New Beginning - 5

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Anita was silent. She would tell him when he returned. There was something else she wanted to talk to him about. This was not the first time she was going out of town for work. She also knew that Sameer was a decent man and he would not take undue advantage of being alone with Grishma, but something bothered her. She was feeling bad about having to go away from Sameer. Strangely, she envied Grishma for being able to spend more time with Sameer while she had to go out for work.
When Sameer returned she told him that she was going out of town for a few weeks but she did not get the chance to talk much.

The next morning Anita woke up early. As she walked to the living room she saw that Sameer was still sleeping. She stared at him for some time. She did not believe that it was happening to her. She could not believe that someone could influence her like this. She could not believe that she was in love with Sameer. Sameer, out of all the people! How much did she know him? What did she know about him other than that he was an Obstetrician who was not practicing anymore for his personal reasons, that is what he had told her! Oh yes, she also knew that he was a good cook. Was all that enough to fall in love with him? She thought. Perhaps it was not, perhaps it was. Whatever, it did not change the way she felt about him. She had felt it when she had seen him for the first time. She had felt the connection when she had seen him staring blankly towards a wall as they stood outside Grishma’s room. She knew that Sameer was struggling to come out of his past and she knew that she would bring him out of it.
“What happened?” Sameer said sitting up.

She came out of her thoughts. “Nothing, I … I had come to say something.” She hesitated for a moment before walking closer. She sat next to him on the couch. Sameer shifted. Anita looked at him for a while and as their eyes met she realized something. No one had to tell her. Suddenly she got up from the couch and walked to the kitchen. Sameer knew it instantly what she had come to say. He held his head in his hands. Grishma watched standing outside the bedroom door.
It was difficult to believe that Anita was in love. Anita never believed in love at first sight. But, now, perhaps she would think differently.

As it was time for Anita to leave the house Sameer offered to drive her to the airport. Anita agreed. In fact she was happy because she too wanted to spend time alone with him.

As Sameer parked the car in the parking lot of the airport, Anita leaned in to kiss him and before Sameer could react he could feel her soft and wet lips on his. When Anita realized that Sameer was not responding, she moved back.
“I love you and would always love you, I know that you do not love me…” after a while she added “I know you love her.”

Sameer looked at Anita, clearly surprised. How could she know? Sameer thought. He had been fighting with his own self on this matter and here was a woman, who did not know much about him, telling him that he loved Grishma. Was it so evident? And, if he did love Grishma then why did he felt the urge to go and visit his wife the day he had told Grishma about his wife. Perhaps, it was to bury her memories forever. That is what he wanted to do all this while. Bury her memories and move ahead in life; that is what Grishma had helped him to do. But, now, the problem was that he was in love with Grishma who was a widow. He did not have any problem with that, but Grishma was not only a widow, she was also carrying the child of her husband. Fine, there was nothing wrong with it; he could accept her even then. The major problem was that – Grishma was a widow who was still not ready to come out of her dead husband’s memories.
Anita watched silently as Sameer once again struggled with his own self.
“Accept it” Anita whispered and kissed Sameer on his cheek. Sameer turned to look at her but she got out of the car without turning to look at Sameer and walked away.

Sameer drove back to the house. Anita wanted him to keep the car since he would need it as he searched for a new house. As Anita boarded the flight she thought of Sameer. For the first time in her entire life she had fallen in love with someone. Fallen in love with a man who loved her best friend! Grishma needs Sameer more than I need him, Anita tried to console herself. But, her heart broke into several pieces. She was going to remember her first love for the rest of her life. As the flight took off, Anita closed her eyes. She had to gather herself together. She could not let Grishma know that she loved Sameer. Never. Anita shook her head and started crying.

As Sameer walked towards the apartment he made up his mind that it was time Grishma knew everything about him. It was time for him to do something to help Grishma come out of her dead husband’s memories. It was just a matter of time, he knew it. He had come out of the sad memories of betrayal and now it was time Grishma came out of her pain. It was time for her to remember Yash as a happy memory. He knew Yash would be happy about all this. He just knew it.

