Will You Marry Me Again?
She was dead. This very night, seven years ago.
The streets were buzzing with clamor, a definite indicative of the festive season. The heavy rains, the snow, the sleet, winds blowing with callous ferocity- nothing could dampen the spirits of people. This was a time to celebrate, to make merry, to forgive and forget. This was the day when the savior was born; born to redeem mankind of the shackles of eternal bondage and absolve them of their sins. For once, people made a conscious effort to purge their souls of the satanic platitudes of envy, malice and malevolence and endeavored to embrace everything that Christ stood for- affection, compassion and brotherhood. Whether it be the rich babus, comforting themselves in their colossal mansions or the destitute, surviving on meager subsistence, everyone rejoiced on the eve of the savior’s birth on Christmas.
However, for Nisha Shekhar Sharma, it was just another day at the office. She was rich. In fact, rich would be an understatement. With all the opulence and affluence come the stingy and inconsiderate attitude, which is a common feature among the glitterati. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail and sleet could boast of an advantage over her in only one respect. They often came down handsomely and Nisha never did. As she left her office, she was greeted by her watchman:
“Merry Christmas, Madamji.”
“Christmas! Bah Humbug. What rights have you to be merry? You are poor enough,” she retorted in a piercing tone.
“What rights have you to be dismal? What rights have you to be morose? You are rich enough,” said the watchman cheerfully.
As she reached home, she was greeted by Xia, her seven year old daughter.
“Merry Christmas, Mumma.”
“Christmas, Bah Humbug!” she chose to ignore Xia. She’d ignored her all her life. Not once had she enshrouded Xia in the warmth of her doting cuddles. Not even once, in the last seven years.
Shekhar saw her. The haggard winters of life seemed to have had no effect on her beauty. In fact, the subtleties of ageing had augmented her charisma. He skipped a stair and almost fell down. She’d always had that intoxicating effect on him.
“Watch your steps,” she said, the chill in her voice more ominous than the icy winds blasting outside.
Shekhar and Nisha had been married for seven years. At least Shekhar was. How on earth, he longed for that once glance of affection, studded with waves of penchant vibes. He hoped that one day, Nisha’s cold glares would certainly recuperate into warm glances.
She took her dinner in her despondent tavern, oblivious to the jovial spell outside. The ancient tower of the church with its guff old wing struck the hours and quarters in the cloud with trembling vibrations. As she made her way into her room, she was abjectly surprised by the presence of an uninvited guest. She saw her. She saw herself. Was it the mirror, she was looking at? However, her doppelganger seemed to be a little weary, as if the ordeals of this worldly existence had mounted an overwhelming burden on her conscience.
“Who are you?” asked Nisha
“Don’t you know me? I am your soul.”
“No, you are not real,” replied Nisha, caustic and cold as ever.
“What hinders you from taking my word?”
“You may be an undigested bit of the Chicken, a crumb of the cheese, a blot of mustard. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you,” said Nisha
“I am your soul. Hearken my words, else you shall suffer and rot in the flames of eternal damnation.”
“You are chained,” observed Nisha.
She tried to act smart, as a means of distracting her own attention and keeping down her terror, for the specter’s voice disturbed the very marrow in her bones.
“I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link and yard by yard. I girdled it on my own free will. The chain of my haughtiness and insensitivity. Nisha, you are wearing these chains.”
“I implore you by the holy cross. Tell me, how to disentangle the shackles you are wearing?” enquired Nisha.
Catch hold of my robe, as we shall embark on a riveting journey. The journey into your Christmas past.
She wanted to say Humbug, but stopped short at the first syllable.
In a split moment, they’d reached a beautiful place. She was conscious of the thousand odors floating in the air, each one linked with copious thoughts and aspirations. She saw herself as a fifteen year old lively kid, bubbling with enthusiasm and vivacity. It was the face of a kid with a pure heart, unadulterated by the whims and chalices of this vindictive world. She’d give anything to regain her innocence and virtue. The girl had finalized her list of good deeds. She checked it for the final time, just to make sure she hadn’t left anything. Santa would be impressed for sure. As they pressed forward, Nisha saw her former self in the college, enjoying the blithe of her youthful exuberance. Finally, she was confronting her most dreadful menace- her boyfriend, Sagar. There was a sublime wilderness about him, which could coerce any girl to transgress her limits. His mesmeric personality and her stunning looks made up for a deadly combination. Nisha was simmering with fury, as she watched everything from the backdrop. Shekhar was keeping a close eye on her from behind the tree.
Nisha and Shekhar studied in the same college. Nisha realized that Shekhar had always loved her. He’d even proposed to her once during their college days. Nisha had rejected his proposal in the most disgraceful terms, making a mockery of his pristine feelings.
“Spirit, I cannot see all this. Let’s go from here.”
They advanced into the subsequent Christmas night, precisely seven years ago.
Sagar was going to New York. Needless to say, Nisha was in tatters, her emotions raging like a wild thunderstorm. Sagar assured her that he’d rather have a stake of holly pierced through his heart than staying away from her and come the right moment, he shall come back for her. Nisha was emotional; consequently she was vulnerable, susceptible to all the perils of this mortal world. The flames of physical infatuation raged viciously, rendering her helpless to his charms.
