The Tumble

“You seem tensed son…What is that paper you are holding?” Viraj’s mother asked with concern. She couldn’t walk properly and crippled as she walked pass the door.

“Mom!”, Viraj stood up from his seat and held her mother, “Why are you still up? It’s already two…I told you to sleep early. Did you take your medicines?” He quickly folded the paper and put it into his pocket.

“I saw the lights were on…So…I am worried about you son!” She couldn’t hold back her tears any longer.

“Mom, come have a seat”, he made her sit on the sofa. He sat beside her and held her hand.

“You are my strength Mom and if you break down like this I ….” He reached to his pocket and took out the paper. He unfolded it and kept it on the table.

“Divorce?! Is she really doing this?”

“Mom don’t..You know this was coming,” Viraj sighed, “Please..I… Let’s get you to bed…We will talk about this in the morning… Okay?”
Viraj took his mother to her room. Made her take the pills and put her to bed. He sat beside her brushing her hairs until she was soundly asleep. He turned the lights off, took out a cigarette from his pocket, grabbed the keys and went to the terrace. He went to a corner and tried to light the cigarette. The terrace was dark. The bulb fused about a year ago but nobody in the building cared to replace it. The wind made it difficult for Viraj to light the cigarette. His fingers were not cooperating either. He had anxiety issues and his fingers trembled in stress. Finally he succeeded in the fourth try.

With each puff he realized how useless and futile his living had become. His fingers trembled badly. He couldn’t grip the cigarette properly.He let himself cry finally. He met Aditi his wife in medical college. They were good friends and till the last year were a couple. They married the way they wanted…It was grand. Life was going well…The perfect family…Perfect marriage… Their practice seemed good…But then it happened. The accident. The accident that ruined the perfect life. While coming back home from the hospital, Viraj’s car came in front of a lorry. It happened in a fraction of second. The driver lost his life then and there. Viraj was critical for about a week. The accident gave Viraj the anxiety to live with but took away his chance to become a father ever. The practice eventually came down. Aditi was not able to handle the stress and their marriage was not perfect anymore. These thoughts kept coming back and forth in Viraj’s mind until the cigarette burnt his fingers.
Suddenly he heard a sound. It was definitely coming from the terrace but from the other side. He rushed to inspect. He could only see a shadow in the darkness. He got closer. It seemed someone was standing near the edge of the wall leaning down. Suddenly it appeared to Viraj that someone was trying to jump off from the roof. He wasted no time and grabbed the person with all his strength and pulled towards the center.

“Hey! Dude…What’s wrong with you?” It was a deep but annoyed voice.

“What were you trying to do? Suicide is an offense and never an option!”

“What? Seriously…What?”

“Weren’t you? Okay but…”

Both of them panted and probably were hurt.

“God! My phone and keys fell on the lintel of the window while I was looking down. I tried to reach it. That’s it.”

“Hey…I am really sorry. You live in this building?”

“Yeah…Its been about two three months I guess.”

“Umm…I am sorry mate. But it really wasn’t a good idea. It could be dangerous. You could wait till the morning. The guard will fetch it. Don’t worry.”

“Yeah I know. It wasn’t a great idea,” he paused, “would it be alright if I crash at your place…You know the keys are..”

“Sure man… Absolutely!”

Viraj took the man to his apartment. The man seemed younger than Viraj. He was dressed up in a very casual manner. The hairs all curly and a long beard.
“So this is my home. Be comfortable. Mom is in the next room so try not to be loud.”

“Hey what’s this?” He casually picked up the divorce papers.

“Hey!” Viraj snatched the paper. “We have just…You are a stranger…Behave like one!” Viraj was furious. “So what’s your name?”

“Shantanu and you are?”

“Viraj…Dr. Viraj…”

“Oh.. so doc do you have something to eat…Actually anything would do. I am starving.”

“Yeah and you are bleeding too.” Viraj pointed towards his bleeding elbow.
Viraj brought him some leftovers and first aid. Shantanu was a very talkative person and just blabbered till dawn until they both were dead sleep. Shantanu told Viraj that he was an aspiring writer. He was all alone in the city and his parents didn’t support him. Shantanu was working as an intern in an online channel after getting rejected from many firms.

