As she clicked one selfie after another, to get the right picture, Sudha realized that the smile that she had bravely plastered in front of the camera was not reaching her eyes. Her eyes still looked sad and forlorn. The lipstick and the jewelry added a bit of color, but her eyes betrayed her sadness.
Last week, she had stood stoically in the courtroom, with her soon to be ex- husband standing next her. As the clerk shuffled the divorce papers, there was a pit in her stomach and her heart was beating erratically. Sudha's hands were numb and the conversation between them was stilted.
Sudha's gaze moved to the bindi on her forehead as she looked in the cellphone and it took her back to her wedding day. Arun and Sudha had met in Bangalore through common friends. Though they did not know each other earlier, the chance introduction turned into friendship and both were drawn to each other. Their friendship turned to attraction and both soon realized that they were in love.
Arun was older of two brothers and Sudha was an only child. Arun had lost his father when he was a child and so his maturity is what Sudha found very attractive. She found in him a self made man who could not only give her strength, but also serenity and calmness. Sudha was outgoing and bubbly with a list of friends a mile long. Their friends said that they made a great couple and Sudha believed that with all her heart.
Just like any other newly married couple, they learned what it meant to be married. Financially too they struggled in the beginning, as they had married young and had no savings of their own.The years rolled by and life settled to a routine.
Sudha remembered her wedding day as if it had happened yesterday. Even though 15 years had passed, it was clearly etched in her memory. The rituals, the mangalsutra and the kumkum that decorated her forehead was all so exciting and scary at the same time. She even remembered the way Arun looked that day.
|Image courtesy: www.theirintentionallife.com|
Now, that same dot on the forehead was a reminder of what could not be. It reminded Sudha of their failed relationship, the heartache, the pain and the anger. The loss of love and respect, the betrayal of broken vows and the loneliness that the separation had brought along.
The whole journey from being married to separated and then divorced was just a year and a half long. It felt like a bad dream to Sudha and many times she thought that she will wake up and have a good laugh with Arun about her bizarre dream. On some days, while having dinner alone, Sudha remembered the days when Arun traveled frequently for work. Even when she was separated, she had kept the phone next to her, expecting a call from Arun to say good night, with a promise to talk the next morning.
The breakup of the marriage was a shock for Sudha, as she had believed that their marital issues could be worked around with help and counselling. The determination and the ferocity with which Arun decided to sever the marital ties, without trying to work on the issues was something she had never expected. Friends and family who had known both of them for nearly two decades were equally take aback. They all questioned Arun's faithfulness and hinted at him being involved with someone else, which lead to him taking such a decision. Their strained relationship came to head during a time when Sudha underwent hysterectomy and was still recuperating from the surgery. The life partner whom she had expected to hold her hand in the toughest situation of her life decided to leave her adrift, to gather the shattered pieces of her life all on her own. Family ties got severed, friends she knew for years together stopped communicating with her, and Sudha was left to grapple with the reality of the changed situation. Her family stood by her through the ups and downs, as tried to come to terms with her broken marriage. Many friends became closer and she gained a new understanding of love and friendships.
The speed with which their 17 year old relationship ended, catapulted Sudha into the unknown territory of being on her own, starting a new life and being financially independent. She learnt that life was fragile and people will come into her life to teach her something about the world and its ways. She took all the things life brought to her in a positive light, new friendships, new connections and new experiences, but she still ached for closure.
The answers that she needed, the unspoken words she wanted to say to Arun and the truth that evaded her of why something they built together was wiped off because of his decision. The story of Arun and Sudha will remain incomplete.... and she knows that life is a mystery and that some of her questions will never get answered. Their incomplete story haunts her but has pushed her to move forward, to start building relationships, to start believing in love and to dream again.