Nidhi was still in awe because moments before Abhishek danced with her for the first time in their lives. His friends and colleagues were talking about how beautiful a couple “Abhishek and Nidhi” were. Nidhi was on cloud nine then and she could not wait any longer for Abhishek’s birthday wish. It was nearing to 12.
Mr. Singh comes and taps on Abhishek’s shoulder. Everyone around toned down a little and Nidhi could sense that this Indian man with a thick black moustache in his Armani suit, was someone notably important.
Mr Singh said, ” Aah Abhishek, it’s amazing to see you here, my boy. I always told you that you shall touch the stars. Meet my wife Anita, by the way we are really sorry to have missed your wedding.
A lady in a purple saree with her waist long,black bushy hair; enters the frame. The bright red vermilion was visible in the middle parting of her hair.
Mr Singh introduced her to the collegues and juniors. Nidhi noticed that Abhishek was awestruck by Anita’s grace and beauty. He almost stopped blinking his eyes. The conversations rolled one after the other and Nidhi kept waiting for Abhishek’s single glance.
Mr. Singh said, ” Yes holding on to our culture and value system strengthens our own roots and therefore I never let my Indian-ness fade while I am away from the country for more than 2 decades now. Even Anita has similar views and she is more of an Indian woman with her saree and long hair though she never visited India as a matter of fact.”
Abhishek in an exuberant tone said, ” I keep telling Nidhi to stop drooling over the idea of modernity. She chopped her long hair because she wanted to ‘look’ like someone from the West. Oh haven’t I introduced her yet? Nidhi is my wife, she was just here a second ago.” The clock struck 12 then.
Abhishek beckoned Nidhi and she comes forward. Her eyes were facing the ground and her steps trembled while she walks towards Abhishek. She was forcing her tears to stop somewhere mid way in her head and not flow out from the eyes. Abhishek continued, ” She looked so much more beautiful with her long hair, Miss Anita, and then too she chopped them….”
Anita faces Nidhi and says, ” Dear you look so beautiful now, I want you to know that it’s absolutely your choice and your idea to imagine yourself in howsoever way you want to. You have the right to claim your happiness, if someone says otherwise he is at fault.”
There was an awkward silence after this, Nidhi didn’t touch the dinner. It was 1.35 am when they reached back home. They shared an unpleasant silence throughout the journey.
Nidhi takes a bath and goes to sleep in the guest room and locks it from inside. Before even sleep could fall upon her, the pillow she slept on was drenched in her tears. She felt an inexplicable hollowness in her heart. An unrecognisable excruciating pain rippled in whole of her body originating from her the chest. She wanted to howl, scream and pull out her hair. She does not understand why she felt dead inside. Is it because Abhishek didn’t remember her birthday, or Abhishek’s made up story at the party which denies his slightest of regret of what he did to her, her beautiful hair or it is just the dance she shared with him for some moments? Her swollen eyes could not open up properly to read what message he had sent, but she could read the word, “Denver”. Abhishek had fallen asleep deeply in the other room, he was drunk anyway.
The following morning Abhishek could not find Nidhi anywhere in the house. He called her but she didn’t answer his phone calls. He was perplexed because Nidhi had never done this before. Somewhere deep inside he felt that something had gone horribly wrong but he doesn’t remember anything clearly from last night. He was wondering all these and mindlessly walking across the house and he finds a hammer placed beside a broken gold coloured hair pin on the kitchen table. It was familiar, he remembered that Nidhi told him that the hair pin was dearest to her because it was gifted by her father because she had long really long hair. Hair- long hair! And suddenly the world falls apart infront of his eyes, he remembers what he said at the party and more importantly he realised that she not only lost her hair because of him but lost a part of her soul as well. He is crippled from within looking at the lifeless, destructed hair pin. He could watch his own destruction on it. His eyes turned red, and heart thumped even faster. He ran towards the bedroom cabinet and searched for something just the way a dying man searches for few moments of life. He held the photographs, Nidhi’s photographs of her marriage, when she had long, long beautiful hair.
It was a sunny morning, Denver and Nidhi are sitting on a park’s bench. Nidhi wore a red & green bi-colour saree with a little golden jewellery on the middle of her head between the hair strands. There wasn’t any vermilion on her head though.
Denver said, ” You look like an angel today. I think angels have an inherent melancholy in their eyes. Your eyes remind me of the ocean, ocean that has unfathomable depth. I cannot express how happy I am to see you today. It’s your birthday after all.”
Nidhi replied, ” You had been my support for so long now. But this time you were a savior, I could not have survived the night if you hadn’t picked my call that late. Thanks for coming over, Denver.”
Her eyes sparkled in the sun rays while she stared at Denver. Tears on her cheeks gleamed like little beads of pearl. Denver pulled her closer and rested her head on his shoulders. They kept looking into nothingness and suddenly Nidhi looked towards him and said, ” I shall join the university for PhD soon.”
Denver smiles at her and feeds her a slice of chocolate cake he baked for her birthday. Then he says, ” Nidhi, your big black eyes can make anyone move mountains for you. I was going to gift it later or someday never but I want to gift you this now, this moment.
He holds her hand and places a wooden hair pin, with a rose carved on it, wrapped inside a pink translucent cover. He said, ” I made this piece when I first saw your marriage photographs the day you were showing them to Sophie. Put it on your hair when they grow longer someday, only someday.
Nidhi and Denver plan for a candle light dinner to celebrate her birthday and decide to meet at the venue after she comes back dressed for the night.
Nidhi returns home and was startled to see the bungalow decorated with fairy lights all over.
She gets inside and it was all red balloons stuck around the walls and the ceiling. A huge ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’ poster was hung from one of the corners of the room. Amidst the rose petals systeon the dinner table, laid a leaf shaped gold hair pin and a white envelope beneath. The letter inside the envelope read as,
Happy Birthday! I know I have been a mess. I know you cry to sleep every night but now, now is the time when I realise that I need to change. Change for the better, for being your better husband. I was devastated when I saw the broken hair pin, I got you a new one love. Nidhi, please put that on when your hair grows once again. I am deeply disheartened with myself and more so with you because you left without a bye. I am sorry that I could know your worth only when you went missing this morning. I promise to become the man of your dreams. But now come to the terrace. Our long due candle light dinner awaits you. Please come. Put on whatever you want, however you want. Just come.
While Nidhi clenches the letter in one hand, she places Denver’s wooden hair pin beside Abhishek’s golden one. Tears rolled down her eyes but she kept smiling, just then the phone rings and the screen shows, “Denver calling”
The series ends today. I hope my readers can frame the rest of Nidhi’s life in their minds. 💕 Please comment what you think