When Viraj woke up the next morning Shantanu was not in the room. Viraj went to his mother’s room only to find Shantanu and his mother laughing loud and munching on the fries. Viraj was happy seeing her mother laugh. It had been a while since her mother laughed so carefree. Suddenly the door bell rang. Viraj opened the door. The watchman stood holding a phone and a bunch of keys.
“Sir, Shantanu sir?”

“Yeah I’ll give it to him. Thank you”.

“Hey you got the keys! Thank you man.” Shantanu came from behind. “Hey Doctor! Good morning.”

“Good morning Shantanu. How are you feeling?” Asked Viraj.

“Good and well fed for a change”, he chuckled. “Your mother is a sweetheart. Now I think I should leave. It was great meeting you…Thanks for having me!”

“Yeah, same here. Actually Shantanu…umm…Feel free anytime to come here. Mom would enjoy your company very much.”

“Thanks dude. Bye”.

Viraj and Shantanu gradually became good friends. The divorce finally took place. Viraj and his mother were getting over the change quite well. And Shantanu did eventually get a publisher for his first novel. The novel was a hit. Shantanu threw a success party at his apartment. He invited all his novelist friends. The company people. Some people from the apartment and Viraj.

“Hey the party was fire dude.” Viraj went up to Shantanu after the party was over. All the people had left. Shantanu requested Viraj to help with cleaning.

“Yeah. You enjoyed yourself?” Asked Shantanu clearing the empty beer bottles from the table.

“Hmm…After a very long time I should say.” Viraj sat on the sofa smiling to Shantanu.

“Hey how is your practice going? I mean..”

“Quite well actually. I mean the anxiety returns sometimes but it’s fine. I am fine.”

“Good…I am glad.”

“What now? New story? You thought any plot?” Viraj stood up to clean the balcony.

Shantanu also went to the balcony to help him.
“Yeah…Its about a writer who…” He cleared his throat, “who fell in love with a doctor!”

Viraj froze at once. He looked at Shantanu with astonishment. Shantanu went close to Viraj held him and kissed him passionately.
“Shantanu behave…I am not…” Viraj took his foot back and pushed Shantanu.

“You are not like that. I get it. I wanted to just confess my love. And I have one more thing to confess…”

“What?” Viraj asked softly.

“That night I was actually about to jump from the terrace. I was broken to the core. Nobody was ready to publish my novel…My parents were embarrassed of me and…”

“Shantanu I am sorry but I cannot.”

Viraj came close to Shantanu. He held his hand and hugged him tight.

“Hey you need not to be sorry. You saved me. You gave me a new reason to live. I cannot ask for more. I am leaving for New York tomorrow. I just wanted to let you know what I actually feel about you.”

“When will you return?”

“I am not sure. It could be a month or a year or more than a year.” He sighed. “I think you should leave Viraj. Its late…I haven’t packed yet.”

“Yeah right…Bye..” Viraj took his coat and headed towards the door.

“Viraj…” Shantanu called from behind. Viraj looked back. “Good luck dude”.

“Good luck to you too.” Viraj smiled. “And don’t tumble off any terrace or roof top!”

“Yeah, your advice my command Doctor!” Shantanu chuckled. “And…I’ll be fine …Don’t worry.”

