It was the first day of the year 2009. . Delhi was rising from hangover of new year's booze to welcome the New Year with gaiety. The weather was not much chilly, yet the cold waves were blowing towards the cityfrom nearby Himalayas. The bright Sun was all soothing after the morningmarked with mist and fog. The nature was blooming in flowers of all hues and breeds, the yellow, blue, red and pink colour on the plants and trees of Glad loll, Dutch roses, Chrysanthemums, Asiatic lilies, Acacia, Carnation, Casa Blanca lily, Orchid, Pansy, Palican, Protea and Roses and many more. The trees of pomegranate, banana, apple and guava were all laden with sweet fruits. The mother earth was smiling under the velvet sheet of green grass all over. Water streams in the gardens were running to quench the thirst of flora and fauna.
In such a pleasant and enjoyable environment, a renowned personality of advertising world, Radha, was to receive the lifetime achievement award. To give big publicity for the event, hoardings were displayed on the major crossings, busy business centers and crowded streets of the city by sponsoring advertising companies.FICCI Auditorium at Mandi House was in all readiness to welcome Radha in New Delhi. Radha was escorted from air port straight to FICCI auditorium. Her heart was filled with excitement and she was unable to control her emotions.
She never dreamt of receivingsuch award in her time in a very short period of ten years of her professional career, which had almost ended with marriage with Mohan with the duty to rear hischildren. But now no looking back and had thrown down the baggage of past to step towards her goal. She was thrilled to see FICCI Auditorium packed to the capacity. As she stepped in, she got a standing ovation. She was holding back her tears of gratitude for her mentor, her family and friends , who were instrumental in shaping her in this mantle, while President /FICCI reading the citation. Having received the award, she came out with her secretary and looking for vehicle to airport.
Hey! Radha, cried a manfrom the nearbycrowd.
Radha looked back not due the reason that the voice was familiar, but the voice appeared to be a call for help.
“Oh ! it is you, Mohan,” said Radha surprisingly. What happened to you? You are looking so sad, have not shaved for long. You ought to be a very decent and choosy, is it not?
“I was told by your father that you have been selected for the post of Dy. Collector and were to join the some district in Maharashtra and by this time you must be holding the post of Collector in big district after these ten years and would have been surrounded by number of henchmen, greedy businessmen, selfish greenhorn politicians and your good old friends like Rahul to keep you busy and pleased. But what am I looking at, a frail Mohan and too lonely? ” spoke Radha.
“Radha ! I want to have a chat with you,” pleaded Mohan, 'Can you make it'.
“Sorry ! Mohan,” refused Radha. “I am busy in a meeting of my clients in this city, for which I have come along from more than thousand miles.”
“Your clients!” enquired Mohan.
“Yes, Of course.” said Radha emphatically. “I own a company and notan employee any more.”
Radha’s secretary hinted to leave, as the driver was waiting with door opened for her. Radha moved quickly towards the car.
“Will you not spare few minutes for me,” Mohan was almost begging.
‘Radha, please,’ pleaded Mohan again.
‘I wanted to spend my entire life with you, what to talk of few minutes,’ pouring her heart out said Radha. ‘It was you who threw me out of your life. It is now past and we have gone too far, Mohan. I don’t have any interest in your life, but I am just talking to you because you were my husband, which I choose, and there is no other reasons to talk to a person like you any more, Mohan.’
After a lot of persuasion Radha agreed to see Mohan at 7p.m. in a famous restaurant, The Thugs and left hurriedly for the meeting in The Taj at Sardar Patel marg, New Delhi.
Mohan was getting nervous for the meeting after 10 years of their separation, not a formal divorce. True to his habit of visualizing the future before it may come to haunt, he was thinking aboutthe probable questions from Radha from himand his reply their to? Mohan delved and was linking the loose events flashing in his mind one by one like a long recorded film.
Mohan was deluged with memories of the past. How he met Radha in College and fell in love with her. How he stated bluntly without realising the wrath of his orthodox parents that he wanted to marry Radha. He clearly remembered that his father was shell shocked to hear all that and blasted him saying that he had no face to show in the community as he already promised to a relative for his marriage, who had offered to give twenty lakh cash besides a seven lakh’ sedan and gold jewelry worth ten lakh. How his father threatened to commit suicide if he did not surrender to his wishes, was still fresh to hismemory. He also see clearly that his mother came to his rescue saying that we should not come in between and let our children should remain happy, after all it was their life. He did recall that after this father did not eat for seven days and he lost for the love for his children and how with great difficulty he saved his face by doing a lot of explaining. But his relatives did not forgive them and they didn’t attended their marriage. There was resistance from Radha’s family as well. Yet, she convinced them saying that Mohan was very caring and he would keep her happy, so they agreed to tie her knot with him. He also assured them Radha would be happy after this marriage. They were happy a lot ,but suddenly a girl named Geeta entered in to his life after three months of their marriage. Geeta was working in his office and had an eye over him. He started chatting on internet and soon he proved to be a weak kneed person. As Geeta was overpowering his mind, he was slowly losing his interest in Radha and he started fighting with her even for small things and sometimes theirneighbourscame to intervene when their fights turnedto beriots.
