Another cherry blossom fell at her feet and she continued to stare at it... in silence... with tears flowing down her cheeks. The world seemed to close in on her and she was just a prisoner, a prisoner of her own fears. There was no one in whom she could confide. She remained seated on her bench in the park.
She hurried aside as she saw him enter the park. As usual, he was smartly dressed or dressed to kill, as someone had once said; only it was the truth. He was as handsome as she remembered. It was as if nothing had changed though she was no longer the same person. In fact, it would be better to say that she was but a ghost of her old self.
It was the same time of the year when the fragrance of cherry blossoms filled the air and she longed to move out... how she would have loved to make him suffer for all that pain, solitude... but all she could do was stare at the man who had destroyed her life.
She still remembered the young, chirpy girl that she used to be... all those years ago. But it was so long ago...
She returned to the present. What use was it to cry over spilt milk? It was all over and she couldn't change the past.
She looked up at Arnav. He was right there in front of her laughing and playing with a group of children. She wanted to run but her feet seemed to be stuck to ground. She wanted to shout, tell the children to be careful, to run away from the demon but words wouldn't come out of her mouth. Tears welled in her eyes.
She remembered the conversation that she had had earlier with
"Why am I so scared all the time?"
"Don't worry Sneha. Everything will be all right."
"How do you know?"
Looking at Arnav she could feel the anger rise in her... anger for destroying her life, ruining her and closing all doors to happiness. Therapists had tried to cure her. Everyone told her that forgiving Arnav would heal her. But the memories of his dirty hands on her made her revolt against all those platitudes... because that was all that such words meant to her. Only the wearer knows where the shoe bites.
How could they even pretend to understand her pain? They were not the ones who had undergone all that... she felt like throwing-up... of course, several years had passed since that time... time of innocence.
She had been a pretty little child as fragile as these cherry blossoms. A young flower whose fragrance perfumed her parents' house. A chirpy child who'd lost its smile in a few days. And no one had understood why. Her parents hadn't recognised those tell-tale signs. And she'd felt so guilty and ashamed. How could she tell them what she'd done?
It was only after years of therapy that she'd realised that it wasn't her fault. Now she knew what lay behind those forgotten memories. Of course, some of it was still buried deep within her. But she remembered enough to know the name of her foe.
It was a pity that she'd not understood this earlier. How long had she hidden behind these clouds? And when she'd realised the reason behind her fears... it was too late. She'd lost everything.
Yes, that sweet child had grown up to a beautiful and shy young woman. Then her parents had found
Krishna, the perfect match. He was nice and gentle. She was extremely happy.
They were young and life was waiting for them. Their marriage united the two families as well as businesses. Everyone was happy. And then they left for
Europe. It was the beginning of spring and the air was filled with fragrance of cherry blossoms. She was so happy.
But it was then that darkness overshadowed their lives. It entered without knocking. None of the two was prepared for this. It happened. Just like that. One night, she woke up suddenly. She had had a nightmare. She didn't remember much. But she was too scared to return to sleep. And
Krishna had cradled her in his arms the whole night. But it didn't stop. It became a routine. She'd hardly gone to sleep when she'd wake up, trembling, sweating. Krishna didn't understand what was going on. Neither did she. It was then that they decided to visit a doctor who in turn advised them to go and see a psychologist. She had refused. Why should she go to see a psychologist? She wasn't mad, was she?
Finally, they'd returned to
earlier than planned. It was supposed to be the best time of her life and it had proved to be a nightmare. Finally, after much persuasion she had agreed to visit a psychologist. At least India Krishna was back with her, supporting her. Thank God! She was no longer alone. But it was getting more and more difficult... her nightmares continued. She didn't get better. She didn't understand anything. Why was this happening? The psychologist insisted that she had suffered some sort of trauma in past and that was what had resurfaced in her memory. But she couldn't believe it. She had never had any negative experience in life. Though her life wasn't a bed of roses but the thorns weren't too sharp either. Her world was full of small joys in which the big sorrows appeared like nothing. She had had her share of pains but she was happy and satisfied.
So what trauma was the psychologist talking about?
She wondered but had no reply till one day it all came back in form of a nightmare. She knew Arnav's familiar face. How could it be true? Was it just a fantasy? Had she become so pervert? She was disgusted with herself and felt ashamed of herself. She felt so dirty. She woke up and rushed to have a bath. But the feeling wouldn't go.
She remained in the bathroom for a long, long time till
Krishna knocked. He looked worried. She immediately covered herself and came out sobbing. Krishna didn't understand what was happening. He simply hugged her tightly and remained silent. After some time as her sobs subsided and she stopped shaking, he brought her to bed. She looked at him with eyes full of tears. He didn't know what was going on. Women were so mysterious. Only God knew what had happened to make her cry this time! So he remained silent and held her in his arms.
The night passed and the morning brought sunshine and the fragrance of cherry blossoms. Sneha woke with a smile as if the previous night had never occurred. It was only as she looked at the sunny garden, full of cherry blossoms that she remembered everything. She broke into tears again.
Krishna entered. Evidently, he'd not really slept and was worried to death. He loved her. The marriage had been arranged but Sneha had bewitched him in no time. He knew that they were made for each other and heavens had been really kind to him that they'd arranged that match. He couldn't bear to see her sad. And it had been several weeks since he last saw her smile.
He decided to take things in his hands. Mysterious or not, he couldn't bear it any more. He wanted to get to the bottom of the matter. This time he had decided. Enough was enough. Every time he saw her cry, his heart broke in several pieces. He couldn't take it anymore. It had to end.
But he knew that she was close to breaking point. She looked so fragile. He entered carrying tea for both of them and forced a smile. She, too, forced a smile. She knew that he was trying to be kind in spite of himself. She felt really bad about it. They sipped the tea silently, lost in their own thoughts, thinking as to how to break this wall of silence. Slowly,
Krishna put his hand on hers, looked in her eyes and smiled. Once again, she forced a smile. She felt safe. It had been a long, long time since she felt this way. She somehow knew that he cared and that she could have faith in him, that he'd never let her down. So this was how amidst sobs and pain she told him the whole story. He couldn't believe it. Arnav, of all the people! How could he have done this? It was just not possible. But then he had also seen the hell that Sneha had been through since the past couple of months and knew that she wasn't lying. But Arnav!
Now it was his turn to face the truth. And it was painful. But he knew that any negligence on his part would have terrible consequences for Sneha. He was no longer alone and couldn't escape the truth. He felt like killing Arnav; but knew that it wouldn't be the right thing to do. It was such a delicate matter. With whom could they talk about it? Was there someone who could help them find a solution? Could he actually lodge a complaint against Arnav after all these years?