‘It’s not about Love. It never was. It was always about togetherness. Me. You. Together. I cared only enough. I don’t know if you love me. I don’t even know if I do either. But I know that I can’t see you with anyone else. I want you with me. Only me. Call it obsession. Call me mad. Call me possessive. I am. It’s not like I need you. I don’t. But I can’t tolerate the fact that anyone else needs you at all. You are mine. You always were. You always will be. Mine. As I said, it’s not about Love…’
The downpour increased as I folded his last message in the pocket of my overcoat. My umbrella was fluttering with such a horrifying noise that for a moment I was terrified that it might break into half and I might be left drenched in the rain. Unfortunately, I was already drenched enough in my own tears to need rainfall to wet me anymore.
The train was to arrive at 12:45 am, as per the ticket I was clutching in my palm, but it was already thirty minutes since I was standing on the platform in a cold and wet condition. I inquired about the train, some people said it was an hour late because of the weather, while some said it was cancelled. It can’t be. Where else would I go? I can’t stay at his home anymore. I checked my watch, it was 01 am. The train was at 12:45 am, but still no sign of it anywhere. Approaching footsteps of the strangers were giving me chills. I thought it was ‘him’.
My heartbeat was racing with every passing minute. He had gone to Kolkata for some office work and was to arrive tonight. We had discussed about breaking up a night before. He sent me this letter in fax and asked me to read it a million times before even thinking about breaking up. Insanity. Obsession. Possession. He was mad.
‘When is the train arriving, Sir?’ I asked a suited man holding a newspaper over his head to save himself from rain. I couldn’t see his face clearly but he had a moustache and a little stubble.
‘No idea. Can’t you see, I’m waiting for it too…’ he said coldly and lit a cigarette. For a second I was tempted to snatch the cigarette from his fingers and take a deep puff, but the moral-values and so called ‘ethics’ prevented me to. It was India after all, and not UK.
I looked around. It was dark and a few street lights were making the platform appear like a dingy place from some B-grade horror movie. I didn’t have enough courage to sit at the bench near to the tea stalls. A lot of men had gathered there already to seek shelter and a lonely woman would be enough to awaken the beasts inside. Not all men are the same, but the one I had spent five years of my life with, had horrified me enough to be scared of every single member of his species on this planet.
I still can’t believe I fell in love with a stranger. He was a stranger to me. He was no more the same person he used to be, rather he was someone who was changing his colours every day. One moment he would kiss me, other moment my cheeks were swollen because of his slaps. He was insane.
I still remember the night I met him in England. I was studying economics in LBS (London Business School) and he was a senior to me. We were introduced on my fresher-feast. Everyone told me that Kanav was the most handsome men of the Indian-lot studying there, and so I was pretty excited to see him. I wasn’t shocked or surprised as everything my friends had told me about him was true. I got a chance to dance with him that night and after the dinner we spent the evening together at his apartment. He proposed me the same night. It was strange. I didn’t say yes. How could anyone fall in love in just one night? It was weird and scary.
For the next three years, he followed me, he forced me to be his girlfriend and finally when I was in my final year, I said yes to him after a lot of conviction from my friends who supported Kanav throughout. Everyone said it was an interesting love story. It was indeed an interesting story, but ‘love’ I felt, was never a part of it.
The next year we came back to India and told our families about us. Everyone was happy. But I had this strange notion in my heart of something not being right. I was scared of marriage. I told my friends about it. They called it pre-marriage-nervousness and laughed it out, but I knew something was not right.
We never had a real relationship, I always talked to him, and only him. I had no male-friends, he never allowed me to. I never talked to any guy, never danced with any guy, never went out with any males because he was always there with me. It was not normal. My friends said he loved me too much to see me with someone else. I called it madness. One night before the wedding, I called him up and told him that I wasn’t ready for the wedding yet. He came to my house. Climbed up the wall and reached my room from the balcony. I was scared, but I let him in. That night, he held my hand and cried. It was the first time I saw him cry. He was emotional, his tears were real. I fell for it and said yes for the wedding.