He also remembered that he started behaving like typical mother –in law and taunting her for cooking, washing and manners. He was devoting his energy to find ways and means to keep Radha off, so that he could slip into lap of Geeta.Geetawas very possessive and she wanted to snatch him from Radha’s life .As his infidelity was mountingand Radha’s self esteem was dipping tothe lowest ebb. He madeherdepressed to the extentthat she might either commit suicide or say herself good bye to me. He was thinking much ahead of the time and he convinced hisparents that Radha was not a good wife. Hiselder sister Nivedita helped him, as she was also not having good relations with her husband.
The events of life were not coming to a pause .Radha one day said to him that she wanted to do some job, so that she might come out of the depression and mightfind some expression of life. He declared that she had to choose between job and him. Things were falling in place , as per his plan.Thus, heforced her leave for her parents house. He called aauto rickshaw and put her luggage therein. Radha was in tears and pleading for not to leave. He turned his eyesand informed his parents that Radha has left for her home. It was a golden opportunity for hisfather to take revenge from Radha. Theirfeuds fuelled his dormant desires and he started making plans to get their marriage annulled. His face was glowing , which henever saw before. My father who was always dominated by his mother, then appeared to have won the battle of life.
He recalled that Radha wanted that heshould leave this tedious job and suggested to appear for Civil Services. So he applied for it. After Radha left, he got a call letter for the exam and left for home leaving my rented house locked. He took shelter under the desire of his parents because it suited him. He thus, killed two birds with one stone.
He become mamma’s boy and drew closerto Geeta though internet and mobile. When the parents of Radha tried to contact his father, he dodged them with one excuse or other. Geeta was ready to come to his village to settle there, if he came out of this marriage.He burnt the midnight oil and cleared the competition too. But, his father never allowed to Radha to come to his village. He too did not want that Radha should ever come to him. One day he got appointed as Dy.Collector in Thane District in Maharashtra. Geeta without any formal marriage, entered in to life. Hisparents were hilarious, as Geeta’s parents bought us a flat in Navi Mumbai. Theywere happy again. One fine day, Geeta’a parents came to theirflat and desired to settle with them. He was not in a position to object. As he was busy in his daily chores, when the days he couldn't remember. Good time runs faster than bad time.
It was raining heavily on one of the nights of August of 2001. Nothing was visible outside. Mohan was busy in looking in to office files, which hehadbrought, suddenly the door was knocked at. He ordered the servant to open. The servant told that police was on the gate and enquiring about Mohan.To his dismay, a court search warrantof his house by obtained by police and wanted for the search. He told that he was not a ordinary man, but a Dy. Collector. His arguments failed as the matter was serious. Police took the search anddrugs were found in the room ofhis parents-in law. Hewas arrested on the charge of drug trafficking and court sentenced him for seven years’ jail. Her parents were let off. He was dismissed from service. Later he came to know in jail that Geeta was a high society girl andhe was her third catch. She again started flirting with Ramesh, a local donin his absence. His house had already become a brothel . That day he came out of jail and started looking for Geeta. He reached his flat, which was found locked .Geeta had already sold their flat to settle with a don.
He was homeless and hapless. His parents had already died while he was in jail and he could not go to perform their last rites. Then, there was no point for going to his village. He bought a train ticket for Delhi in search of new life. Incidentally, he met Radha that day itself and seeing her he then started dreaming of reviving his marriage.
It was increasingly becoming difficult for Mohan to meet the time deadline and he grew restless. Hewas looking at his wrist watch time and again desperately. It appeared to him that clock had stopped and got the time confirmed from many passerby. Every time he proved to be wrong. His heartbeats were running fast as the moment of meeting was drawing nearer. These moments were more anxious even than their first meeting. Slowly but surely, the Sun God slipped behind the high hills and darkness startedcovering over the brightness of the day. Moon was also gazing the stars. Radha reached at sharp 7pm and Mohan heaved a sigh of relief.
‘Hello ! Radha ,where do we sit ?’ enquired Mohan.
‘My secretary has booked a table for two in this restaurant,’ said Radha.
The waiter indicated towards the table booked for them and they both slowly walked to the table. The ambience was fine. Light music was being play to calm the nerves of the guests , candle was lit on the table, table cloth was matching the environment, and two red roses were smiling out of sheer joy in the glass jar, besides other customary accessories. Radha smiled to see the roses.
