Take my hand: Everywhere is you
Giri had been returning late daily and sleeping in the guest room, except that day when he did not come home at all. He did approach Seema one or two times in between.. but her responses came out strangled, rude. She hadn't wanted to be rude. Tonight, he looked worse than ever with a dark stubble. He beelined for the spare bedroom without so much as a glance at his wife. Seema swore out aloud.
G (walking back into the living room): "I cant take much more of this."
S: "I too am tired."
Her voice broke. She took a deep breath and then abruptly gushed out,
G: "I need to tell you that I am in touch with Ashfaque again. He is here. And I... I have slept with him."
She hadn't told Ev the entire truth. Now it was out.
Giri looked puzzled. "Your boyfriend?"
He raised a single eyebrow and said nothing.
S: "I deceived you and met with my lover. Is that all you can say? I cant be so tolerant about Ev you know. How do you do it?"
G froze with the mention of Ev. He quietly asked: "What do you want from me? A divorce?"
Giri looked resigned. Seema felt hysterical.
S: "You couldn't care less, could you?"
G: "I'll do what you want me to do."
S (crying now): "I dont want a divorce... I.. Do you want a divorce?"
G: "Why bring this up to me then?"
S (becoming hysterical again): "I am not a cheat, or a liar, or a whore. You.. Have you..? Is that why you are so forgiving?" She did not complete the sentence, but its meaning was clear. G's eyes flared up with a warning, Seema'd never seen in them before. She would welcome violence.. if it could release her from this hell.
Giri tried to control himself, even as a terrible anger stirred in the pit of his stomach. For a long time he stood there. After a while he felt himself looking at his wife, almost like an onlooker on this scene. Somewhere he registered that Seema was calling herself all these names without any help from him. He sat down on their sofa and closed his eyes; begun rubbing his own temples which was throbbing with a dull ache now.
Ev, we know, had not stayed out of this altogether as Anish'd advised her to. Waiting in the sidelines was never her forte. Later on into that night Giri spent at hers, when they couldn't pretend there wasn't Seema or Anish, anymore...
G (dejectedly): "You cant fix this, Ev. Just stay out. We must be who we must be."
Ev sighed noisily and looked down at her own hands, pulling at the skins around her nails in nervousness. She wanted to make it right for Giri. She wanted to help. She was scared for him and feeling helpless about how quickly things seemed to be going irrevocably wrong.
After a while, G said: "What exactly is the matter with her? Has she told you?"
Ev said nothing. After another pause..
G: "Is there someone else?"
E: "I dont know.. but she is very unhappy. Giri, I... I think, you have a problem articulating your feelings for someone... romantic feelings.. how much that person means to you.. you.. come across as aloof.. I know this.. (Ev swallowed a lump in her throat. It was turning out hard to say this to him..) "You need to... touch her soul.. whatever it takes. How can you not act? Dont wait too long.."
In her mind, she completed the sentence ".. this time." G looked at her for some time. He'd heard what she hadn't said. Softly he whispered: "I let you go, isn't it?" Ev closed her eyes and did not answer.
Sometimes we are confronted with a sudden realization about ourselves that blows our mind. A lifetime of friendship, love and devotion imploded in Giri with those words. He did not feel the tears running down his cheeks; no one moved to wipe them. Evie came to him and wrapped her arms around him. For a long time, they sat there without words, just holding tight.
Those thoughts somehow helped Giri come back to this room, to this day. This situation was his failing, too. He had to try to set it right. For the sake of every tender feeling he had ever had, whether it was for Seema or Evie, he couldn't let himself run away, this time around.
G: "I love you Seema."
The words brought fresh tears. Seema hadn't known how much she'd counted on him... for absolution. Sometimes we go with the flow, secretly hoping some bank will give us definition somewhere, frame us, cradle us, bring us home.
S: "I am bad news. Perhaps its best for you to go.. you deserve a chance at happiness."
G: "You are that chance."
Seema looked up at Giri.. a tiny light of hope had been lit in her eyes.
S: "I didn't mean to cheat on you, I.." She couldn't finish the sentence.
G: "Lets not worry about that now."
After a while he said: "If you want, we can move to another city, start again... it wont be tomorrow.. but we can try...."
On the morning of Saturday of the following week, Ev and Anish were drinking tea, around 10-ish.. There was a knock on their front door. Ev went to get it.
Seema said: "Finally!"
Ev stood looking at her.. What could she say? She blurted out: "You are the ones avoiding us!"
S: "So? you didn't have to follow suit!"
Seema was smiling and Ev felt so relieved to see her like that, at ease.. She moved forward and hugged Seema. She hadn't realized how much she'd missed her until that moment. Giri was standing right behind. His lips were unsmiling, but Ev read the smile in his eyes. She held Seema tighter. "Careful Evie, any tighter and I'll have to stop breathing."