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The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret.” -Henny Youngman
I put down my coffee mug as I take the thermometer out of Dad’s mouth.Â
“Hmm, the temperature is normal,” I mumble.
“See, I’m not sick anymore,” dad says, leaning against the headboard.
Dad picks up the glass of lukewarm water from the bedside table while I collect his pills.
“Why do I have to take all these pills?” he says with a grimace.
I shake my head at his childish behavior.Â
Dad suffers from arrhythmia and for that he has to take medicines regularly. Being a heart patient, he faces various problems in daily life, but mom and I make sure to take complete care of him.Â
“You used to make that face when you were a child, pragya,” mom chuckles, folding a shirt.
“Oh, I remember those days. She always used to hide under her bed, until we gave her some chocolates,” dad says, staring into space.
I pout. “Don’t team up against me, okay.”
We all laugh together.Â
“Children grow up so soon. It seems like it was only yesterday that I was watching you take your first steps and now here you are, taking care of your old father,” dad smiles.Â Mom nods, folding the last piece of clothing.Â
Carefully, I pick up the neat pile of clothes and walk over to the cupboard.Â
As I close the creaky door, Dad says, “You know, I think we should consider naina’s expert advice.”
Taking a deep breath, I turn around.
“I don’t even like that woman,” I mutter.
I don’t understand why my parents keep bringing that up. They constantly requested me to pay a visit to naina . When I finally gave in, I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with all this stuff and that they’d move on and let me move on, but now I think I was wrong.
Now, thanks to naina’s expert advice, I’m gonna have to deal with some more problems. I’m very tired of all this and I desperately need a break. Somewhere, I feel that most of my twenties have been wasted and now I regret I can’t change anything. I should’ve focused more on my career, but unfortunately I couldn’t. I just never knew my marriage would be big hurdle in my own growth and independence. I wish I could move back in time and change my certain careless decisions.Â
I sit on the edge of the bed and continue to stare at the tiled floor.
Mom comes up and sits beside me. “If you ask me, she is an intelligent woman.”Â
“Mom, Dad, just…please don’t ask me to follow her advice.””Pragya, y-you won’t even fulfill your dad’s last wish,” dad says, his voice trembling.
Frowning, I snap my head in his direction.
“Don’t talk like that, please.”
Even I can feel my own voice breaking in the end. I can see the reddening in his blue eyes, which are now almost clouded with tears.
Dad is my strength in life and I hate it when he says such things. Whenever he falls sick, my heart sinks and I can’t seem to think clear. Needless to say, I’ve always been closer to my Dad than my Mom. Instead of sharing my crushes with my Mom, I used to share it with him. He still pampers me a lot; I’m still daddy’s little girl.Â
It is absurd to imagine a world without him.
Quickly, I brush off a tear from my cheek.
Dad gently squeezes my shoulder, but I shrug his hand off.
“I’m sorry, please forgive your old father,” he says in a childlike voice.
I shake my head no, trying hard not to smile.
I turn around and wrap my arms around his neck to hug him tightly.Â
“Don’t say that again, okay?” I say, tightening my grip.
Patting my back, he whispers, “Okay, I won’t.”
I can now feel Mom’s hand smoothing out my unruly hair.
“PRAGYA , you’re a diligent girl and I want you take all your decisions carefully. Abhi isn’t a bad person at all. I know you both love each, but are too stubborn to accept it.”
“Dad, please…” I sigh.
“And a bit egotistical too,” mom joins in, chuckling.
“Yes, and some egotistical people like you both need a little push,” dad says, looking into my eyes.Â
I dart my between them both. “A push?”
They both nod.
I don’t think we need a push. All we need is a divorce.Â
“Your Dad is right. I think you should consider continuing your counseling sessions,” mom says, reaching out for my hand.
A push, continue counseling sessions, move in with abhi. Sounds easy, right?
Absent-mindedly, I pick up my coffee mug and take a sip. Instantly, my tongue rolls out of my mouth and I grimace at its bitter taste.Â
What to do? What not to do?
My parents never forced me to do something that I opposed, however now they’re in no mood to give up. I’m baffled to a point where my temples have started to throb. What is it that they can see, but I can’t?
