• rajibalogupta 10w

    THE NOTE | A Short Story -

    The piece of torn paper dropped from Sudha’s hand. Tears welled up in her eyes. Her legs gave way and she collapsed in a heap on the couch right next to her. Numbing grief gripped her heart with its icy fingers. Sobs died quietly in her chest and she found breathing difficult. She propped herself back on her trembling legs and carefully cradled her swollen belly with her seven month old fetus inside. She bent down and picked up the piece of paper and read the writing again.
    It was unmistakably in Suresh’s hand and the words once again ripped her apart –
    ‘I am tired of living this life, so I am going to end it. It’s no one’s fault that my life turned out this way. I can’t really blame anyone but me …’
    The writing apparently had continued, but since what Sudha had chanced upon was only a piece of the entire document which obviously had been torn to bits, she had no way of knowing what the rest of the writing was about.
    It did not matter.
    The words which she read were telling enough. Her world, the way she knew it had ended.
    When she had a break in her sleep in the wee hours that morning, she was a bit surprised to see the bed next to her empty. She assumed Suresh had probably gone to the washroom and went back to sleep. But when she woke up for the day a couple of hours later and found Suresh still missing, she became apprehensive. A brisk search of their apartment confirmed her suspicion that Suresh was not at home. She broke out into a cold sweat, her worst fears seemed to have come true.
    She had found the bit of paper sticking out from under the couch in their living room. When she had picked it up and read it, her world had crashed around her.
    ***
    Ever since the lockdown began, Suresh who was in the habit of going for morning walks had begun to walk on their building’s terrace to keep his habit going. So finding him missing from the bed was not unusual at that time. But that had stopped when the lockdown had been extended after the initial twenty-one days. Suresh ran a garment shop in a posh shopping mall but as it was not a shop selling essential items, he had to keep it shut following the directives set by the government. Their expenses had not diminished much whereas his income had dried up completely. With salaries, EMIs and bills to pay and a baby on the way, responsibility hung heavy on his shoulders.
    Suresh’s father, who had stayed on in their native town, never failed to remind him that if he had got a job after doing a masters in software engineering and not followed his “dream” of starting a business of his own in the glitzy big bad metropolis, he would not be in the trouble he was in.
    Although Sudha was still drawing her salary from the primary school where she taught mathematics, Suresh had found it increasingly difficult to make ends meet in a set-up that was tuned to running on two sources of income. Forced to take a loan from his caustic father, his self esteem had plummeted to its nadir.
    And when the lockdown dragged on Suresh slipped further into the depths of hopelessness and despair. He started spending his days in bed, staring blankly at the television screen, hours on end.
    Sudha, much to her dismay, had realised what these symptoms were and was petrified about what the consequences could be. However, much to her relief, from a couple of days back, Suresh showed signs of recovering from the onset of clinical depression. He seemed more energetic and optimistic about turning things around. The day before, he had in fact told Sudha he had a surprise in store for her.
    But for Sudha, the events of that morning came as a chilling shock – much different from the thrilling surprise she was anticipating.
    Patients of melancholia are often known to feel bursts of lucidity before succumbing to chaotic outbursts of hopelessness and guilt which often make them suicidal.
    Fearing the worst, Sudha composed herself, left the apartment and rung the neighbours’ doorbell, intending to ask them for help.
    But before the neighbours opened their door, she saw Suresh step out from the lift in the foyer. He was carrying a bouquet of flowers and a big packet of goodies. Sudha could make out from his eyes that he was smiling wanly under the mask he was wearing.
    A rush of relief flooded her and Sudha happily drowned in it.
    ***
    On hearing from Sudha about the ordeal she had gone through, Suresh felt extremely guilty. He then went on to explain what had actually happened –
    ‘I never for a moment thought that my trying to set up a surprise would end up being such a cataclysmic shock for you. For the last few days, I have been reflecting on the financial quagmire we are stuck in and trying to find a way out of it. A week or so ago, I had reached out to my college friend Shankar who owns a software company in Bengaluru to find out if he could pass on some work my way. On hearing about my problem, he did me a huge favour. He has appointed me as his company’s freelance representative in our city and has already put me in charge of two portfolios. So our financial woes are over for now. And then when I do open my shop, I hope to put Manoj, our current manager, in charge of running our day-to-day activities while I continue to service clients on behalf of Shankar in our city.
    I had gone out early in the morning to buy some flowers for you and pick up some snacks. We’ve gone through a lot in the past few months and I wanted us to celebrate in a small way. I thought I’d be back before you woke up but got delayed as the snack-shop was implementing strict social distancing and sanitization procedures which took up more time than I had anticipated.
    As for the torn note which caused the entire problem, it was actually a part of a sort of a letter I had addressed to me to help me motivate myself to end my current life of stagnation which I had brought upon myself and to start afresh with a new outlook towards handling the adversities of life.
    I had torn up the letter and had thrown away the pieces in the trash and I had absolutely no clue that a piece had been left behind by accident, a piece which would lead to such chaos.’
    ***
    Sudha held Suresh in a tight embrace.
    They had realised, life was full of ups and downs, replete with trials and tribulations where the only way forward was through the morass of fears and problems.
    As long as they fought their battles together, they felt, they would win …

    ___

    © Rajib Alo Gupta | MQ 156 | 13-11-2020 | 20:00
    @writersnetwork
    #mirakee #writersnetwork #pod
    #poetry #quote #words #rajibalogupta

    -----
    Grateful to @writersnetwork once again for the kind repost

    Read More

    Much is said through words which remain unsaid

    ©rajibalogupta