• 01 Sep - 07 Sep, 2018
  • Nadeem Alam
  • Fiction

I had been heartbroken in the past but this time I was not sure if I will be able to reassemble my million little pieces or not. I still do not believe what had happened. I am currently going through the denial phase. The person responsible for my miserable and agonising state is none other than the one I loved the most, for whom I had left everything in the world and for whom I had sacrificed my whole life.

It all began in the summer of 69 when Bryan Adams spent the best days of his life and I was studying in the city’s best school. One day when I was being driven back home was the day I saw you for the very first time. We had stopped at the red signal in Clifton, where after few years the famous Teen Talwar was built. I looked around and you appeared just outside my rolled down window. Your face was pale, weak and dirty. Standing with your mother, you held her shirt with one hand and stretched the other towards me. When I looked at your muddy palm, which was not bigger than mine, it pained my heart. A tear rolled out of my left eye and slid down the cheeks. You saw it too. Then our eyes met. Your eyes were as clear as the blue sky but suddenly, clouds emerged and started pouring down your eyes. I could not take it anymore. I looked in front, wiped my nose and shouted at the driver to move on.

I could not take you out of my mind despite my best efforts. There were no technical gadgets in those days to get oneself distracted so I spent the whole evening just thinking about you. I could not do my homework. I skipped the dinner as well and went to bed early. There was nobody at home to worry about me. In those days, I saw my busy dad only on Sundays and my mom was a social person too. She was running a charity for poor children and spent most of her time collecting donations and organising various functions. I was left with the servants. I had turned out to be a very sensitive child. I was only ten but had a fair understanding about the hard realities of life.

That night, I lay on my bed with a small light on. I was desperately trying to sleep but the sight of your wet eyes kept me awake. I was too disturbed to go to sleep. After sometime, I heard my bedroom door open and found my other entering my room. It was an unexpected visit. I recognised her from the typical perfume, as her fragrance stepped in before she did. She came and sat down on the bed where I was lying quietly, faking to have gone to sleep. She combed my hair with her fingers and bent down to kiss my forehead. I could not fake anymore and opened my eyes. I spread my arms and held her tight. She slid in bed with me and I put my head on her arm. She kissed on my head several times. I could not remain silent for long and said, “Can you do one thing for me, mom?”

“Anything, my child. Anything for you,” she replied.

“Will you support one child for education?” I said.

“Yes of course, my dear. But who is the child?” she asked me.

Then I narrated the whole episode to her and how I just couldn’t get the girl out of my mind. She hugged and kissed me again and said, “That is my child. You have pain in your heart for the poor and are always willing to do something constructive.”

Then I started feeling hungry. My mom baked my favourite cake for me. We ate together with smiling faces and she later tucked me in bed, so it did not take me long to sleep.

In the morning, when I was about to go to school, my mom came out and told the driver to get in touch with the girl’s parents. I was supposed to tell him about that and bring them to mother’s office. I got very excited and looked at my mom with thankful eyes. She hugged and kissed me, then helped me sit in the car.

In the next two weeks, I searched for you like a crazy person. My driver asked everyone around but did not get a clue about you. My mother started worrying too. I had stopped eating, studying and sleeping.

She thought it was a small phase and that it will pass with time, but it was getting worse instead. It was on next Sunday that she decided to go with me to look for you. It was our good luck that day to have found you in the parking area of a nearby railway station. My mother went out of the car, spoke to your mother. She then gave her some money and the address of her charity office. You kept standing at the place and did not move an inch. All this while, you looked at me staring from a nearby car but showed no sign of recognition. I got a little disappointed but I was happy that you will now be taken care of.

Next ten years passed in a jiffy. I was now studying in a medical college. You were there too. I had followed your progress throughout your education but never let you know about me. You were average in studies, since you did not have a strong base; in fact, you had no base at all. But you managed to pass all the exams somehow. You completed your higher secondary certification one year after I did, with the help of my mother's charity institute and applied for a low grade medical college but you did not get on its merit list. You must have been surprised to receive an admission letter from the best medical college in the city where you had not even applied. All expense for your entire MBBS program was paid by my mother's charity that I had managed at the expense of my death threat.

We studied together for the next four years, as I was one year senior to you and hence completed my MBBS before you. You knew me as the lady’s son who ran the charity that helped you study and supported your medical college’s expenses. You respected me for that and always showed gratefulness whenever I interacted with you. I never let you know about the efforts I made behind my mother's motivation to support your studies. My mother had even given a job to your mother and also gave you people a place to live, all on my insistence. I tried to befriend you but you always kept a distance from me. You never opened up to me. I loved you even more for that.

After medical college, I helped you anonymously get a job and even my mother's charity supported you with specialisation. We kept in touch throughout but only as acquaintances. Our relationship never exceeded beyond that. I was only waiting for you to settle down before asking for your hand.

I refused numerous marriage proposals and begged my mother to go and ask for your hand. She did so only to find out that you were already engaged and will be married soon. This news completely shook me but then we learnt that your fiancée has called off the engagement. You were heartbroken. In the meantime, I had setup my own hospital and requested you to join me in running this hospital. The package was amazing so you gladly jumped in with me. Very soon, I made you my business partner and started giving you more than 50 per cent of the profit. Then at a suitable time, I asked for your hand in marriage.

You looked shocked. I remember you mentioning that you never felt the same for me as I did for you. You also said that if I want something in return for my mother's charity work then you will marry me. But I was too embarrassed to tell you about my feelings since the first time I had seen you. I apologised to you for the proposal and requested you to forget about it. Next year, you married your colleague and spent a happily married life for five years until your husband divorced you and moved to the US.

We were now both nearing our 60s. You were engaged once and married twice. All three men in your life abandoned you for reasons unknown. Even you didn’t know why. But I had paid them well. I adored you and never allowed any women to enter in my life except for my mother. Last year, my mother also passed away leaving my life vacant, which I tried to fill again by asking for your hand for the third time now. You were now the owner of my hospital, which I had transferred on your name due to my deteriorating psychological state. My condition was getting worse after my mother’s death. My father had already shifted abroad and we were not in touch for a long time. I had loved you all my life and did everything I could without asking for anything in return. I decided to ask for your hand this one last time.

I invited you at my home for dinner last Saturday. You looked really beautiful when you walked into the house. After we had a lovely dinner, I asked you to marry me. This time you got annoyed and asked me to look at myself in the mirror. You said I was living a pathetic life and had nothing to give back to you. You also said that I am a spoilt and crazy son of filthy rich parents. You also blamed me for ruining your life. You mentioned coming for the dinner only out of respect for my mother. You rose from the chair with disgust in your eyes. My heart shattered into millions of little pieces, when your eyes met mine. •