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I had two options in front of me and I had to make the choice now. Bleary eyed I looked at the pale white card in front of me as I held the knife that was intended to slit my wrist. I sat still for more than a minute contemplating on what to do. I knew I did not have the guts to kill myself but at that point of time I wanted to prove it to myself that I could. Maybe it was my ego, or maybe I had seen too much of my suffering.
“Come on. Do it.” I yelled refusing to plunge the knife into my pale skin.
Frustrated with myself I throw the knife away and it falls on the carpet without a sound. I look at the carpet. It was a red Kashmiri carpet that I had picked up during my honeymoon. Nithin was against it as he felt that it would be too heavy to carry back to Mumbai in a train. I had argued relentlessly and he had to give in when I threatened that the only way I was returning to Mumbai was with this carpet. I smile at the old memory and bend down to pick the knife with closed eyes.
“I’m leaving Maya. I love someone else. You shall get the papers tomorrow.” Nithin’s last words echoed in my head and I opened my eyes as tears rolled down. I hear a sound behind me and I turn. I see Nithin leaving with his bags and I see myself sitting by the door weeping as he leaves without a glance at me.
I close my eyes again and reopen them. I look around the empty room. I look at the pictures on the wall where we looked so happy. I can see the glint in Nithin’s eye as he holds me proudly during our first dance as man and wife. He loved me then. What had happened now? The pain made me clutch the knife tighter, but I couldn't do it. I throw the knife away and let tears take over me. I cry to my hearts content. It had been three weeks and this was my daily routine.
I wipe the tears with my crinkly veil and stand up. Tears still adorn my eyes and I’m trying to see right. I climb back into bed and search for the card that Neha had given me. I find it right next to the pillow and pull out my phone from underneath it. I think twice before dialing the number. Someone answers after three rings as I wait with bated breath.
“Broken Wings. Can I help you?”
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That was a month ago.
Neha, my best friend had told me about this place when she had come to visit me a day after Nithin had left. She knew something was wrong when I did not answer the call for our daily chat. The next day, she had dropped in. She knew I needed help from the minute she saw me. But I had refused to accept it. Today, I have to thank her.
I was a wreck when I had come in here. That fateful night, some one had come in to find me propped in bed staring at the ceiling fan. Was I thinking of hanging myself I do not remember, but that is how they found me they say. This was not like an anonymous group that met every week for a session. It was an institution that took in people in need of emotional support and took care of them until they were ready to stand independent and face the world by themselves. Much like rehabilitation you could say.
The first thing that I felt when I came here was relief. Although it did not ease my pain, I felt comforted that I’m not the only one who is going through something tragic. Maybe a sadistic approach, but it sure was keeping me alive. There were quite a lot of people here and in the one month that I have been here, I have seen and heard a lot of stories about everything under the sun. There were a few people who intrigued me as well. Like this gentleman who had quit his fully fledged business and come here to get some genuine support. He was a loner and thought that people only wanted to be with him because he was rich. I thought it was silly, but he seriously looked and acted depressed.
And then there was Mrs. Patel who was sent here by her son. According to him Mrs. Patel had turned violent and depressed when his wife gave birth to a daughter. Mrs. Patel had a craving for a grand-son and was not taking the birth of a grand-daughter too well. Her son had made the call when he had caught his mother trying to smother his daughter. It was weird I thought and probably this was not the right place to bring her in. But Kumar had taken her in.
Kumar was the person who had started this place. When his wife and kids were killed in a landslide, he had had a nervous breakdown. It had taken him more than three years to heal himself. By that time he had lost everything he had, except his ancestral house. With the help of his friends he had turned his house into “Broken Wings”. His friends, most of who worked with the government, brought in sufficient funds to run this place. They had doctors and psychiatrists coming in from eminent hospitals to volunteer too. Soon, it had become the go to place for anyone in any kind of trouble.
He was a friendly man who visited every room in the house. He knew all the stories and he helped everyone regain their self respect and understand their self worth. We did not have regular sessions or healing classes, we were just supposed to mingle with everyone and share our stories. It worked because, every other person we met had a different story to tell and it somehow made us feel better. I don’t know which faucet of the human mind Kumar was tapping on, but it definitely seemed to be working.
