Sidhi sat at the farthest corner of the terrace. She had made that spot her own, and spent most of her time sitting there, away from everybody's eyes. She only stayed in the house to tend to her children, take care of their food, education and all the love they needed. She kept doing chores she could, doing anything and everything for Kunal and the rest of the family while she was not being insulted or shoved around. She never responded to any of those insults of course.
After all, Kunal had told her not to talk to anyone, not to create any more relationships and not to show her face. She did just that, as much as she could help it. She did not have the strength left to fight anymore, whatever little energy she had was used up in just survival. The old Sidhi, the fiesty, fighter Sidhi had already died. And the rest of her just waited for the day when she could no longer be with her kids, so the rest of Sidhi could die too.
When the kids were away, or asleep, or occupied with others and she had no work she could do, she would go back and sit on her spot in the terrace. She didn't say much to anyone - in fact the only people she talked to in that house were her children, and sometimes, Ishani-Anokhi, who didn't seem to hate their chachi as much as the rest of the clan. At night, when people were asleep, she spent hours staring at her Kunal, at Seema bhabhi who once used to be her best friend and confidante, and her kids. But she dared not try to say anything to any of them anymore.
A couple of weeks passed like this. The kids were very happy to be with each other, being showered with their mother's love which they both had grown up without. But they were sad when they saw that their parents were not together and the distance between them had grown too large to be surmounted. They feared that they would not be able to have their whole family forever, but they didn't know what to do. They tried talking to Kunal once, but he retorted with such rage, they got frightened and didn't try again. The rest of the Chopra family got used to Sidhi's invisible, inaudible presence. She made their lives easier, kept doing their chores, kept taking their insults and never talked back. Most of the time, it was easy to pretend she didn't exist.
It wasn't easy for Kunal though, to pretend Sidhi didn't exist.
Despite the fact that they hadn't had a proper conversation in two weeks and Kunal was mostly busy with work as his first large case in his new firm was coming up soon. Despite the fact that Sidhi tried to stay out of his sight most of the time, Kunal was more than aware that she was there. She...his Sidhi...was there in his home, in his room, with his children. But was she his Sidhi? His heart ached every time he looked at her, so he tried not to. But she was all around him. Her imprint was there in his room, in the food he ate, in the clothes he wore, and most importantly, in the eyes of his kids. Kunal kept himself occupied in work as much as he could to numb the constant pain, and Sidhi helped by being silent and disappearing for long periods of time. He couldn't not love her, he couldn't be indifferent to her, and he couldn't miss the gleam in the eyes of both Sidhi and his sons when they were with each other. A few times he wanted to separate Sidhi from his sons, to not let their minds and souls be corrupted by her evilness, but he couldn't see anything but purity in Sidhi's eyes when she looked at the children, and he didn't have the guts to keep his kids away from their mother. She wasn't his Sidhi, but she was still their mother.
One day he returned home a little early in the evening, only to find Sidhi sitting with his sons in their room.
BA: Ma, we can't understand what to do. If we say the truth, our friend would be severely punished and might even fail. But if we don't...
CA: We can't not say Anand. Even though Rishabh did a mistake, if we don't tell everyone, they would suspect us even though we did nothing and we will lose 10 marks in the final exam. And I don't care, but you always come first every year. If you lose ten marks, then you will not come first.
BA: But is that worth seeing our friend fail? You don't know, he's from a very poor family and if he is failed because he brought cheatnotes in the exam even though he didn't really use them, he will probably never be able to study again.
CA: I don't want that to happen. Mom, what shall we do? We shouldn't lie, but we also should help our friends.
BA: The teacher who found the notes in our bags, knows we didnt use them and also knows it isn't our handwriting, but she hasn't figured out it's Rishabh yet and has told me if I don't tell her who got those, she will deduct 10 marks for both of us.
Sidhi (holding the hands of both Anands): Don't get so worried kids. You know life isnt easy. The truth is we should always be honest, because no matter how bitter the truth, no matter how painful, it is always worth saying. Lies always come back to hurt you, and make you suffer. But at the same time, sometimes life takes a test and puts us in a situation where one lie from us can help someone else disproportionately. We will still suffer for our lie, but the other person will benefit much more and sometimes, in some circumstances, and for people we care about, that pain and suffering is worth it. Sometimes life gives us no choice, because the pain of hurting our loved ones is far more unbearable than the suffering our lies would cause us. You said Rishabh is repentant and has promised never to do this again. He has learnt the lesson. Ideally, all three of you should gather the courage and say the truth. It won't be easy, especially for him, but courage is the best reward and there's a chance your teacher will forgive him. If, however, you can't find the courage in the face of the risk of a punishment that is too great, then be prepared for the suffering that will come because of it. You might have to work even harder to make up in part for the ten marks you lose, and even if you do that, you still may not come first this year. You have to think if you can live with it.The decision is finally yours, kids. But no matter what you decide, me and your papa are always there for you, and will always be very very proud of you.