Sameer did not say anything as he entered the house. He just walked in and sat on the couch.
“Coffee” Grishma asked
“Yes… please” Sameer said.
As Grishma came out with the cup, Sameer decided to tell her about his life.
“I want to share something with you.”
“That day, when I went to meet my wife…”
Ok so, finally he had decided to tell her about that episode.
“I wanted to see her for the last time.”
She stared at him.
“I wanted to get out of my past. That is what I had been trying to do for a long time. Finally I could get out of it because of you.” He looked at Grishma as he said this.
Grishma was surprised.
“Just talking to you about my past helped me to come out of it. Talking to you helped me to take some decisions. When I went to see her for the last time, I saw how happy she was with the new life she was living. That was the time I decided, I had to move on. I would have not taken the first step had I not told you about the past that day.”
Grishma still did not understand. She was missing something. She knew that Sameer’s wife blamed him for their child’s death but why did he want to forget her?
Sameer looked at Grishma. “She forgave me for what she said was my mistake but at the same time did not allow me inside the operation room for the second delivery. Obviously she did not want to take any risks.”
Grishma walked towards the couch and sat next to Sameer.
Sameer did not look up. “Mother and the child, both survived. I was happy. But later on she told me that the child was not mine.”
Grishma did not know what to say. She sat there, giving him silent company. Then, she gently slipped her hand in his. Sameer looked at her. She could see that his eyes were red but he was not crying.
The silent moment lasted for a long time. Grishma was still holding his hand.
“Thanks for listening; it really feels good to share with someone”
Grishma did not know whether Sameer was trying to tell her something through that statement. She did not say anything.
Sameer’s grip tightened around her hand. Grishma looked at him.
He stared at her for a few moments before removing his hand from hers.
In her entire life she had only one male friend and that was her husband. Today, sitting next to Sameer, she felt that he could be a good friend of hers. He was a decent man and cared for her and she cared for him too.
“What about your practice?” she asked all of a sudden.
“What about it?”
“Remember we had discussed this and you said you will think about it”
“I am still thinking” Sameer said looking away.
“Come on Sameer, I think it is time. That would also help you financially, to find a better place.”
Sameer was silent. He thought that Grishma said all this because she wanted him out of her house. She had the complete right to want so. When it was decided that Grishma would live in the same house he had reverted back the deal and now the house officially belonged to Grishma.
“Don’t worry, I will find a house soon, this week … I promise.”
“No, I did not mean it that way. I was just trying to help. I want you to start your practice. Just tell me when would you start it?”
“I don’t know”
“What do you mean you don’t know? You told me that you have decided to come out of your past; you took the first step by seeing your wife for the last time, now it is time for you to take a second step. Start your practice again. Prove to your wife and most importantly, to yourself that whatever happened to your child was not your fault. How long would you keep blaming yourself and punishing yourself for what was not your mistake at all?”

Now was the time, Sameer knew, he had to speak carefully. It was important.
“What about you?” he asked
“What about me?”
“When are you going to come out of your past?”
“I am talking about you here”
“And I Am talking about you!”
“Who gives you the right to question me?” Grishma said in a fit of anger.
“The same person, whoever that is, who gave you the so-called right to question me.” Sameer said.
Sameer’s question had caught her off-guard and hence she had overreacted. Deep inside she knew that Sameer did have the right to question her because she had done exactly the same thing and he had answered, thus giving her the entire right to participate in the happenings of his life. The fair deal would have been to allow Sameer to participate in the happenings of her life, Grishma knew it. But, perhaps it was her ego that forced her to be adamant
“Fine! Then just leave the matter.” Saying so, Grishma got up to go.

Had it been someone else in Sameer’s place he would have thought that he had messed up everything and had lost but Sameer knew that he had won the game. He had known that it would not be so easy to break the barriers. God had made women that way. Either it was easy or hard … it was never in between.
Sameer smiled as Grishma walked to her room and banged the door behind her.
As much as he knew her by now, he was sure she would come out and talk to him.
He waited. This time she took a longer duration to calm down … she came out.

