They had met just twice. Only twice. But they knew each other like souls mates. Or this is what she thought. In this world distances of geography hardly matter. It all began on a silken Saturday.
Nishith had a way with words. He could write almost anything and let readers swoon to the rhythm. Radhika chanced upon the same one day and it all began. The interaction on world, life and everything that a writer could compose and an auditor could fathom. Radhika's lonely life after she lost Dhruv seemed to gain a new verve and meaning each evening on her laptop. But they never moved beyond the literary realms. There was a control and a sense of freedom in the mutual touch they shared on the fabric of the stories Nishith wrote. Fresh and new. Like minted dew. Like the sun each dawn.
Nishith's work went down in the final call up for the literary fest. Radhika learnt about it in the interview that happened on one of those lazy evenings after work. She got down the memory lane and searched for that one meaning that sociability offers. Recognition? Respect? Loneliness? Or plain evasion? A new way to efface one's self? She smiled and continued with the last few pages of Nishith's novel.
It was an informal corporate meet at her office that weekend. Radhika had to go despite herself. In an olive green dress and loose hair, she looked very much the spring that April. This is what Nishith said when he saw her. After inane, crisp introductions, Radhika realised Nishith's wife, Ambika was her company's lobbyist. Sipping the drink and stumbling out the remnants of their conversation on his blog, they let the party groove and move while time stood still on the stony porch they sat on.
"Would you be my muse, Radhika?"
Radhika left for work early that Monday. Had a very tense and hectic week ahead. Driving down the roads of the maniacal city she learnt of the literary prize that embarked Nishith on his new journey to stardom. Life it is.
The reinvocation of the mythical Urmila in Nishith's text, the reincarnation of Krishna's Radha in his writings jolted Radhika's sleep into a steady delirium of her past with Dhruv. The memories of Dhruv's mother hugging her daughter-in-law tight when her son failed to turn up for her call or when Dhruv reverentially passed on all his property in Radhika's name before leaving for Spain - all seemed to soak her in the dew of her tears till early morn. And then she had Nishith's line in his novel to her rescue. "I want you to fight for me against me."
She felt like she is losing herself in the myriad hues of life - career, love, marriage, Dhruv and everything that life introduces as important and inalienable. Radhika became whatever they wanted her to be. Where she was in the roles she played, she seemed not to care a bit. A doting wife, a perfect daughter-in-law, a successful professional and many many more Radhikas emerged out of her closet with each demand. She gave herself away completely. As Nishith said, "You held all of them as willing prisoners in your personas, Urmila. Ever cared if you deserved a ground too?"
And she could just say,"Life is too short for installments, Nishith."
The kind of rarity she felt in his company came with a lot of silent distance. The odd thing about the kind of conversation they had was that there was so much unsaid in the said and said in the unsaid that gradually the nothings acquired lot more meanings than somethings spoken and discussed. Perhaps it was the charm of the unknown, the unexplored, the untouched that had her acquiesce to the strange emotion between them. It was a coming together of the simple spilled realities into the two separate lives they lived, in two separate columns of the world.
Nishith was a successful writer. The paparazzi seemed to offer him a lonely respite from the constant evasion of his self and its effacement in the fabric he wove in his works. While Radhika accepted the same as her warm quilt, Nishith discarded each shred of his longing in those fine curvatures of expressions. Yes, they fit so well.
It was another warm Sunday when Radhika sat in her garden, overlooking the wide entrance of her house, reading the few pages of Nishith's new novel. She was all in tears, lapping up each word that spilled out in the frozen moment as blood drops on the ethereal, white snow. She allowed each of those to drench her in her commitment to the life she swore she would offer herself. For once it was not a symbol but a structure, a definite solved problem of suspended tension, of balance, of security in the counterthrusts.
She was convinced she wanted her reality now. Real like a naked need. Not like a surrender or an obeisance but like a willing capture of herself in Dhruv's soul. Like an embrace out of her complete acceptance of her own being. Not the hopeless erasure of the ego when you love someone but the very clear understanding and recognition of the 'i' when she could say, "i love you"...even for once, if at all - without any demand, any expectation, any care, any desire of mutual reciprocation.
When Dhruv left her to face the world here, she discovered the truth behind pulling the house together all this long - the abundance with which she had sacrificed herself in her devotion for everything Dhruv was. The surplus 'love' and extravagant emotions she felt all this while appeared vulgar and contemptuous to the integrity she had, she desired, she knew she commanded. With that one goodbye, she let herself close in a corked bottle, lid shut with a final snap. She knew that she failed in keeping Dhruv to her by letting him go free, by allowing herself the luxury of unsurpassable trust on her own dutiful love. She failed in fathoming that love is never only duty or devotion. Perhaps that is why she could never love because everytime she tried, her 'i' melted into his oblivious existence.
Nishith's words gave her a fragrance of discovery. A compulsive impulse and an intuitive power to decide her fate - all on her own, for once. She read Dhruv's mail again. Visualised him exactly as he would have said, "I am coming back, Radhika. Love."
Moments erase merciless memories. Or this is what one has heard them say. Do they erase or do they merely lighten the charcoaled markings? The intense pain and dilemma behind forcing that smile on a creased, papery face - past innocence fades with time.
"Is my feigned smile enough to allow him to love me and for me to tolerate being loved in return? For godsake, can one ever get rid of love by any means of closure, at any negotiable price or unnegotiable compulsion? Or is this closure life itself? A finalised beginning? Can love acquire newer forms?"
Radhika and Dhruv together visited Nishith for his party. She clutched him tightly. Dhruv gave him one reassuring look and that itself said everything she had ever wanted to hear. His lips opened to mumble something when she stopped him and went to Nishith.
"Meet your muse, Nishith. You fulfilled her, unknowingly."
Dhruv smiled at Radhika, rediscovering her and his love. Radhika threw a parting glance at Nishith and wrapped the muffler around his neck. Thereafter, together they walked in the rains of life, beating sunshine and braving the winds.
It came with the winds. Like a breeze that had always nursed it along its curling spine. Like a desire too strong to be resisted. Like a loss as soon as one finds something. Like Radhika would say, "I love you, Dhruv." Like Dhruv would say, " Where were you for so long, Radhika?" Like Nishith would say, " I would never lose you Radhika. I could never find you to be able to say so."
Like all these spilled realities nourish themselves from above. Like one loves and loses, time and again.