Present Day - 10.30 am
The words hit me like a shock wave. I felt nauseous.
“How can that be? Didn’t mom and you have a love marriage? How can you say that you never loved her?” I blurted out seething with anger.
My dad sipped on to his coffee staring blankly at the sky.
“Long story, Maya. It had to end someday. It did.”
“Tell me the story then, as none of it is making any sense to me anymore.” I say holding my head within my hands.
“You’d rather not know my child. I’m going out for a while. I’ll be back soon.” He says and walks away leaving the unfinished cup on the balcony table.
I wanted to stop him, but my voice gave up on me. I sit down on my favorite swing and slowly sip on to my coffee, wondering how wrong the only relationship I had known, had gone. I wanted to cry out loud, but no sound came. I hear a click on the door and soon I was all alone at home. And in life, I thought.
I did not want to make my own conclusions anymore. In a matter of hours, my family life had collapsed on me leaving me gasping for air. I needed answers and I needed them now. I was not willing to be kept in the dark anymore. Suddenly, all my hidden emotions came out. I was angry, frustrated, sad and disgusted. I would not rest until I had all the answers today. I rush to my room and call my mother. She answers.
Present Day - 1.00 pm
I meet my mom for lunch at her favorite restaurant ‘Olive’. She looks tired and exhausted and her face was swollen from all the crying. Yet she manages to look her best in a pale gold saree with her hair tied in a messy bun. I resembled my mother a lot, everyone said. I looked completely emotionally drained out and had worn my jeans with a dirty shirt and a jacket. Too casually dressed for a classy place like this, I was aware.
“Hi baby.” Mom hugs me warmly.
“Mom, what happened?” I am struggling to behave normal.
“Nothing. It’s over.” She says as she delicately pours water from the jug into her glass.
“What do you mean? Why are you and dad so casual about this whole thing? It scares me.” I am almost yelling.
“Calm down baby. It’s all for the best.” She holds my hand.
“No way. You need to tell me the truth now.” I push her hand away.
“Let us eat first. I haven’t had breakfast.” She buries her face in the menu.
I look at her carefully checking for the specials of the day and I know that she shall order the sea-food risotto anyway. She was upset I know, but she did not look broken to me. Even when she was messed up she looked calm and composed. She looks up from the menu.
“What will you have?” She waves for the waiter.
“Just some orange juice. I had a heavy breakfast. Dad cooked.” I smirk.
My mom doesn’t react as the waiter walks towards us.
“Sea-food risotto and a pitcher of orange juice.” She smiles at her regular waiter. He nods and leaves.
“He cooks really well, doesn't he?” She asks me with a bright face.
“Yeah. I just learnt that today. Thanks to you.” I say angrily.
“Varun is a very nice man, Maya. It’s not his fault that he doesn’t love me.” She says with a straight face.
“You know that?” My eyes open wide in shock.
“Of course. I always have.”
I’m more shocked now as I gulp down a glass of water.
“But weren't you guys lovers from college?” I ask.
“That’s what everyone thinks. We were just friends, actually.” She says looking distant as though living the memory.
“Then why did you guys get married mom?” I ask wanting an immediate answer.
“We both decided that it was the best thing to do.” She says slowly.
The waiter comes in with our tray and my mother cleans her fork and spoon with the delicate tissue. Even in a classy place like this, my mom was obsessed with her OCD. I pour out a glass of orange juice and wait patiently for my mom to finish her wiping.
“You sure you do not want some?” She asks filling up her spoon with the piping hot rice and prawns.
I shake my head.
“But who is the other woman in dad’s life? Did you know about her too?” I ask sipping to my pulpy drink.
“Hmm.. She was a class mate of ours.” She says after chewing her first bite.
“What? This feels like a movie mom. I don’t know what to think anymore?” My voice has a tone of frustration in it.
“You don’t have to think anything Maya. Just know one thing. I and your father love you a lot. Only that should matter to you.” She reaches for my hand again.
“What about you? Do you love dad?” I look into her eye.
She finishes another spoon and sips on to water slowly. Finally, she smiles.
“Yes I do. Varun is fantastic man.” She says proudly.
“Wow, you love him and yet you left him. You know, you were right. I shouldn’t think anything. This is all going above my head.” I say angrily.
“Our marriage was a compromise Maya. Your dad loved someone else, but she left. I loved someone else, he too left. We both were aware of each other’s pain, hence we got married. Over the years I got over my past and fell in love with your father. But he could not do the same. I waited for a really long time, but he couldn’t see my love for him. So, I left.” Her voice mellowed down.
“So I was not born out of love? It was just a compromise then?” I felt my eyes well up.
“Oh baby. You were born out of love. Believe me, it was love in its purest form. Naive and fresh.” She looked down.
“What are you trying to say mom?” I ask, with a thumping heart.
“I was already pregnant when Varun married me, Maya.” She says as a tear slowly trails her cheek and falls on to the table.
To be continued.