Sameer was waiting for her. She sat down on the farthest corner of the couch and Sameer shifted further away from her
“If this is how you want to talk, I do not mind sitting in the kitchen”
Grishma smiled, “That is what Yash used to say”
Sameer looked at her, pleased to see that she was smiling as she spoke of Yash.
“Tell me more about him; I want to know … how did he tolerate you?” Sameer joked.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, Yash was a man with great patience, I must say. I would have quit a long time back, if this was how you got angry in the past, calculating from the rate at which you have been losing your temper on me” Sameer joked.
“Sorry” Grishma blushed
”Tell me something new…” Sameer smiled.
Grishma smiled too.
“Ok, tell me about Yash, I seriously want to know.”
Grishma told Sameer about Yash. How she had spent her childhood with him in the same house as her parents had died in a car crash. Yash’s and her parents were friends and that was the reason they had adopted her. She told Sameer how she fell in love with Yash. She told him of the night when she confessed her feelings for Yash. She told him about their marriage.
But, she could not tell him about his death.
Sameer moved closer. Grishma looked away. Sameer took her hand in his and said, “I do not want to know about it if you do not want to tell me but talking would help you.”
That moment Grishma decided it was time to tell Sameer what she had been keeping to herself for all these days. Something, she had not even told Anita. She looked in Sameer’s eyes and said, “I killed him”
Sameer looked at her, shocked.
“Yes, I killed him.” Grishma repeated and started crying.
Sameer wrapped his arm around her and Grishma gave in. She wept like a small child. She pulled her knees close to her chest and leaned on Sameer’s shoulder.
“I killed my own husband.” She whispered.
Sameer held her as Grishma continued to cry. He knew this was not it. The woman sitting next to him was not a murderer.
After crying for more than half an hour Grishma was ready to talk. Punctuated with sobs she told her story. She told Sameer about the accident in which Yash’s entire body, below neck level, was completely paralyzed. She told him how the doctors had given up. Told him how she had brought him home, hoping that being at home might somehow help him to recover. She told him how she hoped that someday a miracle would happen and her Yash would be lively again.
Then she told him how one day he had begged her to end it all.

Grishma remembered how initially she had refused but then she had to accept it. Yash did not like living like this. He was suffering. His mental suffering was more than the physical suffering. The news of Grishma’s pregnancy had come after few days of the accident and they both had been happy but the happiness had lasted for a shorter time. Visualizing himself lying helpless in bed had upset Yash tremendously. He wanted to end it all. She could imagine the agony of a person who wanted to end his life, who did not even want to live enough to see his own child taking form in his wife’s womb, she could understand his helplessness that forced him to quit before the birth of his child. The day he had asked for the favor, Grishma had gone out of the house after many days. She wanted to breathe fresh air and also buy death for Yash. She walked to a medical shop to buy a syringe.

At night, she wanted to feel Yash close to her before fulfilling his wish. She slid into the bed and slept next to Yash, feeling his cold, lifeless body against hers. She was not sure whether Yash felt her warm body but she wanted him to touch her, she desperately wanted the moment to freeze. She raised her head and moved closer and kissed him for the last time. She looked in Yash’s eyes, her own eyes brimming with tears. That moment, she wanted to die in his arms but she knew she was cursed to live. Cursed! How could she think that way? Being pregnant was a blessing. She wanted it since a long time so what if the timing was wrong. She started weeping. She placed her head on Yash’s chest. She wanted him to embrace her in his arms. But Yash did not move, he could not move. Finally wrapping a bed-sheet around her, she got up and walked towards the desk. She took out the syringe she had bought earlier in the day. She filled it with air and walked towards Yash. She could see tears rolling out from the corner of his eyes.
Closing her eyes she injected the empty syringe in his bloodstream.
She did not want to see him dying but at the same time she could not leave him alone. She took his hand in hers and waited for the moment to come.

