Joined: 20 April 2012
Heylo. This OS is from a contest I had participated in. Thank you for all those who liked my entry and voted for, really appreciate it. And thanks to all the judges and the contest organizer for giving me the opportunity to write this shot. Because...I just love writing one shots
I did manage to get the 5th position in ranking and a special mention. Thank you once again!
OS- Sources of Light
"What lies behind us, and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
It was two in the morning when I entered our room.
Our. Was it, really? Why was my wife sleeping outside then, by the pool?
It was dark. Why would she always switch off the poolside light which I would, every night, take an effort to switch on? She was afraid of the dark, for heaven's sake!
But the answer was simple. It was her way of rebelling against this set up, this sham of a marriage!
This morning, at exactly 12:15 AM, we completed one whole month of our pretend-marriage.
I wanted to laugh at myself. Arnav Singh Raizada and remembering dates?
But how could I forget the date and the time when I had dragged her to the temple and forcefully married her, looking into eyes full of hurt and confusion?
And more importantly, how could I overlook this date and time, when I learned that all the things I thought I perfectly understood, were nothing but misconceptions?
Lies. I chose to believe lies over an innocent. Over my own love.
Lies which I believed because I thought love was too good to be true, and that everything revolved around only one thing. Money.
How wrong I had been. How selfish I had been.
I reached the glass door and wondered how to approach her. She was facing the other way, and her body was shaking. She was crying.
I closed my eyes in frustration and guilt. My chest pained... like it would do every night.
Every night. Every night, I helplessly watched her cry from my recliner.
She would pretend to sleep at first, and then, when she would be sure that I was fast asleep and not watching her through the glass doors, she would silently shed tears. Some nights, she would lie still and I would only get to know that she's crying when she, at regular intervals, would raise her hand to her face to wipe her tears.
Some nights, she would look at the stars, talk, and cry only a little before falling asleep. I would call them the relief days'.
But some nights, much like this one, her whole form would shake while she cried herself to sleep...
These were the worst kind of nights for me.
I had tried to bring her inside after the first few nights of the torture that I had bestowed upon her. But she had refused, and taunted me with a, "But I thought this was my place. And I shall listen to my husband like the good wife that I am."
Not wanting to use words of persuasion and alarming her of my worry for her, I remember just sighing in frustration and then walking off. The only thing that comforted me was that she had, by then, shifted to the recliner by the pool, and had started using the comforter.
Since then, every time I had even wandered near the subject, she had reminded me of the same thing or something on similar lines.
While it felt like someone was punching me in my gut every time I'd see her cry, today...today it felt worse. Maybe...maybe because I knew what a beast I had been. Maybe because I knew how wrong I had been in my belief, that I wrote my own destiny. Maybe because I knew I hurt her beyond redemption. Maybe because I knew she'd hate me even more when I tell her the truth behind the marriage.
Taking a deep breath, I reached for the door handle and slid it open, the action making a loud noise and stilling her. I saw her quickly wipe away the tears and adjust herself in a position in which her face would be much less visible.
I walked up to her, and stood watching how her skin shone in the moon light. I knew I was making her uncomfortable, but I just didn't know what to say or how to say. How does one say such things?
"Khushi?" I softly said, the choke in my voice surprising me. I knelt down in front of her.
She ignored me, and continued to feign sleep. So I tried again, this time, touching her arm lightly. "Khushi?" My voice came out as a whisper, but she opened her eyes and looked directly at me, unnerving me.
Red. Her eyes were still wet and the red shone from it with so much crying. I felt a shiver of pain pass through my chest. And then another when she sarcastically said, "What? Do you want me to act like your wife? Is your Di here to pay a surprise visit?"
She must have, by then, realized the strong stench of alcohol and my bloodshot eyes because she backed a little bit. She maintained a calm and confident facade, but I knew that I had surprised her. "Khushi..." I tried again, hoping more words would come. I reached for her hand to feel her warmth, but as soon as I managed to hold it, she snatched it back.
"What are you trying to do?" she asked, now sitting up in an upright position, her face shocked. I tried again, my eyes pleading her, to reach for her hand. I needed some kind of contact with her. I needed it, to say what I was going to say. For what if she decides to walk off, run away, like she had done so often in my dreams?
