Who to Blame?
She hadn’t been taking his calls which agitated him off limits. He had been asking everybody about her but to no avail. After hours of search, he finally found her.
“Ah! Here you are, striving to keep out of sight the odious crime you tried committing! Great. How was your experience, by the way? Painful? Oh, no, no! You would’ve done it for pure pleasure, right? Slitting wrists is the new in, I sense. Even I should try. Shouldn’t I? In fact, everybody must…” before Samrat could take his words daubed with satire a notch higher, Shonali interrupted him.
“Stop it, Sam. Please! And for heaven’s sake, don’t just jump to conclusions. You have no idea how disturbed I am,” she pleaded with a choked voice, tears floating in her eyes.
Her tears disarmed him of the anger boiling up inside him. Dexterously, he cupped her face and looked straight into her eyes with an inexplicable concern, and said, “Whatever be the reason, Shona, slitting wrists is never a solution. Never! Thank Nishu for if she hadn’t caught you doing this reckless act, God knows what would have happened. For four long years, we’ve been together, facing and knocking down all obstacles that came our way and this problem would have also got a colossal thrashing, had you told me about it. But you preferred that stupid blade over me and that’s what is eating me inside. What situation forced you to take such a step is what I intend to know; a step that would’ve ruined your dream…your dream of becoming a writer; a step that would’ve brought nothing but despair. How could you do this to yourself? To me? To your family? How?”
That secluded area which had been their favourite place to hang out appeared terrifying with thunderclaps and flashes of lightning accompanying the storm. But more than that what sent shivers down his spine was Shonali’s silence. He took a stroll down the memory lane where Shonali had once recited him a famous quote which said,”Silence can sometimes be the most eloquent reply.” However, her silence was perplexing, for it held nothing which could be termed as eloquent. He tried digging out answers but to no avail. Her silence was adamant enough not to reveal anything.
He wiped off her tears and taking her hands in his, broke the silence,”Pour your heart out, Shona. What’s so grave, you can’t even discuss with me?”
On the spur of the moment, she asked, taking her hands back from him, “Will you marry me, Sam?”
Irritation wrapped him for she had left his questions unanswered by putting an off-topic question.
“Can you please riddle me the matter at hand, first? Please. Marriage can wait.”
He was clueless about that question being a part of the mystery he had been trying to unveil. He was clueless about her life being based on the answer to the question he thought was the point. He was clueless about how ugly things would turn if he disagrees to marry her. He was clueless how things wouldn’t fall in place even if he agrees to marry her.
“Yes or no?” she asked letting each word hang for more than a second to emphasise.
“Of Course, I will. Let me first…”
“When? Tomorrow? In a month? When?” Shonali barging in Sam’s words and proposing an imprudent move startled him. He couldn’t understand what exactly made her say so. The one who stood firm to her words was now drifting apart from the same, for she always wanted to achieve the happiness of being a writer before getting married. And there was no way she could in a month or even a year for that matter. This proposal, a bolt from the blue, made several things take pivots in his head.
A long, dicey silence occupied them, each wandering in their own thoughts, with instincts indicating something’s wrong, with hopes of things turning out the way they want it to, and waiting for the other to untangle the knots of silence.
After residing in the lap of silence for several minutes, Shonali took the leap. She disclosed something that elucidated why the action of slitting wrist had to creep in; it clarified why the decision of marriage had to emerge from nowhere; it unravelled the pain behind the tears she’d been shedding, the reason she had put secondary her aspiration, and the helplessness she had been going through. Just three words and everything stood crystal clear.
“I am pregnant,” she unfurled and saw the expressions on his face change from cheerless to doleful to expressionless with just his eyes blinking as if the blinks helped him escape the harsh reality which had been thrust upon him. His slack-jaw wanted to say loads but couldn’t. He didn’t know how to react but clearly knew he was the one responsible for the life in her womb.
He wasn’t among the ones who’d abandon his love and its out-turn but feared how society and his family would look down upon him. He wasn’t a coward but being a father in another nine months, when he wouldn’t have even completed his 12th, was beyond bravery. He wasn’t with her just for a mere tag but felt the immaturity behind giving her the wife-to-be tag. He was a serious lover but handling responsibilities at such a tender age appeared funny. Yes, he wanted to marry her. Yes, she was the one who completed him. Yes, he loved babies and wanted to see his, grow. But no, a baby when he considered himself one, was what he wasn’t able to digest.
Meanwhile, she could read his silence. She knew exactly what had captured his senses. The decision she had asked him to take was punishing. A ‘yes’ from him would in no way lead to their betterment and a ‘no’ would shatter every bit of hers.
She tried studying his movements.
He with his head dug in his hands made her activate her thinking cells. A clue as to what would make things fall into place knocked her understanding. She sighed and rose with a fixity of purpose.
“Live your life to the fullest, Sam. I love you and would continue ever after. Take care,” she kissed his forehead and walked away never to return.
Love is all about giving, she had always felt. And here she was, living to what she thought was worth feeling. She did not want to impose herself, and the unborn child, and the unwanted responsibilities on him. Hence, left.
He, on the other hand, sat there paralysed; his eyes following her until she diminished.
It’s been seven years now. The grief of both their families has only increased with each passing day. Shonali’s whereabouts are unknown after Samrat, out of guilt, committed suicide by slitting his wrist that thunderous day.
Now, who would you blame here? Shonali, for taking the reins of the situation in her hand and deciding to leave? Samrat, for letting her go only to commit the same crime he thought was no solution? Education? Love? Immaturity? What?
Well, the answers would forever remain buried. But maybe, just maybe, nobody was at fault but the ugly situation.
Or maybe, everything was!