[Short Fiction – A Love Story]
The moment I saw the email I did two things.
First I took a print-out of the mail, kept it in my purse and deleted the mail from my mailbox.
Then I called the airlines and booked my ticket on the next flight to India.
The e-mail contained a name and an address. That’s all – just a name and an address.
I cannot begin to describe the emotion I felt as I looked at the name.
I had so many questions to ask him – Unanswered questions that were haunting me for so many years.
It all began when my fiancé Anil suddenly broke off our engagement without any explanation.
“Why?” I asked him totally shocked.
“I can’t tell you,” he said.
“You can’t dump me just like this. I’ve done nothing wrong,” I pleaded heartbroken.
“I’m sorry, Rita. I can’t marry you,” he said trying to look away from my eyes.
“What do you mean you can’t marry me?” I shouted shaking him.
He didn’t say anything, just remained silent, averting his eyes.
“Is it someone else? What do you mean you can’t marry me? Actually you don’t want to marry me, isn’t it?”
“Okay, you can think what you like. I don’t want to marry you.”
“You have to give me an explanation. I am not going to accept being jilted like this.”
“You have to accept it. Don’t delve too much.”
“How dare you say ‘don’t delve too much’, you unscrupulous cheat?” I screamed in anger, taking hold of his collar.
“Cool down,” he said pushing me away. “It’s you who tried to cheat me.”
“I? Cheated you?” I said dumbfounded and furious.
“You shouldn’t have tried to hide things from me,” he accused.
“Hide what?” I asked.
“You never told me that you are an adopted child,” he said.
“What nonsense! Don’t talk rubbish. I’m not adopted!” I shouted in anger.
“Who told you?”
“We got some matrimonial enquiries done.”
“Matrimonial enquiry? You spied on me,” I accused him, “to blackmail me, to humiliate me? With all these lies!”
“Don’t worry. No one else knows. It’s a reliable and discreet investigation agency.”
“It’s not true. I’m not adopted,” I said feeling shattered, numb, as if I had been pole-axed.
“Why don’t you ask your parents?” Anil said as he walked away from my life, leaving me heartbroken, desolate and shattered.
I never asked my parents, the only parents I knew. They were the one’s who loved me, gave me everything. I could not ask them; hurt them. I did not have the heart to. They did not say anything to me but I could see the sadness and a sense of guilt in their eyes, as they withered away having lost the will to live. I felt deeply anguished and helpless.
My parents loved me, meant everything to me, and we carried on our lives as if nothing had happened, and I lovingly cared and looked after them till their very end; but deep down I felt terribly betrayed.
Years passed. I relocated abroad past and immersed myself in my work. I tried to forget but I could never forget.
One day I could bear it no longer. I decided to find out. And now I had found out.
The investigation agency had done a good job. Confidential and discreet.
For the first time I knew the name of my actual father. My real father, my biological natural father.
And now I had to meet this man and ask him why he did it – abandon me to the world.
I landed at Delhi airport in the very early hours of the morning.
It was cold, the morning chill at once refreshing and invigorating, the driver drove fast and it took me six hours by taxi to reach the magnificent bungalow near Landour in Mussoorie.
I checked the nameplate and briskly walked inside, eager to see my real father for the first time.
There was a small crowd gathered in the porch.
“What’s happening?” I asked a man in the crowd.
“Bada Sahab is no more. He passed away this morning. He was so good to us,” he said with tears in his eyes.
I pushed my way through the crowd.
My father’s lifeless body was lying on a white sheet bedecked with flowers, ready for the last rites.
As I looked at his serene face, tears welled up in my eyes.
Suddenly I lost control of myself and cried inconsolably, “I have become an orphan. An orphan!”
“Me too!” a familiar voice said softly behind me.
I turned around and stared at Anil, my ex fiancé .
Anil looked into my eyes in awe.
Slowly comprehension began to dawn on us, Anil and me, and we kept looking into each other’s eyes.
In silence. A grotesque silence. A deafening silence. An illuminating silence. An enlightening silence.
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.