An unforgettable mistake
By Sakshi Patil
Tarun had everything at his bay. A great job, a successful career and the most beautiful girl he loved. What more could one ask for? But this past kept hounding his memory. The restlessness he felt grew day by day . Will he be able to find peace within? Will he be able to correct his mistakes?
An unforgettable mistake
Sitting by the sea was so appealing that Tarun forgot he had been there for more than four hours now. He realised that his legs had a numb feeling and a sudden pain . The soreness in his heart too was unbearable and he knew why. His life had taken a ninety-degree turn today. Till yesterday, he had everything a guy at twenty six would need. A stable job, a good income, friends, family, and above all his dream girl - Shweta. He loved her and she loved him the same. At least, he thought so until today.
The tribulations he felt at that moment were not only due to the sudden loss of love or feeling of abandonment that Shweta gave him today. It was also because of what happened almost a decade ago. He lived in Dadar then. Short height , stout figure and a middle class look never bothered Tarun. His only goal was to do an MBA in finance and get a good job. He lived in a Favela and saw poop scoops right outside his house everyday, but this never thwarted Tarun’s dream. He managed to study in his little time available and also passed with great results. Vishal, his best friend, too studied in the same Night college as him. They both were the best of pals. Vishal knew all his secrets and even managed to help him meet Surekha. She was in their college too. An ordinary looking girl, Surekha belonged to the same locality as Tarun and Vishal. Tarun liked the way she looked at him. Her beautiful brown eyes searched for him all the time. That day, She wore Tarun’s favourite colour, a baby chick yellow anarkali dress which gave her thin figure a good shape. Her white dupatta hung tightly around the neck, visibly showing the beautiful golden heart pendant that she wore.
“You must not hide your feelings Tarun, see how she looks and smiles at you?” Vishal said one evening after college.
“But I am yet to complete my education Vishal. It’s too early for me to start thinking about any girl right now”, Tarun asserted.
“All that can happen yaar, Surekha is a nice girl and she likes you. Don’t let her slip out of your hands”.
He surrendered to Vishal’s persuasion and decided to propose.
“Surekha, I…. I…..I….
“Tarun, I like you too.”
Tarun was dumbfounded. Surekha said it so easily and it took him so much time to utter a simple line.
“You idiot, you can’t even propose properly. If I have to do everything, who will talk to my parents about marriage?”
Marriage!. Tarun had never even thought of it. Right now, he only wanted to celebrate the fact that he had a girlfriend. He wanted to meet his coterie in the evening and tell them all about it. At this moment he only dreamt of parading her around and grappling his first kiss as fast as possible.
“Tarun, are you even listening? I am not going to talk to my parents or your parents. You will have to do the talking”.
They could not stay apart from each other. They met everywhere… college canteen, bus stop, Vishal’s house… all these places became their favourite spot now. The news of their love affair spread like wildfire. Meeting in the evening, avoiding the ogling eyes of parents and neighbours became difficult for both of them.
“Tarun come fast, they are….. They are all… they are in your house…looking for both of you”. Vishal came panting.
Surekha’s parents had reached Tarun’s house. When he entered his house, fearful of what lay ahead, he got the shock of his life. Surekha’s mother and his were hugging each other and having a hearty laugh. He was now asked to touch Surekha’s parents' feet. He was petrified to hear his mother.
“Amma, I am not ready for marriage yet, I don’t even have a job”. Tarun pleaded.
“No one is ever ready for marriage. It happens and then prepares you for the same. Your job and all will come through. In a year or two, you will start working. Till then we can feed you both. Also, that newspaper job you do in the morning, it pays you something, right?? We can manage with it meanwhile”. Amma asserted.
Soon the preparations for their marriage began. Tarun began to get a sinking feeling. He did not realise why he was so unhappy. He loved Surekha, he had had his first kiss with her and he felt happy being with her. Then what was this premonition all about? He thought of discussing it with Vishal.
“Tarun, what you are saying, is absolutely normal. This jittery feeling before marriage is not new. Every man in this world goes through it . Arre, my uncle told me that he even ran away from his house a day prior to his marriage. I think you will be absolutely fine once the celebrations are over. Just don’t worry”.
But Tarun’s agony increased. He wanted something more from his life. He felt so entangled in this relationship. He wanted to run away but he could not gather the courage to do so. Five days after all the celebrations, it dawned on Tarun that he had lost all his freedom. He was told to visit his wife’s family members, asked to buy gifts for all of them, expected to take Surekha out for her nitty gritties and even told to start thinking of expanding his family now. He couldn't hang out with his friends, he couldn’t move away to another college for higher education and without further studies he could not climb the ladder of success. Tarun went to meet Vishal.
"I want to leave this city Vishal, I want to complete my studies, I am getting an MBA admission in Bangalore.". Tarun poured out his feelings.
"That's nice. Is Surekha happy with this?" He asked.
"Surekha, what has she got to do with it? I am talking about my career, my life and you are asking me about Surekha. I don't want to think about Surekha anymore. I want to think about me, myself and nothing else". Tarun screamed.
"But she is your wife, Don't you love her? How can you say all this?" Vishal was shocked.
That day Tarun decided to leave the house and move to another city, else he would be strangulated completely. All the members of his family were angry with him. He saw Surekha lying in his mother’s arms. He couldn’t meet her tear filled eyes.
“Tarun, I understand you want to do your MBA from Bangalore. We are happy for you. All we are saying is to take Surekha along. Why do you want to leave everything and go away like this”.
But Tarun couldn’t explain why he wanted to leave everything behind. All he wished for was freedom from his chained life.
