Two Years

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Chapter 18

Freedom, Was it?

My father was looking quite smug.

“What’s up?” I asked.

He told me of his grand plans of a long pilgrimage culminating in Mansarovar. Then a trip to the US. His nephew Vedant had been calling him for long. Now that I looked well-settled – no time for father even, he joked – he was thinking of taking it up. I hugged my father, trying not to show my tears. He told me he was thinking of letting out the flat, considering he was going to be away so much.

Karthik took me on a surprise visit later in the day, refusing to tell me where we were going till we reached a colony. It looked like a new construction, of small, independent houses. He took me to the corner-most house.

A man was waiting by the door and showed us around. Karthik watched me with suppressed excitement, while I trailed the broker confused and dumb.

After we had dinner outside, we returned to my father’s house and Karthik took out a sheaf of papers. He sat me down and showed me the figures – the square feet area of the house, the cost, how much loan to take, what it will cost us. My heart leapt to my throat. I looked at him hurt. He seemed to have done a thorough research and not said a word to me!

Frowning, I said, “If it is only for investment, do what you think is best.” He would get tax discount on housing loan.

“Wouldn’t you like to live here?”

I looked away, knowing nothing would come of it. “Don’t show me dreams that cannot be true,” I said in a small, angry voice.

“Why cannot this be true?” he asked.

Of course it can be true, but then his parents would be there too… How did it matter if it was this house or that? But I didn’t say it. It would hurt him. I kept looking down. He hooked a finger under my chin to lift my face up. Looking into my eyes, he asked softly, “Why? Can’t we make this come true?”

I pursed my lips tightly, fearing the words that wanted to be expressed. This tone of his voice will have me singing all that I feel, and I think I am done with that.

“I want us to live in this house… Or if you don’t like this, then some other house. But we will move out, if that is what you are worried about.”

I inhaled and held my breath. I avoided looking at him, for fear of his seeing my joy there and misinterpreting it. How can I trust this will happen? His parents won’t let this happen! I was scared that I was going to end up being disappointed.

There was much ado when he told them of his plans. His parents blamed me for this shift. Every purchase we made for the house has an unpleasant memory attached to it, of a barbed word thrown at me on the sly.

What heightened the anxiety was Karthik not showing his true feelings. Though he never once suggested backing out of shifting, sometimes I found him staring blankly, lost in thought. It made me feel heavy with uncertainty. Was this the right move?

But there I was, installed in the new house – this house - within three months.

I think I can look at it with pride today.

Yes, I shouldn’t go back to number crunching, but should try out interior design.

How do I go about it?

When did his father die?

Why did Sukumar happen? How far did I go? How deep is the hurt? Should I talk to my father? Am I a prisoner here? Of love, or hate? Is Karthik a mere puppet or the perpetrator?

I sit with my hand on my brow, panting for breath, unable to deal with the whirl my head is in.

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