.....because everyone’s story is always a little unfinished....
The call came at 3 PM. She was not aware that she had dozed off. Perspiration dripped from her forehead. Absent mindedly she reached for the AC remote as she saw the name of the caller flashing on her cell phone. Rohit sir. The name hit her like the waves lapping up the shore with an insistence that defies reason. A long finished chapter of her life was blinking at her. She let the phone ring for a few more times and then took the call.
“Hello, Nivedita?” His voice held the same tone, formal, yet intimate. Or was it just her fancy?
“Hello Rohit Sir, how are you?”
“I am good Nivedita. How are you?”
“So you still have my number?” It had been a month over five years.
“Of course I have. How are things with you? How is your writing going?”
She did not tell him that she had not written a single thing in a very long time. Instead she told him that she was married and busy with motherhood. She told him about her three year old son. She told him that he had curly hair like her and that he needed her all the time. She told him how busy and tired she always was. She did not tell him that she had no zeal anymore for writing; that she had mentally confined her passion to a non-happening element of her life. She didn’t tell him about the unfinished book lying among her old files in the computer.
He spoke about old colleagues and people they mutually knew. And then he proposed the assignment to her.
It would be just a week’s work, he said. She would need to travel to an island near Mauritius. The magazine needed somebody like her with in-depth understanding of all the aspects of travel and a balanced approach to presenting a novel destination. The magazine needed her at a short notice, so the pay would be attractive. It would be just a one-time project with no commitments.
“At least consider it,” he urged. “I know you are very busy but this could be a change in your monotony of life.”
She trembled imperceptibly. How did he know that her life was monotonous? How dare he know?
“Travelling for a week is out of question,” she said. “I have a small baby.” She knew it was not ‘out of question’. She knew that her mother-in-law was always available for such ‘emergencies.’
“Look Nivedita, all I ask is that you give it a due thought before discarding the opportunity. Please! Its a request from me.”
Why was he doing this to her?
He had been her boss and mentor. He had taught her the nuances of travelogue writing. And he had caught the radiance of her wavelength of thoughts like no-one else. He had laughed spontaneously at the clumsy ideas that generated in her mind and worked with her to give them shape and substance. He had fine-tuned her creative masterpieces.
Sometimes a beautiful thing fosters in an inappropriate ambience. Have you ever seen a lovely wild flower bloom in a neglected field where it will inevitably be torn and eaten by a roaming goat or cow? Their intuitive bond, the fodder for so much creativity and success had blossomed in an environment of harsh reality under the illusion of romance. Where there is romance, there is always love in some shade or the other. Nivedita’s success story had continued under the guidance of Rohit Sir’s patronage and exuberant enthusiasm. The enthusiasm overflowed and filled to the brim of many an afternoon cuppa they shared at their favourite cafe. Life was one long picnic of work, stimulation, passion, success, and more work with romance playing hide-and-seek in between these ingredients.
Then one fine day she realised that he felt the same connection that she did. And that was the beginning of the end. The background took over, the flower faded. Reality snatched the reins of life from romance. She had always known that he was married with a good wife but that had never seemed to matter...till he had woken up one day to realise that he was hopelessly attracted to her. Reality ensured that guilt, self-denial, avoidance and awkwardness would soon gush in to ruin and tear apart the raw beauty of a wildflower in full blossom.
The heartbreak that had followed was sharp and totally unexpected. It uprooted the very essence of enthusiasm from her heart. Life became a duty to be completed.
“So, will you give it a thought, please?” He was pleading now for her contribution to his magazine.
She felt ridiculous tears well up in her eyes that contained an emotion beyond pain. Her baby cried out for her attention.
Five years and one month ago she had taken the hardest decision in her life and quit the job and blooming career of her dreams to write a book. Yet the man on the other end still had unflinching confidence in her. Suddenly that book seemed very important. She had been married soon after and delegated herself to domestic duties. There never seemed enough time to devote to that book.
“Nivedita, are you there?”
“Yes, yes, I am. I will think about it and talk it out with Aninda. I promise I will give this due consideration.”
“Thank you so much. I’ll wait for your call.”
They exchanged good-byes.
As she washed her face and prepared to feed her son his afternoon juice, Nivedita smiled. She realised that she would accept the assignment and start on her book again. She realised that sometimes a connection from the wilderness is essential to make things happen. Sometimes just a phone call can open a dusty window and let the light of enthusiasm bathe a long neglected corner. Sometimes one has to travel a whole circle to rediscover one’s talents. Life goes on.
.......Some stories have no beginning, and no end....