreen was no less than a daughter to her inlaws, especially after the untimely death of her husband. Nasreen had engrossed herself in her career to kill the lonliness that destiny had gifted her. To walk the path of careen she had relocated to Hyderabad closer to her parent’s home but she would often visit her inlaws too.
Sayed was very happy to meet Nasreen that day. It was after ages that he had breathed some fresh air. They drove down to south, their common hangout during college days. Sayed could not recollect after how long he was driving so enthusiastically, with loud music and someone sitting in the seat next to him. They had a delicious lunch at Delhi Darbar, the taste was still the same like it used to be years ago. Later on, they headed to Girgao Chowpaty for a stroll. It was an amazing evening. Nasreen and Sayed were like free souls wandering without worries. They made sand castles, just like they did when they were kids. They ate bhutta (corn), panipuri, ice gola and what not. They walked through the water splashing it on each other. They had fun!
Nasreen was so happy to see Sayed laughing and smiling. Just before calling it a day, they were relaxing on the rocks at Marine Drives to see the sun set. And with great courage Nasreen said what she always wanted to say!
“How is Gayatri feeling now?”
“She is ok.” Sayed replied curtly.
“Sayed, look at me, I know you are not happy with Gayatri. It happens dude. One makes wrong decisions sometimes. It’s the same with you. I am sure you realize now that it was a mistake to marry Gayatri. And you know what, it is OK.. It is ok to make mistakes but it is absolutely not OK to live with them. Why don’t you divorce her? And its not even going to be complicated. It will be a sail through divorce on medical grounds and since you don’t have children, the hassle would be even lesser!” Nasreen was trying to explain Sayed something really important, or that is what she thought!
“Nasreen, SHUTUP!! This is my fucking life and I will see what needs to be done, Thanks for your piece of advice, but no thanks!!! I LOVE GAYATRI the way she is and I will always love her even if she worsens. Get that straight!” thundered Sayed.
He got up to leave but Nasreen held his hand to stop him. She urged him with pleading eyes and Sayed had to oblige. Her eyes were beautiful even today. Nasreen was charming in every way! He sat down again, buried his head in his hands.
Nasreen was running her fingers softly through his hair as if to console him.
“Sayed, I know you did not like what I said. But it’s a bitter truth! For how many years are you going to pull on like this? What about your life? What about your dreams? What about your happiness? You deserve to be treated a lot better Sayed. Look at you, what have you made out of yourself in past 3 years?? You have lost half of your weight, the eye which were once full of dreams are now hollow, a smile that once brightened your face has turned into a grimace, a bright professional soaring high in his career is lagging way behind his peers!! Why are you troubling yourself so much, and for whom? For that female who recognizes you only sometimes, more often than not because of the flashes she gets from the past??
Sayed was listening to every word that Nasreen uttered. He was scared that Nasreen was right. Nasreen was always like a North Star for him, showing light and direction in the darkest hour. Nasreen had warned her that things will not be good with him and Gayatri when Sayed had shared his secret of loving a Hindu girl with her. Nasreen was right then, and perhaps Nasreen was right even today! Sayed was on the verge of a breakdown. He was tired with this life, with all that he had been doing since past 3 years. Sayed’s life was full of visits to the asylum, doctor’s appointments, Gayatri’s tantrums, Gayatri’s medication, managing restrictions on his own life for not doing many things because it no longer suits Gayatri’s life style.
“Sayed, it’s not too late even now. Think about it. You deserve a lot better life. Why are you doing this?”
“Because Gayatri needs me.”
“What about your needs?”
“I don’t know. All I know is that I have married Gayatri and now she is my responsibility.” Said Sayed with a heavy voice and tears welling in his eyes.
“Sayed, speak out. Open up, whats on your mind?” Nasreen said holding his hand tightly as if to indicate that she is always there for him.
“Nasreen, just please listen to me. Only hear me out. Don’t say a word and don’t judge me. I don’t need an advice right now, just give me an ear!”
“Ok, go on!”
“Nasreen, I am fed up. I don’t know what to do with my life. Gayatri doesn’t seem to improve. Ammi and Abbu are far away from me. I can’t get them here because I have no time to give them. Abbu is handicapped and I can’t add to my problems by inviting them to stay here, I am already exhausted looking after Gayatri. I love Gayatri a lot and I too feel the need to be loved. Gayatri loves me, I understand that from the way she holds me, from her eyes when she looks at me, but things are not the same anymore. It feels like that love has gone mechanical now. Every day I return to an empty house. There is no one to ask me how my day was. There is no one to look after me when I am sick. I sleep myself to loneliness and I wake up to another lonely day. I miss Gayatri a lot. It’s like she is there, but she is not there. I feel lost. I feel alone. I don’t know what to do! I am so grappled with Gayatri and her condition that I am not able to look after my parents. I am not able to be a good son. I have lost touch with most of our friends and I am not a good friend anymore, not even to you. I have pushed everybody away and have built an invisible wall so that nobody can trouble my Gayatri. But now I feel trapped inside this wall.” Sayed was sobbing now.
Nasreen cupped his face, wiped the tears and said softly “I love you Sayed, even today, I love you very much! Please come back to me. Everything will be good. I will look after you. I will not give a chance to complain. Life will be beautiful Sayed!”
Sayed hugged Nasreen tightly and both of them could not hold back the tears. It was the first time in ages that Sayed felt he has a support to fall back on. It was the first time in ages that Sayed had let his thoughts out.
Suddenly Sayed pushed Nasreen away, gently though.
“What happened?” Nasreen asked, a little disappointed.
“We should be going Nasreen, come….” Sayed said, stretching his hand out to Nasreen while he stood on the rocks.
The drive back home was not eventful. There was a very busy traffic and Nasreen could clearly see that something was bothering Sayed. She kept holding his hand every now and then when Sayed placed his’s on the gear.
While Nasreen was very happy with how the evening turned out to be, Sayed was full of guilt. Sayed was feeling guilty that he had had a good time while Gayatri was bunked in her bed – all alone!
Nasreen felt the sadistic happiness, it was the first time that Sayed had not got angry or walked off when she confessed her love for him. Nasreen could see a dim ray of hope!
“I am not going to lose you one more time, Syed!” Nasreen said to herself.
To be continued……..