Samay took Barkha to Italy, for their week-long honeymoon. Those were the best days of her life. While sitting near river Fiume, she looked at Samay’s ecstatic self and reminisced what he had said to her few days before their marriage, “I am the only son they have and therefore, come what may, never expect me to separate from them in any consequences. There would be adjustments and compromises which you will have to make, but I promise that I will be with you throughout.”
They returned home on the ninth day, where a different life awaited. Barkha was mostly lost in her thoughts while their drive back home from the airport. She understood that since the origin of their alliance was not on very peaceful terms with Samay’s parents, so rifts were bound to take place. Since this was her call, to step forth in all of this, she promised herself that whatever happens, however tough life gets, she would never reveal anything to her parents.
Life began with a normal household living, but soon Kalpana and Bhaskar began to look for instances to create an argument with Barkha. She came from a family where no one raised their voice, especially in front of elders, irrespective of being right or wrong.
Every second day, issues were raised, leaving Barkha in a sorry state. She would maintain silence always and cry out by locking herself in the bathroom. She was learning about a different side of Samay. He did fight for her always, but at the end of every argument, she was expected to apologize, for what reasons, even she didn’t know, but just kept doing it over her pride, so as to keep the elders calm. She would hit the wall with her fist to get rid of the rage of losing respect again and again, leaving her hands swollen and writhing with pain.
After two years of their marriage, Barkha gave birth to their son Kabir. Her pregnancy had been full of chaos and arguments, which resulted in an emergency delivery, owing to her sudden hypertension issues.
Things happened even after Kabir’s birth, but it was the sight of those innocent eyes, which would mellow down all the pain that her heart endured. Samay was a loving father, but due to his erratic flight schedules, he was not able to give as much time as he had always wished to, to his son. Barkha was not allowed to visit her parents often, and when she was, her days spent there were always counted.
Kalpana used to make sure that she raises an argument when no one is around, and at other times, she would pretend to be a sage, while Bhaskar would get carried away by her quiescence and end up shouting at Barkha for petty issues like arriving home late after an outing with Samay or waking up at 6 a.m. instead of 4 or not having brought enough gifts from her parents’ in view of Kabir’s birth. Things kept adding up, but she would discover solace in one or the other way, within herself.
One day Bhaskar told Barkha:
“I want you to make a diary and write down your monthly expenses in it. I want to see that at the end of every month.”
This didn’t come as a surprise to her, may be she expected such things from them.
She didn’t have financial freedom. Not that she was a spendthrift, but most of what she had went away in buying gifts and goodies for either Kalpana, or Kanika. She assumed that it was the only way to keep them happy and calm, to keep showering them with material joys.
One day, while Samay was in the bathroom, Barkha was feeding Kabir, she saw continuous buzzing on Samay’s phone. Thinking that it might be important. She picked up the call and before she could say anything, a woman’s voice said,
“Samay darling, where the hell are you? For you I changed my work schedule and now look at you!”
Barkha : Hello.
Woman : Oh, sorry, I think I dialed a wrong number!
Barkha : (trying to keep calm in that shocked self) The number is right ma’am, I am Samay’s cousin. I will inform him that you called.
Woman : Oh thank you! Tell him to call me back okay.
Barkha : I will.
Samay : (Stepping out of the bathroom) Kabir slept again! I wonder how many times do these babies sleep! I wanted to spend some time with him before leaving.
Barkha stayed calm, she knew that this was serious, but no one in this house will ever take her side. She was in utterly dejected state.
Samay was about to leave for work when he received a call. It was her again, Grace Matthews, an air hostess with AI.
Grace : Now don’t say you didn’t receive my message.
Samay : I can’t talk loudly Gracy. What is it? What message are you talking about?
Grace : I called up sometime ago, your cousin picked up, she said you were in the bathroom. I thought she gave you my message to call me back.
Samay : (in a fit of shock and rage) I will call you back.
He kept his bag in the living room and ran to Barkha.
Samay : Did you attend the call on my phone, without my permission?
Barkha : I didn’t know I needed permission. Besides, isn’t that suppose to be my tone and not yours? Don’t think that I am keeping mum because I did something wrong. I am keeping mum because I am living among false people. And you Samay, you are the most bogus of them all, and I, a fool!
She never realized that her voice had raised, perhaps for the first time. Before anything else happened, Bhaskar barged in their room and slapped Barkha.
Bhaskar : (Yelling) How dare you raise your voice! Remain what you are, don’t try to cross your limits woman.
And Samay remained still. He did not react, did not say a word and just left. Kalpana, on the other hand was exceptionally joyous, for obvious reasons.
Barkha shut herself in the room with her son. She had to do something about it all. Tears could wait. Peace could not.