The Last Knot
We would have spent the day in the bed, holding, sleeping, crying, making love. I was not ready for the world outside. Right now, I wanted to make up for the last few years.
But the world intrudes as his phone rings. He goes to the other room, and I immediately feel the pain. I know who it is.
He comes back and sits on the edge of the bed. “Madhuri,” he says unnecessarily. “I owe it to her.”
After he leaves, I finish my bath, but go back to lie curled up in the bed, reliving the two days, the last two years and the years before that. Some of the gaps in those years start filling up as the images that have flashed before me – with a sense of déjà vu – flash again. I hug myself, for ignorance is bliss.
When he returns, his face is a mask, and I feel his pain through it. MY heart aches too. This hasn’t been easy, and I am at the root of it. Why did I come back into his life, I think as I watch him remove his shoes mechanically. They would by now have been unofficially engaged if I hadn’t stepped back into his life. Does he feel angry, upset with me for it? Why don’t his eyes tell me how he feels?
Shut out, and not daring to ask, I turn away and go into the kitchen to get him water. As I hand it to him, he takes the glass from me, his fingers brushing mine. I make to move back, but with his other hand, he takes my free hand in his.
He puts the glass down carefully and pulls me on to his lap. He buries his face in my breast. I feel tears rush out, but I hold him tight, running my fingers through his hair, murmuring that everything will be alright. That he is not to be blamed, that Madhuri will be fine, that we will be fine.
Does he hear me, or is he simply lost in the folds of his emotions? I fall silent, and realise that I am floundering, not knowing what he needs from me. I want to get up and run now. I try to gently get up, but he doesn’t let me go. He looks up, his lips curve into a half smile, not touching his eyes. “Kalpana…” I wait, holding my breath. He tilts my face closer to his and whispers, before submerging me in his love, “don’t ever leave me again.”
The moment lasts forever, filling every cell of mine.
We spend a day more, continuing to keep the world at bay. But the world clamours for our attention, work, friends, well-wishers, family. While we let them in, we have also created a niche for ourselves that no one can touch.
We go on to have a family, thank you Madhuri, for showing us the way.
Vijay and Uma marry. Aditya is very happy.
Pratap and Rekha become very close friends, and as his company grows, so do I.
Madhuri was the only blot on our happiness. She quit right away, thinking all her friends had conspired to make a fool of her. She rose like a star as an ace interior decorator, outshining even Pratap and his team, but went through a string of broken marriages. If Karthik was affected by it, he has kept his regret well hidden.
If I feel guilty about it, it is between me and my maker.