Life is No Life Without You

Eesha opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling. The radium stickers of rockets, stars and a moon smiled at her from above. Her gaze lowered down to the clock and she squinted to grasp the outline of the needles. They were both standing straight. The world outside her windows looked anything but 6 am. It was pitch dark. A stray dog cried somewhere.

Eesha sat up on her bed. What was that dream about? She tried to reconstruct the events she had just dreamed of.

Her elder sister was getting married in it. The new in-laws had been there. Her sister’s mother-in-law had told very firmly that the marriage would take place only if Eesha’s family consented to marry Eesha to her second son. Everybody had come and pleaded to Eesha to agree. After all, it was after great difficulty that this ‘rishta’ was finalized for her sister. Everyone would be so grateful to Eesha for sacrificing for her elder sister.

Eesha had looked to her mother for help. “What about Manoj, ma?” How could she leave him? How could she marry anyone else when he was there? “It’s Ok Eesha. I have talked to him and he has agreed,” her mom had told.

Agreed? Eesha knew why he would have agreed. It was not in his nature to raise his voice or put his foot down, her sweet and soft Manoj. This softness of him had irritated Eesha many times, but it was a perfect complement for the firebrand she was. He would temper her down whenever her emotions flew overboard. His smile was enough to melt Eesha’s heart. He would never should at her, never hurt her. For that matter, Manoj was incapable of hurting even a fly. He was the one who always adjusted, always gave in, always flexible, so that others could have their way.

Even in this case? Eesha had gone looking for him. Did he not love her enough to fight for her? How could he so easily give up on him? She had found him at the window at the far end of a lonely corridor. He had been staring out. As she neared him, she could see a streak of dried tear from his eyes. The smell of snot that builds up when tears are formed lingered around him.

“Are you ok?” she looked at his face closely.

He had looked down. “Yeah am fine.” He lifted his face and threw her a smile.

“What are you doing here?” Eesha had demanded, trying to not pounce upon him for his weakness.

“Nothing, just timepass…” Manoj said, grasping the window sill. “So, I guess we will be brother and sister from tomorrow?”

Eesha had been dismayed at the pain in the voice that spoke those words. “Manoj, are you fully ok with this?”

“What else can I do Eesha? Jaya has got this guy after so much searching. And with her disability, there is no telling if any other good match will come by soon.”

“But what about us…? What will you do without me? What will I do without you? Who will take care of you, Manoj?” Eesha’s voice faltered.

Manoj smiled weakly. “Life will go on, Eesha…”

“No, it wont be the same…” Eesha had broken down.

That had been the point when her eyes had opened. She look at the other end of the bed. It was empty. There were noises coming from the kitchen. Eesha got down from the bed and walked slowly towards the kitchen.

“Hey, Good morning dear!” Manoj smiled brightly at her, pouring tea into his favorite cup. “Wait let me mix your Horlicks for you.”

Eesha went near him and threw her arms around him. “I love you Manoj. Please don’t go away from me anytime.” she breathed into his chest.

“Of course I won’t dear. You are my life, what would I do without you?” Manoj cupped his palms around Eesha’s face. “Poor girl. Must have had some bad dream,” he thought. His fingers fondled Eesha’s chubby cheeks. “I will die before I leave you, my darling wife.”

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