All That Matters - 2

All That Matters - 1

Yes, I was happy every time I met him but somewhere at the back of my mind I was scared. Why? Because I was not sure how he felt about me and I never had the courage to ask him. Also, I was not sure whether my parents would accept him in my life.
Finally I gathered enough courage and told my parents about my feelings for Shekhar. They knew him already and he had come to my house many times to leave me towards the end of the day whenever he thought it was late for me to go home alone. Perhaps that was just an excuse to spend more time with me because almost everyday it happened to be late to return home alone.
Once my parents started looking at him like a possible groom for their daughter, they too believed what I believed. They felt I had a secure future with him.

So, I was happy. My parents had given their approval and now I had gathered enough courage to go and talk to him. I accepted my friend’s request to leave my hair open because somewhere in the corner of my heart I wanted to look beautiful, I wanted to look special for that special moment of my life when I would tell him how much I loved him. Then, why did I not like it when he said that I looked beautiful? Perhaps it was because of the way he said it.

I had dressed differently, my hair was open and I had worn lipstick. It was true that I looked more beautiful that day and it was bound to happen that he would find me beautiful and attractive like he did! He said I was beautiful but what he said after that hurt me the most. More than I could’ve imagined.
He said, “I never knew you were so beautiful!”
Was it not the simplest statement? Yes it was but at that time I did not like it. I had assumed that he found me beautiful whenever we met even if I was in the simplest outfit, without make up and no jewelry on me. So I did not like when he said that I was looking beautiful in open hair, a good dress, make up and jewelry on me and that he never knew how beautiful I was. All of a sudden I wanted to remove all the jewelry, wash my face and tie my hair back into the regular ponytail. All of a sudden looking beautiful seemed to be the ugliest thing on earth.

I did not want to show him that I was hurt and hence immediately I managed a smile but it was late for I could see it in his eye that he repented what he had said. I tried to change the topic, perhaps it was a welcoming change for him too and then the hurt never surfaced though it stayed inside my heart for many days.
The wedding was good! The couple on stage looked good together … made for each other.
But on the other hand, we as couple did not seem to click. I was feeling ugly. I tried to behave normally perhaps I had overdone that. It made him nervous, made him feel guilty. Finally I gave up on pretending smiling and excused myself saying that I wanted to use the restroom. Once inside the restroom I let the emotions flow. As tears rolled down my cheeks I wondered what it was that hurt me so much! I could not find the answer for it and hence decided to let time handle everything.

When I walked outside, the world had changed. It seemed as if it had taken a 180 degree turn. Everything else seemed normal. I searched for him in the crowd of guests hoping that I do not see him but he gently touched me on my shoulders and called out my name. I turned around to face him. I loved him so much, in spite of all the things but I had just flushed my courage down the drain in the restroom. The moment we looked in each other’s eyes I knew I would spend my life loving him and he would spend his without knowing that I loved him.
I managed a smile as he held my hand and guided me to the stage to wish the couple.
The rest of the day went in a dizzy state. Either I was emotionally drunk or the world was swinging.

Back home, I rushed towards my bedroom before my parents could see me in the drunken state. That night as I lay awake in my bedroom looking at the stars, I made a decision. From next day onwards I was going to look beautiful. My dressing table would now be filled with all available cosmetics and my wardrobe would be full of fancy dresses. If he wanted it that way, so be it.

The next day when mom knocked on the door, I was sprawled on my bed looking aimlessly outside the window. The old day had ended and the new day had begun. Mom seemed to be worried about me but I assured that everything was fine. She asked me about Shekhar and I said that I was going to meet him again to talk about us. I was not sure why I could not look at mom in the eye, perhaps she knew and hence she silently walked out of my room.

For what seemed to be the last time in my life, I wore my jeans and the kurta and walked out of the house. My first stop, obviously, was shoppers stop where I bought a few things for myself, actually … a lot of things. Next on the list was the jewelry shop, which I decided to visit later, with my mother. I was low on cash.
I called him up from one of the local telephone booths only to find that his mobile was switched off. I tried his residence number. It was attended by his sister. She told me that he had left the town early in the morning. How could I forget that!
He had told me he would be leaving Bombay for training in Bangalore. This meant I would meet him after a few months. How could he leave without telling me? I cursed him as I got into the cab and returned home.
Back in my room, as I placed all the shopping stuff on my bed, I casually looked at my cell and then I realized Shekhar had called me. My mobile was on silent and I failed to look at the mobile because of my state of mind.
It was no use thinking about it now. All I could do was, wait for his call once he reached Bangalore. I arranged the clothes in wardrobe and the cosmetics on the dressing table. I called up Priya to wish her for her journey. Priya and Sudhir were supposed to leave for their honeymoon at night. I thought I would meet her before she left but that did not seem possible according to her tight schedule, she said. I tried to make it sound casual, asked her about Shekhar and she said Shekhar was talking to Sudhir for a long time on phone before he left for Bangalore. Asking her about the details would have given rise to suspicion and hence I did not pursue the matter further. I just hoped that she would tell me on her own but she did not have anything to offer.
Finally I disconnected the call. When I looked up my mom was staring at me. From the look in her eyes I knew that she wanted answers this time and true answers. I tried to avoid her gaze and continued playing around with the clothes in the wardrobe.
I heard the door being closed and I thought she had walked out but when I turned around I saw that she was still there and she was bolting the door from inside. I was trapped. Dad had just returned home from office and it was obvious that mom wanted ladies talk. I gave in and walked in her arms. I told her what had happened. I thought she would understand me but she did not. She said that I failed to understand what he had meant to say. Finally she gave up convincing me and said that time will tell me.

Days went-by. I waited for his call. Finally one day he called me. I attended the call and spoke in casual tone. When I knew it was his call the tone should have changed to an excited tone but by now I had learned to control my emotions. With the use of cosmetics I had learned to hide the emotions on the face and also from within. He spoke for some time and then disconnected the call promising that he will call me again. Did that mean he did not want me to call him up? I thought or was I assuming things. I saved his number in my mobile promising myself not to call him.

Everyday was the same for me without him. I woke up every morning, had coffee, had bath, dressed up, applied make up, wore a gold chain around my neck and walked out of the house. I had taken up a job to support my expenses. Not that mom refused to fund but I preferred it that way. The latest jewelry now resided in my jewelry box.

My friends were surprised to see the sudden change in me and from their expressions I knew they liked it. Perhaps they were now more comfortable in my company, or so I assumed. Assumption had taken the driver’s seat in my life, without my knowledge and my emotions? I don’t know whether they anymore belonged to the vehicle that I was!
Necks turned around in awe whenever I walked past. I had kept him as a part of me by picking up his habit of walking. I walked from home to the office, from office to the nearby park and then from the park back home.

Part 3 - concluding part

Books by Arti Honrao

Depression is REAL

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