Both kids hug Sidhi.
BA: You're right Ma. Life is not so simple or black and white. We will talk to Rishabh and decide. Thank you. I love you
CA: I love you too Mom.
Sidhi: I love you sweethearts.
Seeing the three of them in a warm embrace, Kunal, who'd been listening to the whole conversation from outside the room, was overwhelmed. Tears welled up in his eyes. For a moment, he felt he had been transported back in time - years back, before the custody case, before Sidhi's betrayals, before Rohit's murder case...to a time when his wife, his Sidhi was an honest, pure loving girl who he could die for, who taught him to live, to love and to stand for his principles. For a moment, he thought that girl had been transported to the present and was now hugging his children. For that one brief of instant of time, life felt perfect. If only this is how it could stay for the rest of their lives. If only this is how it had been for the last ten years of his life.
Suddenly, the painful memories of the last ten years flooded Kunal. The court case 9 years ago, Richa's lies which he believed, the lonely nights, Sidhi with Abhay in the office, Sidhi marrying Abhay and telling him she never loved him.
The thought jolted Kunal as he retraced his steps out of the home, "No, those ten years, those were the reality. The pain that Sidhi caused by her betrayal was the reality. This woman, this woman was an illusion. This wasn't his Sidhi. This was deception His Sidhi was dead."
The next evening, Kunal had got very late in coming from work. The hearing was the next day, and he really needed to win this case. Everyone was asleep when he got in well past 2am. Except Sidhi. As soon as he got in Sidhi heated food and served on the dining table.
"I don't need your charity. You don't need to stay up for me"
Sidhi didn't respond, but tears fell from her eyes which Kunal couldn't not see. She just silently continued to lay the plates.
Was it him, or did Sidhi look thinner suddenly. He hadn't noticed her much of late, but suddenly it seemed to Kunal that Sidhi looked really ill.
Kunal ignored her and went inside to change.
By the time he came back, Sidhi was nowhere to be seen. He was about to call out her name, but decided against it. It was probably better she wasn't around. He was starving, so he went up to the table and started eating. He saw there were two plates lying there but the other one was empty. Perhaps Sidhi hadn't eaten either. But why would she not eat till 2 am. And why was she waiting up anyway. Thoughts of Sidhi clouded him again. He wondered why he had never been able to move past the point where Sidhi left him and broke him. Why did he still care about her? He remembered the smiling face of Sidhi and the two Anands from the previous evening and the memory tugged at his heart. He recalled Sidhi telling him two weeks back that she loved him and had married Abhay only because he threatened to kill Anand. But Anand had denied anything like that happening. Why did Sidhi tell a lie that was so easily verifiable? Why not another excuse. And abhay. Something about him was not right. He was reasonable and helpful when he worked for him, but some of his recent behavior was weird.
Kunal's head spun. He decided to find out more about Abhay after this case was over. Right now he needed some sleep - tomorrow's hearing was very important. Thinking this, Kunal went inside and slept next to CA on the bed where he usually slept these days.
40 minutes later, Kunal's sleep was broken by the soft sound of crying. He looked at both his sons, but they were both sleeping soundly. It was Sidhi, sleeping on the floor on the other end of the room, who was crying. He waited a few minutes for her to stop, but the sobs just wouldn't stop. He got up and saw she was lying facing the wall, shivering with sobs. He didn't want to, and yet couldn't stop himself from going towards her. Something primitive in him wanted to take Sidhi in his arms and hold her till she was fine. And yet, his mind wouldn't allow him to do that. He picked up the blanket near Sidhi's feet and put it on her. As Sidhi felt Kunal's hand on her arm, she immediately startled and stopped crying. She accidentally held Kunal's hand for a moment as she turned towards him. For a brief moment, their eyes met, both brimming with pain. For a brief moment, time seemed to stop for both of them. And then Kunal pulled back his hand, turned away and went back to his bed.
Sidhi continued to lie in darkness, staring at nothing, shivering, but no longer crying. At least, not externally.
As Kunal stepped out of court, he switched on his phone to find 12 missed calls from BA. He immediately called back and found his son speaking in panic, almost crying. "Papa, ma! She has very high fever and she's not waking up. Seema chachi and I are putting ice water strips on her forehead for half an hour but she hasn't woken up. What happened to ma! CA has gone to call doctor. We are very scared. Ap please ghar ho jao"
Kunal looked at his watch, it was 6pm.
"Sidhi hadn't woken up all day?" thought Kunal as he rushed towards an auto to get home.
Edited by teekay - 19 December 2012 at 4:30am