“The first and best victory is to conquer self; to be conquered by self is of all things most shameful and vile.”
An hour had passed by. Pratham fell asleep in Akanksha's lap. She had no clue what had gone wrong, and in 7 years of marriage, she had never seen her husband express like this. She never questioned him. She had come to terms with reality accepting her marriage to a person who was forced into it. So was she, at some level.
She sat there still. She tried to feel her feet, but they had gone numb. She looked at Pratham. He seemed at peace. She did not move, lest he might wake up.
She rested her back on the wall and moved her fingers through Pratham's scalp gradually moving them through his hair. She could not decipher the silence, the cry and the engima that persisted in the room.
Thinking about what must have happened, she slowly went to sleep.
After sometime, she got up and realised that she had an ache in her neck. She flexed her muscles and looked at her lap. Pratham was not around. She found a paper that was kept next to her. She opened it and read it. It was the suicide note that Pratham had written.
Akanksha panicked, as she read the letter. She was taken aback, but at some level she empathized with Pratham, because there were times when the same thought had crossed her mind too. She was fed up with her life, because she wasn't living a life that she had dreamt of.
She gathered herself and immediately barged out of her bedroom to look for Pratham, fearing he might have done the unreasonable.
As she rushed into the drawing room, heading towards, the kitchen, she saw Pratham standing in the balcony. She heaved a sigh of relief and went towards him.
They had never spoken much. As she approached him, he sensed her presence and turned around to acknowledge her. She stood besides him holding the letter in one hand and then resting it on the railing.
After a few moments of silence she looked at Pratham. Pratham looked back and smiled. She was clueless. He had never smiled the way he did that day. It was a sad smile, the saddest that she had seen. But she felt a warmth.
"Your read that", Pratham asked.
"I had left this morning to commit suicide", Pratham declared.
A chill went down Akanksha's spine. She reacted to the jitter and nodded again, then looking down, and then at Pratham again.
"But I failed this time too.", Pratham added.
"This time too...means what?", Akanksha mustered her strength to utter these words.
She added, "did you...did you...?",
"No.. this was my first and last. And I have decided that I won't kill myself", Pratham spoke as he understood what Akanksha was trying to ask.
"But why did you do it?", Akanksha asked, as tears rolled down.
Pratham smiled. Again the sad smile resulted in a strange twinkle in his eyes.
"It was necessary, probably. To make me feel the way I do now", he said.
Akanksha kept looking at him, trying to understand what he was saying. She believed that nothing would go wrong now. Pratham's smile conveyed that to her.
"I think I have finally won- My battle - With my own demons. I was running away from everything. You, kids, life, myself.", Pratham said, sounding a bit louder than before.
Akanksha thought what made Pratham talk about all this.
"Now I am going to start again. It's not too late, is it Akshu?", Pratham asked.
She loved it when he called her that. She had no clue what he was saying.
Pratham held Akanksha's hand that rested on the railing and said "I have to go now."
"But...", his wife appeared scared.
"Don't worry. I will be back." He said and thought, " I have lost enough. Not anymore."
Saying this, he grabbed his jacket and left.
Akanksha was still puzzled. She couldn't put things in place. 7 years of marriage and she still couldn't make out what this man was all about. She had put all that she could, but in vain. All of a sudden, she found her efforts bear fruit. She was falling in love with this man.
She thought, she needed to know what her husband was going through. She knew he had no friends. No friends who would listen to him. He wouldn't talk to her, so she thought she would befriend him in someway, so that he speaks out, and she gets to know him better.
After 7 years of togetherness, the real bonding had finally begun.
...to be contd
Back to Chapter 3: Quietude
Onto Chapter 5: One more chance