It was six in the morning. The cook had already left, finishing his daily routine of preparing breakfast and lunch. Adarsh got up and silently tiptoed into the kitchen, so as not to disturb Vartika. He switched on the coffee kettle, packed his own and their five-year-old daughter, Raavi’s lunch box. He then woke up Raavi and helped her get ready for school, since her bus arrived by seven.
Once Raavi left, he had his own breakfast and got ready for office, not forgetting to collect the soiled clothes and set them aside for the maid who was to arrive by nine. Before leaving, he looked at his pregnant wife, with a gaze that overflowed with love and affection. She was yet blissfully asleep. “Sleep well, my dear. See you in the evening.”, he whispered to himself and left.
The evenings were not very different either. The cook would arrive again to prepare fresh meals. After Adarsh was in, the family would have dinner, spend some precious quality time together and then he would proceed to load the dishwasher before going to sleep. A tuition teacher was hired to take care of Raavi’s studies since Vartika was in no position to exert herself. Every bit of rest she was getting was helping her sail through the pregnancy. His parents were to arrive by the next month to share the burden. Mom had hinted that if things went well, they could look at permanency, so that Vartika does not have to compromise on her career. The thought gladdened him. But more than that, what made him happy was finally they had accepted Vartika and Raavi, wholeheartedly.
He recalled that day, when he had broken the news to Mom. He had been moping around her, for five long hours, trying to discern how and when he could say it out and finally decided this was the moment.
Adarsh: Mom, I want to talk to you.
Mom: Hmmm…(she looked up, only to resume knitting)
Adarsh: I like a colleague of mine.
His did not miss the taken-aback expression on his mom’s face, who was trying hard to stay, as cool and unaffected as possible.
Adarsh (continuing): Her name is Vartika and she’s a divorcee.
At this, Mom stopped everything and straightened up.
Mom: I’m cannot say that I’m fine with it, for the news is certainly not giving me any comfort. (she bit out angrily)
She had somehow seen something like this coming. Why else had he been avoiding meeting any of the girls that they’d suggested all along, under those lame excuses?
Adarsh: Mom, but there is something else that I must tell you. Vartika has a three-year -old daughter, Raavi.
His mom immediately stood up, dropping all her knitwear, with a horrified expression on her face. The visible rage clearly signalled an oncoming storm. Warily, he kept looking at her, waiting for it to be let out.
Mom (screaming): Couldn’t you find anyone else for our family Adarsh? Was it worth rejecting all those girls, for this one? And how can you be sure she has been truthful about her background? And above all A CHILD?…sired by another man? WHYYY? And how are you going to convince your father? What will the society speak of us?
Mom, clearly upset, started weeping.
Adarsh: Mom please don’t jump into conclusions (Adarsh hastened to explain).
You have not yet met Vartika. She’s a very sweet girl.
Mom (scoffed): Girl?
Adarsh: Oh! I mean lady…very plain hearted…she has told me everything about her past…of how her husband would drink and abuse her. In fact, when I met her, she was extremely depressed and under a lot of pressure, as she’d been going through that divorce. She decided to separate from him only because she felt that her daughter would be better off without such a bad example of a father.
Though we blended instantly, right since we met, initially, I was only a shoulder to cry on…she used to discuss every detail with me and hear out my opinions. The friendship was more of a comfort-lending one…she used to be very sad at how her marriage had turned out…then gradually she began picking up the pieces, accepting her single status and we ended up being good friends. It never occurred to us that our friendship was getting thicker…Raavi was just a one-year-old at the time of her divorce and Vartika had once brought her to an office function…she was one of the cutest toddlers I’d ever seen…just like our Ansh (his nephew)…so adorable and innocent…I began dropping into their house, on my way home in the evenings, just for the pleasure of being with Raavi and eventually fell in love with both of them. Besides, I started feeling sorry for Raavi, about her fatherless situation and the way Vartika’s was struggling to balance both ends. My bond of understanding with Vartika was anyway very strong and so I thought why not?
But Vartika has always been extremely wary and reticent about this. She feels that with her background, it’s not fair to me or our family and has even tried to dissuade me. But both of us are aware of our strong camaraderie and that we like each other a lot.
Now, you tell me mom, how can I marry anyone else, when I so strongly feel like this for Vartika? Would it be fair to the other girl? And what is wrong with Vartika? That she was into a bad marriage was none of her fault. Also, one more thing…she is two years older than me.
That had been the final straw. She had simply lost it then.
Mom : WHYYYY? (Mom’s loud scream loomed across the hall.) Why did you have to choose only her to fall in love? Why not someone of a proper match? … someone younger…. someone not married…someone not with a child at least… so many alliances are coming for you and you don’t want to even look at any of them…WHYYY?
Adarsh (emphasizing in a matching tone): Because Mom, love does not seek perfection in a partner. Have you not seen what happened in the case of our neighbour, Sharmaji’s daughter? She is so beautiful, talented, qualified and despite all that, why is a divorce happening?
That shut her up. She pondered silently for a long time and said nothing…and probably even slept over it. She thought about it for some days while Adarsh, on his part, made every effort to stay controlled, never attempting to raise the topic himself. Before discussing anything with the family, she began discreetly enquiring with her close friends, about couples who were divorced and remarried, trying to understand their reasons and situation. She met Vartika personally and found her to be a person of simple values but at the same time, sensible and strong. And as mentioned by Adarsh, Raavi was indeed an extremely beautiful and captivating child. She then took it up with her husband. They met Vartika’s people, who were also equally apprehensive, because of an earlier bad experience.
Questions were raised by many people in the society, as to why Adarsh’s parents agreed to this marriage when they could have found a better situation for him. Some of them even regarded Adarsh’s choice quite doubtfully. But Mom had already prepared her answers. Anyway, she had no choice because, as Adarsh indicated, love with one and marriage with another one was not fair to anyone. And gradually, this marriage happened.
But mom had laid down a condition. Adarsh will have to stay separately with his new family for two reasons:
(1) Adarsh and Vartika, would need time and privacy, to develop enough mutual understanding over their responsibilities. Hence, the presence of in-laws could likely create a mayhem.
(2) Vartika was a divorcee. Should anything go wrong in their son’s marriage, they did not want any part in the blame-game. It was better that the parents’ stayed entirely out and see where things eventually led.
Of course, these reasons were not revealed to Vartika but nevertheless, she comprehended and understood that she had a larger part to play, if she had to get them together in the long run.
But, as Adarsh had assured, everything fell into place, for the couple seemed to have the knack of adjusting to each other very well, in working out their domestic affairs beautifully. When people saw how Adarsh doted upon Raavi, they began realising that parenting is something that came from the heart, for which one need not be a father by procreation. With that, Raavi, naturally, became a part of her extended family. Everyone commended Adarsh’s maturity and large-heartedness here, while he attributed it to being in love, besides the support and understanding from his own parents. With trust rooted firmly in place, the bonds in the family only grew deeper, loving and more respectful.
And now, after two years, when Vartika, who was expecting their first child, was advised a complete bed rest, Adarsh’s family could not be more than elated and promised to be there for them, in every way possible. Vartika was more than happy to have given them a reason to come together again.
To everyone, it felt like the biggest valentine’s day gift ever, for they had got a real proof, in coming to realise that love is something that’s mostly never perfect…but it’s an emotion whose existence could only be FELT…probably in various forms…say like it’s abiding…true at heart…there’s a sincere will to share…it’s most often fearless…unconditional…empathetic…something that sets one free and yet brings joy and peace to the soul.
If this was not a blessing, then what else is? For, only this kind of love has the power to move mountains.