Sameer was still holding Grishma. Grishma was deep in thoughts, her tears silently flowing down her cheeks. The only other sound in the room was that of the ticking of the clock.
Grishma broke the silence, “He wanted me to end it all and I fulfilled his wish. But, then I felt I should have not listened to him. I needed him… I need him.” Grishma started crying again.
Sameer was speechless. He tightened his grip around her.
Grishma slept after a while, still embraced in Sameer’s warm and caring arms. Sameer’s eyes brimmed with tears. He knew Grishma had suffered a great loss, greater than his, greater than what he could imagine. Now, he knew he was right, he also had learned that Grishma was stronger than anyone could ever imagine. She did not know it herself. Sameer had to show her the mirror.
Gently placing Grishma’s head on a pillow, Sameer got up and walked to the kitchen. As he cooked lunch he knew what he had to do next.
After finishing his work in kitchen Sameer decided it was time to bring down everything from the attic. One by one he brought down all the belongings of Yash. When Grishma woke up she saw those things kept in the living room. Strangely, she was not angry this time. Along with the secret she had kept buried in her heart; her anger had found its way out of her mind.
Sameer handed her a knife to unseal the boxes
“I cannot”
“Yes, you can.” Sameer placed the knife on one of the boxes.
Grishma hesitated for a moment but then picked up the knife and started cutting the tape from the boxes. It was time to let out the ghosts. Her hands shivered as she opened the first box. Tears streaming down her face she opened all the boxes one by one and the first thing she took out of the boxes was a photo frame. Yash was holding her in his arms and both of them were smiling. The lips wet with tears curved into a smile as she held the frame in front of her eyes.

Sameer stood at a distance and watched as Grishma took out Yash’s belongings.
“Let me help you” saying so, Sameer picked up a few things in his hands and walked towards the bedroom.
He placed the photo frame near the bed, placed the books in the empty shelf.
Grishma entered the bedroom with Yash’s cologne etc.
Everything that Grishma had packed away was back to their original places. Grishma looked around. She felt Yash’s presence and this time it made her happy.
“I know forgetting Yash won’t be easy, in fact I do not want you to forget him. Remember him as a happy memory. A memory that adds a smile to your face in times of pain and not the memory that causes pain.” Sameer said placing his hand on her shoulder.
Grishma looked at him. Their eyes met and Sameer told her what he wanted to tell her “Yash loved you Grishma and he will always be watching over you. He has been watching you all along, that explains the gloominess of the house. Yash is not happy because you are not happy. That explains the pain. The child, Yash’s child does not want you to leave the house because Yash does not want you to run away from memories. Yash wants you to face it and remember him as happy memory. Grishma, Yash wants you to make a new beginning”
“I love you and I will be watching over you. Remember me as a happy memory and move ahead in life, make a new beginning” Yash’s last words echoed in Grishma’s ears.

Grishma looked away trying to hide her tears from Sameer.
“Don’t be ashamed to cry and let your emotions flow. But cry only so that when you are done with it you feel as if a burden is lifted off your chest. Let your tears not scar your heart.” Saying so, Sameer left the room leaving Grishma alone with her memories. Grishma sat on the bed and looked at the photograph. Yash was smiling at her and unknowingly her lips curved into a smile.
That night Grishma spent time standing at the window, looking at the stars, just like Yash loved to stare at them. The cold breeze pierced her skin and she wrapped a shawl around her to keep herself warm.
Sameer did not speak a word to her after he had left the conversation with an open ending. They did not have lunch and they did not speak as they had their dinner. Sameer did not look up from his plate but Grishma looked at him occasionally.
As Grishma spent time in her bedroom, Sameer spent time at the window in the living room, staring at the stars. He knew Grishma would be doing the same thing.