But it hadn't hurt until then. It hadn't felt like someone had just slashed my heart until she said, with her eyes blazing fire, "Don't touch me."
A husband being denied the touch of his wife, didn't I deserve it?
I sighed and withdrew my hand. Her face relaxed a little, but not quite. "Khushi..." I started again, to get near the subject. But I just managed to ask, "Why...why do you always switch off the lights? I thought you were..."
"I'm not anymore." She said bitterly, obviously lying. "You took care of it."
"I made you not scared of the dark?"
"No," she said casually, "I'm just scared of other kinds of darkness now."
"The darkness of the future." She said and looked away, her eyes welling up, just like mine.
"Khushi...", I reached for her hand again, but withdrew before she could realize it. "Are you going to leave me once the contract is over?" I asked.
She turned to me, and looked taken aback a bit, but schooled her expressions, and asked, "Why are you even asking that?"
"Please don't." I pleaded and buried my face in her lap, breaking my promise to not to touch her. She stilled.
"What?" she whispered, after a while.
"Please don't leave me." I said in a choking voice, my head still in her warm lap.
"Why?" she asked in calm tone.
"Because...I made a big mistake, Khushi." I said, raising my head from her lap. "I never should have believed what I saw. I had been so, so wrong. Forgive me, Khushi. Please, forgive me."
She narrowed her eyes in confusion, but soon, realization dawned upon her. "I'll explain..." I started, but she cut me off.
"Arnav ji, can you please leave?" When I looked at her with confusion, she explained, "Please leave me alone, for now."
"Khushi but..." I said, but she had already looked the other side, putting the comforter over her head, dismissing me.
I wanted to stay there. Watching her. But she wanted to be left alone, so I walked to our bedroom, but left the glass door open.
I watched her the entire night.
I don't think either of us slept.
The following days saw her avoiding me.
I knew she wasn't purposefully doing it. But up until now, we had planned our days in a way such that our paths won't cross much.
I did have my ways to check upon her though. But now, that just wasn't enough.
And it was killing me.
When I would finally catch her eyes, she would look away instantly. When I would start a conversation, she would answer in monosyllables. And soon the conversation would be over and she would be gone before I even realized it.
She hadn't even let me explain the reason for our marriage in the first few days after that night. But two days ago, I had made her sit, and explained to her exactly what had happened.
She hadn't said anything except asking me about Di's plans and other concerns. All this... without even meeting my eyes once for more than a second.
She loathed me, I knew, but didn't show it.
I started coming home early and somehow persuaded her to shift inside the room, telling her that Di sometimes might like to wander to the poolside at night.
I offered her the bed, but she took the grey recliner. I didn't argue.
At least I could look at her at night...
She slept facing the glass door, looking out from it, at the blue water and the sky. And I would look at how the moon light illuminated the side of her face, her neck, and a bit of her upper arm.
She wouldn't cry at night anymore.
But she would lay awake for the longest part of the night, just thinking.
I often wondered what she thought about. About us? About this marriage? About leaving me? I hoped not.
But I would lay awake for the longest part of the night just wondering what she was wondering about.
And every night, I'd make sure to keep the leave a little lamp on.
She had switched it off on the first day, but I had switched it back on. She had let it be after that.
And that's how two more months passed, with our days passing exactly like that.
It was time for AR's annual official tour to London. I could have sent Aakash, but I decided to go instead. She could use some time without me, I thought. She deserved it. She needed space. Perhaps the distance and the space would make her think clearly.
Because the questions still lay between us - what happens after six months? What do we have between them, right now? What about the past we shared, the future we might? What of the things we had gone through together? Could she leave, just like that? And if she decided to leave me...where would she go?
I tried not to think of that.
When I entered the room that night, I caught the sigh of her folding my clothes and transferring them to my side of the cupboard.
My heart warmed to see her do this kind of domestic duty, something which a wife would do for her husband.
I remember taunting her about it when I had first seen her doing it, right after our marriage. She had said something back, but had continued with it nonetheless.
Was it weird to be pleased to see someone care for your things, like it were their own?
She sensed me, for she stilled for a second, before continuing with the task.
