‘What is this?’ Ashima said while receiving a yellow coloured folder from Aarav.
‘I don’t know, Ma’am. Aarav sir told me to drop them at your home.’ A person who was from Aarav’s work place, said and left the home.
Ashima tried opening the folder, there were some papers. Some stamp papers rather. At first she thought these were some property papers or maybe the papers of their house. But later on when she read the court order attached with those papers, she was shocked that Aarav was filing for a divorce, and that too on infidelity grounds.
‘Oh my…’ Ashima couldn’t believe her eyes. She sat down on the floor, holding on to a couch. Her whole life came shattering in pieces in front of her. The only man, whom she loved selflessly, was giving her a divorce, and that too without even listening to her.
Ashima’s phone beeped. It was a text message from Aarav.
‘I hope you got your anniversary gift. If you don’t agree, I’m afraid I’ll have to drag you to the court.’
Ashima broke down. She totally forgot that today was their first wedding anniversary. And this was what Aarav presented to her. She couldn’t control her screams. Her tears were making her vision blurred, and she couldn’t see the person standing in front of her. It was Aarav’s mother, and Ashima’s mother-in-law.
‘What happened, sweetie? I thought to surprise you on your anniversary, why are you crying like this? What’s wrong? And what has happened to your head? All these bandages? Nobody told me anything, and I’m going to kill Aarav for hiding so much from me. Come’on, get up…’ she helped Ashima to stand up, and took her to the bed inside.
‘Ashima, we never treated you like a daughter-in-law. For us, you are and you will always be, our daughter. Tell me what’s wrong, and tell me what happened to your head?’
Ashima told her mother-in-law, everything. How she joined a job, because she had nothing to do at home. How she befriended a gay man, Jatin, and how Aarav’s insecurity burst in the form of domestic violence on her.
‘I’m ashamed of my son, Ashima.’ Aarav’s mother wiped off her tears.
‘For the world, he maybe a successful business man, he maybe an inspiration, but for me, he’s nothing more than a lunatic husband who doesn’t know how to respect his wife.’
‘No, mom. Please don’t say like that. Aarav is innocent, it’s just that he sometimes becomes too possessive.’
‘Despite being beaten, you are taking that devil’s side? Darling, come’on, I’m not letting you stay in this house, even for a minute. If you have any self respect of your own, you’ll come with me, and show him that he is nothing without you. He is constantly taking you for granted, and you are forgiving his each mistake. He is no more a baby, and he has to learn that. He has to be responsible. He has married you, and these stupid papers can’t decide your future…’ Aarav’s mother threw away the divorce papers and took Ashima along with her.
She talked to Aarav’s father and told him whatever happened. He also supported Ashima, and they kept her in their home for two weeks, till her recovery period was on. In those two weeks, Aarav inquired about Ashima, and he knew that his parents took her away. He wasn’t moved at all, and continued with his daily routine, pretending to be indifferent to whatever was going on. Soon Ashima was recovered and she joined a new job at three times more salary, of what she was earning before, and Aarav’s parents arranged for an apartment for Ashima to live.
‘This is all we could get at such a short notice.’
‘Thank you mom. It’s wonderful! Let me settle down in the new job, I’ll get a new apartment for myself on my own. But whatever you’ve done for me so far, I have no words to be thankful.’
Ashima touched her mother-in-law’s feet. She blessed her and walked away.
It was Ashima’s first night in the new apartment. The rooms were large and airy, but very dirty. The apartment needed a lot of cleaning. Ashima opened her bag which had less clothes, and more photographs of her with Aarav. From their college photographs, to their wedding albums, she carried everything with her, knowing that Aarav won’t be missing her anyways. But she was wrong.
On the other hand, Aarav had now started drinking. A totally sober person, became a madcap drunkard within few weeks after Ashima left him. He had no courage to confront her, after what he did. When Ashima left him, the second day, Jatin came to their home. Aarav, who was intoxicated, beat and thrashed up Jatin. The poor guy had no idea about why Aarav was going mad. Aarav told him that he suspected him to be going after his wife. Jatin explained him everything and told him that he was gay. Aarav was immediately brought back to his senses. Although Jatin left soon after, but the guilt of suspecting on his wife, and calling her unfaithful, surrounded Aarav from all sides, and he became a drunkard.
Drowned in the pool of shame and guilt, Aarav had no courage to face Ashima, or his own parents. After what he had done, he knew he deserved a life like this. With no one to take care of him, and no one to ask him food, he was becoming weak and ill.