Grishma turned away from the window and walked to her bed. She slid into the bed and pulled up the covers till her waist. She stared at Yash’s smiling face and she did not know when she fell asleep.
In the middle of the night as the temperature dropped further, the cold breeze coming inside the room through the open window made her shiver. She felt two warm hands pull up the covers till her neck and a warm touch on her cheek. She opened her eyes and she saw Yash. He was taken aback to see that he had awakened Grishma. But, Grishma smiled. Within seconds Yash’s face changed into Sameer’s face and then she fell asleep.
In the morning, when Grishma thought about it, she was not sure whether it was a dream or was it real. She turned towards the window. It was closed. She remembered keeping it open at night.

She walked out of the bedroom. Sameer was not there in the living room. To her surprise she found herself searching for him. He was not there in the house. The breakfast was kept on the kitchen platform. There was a note next to the dish.
“Going out”
Grishma got ready and had her breakfast. As she waited for Sameer in the living room, Grishma thought of what Sameer had told her the previous day. More than what he said, how he said it made the difference.
It showed that he really wanted her to be happy.
It was a long time, Sameer did not come home. She started getting restless. Involuntarily she looked towards the corner where Sameer had kept his bags. They were still there.
“Where did he go so early in the morning?” Grishma wondered.
She decided to wait for some more time before beginning to make arrangements for lunch. It was getting late, nearing lunch time but Sameer had not yet returned. She entered the kitchen to prepare lunch. She cooked Sameer’s favorite dishes. She finished her work in kitchen and waited for Sameer. She was hungry but she waited for him. Sameer did not come home for lunch. She kept the food in the refrigerator and walked to her room.
Grishma spent time in her bedroom, sitting on the floor, holding her knees close to her chest and her eyes brimming with tears and fixed on Yash’s photograph.

In the evening when the doorbell rang, Grishma was still sitting in the same position, knees close to her chest but she was holding the photograph close to her heart. The tears had dried and had left their marks on her fair cheeks. She had not bothered to wipe the tears.
Grishma opened the door and when she saw Sameer, she reacted.
“You could not even tell me where you were going?”
Sameer entered the house without answering.
“You could not even call me to tell me that you won’t be coming home for lunch?” Grishma complained.
Sameer walked to the kitchen and drank water.
“Answer me. I am talking to you...”
“Why should I answer you? I am not answerable to you. I live in your house and I am not a part of your life…” Sameer shouted.
Tears welled up in Grishma’s eyes and she turned to go. The words hurt her more than she imagined.
“I am going” Sameer said
Grishma turned around to look at Sameer.
“I have found a house. I am leaving.”
“Oh” that was all Grishma could manage to say.

There was an awkward silence between the two. They stared at one another. Each one of them, trying hard to fight the conflict inside their mind!
Suddenly Sameer held her hand. Grishma did not get any time to react. Sameer pulled her closer and kissed her on her lips. He could taste the salt of her tears. Grishma tried to free herself but Sameer held her tightly against his body. He continued kissing her though Grishma did not respond. Finally, with all her strength Grishma freed herself and the moment she stepped back she slapped Sameer.
“How dare you?”
“I love you” Sameer said
Grishma slapped him again
“I still love you.” Sameer said looking in her eyes.
Grishma looked away.
“I cannot love you” Grishma whispered
“What do you mean you cannot? It is either, you love me or you do not love me, there is nothing like - you cannot!”
“Anita loves you.”
“I love you” Sameer said
“I don’t” Grishma said
Sameer’s eyes brimmed with tears. He started stuffing his belongings in his bag. Grishma stared at him
“You are leaving now?”
“Yes” Sameer said as he finished packing.
He picked up the bags “Goodbye”
“Bye” Grishma said with a shaking voice.
Sameer walked out of the house.

