He had waited for long to catch her red handed. But she was clever. She never left any hint, any clue, about her affair. But she had to have one. He could see it in her eyes, and in her loving ways. But he was not fooled by her sweet wiles. He knew better.
His dad was right! Females were never to be trusted! Just like his mom. Didn’t even care for him. She left! So did his aunt. Females leave. But he had thought she was different. Her unassuming demure look, dreamy eyes, awkwardness in her gait and that stutter… he was sure she was different. But he knew better now! His father was right. Now he would have his proof and then for a change.. he will leave!
Rohit had met Mansi in a book reading event in Crossword. He was there to promote his latest novel, A time to kill. She sat right at the back. She had come late and was nervous about disturbing everyone else, although no one had noticed her but him. Sending a guilty smile towards him, she had stumbled on a chair which jerked loudly and she had to apologize all over again. How charmed he was! That disoriented angelic smile and genuine kindness, or so he thought at that time!
It was almost like a story book romance. He had invited her to coffee when she came unto him for autographing her copy of his book. Effusive with praise and thrilled beyond measure she had agreed. They had hit off right away like honey and the bee. And as days passed by, he realized how easy it was to talk to her and how candid she was in all that she did. How honest…
The very reason why it was hard for him to believe, initially, that she could do something like this to him. He knew he was a bit exacting at times, a bit irritating, especially when he is struggling with his work. But he figured she understood his needs. She had never complained. And well, he did make it up to her later, when he had time. Apparently that was not enough!
But why hadn’t she discussed this with him? He would have changed. He loved her. He would have done anything.. Anything! Bought her the moon if she had desired so. He was lucky enough that his books sold well. He would have changed himself thousand times over if that would make her happy. But she made him think all she ever wanted was his happiness.. His smile! And he believed her! How could he be so naive? After all that had happened in his life!
Of course, he had kept tabs on her. He wouldn’t suspect randomly. He has been checking on her for sometime now. He checked her mobile bills to see if there are any unexplained calls. He dropped on her office randomly and even checked her purse for clues. But there was nothing out of ordinary. However, she came late at home, not too late to question, nothing that cannot be explained as traffic! She changed the topic of discussion when he came across her talking on the phone. Once he had tried to snoop on her conversation by listening to it on a parallel line. But she was talking to her friend, Megha.
It was so frustrating to suspect and yet find no context to accuse. He was going mad with worrying. But no longer. It was but matter of minutes and he would know the truth once for all!
After months of being careful, he had seen her make a mistake. He has seen her hide something in the closet. And now all he had to do was to find that thing and he would have the evidence to confront her with. She tried to be careful while she hid it, but he was smarter. Quicker. He would wait for her to leave to office to open that box. He wanted to be sure, wanted to surprise her with it. She dare not lie.
So when Mansi left for office, Rohit sneaked into their bedroom and opened the closet. After searching for sometime, he found the box kept beneath all her shoe boxes. An unassuming box like any other shoe box. But he knew it by its color. Deep Maroon. When he opened the box, all he found was a note.
My love for you is like a raindrop that falls on the sea. Once the drop reaches the sea, there is nothing but the sea. For me, there is nothing but you. Like a leaf adrift with the wind, I roamed about clueless but you gave me the earth. You are my tree. My resting place.
I know not how to express, but I hope it still conveys it, I have but attempted to show, what years cannot show you. For how can one show where one’s soul lies?
Please accept my gift to you.
It was the letter that he had written for her. A proposal of marriage.
That was a near perfect day and the days that followed, golden. He cannot help but use clichés to describe them. Even his faculties as a writer failed him. He had taken her to the wild beaches of Andaman. Sipping coconut juice below the makeshift umbrella, he had seemingly given her the draft of the first chapter of the novel that he was about to start. And when she stumbled upon this note snuggled within the haphazard pages, she had looked up and said… As the sea is nothing without its raindrops, and as the tree is lifeless without the leaves, I am but nothing without you……
Rohit was confused now. What could this mean? Why would she hide his letter from him this way? What games was she playing now?
They had married immediately. On the wedding night she had said, “Even the drop is lost to sea time and again but it returns. And the leaf, forever a slave of the whims of the wind, drifts. I hope you never wander in the quest of the sea.”
He had not understood it then. He chalked it down to her insecurities. But he was wrong. It was not hers, but his insecurities that she was alluding to. She had seen in the future and had known that a time would come when he would question, what was his. Like a leaf adrift, he would lose his way. And he would return into the folds of love like a raindrop returns to the sea. She understood him more than he could ever understand himself.
And when he went towards the phone, to let her know that he had learnt his lesson, he found that he stumbled upon a hurriedly planned, still under implementation, party that would never be complete now. It was their anniversary. He had forgotten yet again. But he looked into her eyes and saw that forgiveness shone through it like always. He saw love, whose depth he can never fathom. He saw… her.