An elderly gentleman of around seventy placed his old visiting card on the page to close the thick volume of the book in his hand. The painted illustration of Lord Krishna on a golden chariot glittered to highlight every pixel as the early morning beam struck it. As the reader removed his brown-framed spectacles whose temples were dark yellow in color, he leaned back on his couch. No sooner did he rest his arms on the arms of the sofa than his doorbell rang.
“Reshma beti, open the door”, he ordered, shrinking his eyes and frowning as his small dark mustache contracted along.
A middle-aged lady in a light blue salwar rushed from the kitchen towards the hall. “Yes, papa”, she agreed, smiling and nodding at him. She wore a buff cut and a pair of thin long white artificial ear drops.
Usha raced like a bullet from a pistol towards the door.
“I wonder who would visit us this early on a Sunday morning. Must be the milkmaid for last month’s pay”, he grumbled at her. While Usha arrested the excitement within her and faked a smile, he got up from his seat.
“Devarji! (husband’s younger brother)”, exclaimed Reshma, smiling widely at Dr.Alok in a Turkish blue formal shirt tucked in black pants. Nisha, in a yellowish-green chiffon sari paired with a full-handed light green blouse, stood close to Dr.Alok. She had left her hair loose to extend on the front till her waist.
“Bhabhi!”, exclaimed he, joining his hands with tears in his eyes.
“Hi, didi! I am Nisha Verma”, she introduced herself. The two ladies shook hands.
Usha whispered in Reshma’s ears, “Reshma, Nisha will be your sister-in-law very soon.”
“Wow, what a pleasant surprise! Glad to hear this! Nice meeting you too!”, greeted Reshma as Nisha blushed at her would-be.
“Come in please!”, Reshma invited, at which Usha caught her hand and signed her to wait as she saw Keshav grabbing a few currency notes from the kitchen shelves and heading towards them.
“Yeh lo, tomorrow we don’t need curd packets…”, said Dr.Alok’s father, clueless of his guest, till he neared the door. He shrank his eyes at his son. He bulged his eyes and scanned the fair middle-aged man at his door.
“Dad!”, called Alok, swallowing his tears. He was about to set his first step inside his house after such a long time that his father raised his eyebrows and gestured for him to stop at once.
“How dare you come here to show your dirty face?”, yelled he, at which Usha and Reshma shook their heads at Nisha. “And who is she?”, questioned Keshav, pointing at Nisha.
“Our son loves her. He will be marrying her very soon”, Usha revealed.
“What? Don’t you dare call him my son”, shouted Keshav, bulging his eyes at Alisha. He gestured for Reshma to move away. He neared Usha. He closed his fists.
He raised his voice at her, “How dare you invite this sinner to my house? He is…” He emphasized, “dead in my eyes. He no longer is a part of my life. We, as his well-wishers, opposed his girlfriend and what did he do? Ditched you and me, his parents…”
He spread open his palms. He witnessed them, concluding, “The little boy whom I raised with these responsible hands of mine, left me, back then, for an idiotic donkey.”
“Ji, listen to me. He has gone through many bad chapters of his life for disobeying our wise advice. He is not a sinner anymore. He…”, Usha began defending her son.
“Shut up! A mother always covers up her child’s mistakes despite them being great sins. Have you already forgotten everything that he did to us? Its okay, I shall remind you. He left his family behind for the wrong wife. He wronged us but not her who intended to divide our family the very day she entered our house as his bride…”
“Dad, you are right. I could have married Dracula’s daughter instead of Payal. Yes, papa, I was wrong…very wrong”, Alok interrupted Keshav. He joined his hands. He knelt down in front of his father.
He looked up and pleaded, “I'm very sorry. Please forgive me. Please let me return to your lives. Dad, I need you. I am a complete loner living in some corner of the world. This is my situation today, after dumping my own family. I was mad in love with a bitch…”
“Enough of your drama!”, yelled Keshav. He pulled his son to make him stand up.
May it be a second, a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year, a couple of years, or even throughout one's life, relishing the most beautiful feeling on Earth-the love, it still matters.
While most couples are almost near the silver jubilee of their wedding anniversary, Alok and Nisha are just about to begin their love life!
Love at any age is love. Why not a middle-aged love story?!
“I don’t care what you do. It's your life. Who am I to ask? I am a complete stranger to you. Why do you share your personal matters with me? I don’t know you. I don’t want to converse with you. Get lost!”
He gestured for Usha and Reshma to come in. He was about to shut the door when Nisha caught it.
She sobbed, pleading, “Uncle, please talk to Dr.Alok. He has broken through the years. His ex-wife cheated on him. He lost his own son back when the latter was young. He doesn’t have a family. He badly needs you all. I know it's hard for you to forget the bitter past. But, at least, burst out all of your frustration upon him. Please don’t abandon him again…”
“Wow! Who abandoned whom?”, Keshav cut Nisha’s words. He swung the door open again. He pointed at Dr.Alok.
