She Knew Him
‘I love her, Asha. I’m sorry, but I can’t fool you and myself any longer,’ he gasped, as he shrivelled his arm out of her tight grasp, picked up his fully packed suitcase, and stepped out the already open door. He looked back at her as tears rolled down her pale cheeks, ‘I’ll send you money for groceries and rent until you can take care of yourself.’ He knew that he was hurting her, but he could not live a lie any longer, so he stormed out, leaving his wife on the carpeted floor of their neatly aligned sea-side apartment.
She woke up to the splatter of the rain over the window panes. Thoughts of him being there surrounded her, he could make her laugh at ease, even if she was annoyed with him, he could still effortlessly make her smile. She knew that he was not faking it back then and she continued to believe in what she knew rather than in what she did not.
She wondered why she could not bring herself to question why he had left her for another, let alone confront him about it.
Days were bleak without, Varun – she could not move past him, she had loved him. She would scold herself at times, but she still kept waiting for him to return, she still hoped that one day when the doorbell rang, she would open it to find him standing there. It had been a year since he had left and although the world around her said that she was stupid to not file for a divorce yet, she still loved him.
The chain of thoughts went through her head every morning as though they were a mandatory part of her routine. She tried to stop them, but he was all that she knew, her little world of happiness. She dressed for work swiftly and while the taxi that she had booked was five minutes away, she clutched her bag, checked for her umbrella, turned off the lights, and opened the door.
As she was about to step out into the hallway, she saw shoes and drenched jeans standing before her – she looked up, slightly horrified, into dark brown eyes that she could never forget. ‘Varun?’ she gasped.
There was a pause; neither of them spoke as they gazed into the other’s eyes, they could only hear their intimate breathing and the rain dripping outside. She was confused but she saw apology in his eyes, and she knew him too well to question it.
As she woke up, she was once again surrounded by him – but, this time it was not just his memory that encircled her. She felt as though time had reversed itself by a year, since the day that Varun had returned six months ago.
She slipped slowly out of his grasp, thinking about their conversation from that day. Varun had lost it all – his money, his job, his senses, his pride. ‘She took everything from me,’ he had said, soberly, ‘I wouldn’t blame you if you don’t want me back, Asha, but you are all that I have left of me.’ She had taken his hands in hers without saying a word, as a tear rolled down his already wet face.
Clearing his throat, he had said, ‘What was I thinking when I left?’ His eyes widened as he continued, ‘And what am I thinking coming here to you now? I don’t have anything on me! How do I provide for you now? No, no, Asha, I should leave. You are better off without me.’ It had taken her a while to convince him otherwise.
And here they were, six months later, finally settling back into their normal lives in a whole different city, Madurai. The path that he had traveled had taught him immensely, and Varun was a mature and intellectual man now – his boss adored him despite him being so new to the company. Dilip one of Varun’s closest friends, had graciously helped Varun find a job in his company here.
As Asha stepped out of their little bedroom and into the slightly cramped kitchen, flashes of her beautiful, spacious kitchen in the sea-side apartment swept through her head. She smiled looking around her – no, she did not regret it.
The doorbell rang as she reached across for the coffee cups. ‘Who would it be this early on a Saturday?’ she pondered. The doorbell kept ringing as she walked to it and peered through the lens. All she could see were khaki uniforms. A chill ran down her spine as Varun walked up lazily rubbing his eyes, ‘Who is it?’ he asked.
‘The police?’ she said confused. Varun’s face reflected her expressions, but he walked up and opened the door.
The sequence of events that happened next was a flash. The police had charged in while pushing Varun by the collar; there were three of them, and the one holding Varun had shouted ‘You bastard!’ Asha had squealed and had jumped before them, while trying to pull the officer away from her husband.
‘Sir, please,’ she kept crying.
The police did not give heed. They quickly searched the place as Asha begged the one holding Varun to let him go. He only replied, ‘come to the police station and we can talk there.’ Having found nothing suspicious in the apartment, the police cuffed a pleading and confused Varun and dragged him outside to their jeep. Asha followed begging the officers to tell them what was happening. She was flabbergasted as the jeep pulled off the driveway. Her whole body trembled.
The doorbell rang. Asha sprang up, wiping away her tears, and almost sprinted to open it. It was Dilip. She stepped aside to let him in, still wiping away tears.
‘I’m sorry,’ said Dilip.
‘What should we do now?’ Asha questioned.
Dilip thought for a moment and said, ‘Well, we should go to the police station. I don’t know how much we can do about this from our side, but we will try.’
Asha’s eyes widened. ‘What do you mean there isn’t much we can do about this?’ she asked, but didn’t stop, ‘we don’t even know why they’ve arrested him; they didn’t give us any –’
‘Oh no, you don’t know yet? It has gone viral already,’ Dilip interrupted.
‘Know what?’ Asha questioned, as Dilip quickly handed her his smartphone. She pressed the play button on the video it displayed. The picture was muffled and blurry at first, all she could hear were a woman’s screeches and two shadowy figures fighting each other; the woman was trying to run and push the man away. As the thirty-second video played, she saw their faces. ‘No,’ she gasped, splattering onto the couch behind her.
‘I’m sorry,’ said Dilip, taking back his phone.
To be continued.