It was just another Thursday in the city. The sun had started to sink into the unknown place beneath the clouds. Dusk would soon break upon. The gloom, which would accompany the immensely cloudy sundown, will soon display itself. Slow, humid breeze flew across the concrete road which was hardly visible beneath the jostling traffic. The road adjacent the ISBT 43 , Chandigarh was accustomed to the heavy volume of bulky vehicles which suppressed it every day, day in and day out. The profound and enigmatic sky above the road supported barely any life. All the life seemed to be concentrated right upon the shallow ground.
Reena walked out of the bus stand, cleaning the sweat from her cold brow with the rear of her left hand. She was wearing a slightly dirty light brown salwaar-kameez with a dull-white dupatta. A bracelet adorned her wrist which looked weak, blue and fragile. Dark circles depreciated the beauty of her perfectly hazel eyes. Her otherwise perfectly curled eye-lashes were now messy. She never really bothered much about her looks now. A deep frown engraved itself on her forehead since forever. Although she was carrying nothing but the lightest handbag, her shoulders felt immensely heavy, as if she was carrying the whole world over them. She could not remember the last time she wasn’t really tired.
“AUTO!” she waved to the slowing rickshaw.
“Sector: 38-D.” she mumbled as she got inside it. It started even before she’d sit properly. Consequently, she stooped forward with a jerk, her dupatta almost dropping down. It was just like her life so far…giving her unforeseen jerks and shocks before she was ready for it. Although it took more than just a while, she finally had to accept the consequences of the occurrences. She barely had another choice.
She looked outside the automobile. It was now passing through near the “New-Lake.” She focused through the haze to get a better view. Along with that, her mind also focused itself into the hazy memories which were ought to be forgotten. She remembered visiting here with Raj during their days of courtship. They would sit here all day long until they saw the beautiful sunset. Yes, they used to talk but after a point there was just silence. The silence was never awkward. It was beautiful. It was serene. They would just sit there for hours holding hands and marveling about the fact that how perfect were they for each other.
It was just 3 years ago when they decided to take their commitment to the next level. Convincing the families was not that difficult as they both belonged to the same cast and the marriage was stealthily termed ‘arranged’ in front of the society.
Ecstasy had run through her veins when she got the hint that may be she was expecting Raj’s child. She was extremely happy, elated and excited about their baby and their future with Raj.
“I want to terminate It.” she was finally able to say.
“What do you want to terminate? Your pregnancy or our happiness?” Raj yelled at her, sternly.
“You would never understand Raj…I can’t have a baby right now.”
“I thought I was your first priority, not your career!” he said, cupping her cheeks lovingly from both sides. His voice was breaking. His head demanded more than an explanation. It was more than just a shock for him.
“Career is not what it is Raj…”
“Then, what is it? Huh? Self-obsession? Fear? Maybe it’s just brutality!” his eyes were now pitiful. He looked ravaged. They could melt even the hardest rock.
“Call it whatever suits you, Raj. I am going to abort this child!” She said, emphasizing on every word.
He couldn’t take it anymore. Sniffles turned into sobs and she heard him curse her before he left the room. The door banged SHUT behind him.
Her head physically vibrated as the stream of thoughts ended at the shut of the door. Warm, thick and tickling tears dropped slowly down her cheeks. The sound of the motor numbed her ears. The noise pleased her like some illegal drug. She wanted to collapse in that noise.
The rickshaw had reached Sector 41 now. Twilight had already given into dusk. She could hear the clouds roaring. She remembered Dr.Nath, the psychiatrist who used to see her near this very place.
“So I see you left your job?”
“Yes…” she replied faintly.
“Did you not like it?” asked the doctor in a very subtle tone.
“I loved it. I was born to be an Architect.” she said, her voice breaking as she thought of her unfulfilled dreams.
“Why did you resign then?”
“Scared?” he completed the sentence for her.
“Scared? Why would I be scared? What’s there to be afraid of?” she said in a reassuring tone, avoiding to make any eye contact with the experienced doctor.
“Mam, you have to be honest with me if you want this to work!”
“I don’t need this to work! I don’t need anything to work! My husband thinks I’ve gone daft! I am not crazy!” she yelled frantically.
“Then why wouldn’t you let him touch you?”
“I don’t like people touching me! I don’t like being near them! Okay?” she said as tears exploded again.
“And why is that?”