“This fellow screwed us for not understanding his true love for a woman who deserves nothing more than hatred. When he didn’t consider our parental love, why should we consider his lonely situation today? Tit for tat, I believe and follow the same. His retribution, let him suffer. Why should I be bothered?”, he highlighted.
”None of us here are bothered. Both of you leave now or I will ring up the police saying someone is intruding into our house", he concluded, with the loudest possible pitch-loud enough for the commuters on the street to stare at them.
“Uncle, please don’t hate him. Uncle, sorry…”, apologized Nisha, as Keshav banged the door in their faces.
“Ji, why are you like a rock in the dense forest?”, asked Usha, as soon as Keshav returned to his couch.
She hurried beside him. She pointed towards the door. “Our son is a successful researcher today. He has become so popular among the academicians that RSU, the most prestigious central university in the country, invited him to Delhi, six months ago. Feel proud of his victorious career.”
Keshav was about to speak back when she gestured for him to stop.
“I am not done, Ji. Didn’t you listen to what Alok and Nisha told you? Can’t you hear our son screaming from his painful pasts with Payal? It's quite recently after shifting here to Delhi that he reunited with Nisha who is such a sweet woman. Alok’s life is filled with only regrets. The return of Nisha marked the return of happiness to his unhappy life. Why don’t you understand him? He has badly needed us all these years and..”
She sobbed, continuing, “We hardly heard his beckons until Nisha opened up. Please forgive our son…”
“Stop it! Alok, Alok, and Alok! What's going on here? Is he such a good samaritan?”, yelled Keshav, as he got up from the couch. He threw the cushion away.
“I only have one son-Anish, one daughter-in-law: Reshma, and one grandson who is now a surgeon in Mumbai. None else belongs to my family”, he shouted, heading towards the bedroom and locking the door.
While Dr.Alok sat on the shoe rack, Nisha sat beside him. “Saar, he will understand. He is enraged at you”, she reassured him, as he sobbed, looking at the ground. She massaged his back. He hugged her firmly.
“You too don’t ditch me. You are my only family now, Nisha. I love you. Don’t be mad at me under any circumstance…I beg you…”, he whispered.
“I am a very bad guy. Look at how much my father hates me…the man who has always backed up my success, and provided me with everything I wished for before I even spoke it out to him…look at how my nature has annoyed him today. You have chosen such a bad man...You say you have been loving me ever since you fell for my nature…”
“Alok saar, stop”, cried she, turning his face towards her and resting his cheeks in her palms. She wept, consoling him, “Do you trust me?”
“I can’t trust anyone but you at this point in my life. My own parents disowned me...Who else do I have in the world except for my Nisha medam?”, replied he.
“Then, keep trusting me. Your father will forgive you very soon. Stop feeling that he hates you. I could see the fatherly affection he has been hiding behind his red eyes. Stay patient. Give it a while. I’m sure you will fix your broken ties”, she convinced him. She offered him a handkerchief from her handbag. He wiped his tears and sneezed on the kerchief. He nodded with a slight ray of hope at her smile, enlightened by the dawn’s beam falling entirely on her, sitting by the open window across which lay no bars.
The white celestial body displayed itself as a complete sphere in the dark sky with traces of violet color hither and thither. Dr.Alok barged inside his house as Sarla opened the door. He threw the show-piece vases lined up on the white slab one after the other on the ground. The glass pieces broke into the finest atoms.
“Sahab, what’s wrong with you? What happened?”, she cried. She neared her hands towards her mouth. She bulged her eyes at Dr.Alok yelling at the ceiling. She felt goosebumps on both legs.
“Ramlal!”, she screamed, running inside the kitchen.
They shrugged witnessing Dr.Alok breaking down to kneel on the ground.
“Payal, you ruined me. I hate you”, yelled he. He gnashed his teeth as he recollected himself kneeling with a bouquet of roses in front of her. The very scene of himself blushing and proposing to Payal on the corridor of KTU made his eyes grow redder beyond the polluted sky of an industrial area. He grabbed a tray of beers on the dining table. He gulped bottle after bottle.
“Sarla, we must stop him. This isn’t good”, alarmed Ramlal. Sarla nodded with her eyes growing blank at Dr.Alok sweating profusely.
“Neither are you my husband nor is this stupid boy my son”, Payal’s words echoed in his heart, as he recollected how he had caught her cheating. His tears knew no break when the scene of himself marrying Payal at the registration office flashed in his mind.
“Urgh!”, yowled he, throwing one of the bottles he emptied with all the pressure in the world that he can apply. The bottle shattered into pieces that scattered in all eight directions.
Ramlal pulled Sarla aside.
Dr.Alok stood up. His chair fell behind. He recollected his father closing the door in his face. He kicked another bottle for it to fly near the doorstep.
“Shall we call Nisha ma'am?”, asked Sarla, in a timid tone.
Ramlal nodded and grabbed the phone from his pocket.
“Sahab!”, they screamed, seeing Dr.Alok walk with eyes shut and at last, collapse on the floor.
Oops! What's wrong with Dr.Alok?
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