My dear Bhai,
It has been one long day and I am tired as a dog. There are things I should tell you now. Maybe I'll feel better and maybe you'll lose some sleep. I simply need to vent out my feelings, have bottled up myself for too long. Honesty is the best policy, remember our Moral Science classes? Oh My Gosh! I still exclaim now at the very thought of the subject. I cannot vouch for you but I personally felt it was an overdose of the omnipresent, the conscience and the truth. Today as I sit down to write to you, I pray and hope I'll be honest enough. Being honest is not a child's play; even if it means being honest to oneself. O.K. let me give myself the benefit of doubt and rephrase honesty - let me confess!
Sapna delivered a cute little baby girl today afternoon. I was at the nursing home with Sanjeev all throughout. It was amazing to watch Sanjeev. His expressions changed with every second passing by. A would be father that he was, he was an assortment of every possible emotions -excitement, fear, worry, edginess, anxiety, impatience and hope.
"Its worse than waiting for the Board Results!", he said to me.
Board results. It automatically connected me with you Bhai. Suddenly I realized that you are the only one with whom Iâ€™ve remained bonded since school. It was after Boards, we decided to part ways “ to find greener pastures. Do you recall those hostel days, when we shared every possible thing under the sun? The pickles, biscuits and cakes which came from home, notes and text books, tee shirts and jackets and at High School we shared cigarettes also! I even remember sharing your toothbrush once! I know it gives the jitters now but I guess that's precisely why we have been Bhaito each other than best friends.
When the nurse came out of the O.T. to break the news of the newborn, the happiness, the satisfaction and the pride was far much greater than what Sanjeev might have felt when his Board Results were out! "The mother and the baby are doing fine" the nurse informed us. We were allowed to visit Sapna, once she was shifted to her room.
Sapna looked calm and peaceful in her slumber. Somehow she looked more ravishing now. There was newness in her face. Her skin glowed as the afternoon sunrays fell on her tenderly from the venetian blinds. Sanjeev was right next to her, caressing her forehead softly. I left them in their own seclusion and came out of the nursing home. An uneasy feeling crept inside me. I searched my pockets for the cigarettes and the lighter. I lit one and took a heavy drag. It felt fine. I decided to have a cup of tea too from the nearby tea stall. Nicotine and caffeine does wonders to tired nerves, you do agree with me Bhai, don't you?
I met the couple “ Sapna & Sanjeev some three years ago when my work brought me to this sleepy town down south in Kottayam. Our friendship clicked right from the very start. My house is just two houses away from theirs. I bumped into them one evening when Sanjeev was changing the flat tyre of their car right in front of my gate. I had just returned from work and the first thing I noticed was Sapna looking absent-mindedly towards the old banyan tree.
'Look at the bark of the tree. Doesn't it resemble an old lady with a wrinkled skin!", she exclaimed. "Sorry Sanjeev, that was rather a poor joke!" Sanjeev winked his eyes and nodded saying nothing. He was engrossed adjusting the jack. It was then I went forward and lent Sanjeev a helping hand. By the time the car was ready we really got talking. I invited them to my place, Sanjeev to wash his hands. That's how our friendship started.
But Sapna, she was and will always be a cute little thing to me. She is so child like, shy, nervous, reluctant and yet needy. Sapna “ the woman I have always dreamt of"! We never spoke much. Or maybe I talk less. Or maybe I could read her mind by looking at those expressive eyes. Or maybe I simply loved listening to her. She is an amazing woman.
Let me tell you this incident Bhai. It was one of those Sunday summer afternoons when Sanjeev and I decided to chill out with a beer each before the lunch. Sanjeev asked me to get the bottles from the fridge. As I entered the kitchen, Sapna was busy cooking. I said nothing and headed straight for the fridge. She turned around when she sensed there was someone else besides her in the kitchen. She saw me and heaved and before she could say anything I cut her short. "So you got scared, huh?" She looked at me for a moment, trying to study me and said, "No, I wasn't. There are only two things I am scared of. Reptiles and ghosts", she again looked at me closely, "and you resemble none!" I knew she would come up with something as weird as this. She was as passionate about nature and the homeless the way she was about tattoos and bungee jumping. These are perhaps a few things, which brought me closer to her. No matter how hard I tried to erase, her thoughts kept hitting me on my mind. The more I tried to refrain my feelings the more difficult it felt.
I was in love with her and I couldn't help myself. I was walking on the razor's edge and it was difficult to hold on to the reins. And I couldn't betray the trust and faith Sanjeev bestowed upon me. He was a buddy and I know what a buddy means and I swear on my life I wasn't eyeing my buddy's wife. I started distancing myself. I gave professional excuses to be away from them. Sanjeev would never accept these excuses and would off and on say that he wanted his old buddy back; the same old chap who helped him in changing the flat tyre. I never thought love came with such complications. I loved Sapna. Couldn't it sound simple? Couldn't it feel easy? Hell! No it wouldn't. My love and respect for her wasn't an attraction, a lust, a carnal desire or a lure. It was LOVE “ undiluted and pure". But could anybody understand? For it would be Sapna at the receiving end of all the unpleasant and derogatory remarks. For the woman of my dreams was already married. The standards and norms that we set and use as benchmarks for ourselves make us nothing but civilized beasts.
Sapna somehow sensed it. I am sure Bhai, for it always takes two to tango. Somewhere in some corner of her heart she felt the same, the way I did. But I never took it as a healthy sign. For a change I asked my God, not to be generous and kind to me. But Bhai, there has been times and instances when I've put my head and heart on the balance and found my heart on the heavier side. And that's when I slipped. I couldn't hold on to the reins at all. And it didn't matter whether it was right or wrong. It didn't matter if the sun didn't shine the next morning. All that mattered was the moment; it was real; “ the moment when she was lying close to me; the moment when I felt her warm breath on my skin; the moment when our heartbeats were synchronized. The truth.
My love and respect for Sapna is all the same. I can still look straight into her eyes the way I do always. How I wish things were as easy as said!
The cell phone rang and it was Sanjeev. "Where have you been?"he asked.
"I am outside, came down for a smoke. Will be there soon.", I said. I took out some change to pay for my tea “ I drank four cups! Amazing!
As I entered the room I saw the newborn on a cradle next to Sapna's bed. Sapna was still asleep. The tranquilizers were still going strong on her. I carefully lifted the baby in my arms. The baby felt like her mother. Maybe I was holding a part of my flesh; a part of my blood; a part of my love and a part of me. I don't know. I don't want to either. And the baby is too small to bear any or explain her resemblance.
It's only a feeling. Not a guilty one though.
Bhai, I don't want you to curse me. I wanted to confess and that's what I did. And now I know for sure, being honest is not at all a child's play.