The Second Chance

THE SECOND CHANCE

‘What the hell is going on between my husband and that woman?’ Subha’s patience was at it lowest ebb.
Sanjay knew that she was serious. ‘Look, Subha. There is nothing going on between the two of them. Just a little bit of healthy flirting, I’d say.’
‘Flirting? Healthy flirting? Really Sanjay…’ she rolled her eyes in disgust. ‘There is nothing healthy about flirting, Sanjay, not for a married man’. She got up from her seat and walked around the room muttering something to herself. Suddenly she stopped, turned back , looked at Sanjay and asked, ‘Did my husband sleep with her? Did he ever tell you anything about it?’
‘What! Subha you are stretching your thoughts too far…stop,’ Sanjay shouted in anger, ‘We both know that Sukesh would never do that.’ Sanjay looked at Subha with disgust. Suddenly Sanjay’s phone rang and he went out of the room banging the door behind him. Subha knew Sanjay was hurt.
Subha, Sanjay and Sukesh were friends since college. Though both the boys had feelings for Subha. Sukesh was the first to confess and Sanjay didn’t want to jeopardize their friendship so didn’t speak a word about his love for Subha. Sanjay had nothing with him when he passed college. He was not one of the brightest minds in batch and so didn’t get placed in a decent company. He came from a middle class family and all he had was a small house in his native village. It was Sukesh who supported him. Sukesh gave Sanjay a decent position in his family business and even a proper residence in the town. Sukesh thus became more like a brother figure to Sanjay. It has been two years since then. Subha and Sukesh have been married for a year now and everything seemed good until Deepa came into their life.
Sanjay went to Sukesh’s office and without even knocking the door he stormed straight to Sukesh’s cabin.
‘Sukesh…’ He uttered in anger but stopped. Sukesh and Deepa sat on the sofa, a file lied open on the desk in front of them.
‘Sukesh I want to talk to you.’ Sanjay said clenching his teeth as if suppressing the anger between his teeth.
‘Go ahead…I’m listening.’ Sukesh answered casually sipping the coffee.
‘I want you alone.’ Sanjay said looking at Deepa.
‘I’ll leave…’ Deepa nodded and left the room with her usual grace leaving behind the wonderful fragnance of the perfume she wore.
‘What is the matter with you? That was rude Sanjay…’ Said Sukesh this time looking straight at Sanjay.
‘Exactly…what is the matter with you?’ Asked Sanjay with a certain restlessness, ‘Seriously …Is there something going on between Deepa and you?’
Sukesh’s face went pale at once. He didn’t know what to say or where to look. He gazed at the file for a moment and then took up the cup to take another sip of the coffee. Sanjay at once got the answer.
‘Are you insane?’ Sanjay shouted with anger and then took a deep breath and sat beside Sukesh. ‘Subha is a wonderful girl…you love her…she loves you… Don’t ruin all this for any random girl!’
Sukesh got up from the sofa and went to the window. He moved the curtains and stared outside through the window glass and said, ‘Deepa is not any random girl Sanjay… At least not for me.’ He turned around to Sanjay.
Sanjay stood up and started walking towards Sukesh with slow steps. ‘Do you love her?’ Sanjay asked but feared what the answer would come.
Sukesh looked at Sanjay and shrugged his shoulders saying, ‘I do.’
Sanjay came to Sukesh, held his collar and dragged him to the wall.
‘How could you even say that!’
Sukesh took himself out of Sanjay’s grip.’I know that you are concerned about Subha,’ said Sukesh adjusting his tie, ‘but…’
‘What?’ Sanjay uttered in anger.
‘I know Sanjay that I am ruining my marriage, I am being selfish but I never want to hurt Subha.’ Sukesh sighed, ‘ I love Subha but what I feel when I am with Deepa is just so beautiful that I …’
‘But you can’t be with both of them!’ Sanjay interrupted, ‘It would leave all three of you wounded.’
‘I know and so I have made my decision.’ Sukesh looked at Sanjay nervously.
‘Are…are you thinking of leaving Subha?’ Sanjay stammered as he asked.
Sukesh just nodded.
Sanjay was left speechless. He at once lost all the respect he had for Sukesh.
A month later while Sanjay was in his apartment suddenly the door bell rang. It was Subha. She looked worried.
‘Subha…Is everything alright? You could have rang me, I …’
‘You knew everything, didn’t you?’ Subha was furious.
Though Sanjay knew what she was talking about but still asked, ‘ About what?’
‘I thought you were a friend. You knew about the relationship blooming between my husband and that Deepa.’ Subha took a deep breath. ‘We are getting a divorce Sanjay… You could have saved our marriage.’Subha burst into tears.
‘That’s insane. You two are responsible for all this. I thought it was best for both of you to sort things out yourself. Moreover who am I to interfere in your matter.’ Sanjay came closer to Subha, ‘I was a third person between you two then and I am a third person now.’
Subha came even closer to Sanjay, stared at him for a moment and kissed him passionately.
‘I love you.’ Sanjay said softly.
‘I know that…’ Subha leaned over to kiss him again but this time Sanjay pushed her back with a thrust. He was not able to believe what just happened. He was frozen.
‘Since when do you know that I …’ Sanjay’s heart was racing.
‘Since college Sanjay. I believed Sukesh was the best man for me but clearly I made the wrong choice.’
‘But this isn’t right either!’
‘Why? Is this because I am married? Didn’t Sukesh do the same thing to me? Why didn’t you stop him then?’
‘This isn’t about you. Sukesh is my best friend. He gave me everything I have today in my life. I can’t do this to him!’
‘Fine…save your friendship and kill your love once again!’ Subha left his apartment leaving him confused and restless.
Sanjay couldn’t sleep that night. He held his scotch and thought about Subha over and over. He knew that deep down somewhere in his heart he wanted the divorce of Subha and Sukesh. Life had offered him a second chance to be with his love. He might lose his friend but he had the most precious thing to gain. He picked up his phone and called Subha.
‘I know some good lawyers for your divorce!’ Said Sanjay.
‘I love you too…’ Replied Subha to which Sanjay couldn’t stop smiling.
The next day Sanjay went to Sukesh’s house along with the lawyer. When he reached there the discussion had already begun. Subha, Sukesh, Deepa and Sukesh’s lawyer sat on the sofa. Sukesh was shocked to see Sanjay. Subha got up and offered her seat to the lawyer Sanjay had brought.
Sanjay was not able to look at Sukesh. Subha grasped his hand and made him sit beside her.
‘I didn’t expect this from you Sanjay…’ Sukesh uttered, ‘I never imagined that you would go behind my back like this.’
‘I didn’t do anything wrong,’ Sanjay finally looked at Sukesh with confidence. ‘It is you who is to blame.’
‘Please settle all this peacefully. We don’t have all day.’ Deepa held Sukesh’s hand to pacify him. After an emotional and long discussion Subha and Sukesh decided to file a petition for a mutual consent divorce.