"I'll be going for a business trip to London for about a week and a half." I announced.
"To London?" she asked softly, placing the set of clothes neatly on a rack before turning to me.
"When are you leaving?" she asked and turned away again.
"In two days." I told her, disliking how I couldn't see her face. "Will you be okay alone?"
She turned back to me and nodded before looking away.
I didn't know what made me feel disappointed. It's not like she would've asked me not to go.
But a small part of me wanted her to.
Two days later, it was time to leave.
The house help had told me that he had seen her gone up to the terrace.
The terrace held unpleasant memories for me. But surprisingly when I reached it, the picture I saw, made me believe that that memory was erased forever.
And the memory which shall remain with me would be of my wife, standing under the night sky, the moon light lighting her up.
There was something about her and the moon light which were so perfect together. And if I were a painter, I'd paint her under the moonlight, I thought while walking up to her.
But unfortunately, I wasn't.
She turned then. And I felt close enough to touch her.
"I'm leaving." I told her, watching her beautiful face. I placed my elbows on the raining, and leaned on it, next to her.
She looked the other way. But after a while, when she looked back at me with had a soft smile playing on her lips. "It's Purnima," she said, "Full moon."
Her smile must be infectious, for it made me smile too. "Yes, it is."
"Everything looks so bright during Purnima." She said, looking around, and then above. "Even the stars. I could never see them properly at Buaji's part of Delhi otherwise." She said conversationally.
It felt good to hear her speak in so many words...after so long.
She looked at me then, and caught me staring at her. So I turned my gaze up at the stars instead. "Remember how you once told me that our Amma and Babuji are stars?"
She nodded. "And you had asked me whether your mother is happy seeing you from up there."
"You remember?" I asked, pleasantly surprised that she remembered this detail of our shared moment which had been so precious to me. When she nodded, I asked, "So is she, happy?"
She looked at the sky again, as if it'd give her the answer. But it must've for she said, "Yes. She is happy. She smiles with pride when she looks down at you, at how far you've come in life."
"What does she think about my wife?" I asked, softly.
I couldn't have been entirely wrong when I saw her blush a little in the moonlight. "I think she likes her."
I smiled at her, hoping to stay rooted at the spot forever. To seize the moment. But it was time to go. "I need to leave." I said, again hoping that she'd stop me.
Her smile faltered a bit as she nodded.
"Keep the lamp on at night, okay?" I reminded her.
At this point, she looked right into my eyes, after eons, with so much longing, that I wanted to hug her tight and tell her that I'd never let go.
But I knew I didn't have the liberty to.
As her eyes welled up, she looked the other way, and in a choking voice, she softly said,
Then she looked back at me, "Don't go, please. I can't...I can't stay alone at night."
Unable to trust myself with words, I just managed a smile...
"Besides, London is too far..." She added cutely, reminding me of her older, brighter self. She hadn't changed, after all.
Only she could give the oddest of the reasons for stopping someone, and only I could consider them.
That just made me smile some more.
"So will you go?" she asked, eyes big and voice hopeful. And one look at her face and all I could do was nod in the negative.
"Thank you." She softly said, and again looked the other way, but not before placing her right hand, very close to where my left was placed, over the raining.
Hold my hand, I heard her say. But she hadn't put it in words at all.
I slowly placed my large hand over her small one, and soon her hand adjusted into mine, turning so I could I hold it more comfortably, more intimately. I intertwined my fingers with hers.
I turned to look at her face, and saw her still looking the other way, her eyes closed tight, fat droplets rolling down her cheeks. And her hand was holding on to the railing so tight that her knuckles were turning while.
I placed my other hand over that one and got her to loosen it a bit, took it to my lips and kissed it. "Stop crying, Khushi."
At that, she cried some more. This time, she raised my hand to her lips, her other hand joining the team, to sandwich my hand in between, and kissed it.
I closed my eyes in pleasure. But it was more of a bittersweet pain.
I knew I didn't deserve it, so much kindness from her.
But right now, I didn't want to think about it. Right now, in the moment, I just wanted to feel her touch, her warmth; and forget everything else.
Right now, I just wanted to be under the sky, with the light of the moon and our favourite stars shining down on us, and let our love be the guide...
Hope you all liked it
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