Why do they think abhi and I are made for each other?Â
I’m just pulling my hair out, trying to figure everything out.Â I look at my parents and they smile weakly at me. I hate to see the worry in their eyes and I absolutely hate it when they stress out over me. They’re not forcing me, but the way they say it, the way their eyes get teary, causes me distress. If only our lives were a little less complicated…
I thought for a good four hours and finally decided to meet abhi.
I’m staring out of the window. There’s a soft patter of rain on the window panes, echoing throughout. I like the rain, but I don’t like the darkness it brings along with it.Â
“So…” abhi says, leaning forward.
I turn my head to look at him.
Both of us turn our faces away at the same time, not being able to look into each other’s eyes.Â
“How’s Dad?” he asks.
“He is okay. His doctor has recommended a few exercises, which are improving his health.” I smile a little.
“That’s great news,” he says, munching on his Big Mac.
I cast my eye over abhi and that’s when I notice he’s wearing his favorite New York Knicks T-shirt. He bought it like a year ago and I can’t believe he still has it. I also can’t believe the fact that I remember this after all that has happened between us.Â
His chestnut hair like always is messy, pointing in every possible direction.Â
I run a hand through my hair, focusing my attention back on the outside world. The gray clouds above gather in number and try to dominate the enormous sky. As the rain gets heavier, the soft pitter-patter turns into a hammering like noise and I can almost smell the earthy fragrance now.Â
“Dad says that we should take naina’s advice,” I whisper, still looking out.
“What do you want?”Â
“I love my dad so much and he’s so weak right now. I can’t see him like that…I’m so confused, Abhi .”
My bottom lip quivers as those words escape from my mouth and a lump forms in my throat.Â
No, not now, don’t cry. It’s not the right place. You don’t want to embarrass yourself.Â
A few seconds later, I feel abhi’s hand on top of mine, but I don’t pull my hand back. Somewhere, deep in my heart, I like his soothing touch. I know I should act stronger, but I can’t…I just can’t. This is perhaps the weakest state I’ve been in. Many things swirl around in my head and I’m unable to comprehend what I should do.
I look up to find abhi already staring at me. He lightly squeezes my hand, tilting his head to a side. For a moment our eyes connect and I feel like I’m sharing my deepest thoughts with him. No words are spoken. Only silence surrounds us, which slowly turns into an awkward one.Â
Abhi clears his throat before pulling his hand back.Â He sighs, “My Mom has also been trying to convince me.”
I place my elbows on the table, resting my chin in my hands.Â
“Well, it is only one month,” he says.
I raise my eyebrows at him. “One complete month, abhi.”
More often than not, we know what we have to do. The thing that creates tension is how we should do it.Â
Can abhi and I live together for a month?
Instead, the question should be-Can abhi and I live together for a month without fighting?Â
I gaze out of the window, stuffing two spicy French fries in my mouth.Â
“We can do it…I-I think,” he says.Â
I cock an eye at him.
He shrugs. “I mean, if that’s what gives them the satisfaction.”Â
Our parents only want us to give one last chance to our relationship. If we spend a month in the same house, then this will make them realize we aren’t meant to be. Maybe, after that they’ll stop telling us to re-think our decision of getting a divorce. We can prove them that all this while, they’ve been trying to achieve something useless.Â
However, it’s not as easy as one might think. I don’t want to spend one more month in loneliness. I don’t want to feel there’s a void in my life that can never be filled, because these feeling really hurt me.Â
“What do you say, pragya ?”
“Are you ready to do this all over again?” I ask, spinning my index finger in the air.
“I suppose I am. How about you?”
I don’t think I’m prepared, but Abhi’s right. It is only a matter of one month and after that our parents will have no reason to stop our divorce. After one month, all this stuff will be over and I don’t think I should drag this issue any further. Perhaps, life is giving us an opportunity to get over with this all at once.
“Okay, I’m ready…almost ready,” I say, licking my lips.
Abhi’s lips tug upwards in a small smile.Â
If it takes me one month to get rid of abhi, then so be it.
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