“Scared?” the doctor said as a vague attempt to complete the sentence.
“No.” she grinned. “I’m leaving!” she said.
This time, lightening broke her thoughts. Few seconds later, she could hear the thunder. It seemed to express the wrath of inside her brain. She rested her head on the seat as if trying to stop her brain from exploding. She kept her hands over her head trying to soothe the stress out. She realized that her stop was near. She had reached sector 40.
“Of all the other days, today is the day you choose to show me this?” Raj said, flashing the divorce papers in front of her.
“I couldn’t see reason why not.” She said, trying to sound scornful.
“It’s my parents’ 40th marriage anniversary and you choose to give a heart-attack as an anniversary gift to them?” Raj said in frenzied-sorrow.
He always tried to sound as if Reena didn’t matter to him anymore and that all he was worried about was the reaction of his parents. Deep down, agony choked his very throat.
There was an eloquent pause. He felt as if Reena was melting. He saw his old Reena, the woman he loved in the eyes of this scornful beast. He wished she would say something magical… that the past one year was nothing but a disgusting prank she was playing on him. Her eyes were moist, but she’d become too good an actor now to let her feelings out on display.
“I still can’t see a reason.” She said, simply.
Despair was all he got from her. Since the past one year, it was nothing but the dismal despair. Disappointment, which would fill his nerves with vehemence and his heart with melancholy.
“And what do you plan to do with your life? You don’t have a job! You don’t have a house! Your parents won’t take you back since you’ve become a bitch. Are you…eh…are you…wait a second…How much are you thinking of demanding as compensation, huh?” said Raj, with a sudden realization.
“I don’t want your money. I just want to get rid of you.”
“And then…? Live in a slum?”
“That’s none of your business. For the record, I won’t trouble you for the rest of your life.” she said. Raj thought that he saw a tear flowing down through her eye, but then convinced himself that it was just another delusion. Stones don’t cry.
“Madam Ji! Madam Ji? Madam Ji!” the auto-rickshaw driver woke Reena from her disgusting memories. She realized she’d reached her destination. She wiped her tears before she was got out of the rickshaw, trying to avoid any eye-contact with the judgmental driver.
“Hmm?” she gestured him by frisking through her purse.
She paid him Rupees 50 and didn’t even wait for the change. She could not face him right now. She walked away and the driver didn’t bother to remind her either. She didn’t even realize when the drizzle started. The rain was going to be torrential. Her ‘house’ was close to the main road. She walked until she saw the familiar billboard.
“Balniketan Orphanage, Sector 38-D” it said, the ‘B’ almost concealed with dust. Lightning flashed and thunder roared as she reached the entrance. The rain was starting to pace up. The playground was empty. The hustle from inside told her that all the children and caretakers had gone inside sensing the incoming cruelty of the weather.
“Excuse me, Mam.” Reena saw one of her students from the orphanage standing next to her. As she looked towards him, he continued…
“Mam, Dubey sir told me to give this to you and asked me to tell you that ‘every teacher is doing it’ ” He said as he handed over a form to her.
“BLOOD DONATION CAMP. Volunteer to donate blood for the needful. All volunteers welcome.” the form said. It was followed by some personal details which were needed to be filled by the volunteer but she didn’t bother to read it.
There was a loud thunder as she started to laugh. She’d missed the lightening this time.
“I can’t do this.” She said, pitifully.
“Umm…Why, Mam?” the student asked inquisitively as it suddenly started to rain torrentially. The clouds burst out their well-concealed emotions that were hidden from the world since a long time. It was a monstrous patter. The Gods had gone crazy.
The student started running hysterically towards his room.
The wind was furious. It was determined to take and destroy everything that came in its way. After all, the piled up agony was finally being released. Lightning flashed, wind whistled fiercely, thunder blasted and deafened every creature in its vicinity. The nature had broken away all the shackles and was now free and mobile. It wanted to shout; it wanted to yell the truth.
Reena was the only one left outside. Today, she didn’t want to be safe. She wanted to get drenched in rain. She wanted experience the rage of nature first handedly. She looked up and tried to challenge the sky. The ferocity in her eyes could scare the sun…
“Don’t you want to know the reason I can’t donate my blood?” she blasted her throat as if telling the whole world.
“I am POSITIVE!” she yelled. “HIV Positive!” she screamed, remembering the day when the doctor had told her about it along with declaring that she was pregnant and her child could possibly catch the virus.