Eight years later, Tarun had fallen in love again with Shweta who was from his office. She had short curly hair, almond shaped eyes, fair, blemish free skin and a perfectly radiant smile. She was like a dream girl for Tarun. He dreamt of her all the time. She was taller than him, but they still looked great together. Everybody in the office spoke about it and Tarun started painting his future with her and why would he not? He had everything he wanted. He worked as an HR in the plush office at HBCL corporations, owned a brand new Wagon R Stingray and a 2BHK flat in Nagwara, Bangalore. His life was exactly the way he had imagined it to be. He just wanted to marry Shweta and then he would be the happiest man. After office, he planned to take Shweta to Spice Terrace, a five star restaurant famous for its poolside romantic dinner and propose her with a ring. They would both get married at The Holywealth lounge and go for a ten day trip to Dubai. It was all planned. He felt his life was all set.
Thursday, the 16th of April he planned to meet Shweta. 16th of April!!! How could he forget this date? This was the same day eight years ago when Surekha and Tarun had…It was Hanuman Jayanti on that day. His Amma and Baba were fasting as usual. Fresh marigold flowers spread their fragrance in the entire house. Amma and Surekha were busy cooking puri, potato curry and his favourite paneer pulav. The aroma of his favourite meal filled his nostrils but he resisted the temptation and followed his heart. Surekha cried in his mother’s arms and Amma screamed, beseeching him to not leave. For the first time, he saw Amma getting so angry.
“How can Mohan family people be so stone hearted as to abandon a pregnant woman?” Amma voiced her opinion angrily. Baba was not even talking to Tarun. He went for a stroll while this drama unfolded at his house. But Tarun had made up his mind to leave the city, his old life, and his wife behind. He had left the house that day and caught the first train to Bangalore.
Surekha, where would she be now? He had left her a month after their marriage.
Her memory haunted him at times. Several nights, he would wake up sweating, unable to realize why he saw his own younger self in his dreams all the time.
Tarun now wanted this 16th of April to become one of his most memorable days. He was sure this would fathom out all his nightmare problems.
At the restaurant in the evening, Tarun finally opened his heart to Shweta.
“Shweta, I don’t want to run around the bush, let me come straight to the topic.I love you and I want to marry you”. I….
Before Tarun could complete it, Shweta screamed, “ Tarun, you and your jokes! I am engaged now and I am getting married in two months. I have always thought of you as my best friend, Tarun. Don’t pull my legs now. In fact I had come all prepared to tell you about Rohit today. He will be here any moment. I am so eager to introduce my best friend to my fiance.
These words pierced Tarun’s heart. Even before he could explain his point of view, he felt someone tapping him from behind. A young five feet 6 inches tall man wearing a smart ripped Levis jeans and a Dolce and Gabbana blue Tshirt was smiling at him. Rohit had curled brown hair and huge eyes. His fair skin and his style could easily let some girls lose their heart.
“Hey, Hi man, you must be Tarun. Oh my god, I am so jealous of you. Mannu keeps talking about you all the time.” Rohit said, shaking his confident handshake.
“Oh shut up Rohu, it is nothing like that and if I talk about Tarun all the time, he is worth talking. He is the cutest friend I have ever got and by the way Tarun don’t look so puzzled, Mannu is my pet name.
But Tarun was unable to pay any attention to all that. All the time, the three of them sat together, Tarun noticed how easily Rohit and Shweta held hands, kissed each other and sat comfortably in each other’s arms. His hunky dory dream had shattered into pieces now. Tarun left the restaurant with a heavy heart. He couldn't go home. He had to be alone with his thoughts. So he went to sit by the shores on Blue Berry beach.
16th of April, Hanuman Jayanti. He could hear the temple bells from a distance. He felt the voices in his head echoing.
“It has all come back to you, Tarun. You broke Surekha’s heart on this same day. You made the grave mistake of leaving her when she was carrying your child. Lord Hanuman cursed you with the same curse today. You deserve it”.
He felt guilty now. How could he not understand it? He realized what a grave mistake he had done. He had two solutions now - Jump off the shore and give up on life or else…….. He picked up his phone. Vishal was his only hope.
“Hello Taru, how are you? You seem upset. What happened? How is Shweta?
Vishal, his true supporter since his childhood knew everything. Tarun could not hold himself back. He told Vishal the entire story and also informed him about what he planned to do.
On the 17th of April morning, Tarun took the first flight to Mumbai. Vishal met him at the airport and took him straight to Worli. This was where she lived.
“Will she recognize me? Of Course yes, how can she forget me? I was her husband. Legally I am still her husband”.
There was no official divorce filed since Tarun never went back to her at all.
As he spoke these words to himself, he felt a piercing feeling coming back.
“Surekha, how ….have…..you …been?”
He couldn't speak anything further.
“I am fine Tarun, how are you?”
She looked so calm. But how?
On the way to Surekha’s house, Vishal had told Tarun how Surekha had left Tarun’s house the very next day after he left. An eighteen year old girl had decided to handle her problems all by herself. Since then, she took up a job and preferred living alone in this small flat in worli.
Suddenly Tarun felt he was seeing his own reflection hiding behind Surekha. A seven year old Tarun wearing a school uniform. He came to his senses and realized what had happened. He realized that the harsh truth of life had hit him harder. This little boy was his own son. So she did not abort the child. She gave birth to him and took care of him - alone. Surekha had fulfilled all her duties of being a wife and a mother. And what had Tarun done? He had left her. He felt a sharp sudden sting in his heart. He saw tears on Surekha’s hands - his own tears.
“Surekha, I am sorry, I…. I… I cannot…..I was… I want to… Will you….” Tarun could not gather the courage to speak.
“Tarun, I forgive you, let us start fresh”. Tarun was stunned to hear it. The heaviness of his chest subsided suddenly. He now realized that he could amend his unforgettable mistake.
By Sakshi Patil