You’ve not called since, and the damage runs deep. I slowly sink to the floor, my palm resting on my cheek, which was still sore from the slap. You’d showed me what it felt like to have something you’d always wanted in your life, only to be taken away. I had clearly been a fool, to have bought your sweet talk, to have eaten it right out of your hand. And look where it had got me now. I take my hand away and examine my cheek. There was a bruise, the shape of a crescent, on my cheek. By now, this really didn’t matter, for, I’d seen it all in these four years of being together; whiplash, verbal abuse and all that surrounded it. Although something extreme happened mainly in cases where you told me you’ll still love me, even if I hadn’t in the “best of my health” And clearly, something that I hadn’t expected from you, of all people. My whole body shivers as I think of it, my voice failing me, as I utter that word; yes, it was marital rape and it was time I started realising that that’s what it had been. Today truly was the last straw. As I slowly pressed my palm to my stomach, I wondered how on earth was I going to leave you, now that I was carrying your child. So, I did the most sensible thing that anyone in my situation would do; I waited. Of course, I was being a fool, when I’d actually been expecting that you’d come around. It’s been twelve hours now, and I’ve not eaten a morsel, nor slept a wink, and beside me lay 6 strips of pregnancy tests, all testing positive. Slowly, I get up and look around. I was pretty much standing in a room that was in shambles, crumbling to its foundation. I’d realised that at this very point, I had two options left: come in search of you, or go in search of myself. As I pondered over the options, tossing and turning in that makeshift bed that I’d managed to make out of what was left of the house, I’d finally decided to choose the latter. I dusted myself, packed whatever little was left of that dream life which you’d decided to shamelessly throw away, I locked the door that read “Tanay and Vikruthi’s”, and walked down that spiral road that led to the highway. The setting sun kindled in me some kind of calmness, some positive affirmation that everything was going to be fine this point onwards, as I looked out of the window of the bus leading to Gulmarg.

Years had passed, and just as our children had grown, so did I, embracing motherhood and the responsibilities that come with it. Time had progressed, and the wounds had healed, but the scars still did remain. Oh, and in case you hadn’t realised yet, yes, I’d been bearing twins when
I’d left, quite unaware of the fact in itself and surprisingly glad about it at this point in life. Viraj and Vajra, who’ve blossomed into the charming young adults that they are, were quite the only reason that’d helped me hold on to life, hanging onto invisible threads of hope and love. And no,
I hadn’t named them as you’d have wanted me to, those names that you’d quite
“enthusiastically” chosen when we’d been dating. As I closed my diary, I looked at their sleeping faces, as I finally felt that I’d done quite the right thing in life. Tomorrow, as was the usual norm, we were going to go on our monthly get-away, something that had become ritual that had brought the kids, “our” kids, all the closer to me. Little did I know that tomorrow, that fated day, was going to turn out as eventful as it was going to be.

At the break of dawn, the usual drama that surrounded days that involved vacationing started, and I, as usual, was watching over, hands crossed, and a wide grin on my face. As we’d entered the parking lot of the ski rink, I swerved right to park, as the kids got out and started walking towards the registration desk. Though my motherly instincts told me to stop them from going alone, I knew that I’d brought them up to be self-sustaining individuals by now, and I turned the steering wheel, glancing in the direction they went occasionally, not realising the things that were to follow. Unconscious of my surroundings, I’d hit straight into the car in front of my minivan, causing me to jump up in my driver’s seat, the seat belt only just holding me to my seat. I hit my face hard on the steering wheel, causing a resounding noise to blare out of my car’s horn. As my palm flew reflexively to my cheek, that familiar feeling of nostalgia washed over me, as my fingers brushed over that crescent-shaped scar. Shaking myself back to reality, I stepped out to apologise, only stopping short in my tracks. You’d come out of the car, examining the hood of the car. As the crowd gathered around the parking spot, I gasped for air, as memories started flooding me, at the mere sight of your face. Not much had changed, and ageing had been kind to you, leaving your handsomeness intact, save for a few wrinkles and an unshaven face; you truly were a sight to behold. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the twins diving through the crowd, rushing to my aid, as I’d started faltering, not quite having recovered from the shock.

Surprisingly, you’d remained quite oblivious to what’d been going on around you, as you’d gone about looking at the extent your car had suffered. I was quite taken aback when Viraj instantly recognised you, from that “happy picture” in the attic, the one from our Scotland honeymoon, or so he said. As you finally turned to where I’d been standing, words fail me as I try to describe the various shades that your face turned at the sight of me, and of course, the kids. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t enjoying it. As I waited for you to respond, what happened then was something that I’d definitely not foreseen.

As the kids held onto me, afraid I’d fall apart, I’d surprisingly held my ground, and I’d looked at you, my face solemn and my expression blank. Quite unabashed, or cleverly hiding your shock, I should say, you’d walked up to me, and placed your fingers on “the crescent”, and looked into my eyes. I tried to fight back those tears, as my eyes started unconsciously welling up. I waited for you to open your mouth, shrugging back my tears, as our “family” watched in awkward silence. Then came the most awaited moment, as out came your first words.

“Hi, Vikruthi.”