“Spirit, let’s walk. I can’t see it anymore. I implore you. Let’s move out of here.”
“Nisha, we shall now proceed from the past to the present. The journey into your present Christmas.”
They stood upon a bleak and desert moor, where monstrous masses of rude stones were cast about, as though it was the burial place of giants. She saw a little girl there. The poor soul was sobbing inconsolably. It was Xia.
“What is Xia doing here in this frightful place?” said Nisha. Perhaps, somewhere beneath the robust and intimidating personality of a businesswoman, was a mother, mortified with guilt and remorse.
However, her nerves were relieved when she saw Shekhar in the frame. He carried Xia in his arms.
“Let me show you something, Princess.”
Xia’s hazel blue eyes sparkled with anticipation. Shekhar covered her eyes with his palms. As Xia opened her eyes, she stood stupefied with gratification. Nisha was there in the backdrop, visualizing everything with her eyes. The room had been magnificently decorated. The crisp leaves of holly, mistletoe and ivy reflected back the light, as if so many little mirrors had been scattered there. Shekhar and Xia were all alone in the room. Loneliness had been their constant companion, their unwavering friend for the past seven Christmas’. The duo enjoyed their moments in solitude.
“Merry Christmas, Princess” said Shekhar. Can I have a look at your list?”
“Merry Christmas, Papa. No, teacher says, we shouldn’t flaunt our good deeds,” replied Xia.
“Fine. But what does my princess wants from Santa? Surely, Santa won’t mind if you slip in this tiny secret from your lips.”
“I want Mumma” said Xia.
For a split moment, Shekhar was stupefied. He regained his composure just in the nick of time.
“Beta, Mumma is here,” said Shekhar.
“Is she?” enquired Xia, her hazel blue eyes brimming with expectations.
Shekhar embraced Xia. “She’ll be here. One of these days…She’ll be back.”
A candle still flickered in Shekhar’s heart. He called it hope.
Needless to say, Sagar’s promises were akin a mirage in a desert. He never returned back for Nisha. She was left stranded and isolated, defenseless against the onslaught of an atrocious world. She was a girl. How could she single handedly take on the whole society, which would disparage her and label her with contemptuous superlatives? Sagar was gone, but he’d left a fraction of himself behind, to haunt Nisha for the rest of her life: Xia, Sagar’s daughter.
Nisha was lost in her thoughts. The memories of her past stalked her, bled her, encroaching upon her mental faculties and emotionally raped her. In the darkest moments of her life, Shekhar had held her hand. Perhaps, Nisha was never able to forgive herself. She castigated herself for falling for the wrong person. For the past seven years, she’d made several vain attempts to enrage Shekhar, so that he might throw her out of his life, but Shekhar had never given up on her. Whenever she saw her reflection in the mirror, she was consumed by a sensation of extreme disgust and aversion for her own self.
“Nisha, forgive yourself and liberate your soul from these fetters. Forgive Sagar, and then only will you be able to forgive yourself. Life is too short to wake up with regrets every day. Try to extricate yourself from the ghost’s of your Christmas past, for if you manage to do so, therein lies the hope of a bright future for you.” Saying so, her spirit vanished away.
Nisha woke up. The guff old wing of the ancient tower of the church had just struck seven. She’d learnt her lessons. She immediately made her way into Xia’s room and sat beside her. Xia opened her eyes.
Nisha clutched Xia in her arms and ravished countless kisses on her cheeks and forehead. She embraced her and started crying. She’d been dead since seven years. The tears seemed to revitalize the essence of life in her soul. She felt free. The shackles had started unwinding themselves.
Shekhar was nowhere to be found. Finally, she saw him. She drew herself closer to Shekhar, emotionally as well as physically. She hugged him and cried her heart out in his bosoms. Shekhar lifted her head and gently caressed the strands of hairs, which had covered her hazel blue eyes.
“Why can’t you hate me the way you love me?” asked Nisha in a coarse voice.
“Hate? How can I hate my own reflection? How can I hate a fraction of my own self? How can I hate the entity that provides subsistence to my existence?” replied Shekhar.
Nisha was speechless. She drew herself closer to Shekhar and laced her lips with Shekhar’s. A kiss vouches for situations where words become superflous. Nisha felt complete. She felt alive.
Shekhar sat down on his knees. “Mrs. Nisha Shekhar Sharma. I promise that I shall hold your hand amidst euphoric rains as well as desolate thunders. I love you-72 times in a minute, one for every heart beat and shall continue to do so until eternity. Will you marry me again?”
“I will,” said Nisha.
Shekhar lifted Nisha in his arms. The honeymoon had just begun for them.
~ The subsequent Christmas ~
Nisha had adhered to her spirit’s advice. She recalled the parting words of her spirit:
“Celebrate the spirit of Christmas. Forgive and forget-this is the solution to the enigma, which has been haunting you since the last seven years. This is the key to change your future, which otherwise is shrinking in the pits of darkness.”
Nisha was happy. She’d been blessed with another daughter-Tia. She recalled her favorite passage from the Bible:
“Love is always patient and kind. Love is never boastful or conceited. It is never rude or selfish. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. It does not delight in the agony of others, but rejoices in the truth.”