As Sanjay had guessed Sukesh took away his job. After about six months the divorce finally happened giving Sanjay and Subha the freedom to get married.
Subha and Sanjay planned to do a registry marriage. At the day of their marriage Sanjay got before time at the court to do some special arrangements. He brought all his close friends and relatives with him. He waited eagerly for Subha to arrive. He was confident of the decision he had made. He was finally getting married to Subha and his joy knew no boundaries.
Sanjay waited for two long hours but Subha didn’t arrive. He called her but her phone was switched off. She was no where to be seen. He called everyone who might have had any knowledge about Subha but still he couldn’t trace her. Finally the registrar called their names, it was time. The registrar told him that they couldn’t wait any longer and that he had to choose any other date. Sanjay was embarrassed in front of his friends and relatives but the only thing he was worried about was Subha’s well being.
He thought of checking his apartment before filing any missing complaint.
When he got home he saw a parcel lying on the floor. He opened it. There was a letter. It was from Subha.
‘I never intended to hurt you Sanjay but I had no other way. I know you are worried about me instead of being angry but trust me I am fine. In fact I am the happiest person in this world today. I wanted your help in this divorce and so had to put up this little drama. But the truth is …I love someone else. You know the person very well. It’s Deepa. Deepa and I met in London last year when Sukesh took me with him in his business trip. We met at the hotel where I had to spend most of the time alone. She is the most beautiful person I have ever met in my life. Explaining all this to Sukesh and our parents was difficult so I had to go the other way. I plotted everything; from Sukesh meeting Deepa to me kissing you. Everything went great according to the plot. We are together now. I am with my love. I know it’s hard for you to forgive me but still …I am sorry.’
Sanjay didn’t know how to react. He could not believe to the piece of paper he was holding. He was confused. He was angry with his life. He was filled with disgust. But finally he was left with a smile on his face thinking about the second chance Subha got.
‘Good luck Subha!’ Sanjay uttered with a smile and threw the letter in the dustbin.