“It is no less than an emergency, please call back immediately”, the distressing message from Pallavi read like a ball of fire waiting to be doused off. And the next few lines further escalated my anxiety. “Samar has sent me the train ticket and I would be leaving in the afternoon. You have to come and pick my luggage. I have no idea what’s going to happen next. I am really scared and clueless at the moment”.
The commotion and the disquietude apparent in the voice behind the messages was something I had been waiting for very long, nonetheless, a little intimidated by the sudden upheaval.
Having finished reading her messages, I deserted my cuppa of green tea midway and swiftly bundled the newspaper I was engrossed in. Abandoning all other chores of the day, I post-haste my fingers on the keypad and braced my ears for a detailed description of the breaking news. “So is it that you are finally leaving”? I gushed out before she could verbally begin weaving the yarns of her conflict with her impending departure.
“Yes, he booked my ticket yesterday and I shall leave. I can’t make him wait any longer. I have not had a single minute of sleep. I know I am going to be with the one who deserves me, at the same time I am terribly worried about my sons. Please be there in time to assist me”. My cheeks flushed with excitement hearing of her final take off but paused at the thought that conjoined her dilemma with her escapade.
I had been a part of her silent bargain for peace and those numerous concessions to the generous contempt over the years. She found solace in the frequent emotional off loadings that we indulged in every now and then. I had lent my ears to her outpourings of afflictions. But her endurance and stoic mannerism were, at times, beyond my comprehension. I found it difficult to relate to the woman that she had become.
Therefore, I almost commanded her, attempting to instil a little more courage into her subdued spirits, “Please don’t come back to hell. I know there must be dozens of questions screaming for answers inside you but for once try living for yourself. Be vocal in proclaiming your resolve to the man who has ruined your life to bits and pieces. Your children will eventually understand why you needed to break free”. In that short span of our edgy conversation she more or less seemed resolute in her bid to do away with her bitter half of twenty three years and be with the man of her ideals. Yet, the fretful woman in her was apprehensive of the forthcoming tsunami that would topple the life of her young offspring’s in wake of her secret exit.
Her traumatic relations with their father and the rest of the family were evident to her grown up sons. Vansh, who was 18, was rather more approving of the new man in her mother’s life. He was close to Pallavi and more sympathetic towards her bearings. He in fact, encouraged her to get out of the mess and intended to join her. Raghav, the elder one though recognised, but conveniently ignored the indispensable closure to her mother’s turbulent journey so far. Probably it’s an innate reluctance to the notion of another man creating space in your mother’s heart other than your own father. Here’s when decisions are much harder to make. That was one significant reason that bothered Pallavi to the core, restraining her from infusing life into her otherwise hollow existence.
However, this time she appeared more determined. Perhaps, the spring had arrived a little too sooner to end the longest autumn of her life.
The mandatory preparations were under way. She had stuffed her requisite belongings in two suitcases and informed me about their hideaway. Since it was impossible to leave with the baggage in hand unnoticed, I was given the charge. I readily consented to the plan of action, keeping all the scepticism at bay.
There I was- a wilful accomplice.
I too, had begun to contrive for a better execution of her adventurous escape before a final word with her. “I would call you before I leave. I have told them that I have a doctor’s appointment. I would straight head to your place. Reach back home in time with the luggage as the station is not close by”, Pallavi murmured and then she abruptly hung the phone.
Rearranging the day’s time table to lead her on to her maiden romantic voyage, I had left in time for her house. In between the nervousness and constant instructions to the cab driver to hurry up, Pallavi’s transition unfolded in my recollections of her alliance with Samar.
All this while, she had been a wrecked ship lost in a severe storm, waiting to be moored to the sea bottom, until he had knocked the doors of her desolate soul, nearly four years ago. Pallavi had begun to blossom like the prickly pear cactus that flower once in many years, heartily embracing the immense adulation wrapped with a lifelong promise. Warmth of love certainly finds a strong presence in the cold deserts of antipathy.
“He was my school senior in, a much sought after charming guy. But nothing went beyond those shy exchanges of glances. My best friend had her eyes set on him and I never assumed myself of being in his wish list”, she had once revealed, narrating her childhood memories.
“In these nearly three decades of disassociation and distance from him, I thought I had quite found love, compassion and the man of my dreams, only to realize that marrying someone doesn’t guarantee love ”. Samar had made a considerable difference to Pallavi’s life, gradually cooling off the magma of her tumultuous past.
The agonising wait for the one who had long ago relinquished the wings of freedom, was nearing its end. For a woman who had once wholeheartedly surrendered in love and abandoned her aspirations, only to serve her husband and family with the utmost dedication; had been rendered purposeless for defying their conventional mindsets and for having occasionally, dared to turn rebellious. I always wondered from where she derived the strength to survive the conspicuous disregard of her life partner whom she had married against her parent’s wishes, along with that added dose of verbal onslaught from her utterly insensitive in laws.
Samar’s marital life was not blissful either. So the mutual pull was inevitable. A year ago, he had eased the tension on his side by commencing for a legal separation from his wife. It had come off effortlessly since it was reciprocal and moreover his family was welcoming of Pallavi.
Amidst the echoes of an unwavering future, Pallavi was still afraid to take the plunge. She found herself muddled in the most difficult task of choosing between motherhood and a relationship, hesitant to make a profound call. “Why don’t you go to him”? This was something we had contemplated a thousand times.
But as they say, everything has a date in destiny. So here I was, at her doorstep.
As I stepped out of the cab, it started to drizzle. I cautiously moved towards the staircase of her first floor apartment where she had carefully hidden the suitcases in a corner. I grabbed and quickly ran down to hurl them on the rear seat of the car. Thankfully, no one had an eye on me in the vicinity.
“Please drive as fast as you can”, my instruction was the same, as I advanced towards my home.
Time was slipping, so was my heartbeat. The roads were jammed and every red light added to my restlessness. I couldn’t hold back my eagerness, until Pallavi sat beside me, a few minutes later. I simply hugged her, as the car was making little headway against heavy traffic. The words were missing but the expression said it all.
I wasn’t sure if she would catch the train. And what if she couldn’t? Every single passing minute alarmed me and I pleaded the driver once again.
My watch struck ten minutes past four. We had reached the railway station. Buying a platform ticket was out of question, so I just handed over the luggage and wished her good luck. Completely exhausted and rushing with two bags in her hands, Pallavi turned back to give me a smile. I was more than relieved.
She had just reached in time and finally boarded her train to happiness. Whatever was to be the aftermath of her departure, I was delighted that she had stopped feeling sorry for her, broken the barriers and eventually quit an unworthy life to find that one special being, who had not only healed her wounds but given a new meaning to her existence. Pallavi had rescued herself in the process.