Things Happen, Sometimes
We had an unforgettable holiday, although by the time it was over, I wanted to erase all memory of it.
It was our last night on the cruise ship. We were like newlyweds on their honeymoon. Ela and I danced, laughed at jokes, drank champagne on the deck in the moonlight and made love under the porthole in the cabin, after which she sat up, turned to me and said she wanted a divorce.
Just like that.
I thought she was having me on. But when she got up, wrapped the blanket around her and went into the bathroom, I knew she was serious. She had never done that before, covered herself in front of me.
The next day, as we packed our bags to disembark from the ship, I asked her if she was leaving me for another man. She said no and I’d no cause to doubt her.
“Then why, Ela? Why now after all these years?”
“Don’t go down that road, Vidya,” she said. “Let me go away quietly. Please!” She had an imploring look in her eyes.
“At least give me a reason. You owe me that much after twelve years of marriage. I thought we were happy together. Where did I go wrong?”
“It’s complicated, Vidya. It’s not you. It could never be. You’re better than I am, better than most I have known,” she said. “It’s me. It’s who I have to deal with. Me!”
“That’s such bullshit! If I’m a better person, it’s because of you, Ela. Come on, we can talk this out. Like we always do. Give each other a little space and then get back together. We can do it.” I reached for her but she moved away.
“Not this time, Vidya. I’m sorry. I really am.”
We returned home to Mumbai. Ela never unpacked. In fact, she packed more bags, some books and clothes, several pairs of shoes, a couple of paintings, her favourite Laughing Buddha, and walked out of the door.
I thought this sort of thing happened only in the movies. Maybe this was happening in a movie too. In which case, after ninety minutes and a tub of popcorn, Ela should be back in my life. She never came back. If this had been a movie, it would’ve been a lousy script.
A few months later, we were divorced. We kept in touch for a year or so and met a couple of times at our friends’ parties. And then she dropped off the radar. I did not pursue her or keep track of where she was or what she was doing. I moved on with my life, my medical practice and my patients, but I never stopped thinking of Ela. When she came back — if she came back — I’d be waiting for her.
Six years after our divorce, I saw her one evening at Marine Drive. She was alone, a handbag slung over her shoulder, hands in her jeans pockets, looking out to the Arabian Sea.
“Ela?” I said with a slight hesitation.
She turned and her face lit up. She was still so beautiful.
“Vidya! Is that you?” She hugged me. “It’s so good to see you.”
“How have you been, Ela?” I said. She wore the same soft perfume I’d carried with me for twelve years.
“I have been doing okay. I mean, in spite of what I did to you.” She looked away.
“You didn’t do anything to me, Ela. You did what you thought was right at the time. Things happen, sometimes.”
“How can you say that, Vidya? I walked out on you. I hurt you. I ruined this…this beautiful thing we had.” She touched my face.
“Don’t go down that road again, Ela. It was you who said that, remember?”
Then, on an impulse, I asked her, “Did you find what you set out to look for?”
She shook her heard.
“You know why, Vidya?” She looked up at me and smiled wistfully. “I had already found it and I…I threw it away.”
At that moment all I wanted to do was take her in my arms. Just like I used to.
I turned to her and said, “Maybe, we can find it again — together. That is, if you want to, if you haven’t met…” I let my voice trail.
Ela did not respond and I immediately regretted what I said. How could I have sprung that on her? It was our first meeting, for crying out loud. We stood there watching the tide come in. And then, unexpectedly, she took my hand in hers and leaned against me.
“Take me home, Vidya,” she said in a quiet voice.
Life was going to be good again.
© Prashant C. Trikannad
Disclaimer: This is only a work of fiction. All the names, characters, places, events, incidents and businesses in this short story are a product of the author’s imagination and not to be confused with anyone or anything real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Copyright: No part of this short story may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the written permission of the author.