By Rekha Rajgopal
Tahira was leaving him. Shattering his dream of their Swiss holiday. Just this morning, he’d dreamt they had moved into a sea-facing apartment in an upscale neighbourhood, drank their ritualistic cuppa tea, watching the sunset. All that while, she’d probably vacillated between telling him and avoiding confrontation. Finally, decision had won and they were lost.
He replayed their times together. Had she been a little subdued? Uninterested? Not really. Or was he mistaken? He wished he’d paid less attention to his perpetually busy work phone. But it made him a lot of money that he loved spending on her. Surely she knew that? How had he been so impervious to her turmoil? He felt idiotic like that workaholic colleague, Rishabh whose teenaged son had turned a drug junkie. Like Rishabh, he’d been working for a non-existent future.
A heavy silence hung between them now. They had slept with her back moulded into him until being separate felt the anomaly. She was going to Ontario to study, work, explore a new life. He was going to be left behind, figuring out the enigma that their relationship had suddenly become.
Tahira fastened her seat belt. She was putting seven seas between them. The physical manifestation of the distance, she thought. Mohit had strayed to a different planet in their journey. His needs, preferences, happinesses were different on planet New. Everything was make believe, everything more significant –the watches you wore, the brands you shunned, the resorts you holidayed in, who you met, who you did not.
She dreamt she’d walked naked as a newborn into a room full of people and Mohit had walked away, horrified. She’d woken up her heart racing, mouth dry. She dreamt of the desert. She tried to keep up with Mohit’s pace but the sun beat her down, while Mohit trudged along and disappeared. She’d woken up crying. Recently, she dreamt of flowing in a gilded cage to a gurgling brook by the mountains. The air tasted fresh and free. She stepped out into a world she could explore all her life and never find any boundaries. She picked her skirts and ran and ran. She’d resolved right then to tell Mohit.
Change felt scary. Shared teas, dreams, feelings, opinions tugged at her, made her doubt her foray into the forest. Mohit’s only cruelty had been in evolving to a more successful life and her disloyalty in finding joy in little things. There may still be teas drunk from the same cup. Mohit would sip tea and share his dreams of bigger, better planets, ones in which she would always be the alien. He would still offer her sips, only the tea would never be the same for her. She wondered how aliens felt on a planet different from their own. Adrift? Sad? Alone? Did they pine for home and feel heavy hearted? She didn’t know about them, but she had decided to find her way back. She patiently waited for the plane to take off.
Rekha Rajghopal is an instructional designer who designs training content. She lives in Mumbai. She is torn between loving her work and commiserating with the overworked exec to whose already crammed list she frequently keeps adding one more loathsome task. She seeks to atone by writing stuff that is creative rather than punitive.