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It was their first marriage anniversary and in the year gone by, they already had witnessed all the strengthenings and the weakenings of a lifelong nuptial bond. Life had not been all that rosy as they had imagined in those carefree days of their college life. Love was the only thing that mattered then. Once married, they realised that there are even other ingredients to make things work. Love can lubricate the friction to some extent but cannot be the substitute to every necessity of a married life.
Till yesterday, what he found cute about her now seemed irritating to him. Was that a reality or just her figment of imagination was difficult to tell. Self doubts started creeping in as both of them had a stark realisation - their immature decision to get married before giving shape to their professional life was now disfiguring their individual as well as married life. Their parents had warned them of such possible consequences but listening to them was the last thing on their priority list, once they had decided to step into their new world.
Other than the first month, the remaining eleven months had been tough in this world of theirs. Most of her time was spent waiting for him after returning from a neighbourhood school, which was the only source of their steady income. He had no such steady source. Since their marriage, he had changed four jobs. He was made for something big, he exclaimed. Had this marriage closed all doors for him was again a thought which lingered into his mind when there was nothing else to occupy it.
He had his reasons to be agitated. He had promised her the best life possible. Seeing himself helpless in fulfilling it, he could only curse. Earlier, he used to curse himself. She gave him an embrace and the warmth of their physical closeness used to soothe their mental agony. However, when he was done cursing himself, he moved to their marriage and this was the time when he ended up agitating her too.
Life was not easy for her after all. She was not used to all this, coming from a rich established family. She could not even complain. It was her own decision after all. She tried her best to keep her apprehensions from him. However, even she ended up cursing this situation at times.
This was not what they had imagined; a year full of curses. They wanted to pluck the roses together but ended up plucking the thorns. It’s not that they never tried, but somehow they were becoming distant. Some kind of inhibition had crept in. They wanted that to end but kept expecting the other to take an initiative. There used to be a time when they fought, they never waited for the other to reconcile but now such waits became too often and prolonged.
‘It’s enough of it,’ he said to himself and picked up his cell phone to call back home.
“Hi! Happy Marriage Anniversary!”
“So, you got the time to wish me?”
“I was really busy at work yesterday. Just dozed off on returning to my Hotel room. I saw your missed call in the morning but had to rush back to work.”
“It’s ok. Same to you. And how is your work going. Still a couple of days left to return right?”
“No. I’ll wrap up all the work soon to leave back for the city as soon as possible. We’ll spend the whole evening together.”
“Now that is your yet another promise. I don’t remember when you kept a promise last time.”
“No, I mean it this time. It is 1 o’ clock right now. I have the presentation in 15 minutes. I’ll take the bus around 3 and will be back home by 6 in the evening. Believe me.”
“Ok, let’s see. Take care of yourself. No need to rush. I hope you impress the clients. All the best for your presentation.”
“Thanks dear. See you soon.”
‘Dear?’ she said to herself and gave a smile. He had called her like that after such a long time, after ages it seemed.
It was 6 in the evening. She had baked the cake and his favourite cookies. However, she was expecting that call from him. She was prepared for it; yet another excuse for not making it on time or maybe staying over for another day. She thought, whatever happens, she won’t sound annoyed.
‘Why should I let him know about my weakness? If he doesn’t care, even I’ll act carefree,’ she told herself.
Suddenly, the bell rang. But it was not the phone; it was the door. Her heart started beating faster as she approached the door. She wanted him to be there. She could not take those unkept promises anymore. She wanted those promises to be fulfilled; she wanted him.
As she opened the door with the anxiety of a newly wedded bride, she saw him, standing there with some confused expressions on his face and the bouquet of her favourite flowers in his hands. Both stood there for a moment not knowing how to greet one another. Finally, she stepped forward, opened her arms and hugged him, getting that eternal warmth, she had waited for so long.
They looked at each other with moist eyes and then hugged again tightly, hoping to remain in this trance forever. With not a single word spoken, they both had conveyed to each other that it is the time to forget the past and make a new beginning.
The next two hours flew by quickly. They didn’t speak much, fearing that the words could break this dream. It was around 8 that the phone rang in the other room.
He was not ready to leave her hand as she pushed him gently giving her mesmerising smile.
“It must be mom; I’ll just be back baby.”
As she left the room, he gave her a smile and waved his hands gently.
“Hello, who’s there?”
“Mam, I am calling from the police station.”
“Police station? Why what happened?”
“See mam, we found your landline number as the last dialled one in the cell phone of an accident victim.”
“Oh, my God? Which cell number?”
“Mam, it’s 9876432211.”
“What nonsense! It is my husband’s number and he is with me right now.”
“Oh, are you sure?”
“What do you mean, sure!”
“Mam, you were called around 1 o’ clock. Later on, this person got crushed under a bus destined for your city, while trying to board it in a hurry around 3.”
“What? Just wait, I’ll get my husband on the phone.”
She hurriedly ran to his room. But he was not there. She called out but didn’t get a reply. She was confused. Her heart was beating fast.
‘He was just here. Everything seemed fine. We were making a new start. We had the two hours of our life.’
All kinds of thoughts started flooding her mind. She had no courage to return to the phone.
‘What will I say?’
‘What will I do?’
‘What is happening?’
She had no idea. She kept sitting there like that, the different stories flashing through her mind. She had heard those stories, seen those movies where the soul of the dead returned to complete the unfinished business.
It had happened to her. She had to understand that. All those myths were nothing but reality. With tears rolling down her eyes, she gave a faint smile, ‘He indeed, kept his promise at last.’
Suddenly, she heard the sound of toilet flush in the adjoining bathroom and the door opened.
“Hey, I forgot to tell you dear, my cell got stolen at the bus stand,” he said, removing the ear plugs of her cell phone from his ears.
AUTHOR’S REFLECTION: Life might give you the second chance or it might not. But you definitely can give yourself that second chance. When it comes to relationships, don’t make hurried decisions and if you make them, make those decisions work. Dial that last number before it’s too late. And yeah, do not expect that paranormal crap on my blog!
This was my first attempt at pure fiction and hence, inadvertently has many flaws. Still, thanks to the love and support of readers, it was promoted as the most popular post on Indivine
before dropping down to the second position. You may click here
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to view all my other attempts at fiction writing which have been applauded at other blogging communities like Blogadda and Blog-a-Ton too. If I have to suggest my favourites and the popular ones amongst these short stories, they would be Jihad
and of course my three-part semi-autobiographical
novelette Everyone Has A Cupid Tale To Tell