The next night we were married and he took me to Dehradun where he was managing his business. The place was lonely. There were no pubs, no night life, I had no friends, no social circle, but just him. I asked him to let me join a club or something, but he denied. That was the first time I saw this side of Kanav. Maybe he was thinking about my safety for we were living alone in this new city, but then I was going insane living alone all day in confined boundaries of his huge house. I wanted freedom. He didn’t allow me to have it.
He had to go to Kolkata very often for his business. That was the only time I went out to meet my friends living in Delhi. He never stopped me from going to Delhi, after all my family was there. I lived a year in those few weeks and would resume my boring life when he returned. Everything was the same for next four years and I was hoping he might change, my conditions might change and he might understand what I feel. But he didn’t. Till the first four years into marriage, he never hit me, but one night my friend from Delhi sent me photos from a party of three months ago. It was the time when Kanav was in Kolkata and he didn’t know about my visit to Delhi. I was taking a bath and he saw the photos. As I stepped out of my shower, he beat me black and blue for lying to him. That night, the blood in the sink asked me to leave this man and live my own life. I asked him to break up. He slapped me and asked me to sneak into his sheets. I felt disgusting. A commodity.
‘NO’, I screamed. He slapped me more and kicked me hard in my stomach this time.
I never thought the guy would turn out to be a beast. Instead of listening to me, he was beating me and I was crying profusely. I had no way out but to run away as far as I could. He was to stay in Kolkata for next one week for his business and fortunately he couldn’t cancel this tour, though he wanted to.
The trip came as a relief and the only chance to escape, for me and I didn’t want it to be wasted. He insisted on taking me with him, but my deteriorated condition didn’t allow me to travel, thanks to his beatings, the doctors advised me to stay home for another month.
He went to Kolkata. I packed my luggage to bid a goodbye to him and the miserable life for once and for all, and never to look back at Dehradun, ever. I booked a train to Mumbai for that night and as I was about to leave the house, the fax machine buzzed and this scary letter popped out. I read it. It was indeed horrifying, but I had this solitary chance that I didn’t want to miss. I tore the paper and folded it in half, clutched it in my palm along with the train ticket and moved out of the house at 12:15 am.
There was no sign of train even now. It was 01:30 am and the rainfall had reduced. From a distance on the tracks, I saw a faint light approaching towards the platform. I let out a sigh of relief as the hoot of train became clearer and louder. I was merely a few minutes away from freedom. Never in my life had I felt so happy. My bruised face was narrating its story, but my will was ready to carve another one, far away from this place.
Mumbai it was. My destination. My dream city. A place far off from this hell. I would never tell anyone where I went, and neither would anyone come after me, once they will be convinced that I had disappeared. The train stopped at a few meters away and I rushed inside. I placed my luggage on the top shelf and sat on the berth sipping hot tea from the earthen-cup. The travelling ticket examiner came over to check the ticket. I handed over the wet and slimy piece of paper, and he managed to read it with difficulty by putting his torch-light on it. He handed the ticket back and moved on to the next person. I was happy I was finally free. There was nobody to be scared off anymore. Nobody to cry for.
The train was hooting. Maybe it were the final signals for it to leave to warn any more passengers on the platform. A wide smile appeared on my face. A man came and sat next to me. He was puffing a cigarette. Maybe he was the same man I met on the platform. The compartment was dark and his face was still not clearly visible.
‘So, the train finally arrived…’ he said.
‘Yeah, I thought it would never come…’ I smiled.
‘But I was sure it would come.’ he threw his cigarette out of the window.
‘What?’ I was confused. Before I could ask him anything more, a hand got the hold of my arm and snatched me out of the train in complete darkness. I kept screaming who was it, but it let go of me at the platform. The train was moving away but I was standing at the platform, witnessing it leaving me behind.
‘What do you think Piya, you can leave me and I won’t come to stop you? I told you. You are mine. Only mine…’ Kanav slapped me one more time and I kept looking at the smudged cigarette lying at the platform, while the man inside waved me goodbye. Kanav smiled at the man, who did his job perfectly, and dragged me to his car.