Grishma could not understand what was happening to her. She kept staring at the open door expecting Sameer to come walking through it and thus prove that all that had happened was nothing but a dream. She looked towards the corner where Sameer had kept his bags. They were gone and so was Sameer. She sat down on the couch and started crying.
Her entire body felt heavy. She had never felt like this before. She spent the whole night sitting on the couch. She did not sleep. She was desperately seeking answers. Answers to the questions Sameer had left her with, answers to the questions she had been asking herself as she had stared at Yash’s photograph earlier in the day. She did not get any answers.
In the morning, she walked to the washroom and as she stared at the mirror she saw Sameer. She saw him pulling her closer and kissing her on her lips. Grishma splashed water on her face. As she entered the bedroom and looked at Yash’s photograph, suddenly she had answers for all her questions.
Grishma waited for the phone to ring. She wanted Sameer to call her. She wanted to talk to him, wanted to get things straight. But he did not call up.

On the other hand, Sameer paced his room holding a cordless phone in his hand. He wanted to call Grishma. He could not tolerate seeing her in pain. He could not see her crying as she waited for his call. Sameer looked out of the window once again. He could see Grishma pacing her living room. He dialed a number and waited. The bell rang and Grishma ran to attend the call
It was Anita’s call.
Sameer saw Grishma talking on the phone. He kept the phone back on the base. Sameer hated to do this but he had to do it, for himself and for Grishma. He knew she loved him but she was not ready to accept it, just like he had not accepted it initially. It was only after staying away from Sameer would she understand her love for him.
Sameer could not go away from her; he wanted to keep her in front of his eyes. He wanted to make sure that he could watch over her and see that she was fine. So, he had bought a flat in the building opposite to that of Grishma’s. He had to take loan from the bank and for that he had taken the help of his ex-wife who signed as guarantor.

Grishma told Anita about what had happened. Grishma did not know that Anita was aware of everything. Sameer had called up to tell her that he had left Grishma’s house. He had also told her that he had confessed his feelings to Grishma. Anita wanted to talk to Grishma. She knew that Grishma’s feelings would be evident in her voice. She understood Grishma too well.
And after hearing Grishma’s voice, Anita knew that she had lost Sameer forever.
Anita cried after she disconnected the call.
Grishma had asked her to return soon. Anita did not want to return.
After a few days Anita called up Sameer and told him that she was coming back and she wanted him to come to the airport.

Sameer waited for Anita’s flight to arrive. When she walked out of the airport Sameer could read from her face that she had cried in the plane, though she had adjusted her make up. Anita hugged Sameer the moment she walked closer. Sameer wrapped his arms around her.
Sameer dropped her at Grishma’s residence and handed over the keys to her but he did not go up to Grishma’s apartment.
When Anita told Grishma that Sameer had come to drop her, Grishma was silent.
“How is he?” Grishma asked
“Just like you” Anita replied.
Grishma looked at Anita.
“Come on Grishma, accept it… You love him.”
Grishma did not say anything.
“Yash would be happy to know that.”
“I know” Grishma whispered.
Anita hugged her.

Sameer was sitting in a park when his mobile rang. It was Anita’s call. He was not in the mood to attend any calls but something inside him told him that he should attend that one. He was glad that he attended the call. Anita had called up to say that Grishma wanted to see him
“I will be there”
“No, we are not at home. Come to the hospital.”
“What happened?”
“She’s pregnant, remember?”
Sameer disconnected the call and rushed to the hospital where Grishma was admitted before.
As Sameer entered the room he saw that Grishma was in pain. In spite of the pain Grishma smiled as she saw him. Grishma’s doctor smiled as she walked out of the room.
”Hi!” Grishma whispered.
“Hi” Sameer moved closer.
Silence. Grishma screamed with pain and instinctively Sameer moved forward to hold her hand.
Grishma looked at him. It was time for Sameer to know about her decision.
“Listen, I want a favor from you”
“Anything…” Sameer promised.
“I want you to conduct the delivery” Grishma said looking in Sameer’s eyes and she knew he would not be able to refuse.
Grishma screamed once again because of the contraction and it was time to go.
“See you in the labor room” Sameer said as the nurse came in to attend to Grishma.
As she was being wheeled out of the room, Grishma looked at Sameer and as their eyes met they both knew that everything was going to be fine. They knew they had reached that stage of their life when both of them were ready to make a new beginning.