When I had told him what had happened to my marriage of six years, he just told me to not blame myself for it.
“But I must lack something right? Else why would he leave?”
Kumar had smiled and said, “He lacked something. He did not want to show you that. That’s why he left.”
That had been my first step towards healing. I slowly began gaining my self confidence back and was beginning to accept the facts and move on. One month had taught me so much about myself that I soon started helping others to overcome their fears. Today, almost everyone here approach me first. I looked around the room and said a silent prayer.
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I was just about to walk back to my room, when I saw him walk in. There was something strange about him, that I could not fathom. He walked strangely and looked around with fear. Diya, the young girl out of a year long relationship walked up to him. I smiled and walked into my room. She always did this when a handsome man came in. At this rate I wondered if she would ever go back.
It was during evening tea that he spoke to me. I was busy talking to Mrs. Patel about the dresses she could make for her grand-daughter, when he stopped at our table.
“Hi, I’m Sagar.” He said with a smile. The fear in his eyes had somehow disappeared now.
“Hello Sagar. I’m Maya and this here is Mrs. Patel.”
“Hello ji. You two talk. Let me get back to my knitting then.” Mrs. Patel says and walks back to her room.
I pour Sagar a cup of tea as he sits down in front of me.
“It’s no problem. I’m just pouring it. Ganga Tai made it.” I point towards Ganga Tai who is meditating in the corner.
“Why are you here, Maya?” He asks me before his first sip.
I take a deep breath and look at him.
“Its okay, you do not have to tell if you don’t want to.” He gets up to leave.
“No, it’s not that. Just thinking of the number of times I have told this story.” I smile and gesture him to sit.
I nod. “And marriage.”
“Oh. Sorry.” He sounded genuine.
“What about you?”
“My dog died.” He looks straight at me.
I laugh. “You’re not serious.”
“I am. He was all I had.” He says sadly.
“Family?” I ask.
“Parents stay in London and do not care about me much. My childhood sweetheart got married to someone else. All I was left with was Spock. He died last week. I can’t bring myself to go home after that.” He looked away.
“Why not go back to parents?” I was all curious.
“Why didn't you?” He asks with a raised eyebrow.
“I did not want to.”
“Ditto.” He smiled.
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A week passed and we grew closer. I told him about my insecurities and he tells me why they are not true. I tell him that he is a self inflicted loner and he doesn't believe it.
“You are a banker for God’s sake. How can you not have friends?”
“Never felt the need for one.” He says casually.
“Rubbish. Everyone needs someone.”
“I had Spock.” His voice chokes.
“Accept it. You are too afraid to allow someone in your life. You think they might just leave you like your parents and that girl. The poor animal would stay by your side without questioning or leaving. That’s why you are so affected, because he was the only emotion in your life.” I blurt out.
“I have stayed away from emotions for quite a while Maya. I cannot go back to it.” He sighs.
“You can. But you will not. Because, you are scared.”
“Perhaps. But I’m happy that way.” He turns to walk away.
“If you are happy why are you here?” He walks away without answering.
Nithin had got out of my mind by now and I loved myself more than I did when I was with him. Neha visited and told me that he was getting married to his secretary as he had gotten her pregnant. Somehow the news did not affect me. I asked Neha to get the divorce papers from my house, so that I could sign it and send it to him. There was not a single emotion in my words. I felt free. I felt happy.
Kumar calls me to his office.
“It’s time for you to leave. You are ready to move on now.”
I walk back to my room with a bright smile. I have healed. I know I have.
Sagar meets me on the way.
“You were right. I need people in my life. Will you help me?” He looks at me with puppy eyes.
“Sure. But you will have to come with me. I shall talk to Kumar.”
“Where to?” He looked confused.
“You shall see.”
The next day, I step back into my own house. Nothing has changed inside it. The only change was within me. Sagar looks around in awe.
“Sit down. I have to make a call.” I say and rush upstairs.
That evening, a large package arrives at my doorstep. Sagar looks with a blank expression as I hang a big board at the entrance of my house. Then he looks at the board and smiles.
“I’ll support you.” He says happily and holds my hand.
This is the first time he has touched me and I respond warmly. We both stand there with a satisfied look on our face, knowing that this is only the beginning.
The board reads “Healing Wings.”