‘Why do you smile, Radha ?’ Mohan asked.
“Nothing, Mohan,” said Radha to evade the reason.
‘I know that you never smile without a reason,’ said Mohan enthusiastically.
‘It is obvious, you know it very well,’ said Radha hyping the surprise.
‘No, I could not understand,’ toldMohan. ‘Please elaborate.’
‘Anyway why you wanted to meet me ? Is there anything left in our relationship, which has already ended 10 years back and too at your behest.’ shot back Radha. Radha was candid andforthright.
‘Yes. It is true. But we were friends first before wemarried and for that sake, please give me your ears, otherwise I would not rest in peace for the months. At least you can listen to my ordeal.’ said Mohan.
The waiter, who was waiting for the pause in the conversation wisely, asked for order.
Two cappuccino coffee with vegetarian burger,’ ordered Radha. ‘ You still like it, Mohan.’
‘ What do you want to say? It may be your finely worded well prepared story, which you are calling ordeal. It is quite easy for you to weave the web of the words and serve in sugar lased candy to any woman to win over. It was actually me who went through the real ordeal of life, which you may not even realize. But I would not narrate it.’ spoke Radha sarcastically.
But,why ?’ asked Mohan.
‘It may weaken me and I don’t want to be weak again, at least before you. Onemust know that I have been given this strength by a man, who is none other than my father. My father in spite of his own struggle of life helped me to come out of depression given by you and not to surrender before the odds of life. (Mohan interrupted and pleaded for revealing her struggle, which was not agreed to by Radha).You may start with your story or the so called the ordeal.’ said Radha.
The waiter served the order and left. They started sipping their coffee. There was stunning silence between the two. Each was waiting for other to break the silence.
‘Radha, after you left for your home or you may say when I forced you to leave my house.……………………………thus I have been reached Delhi today.’ summed up Mohan hurriedly.
Radha heard it patiently without interrupting him.
‘ I am sorry for you. But do you want now, any help, any financial help?’ asked Radha.
Mohan collected his courage and sought the apology for his sins.
‘Sins are atoned by The God only ,’ said Radha, ‘ and I am too ordinary to forgive. Moreover, I have already forgotten the past. I can arrange for a job in some company with good salary.’
‘You are great, Radha, but I don’t need any job or financial help. I want to start life afresh,’ said Mohan.
‘Please be straight how I canhelp you out?’ asked Radha.
Mohan was struggling with his inner self and his self pity and guilt were preventing from speaking outhis heart to Radha. He was not sure whether Radha would accept his gesture. Yet he had hope that she would not refuse.
‘Radha,I want to start anew life with you. Would you oblige me? asked Mohan.
Radha was expecting this question.
‘Mohan, you appeared to be a good man. I hoped to have good and stable married life with you. I knew we had different cultural backgrounds. I thought that your mature approach will help in overcoming this barrier. I may have committed some mistakes in anger, I admit, but these were nowhere responsible for our break-up. Soon after our marriage, you started insulting me even on patty things. Mohan, you never repose your trust and never considered me as your integral part. Whenever there was any call, be it even from office or parents, you always avoided to talk in my presence. You did not like my family members and talking with them was crime.There was total trust deficit in our relationship. Whenever, I demanded for any thing, you scolded and beat me like animal. When I wanted to do job, you ordered me to leave. What sort of person you are? In our culture, man protects his wife, but you threw me out unprotected in open. It was height of the thing that you started flirted with Geeta and Neena, I know all. Your parents, instead of counseling you for your misdemeanor, started protected you. They even didn’t allow me to talk and meet them .You all are abnormal people and have no social understanding. Soon you started concocting stories about me to fulfill your sexual desires with other women,’ blasted Radha.
‘ Now I am a different person. I don’t weep any more like the past. I worked very hard to make my living in a world dominated by men. I own a company ofone thousand crore. I have build my empire from stretch and that with no mean means. I have my responsibility towards the family of my employees and clients, who revere me mostlike their sole benefactor.I am queen of my empire and don’t want to be the prisoner any more. Don’t drag me again to that life, which I left ten years ago. Mohan you’re an expert of laying trapsover the women folk and any women may easily fill the void in your life. Actually, I am not made for a person like you. I have a bigger purpose of life, not just personal freedom, respect and huge money. Respect and money come automatically, when you tread the path of life with integrity and honesty. Please forgive me for not acceding to your call. I wish good luck to you. May I leave.’ spoke Radha.
Radha got up and turned quickly towards the door to leave, lest the plight of Mohan might change her mind about him. People saw her wiping her tears. Mohan was crest fallen and just kept on looking at Radha leaving him till she finally disappeared in the dark, the darkness of his life.