They have gone. The room is empty. She is not at all sure that she understands. He has decided everything without even giving her a chance to speak. It is only the stale, cold, unmoving air that tells Ayesha that she is now alone.
In her head, the words still reverberated. “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! DON’T WANT ANYONE’S ADVICE OR SYMPATHY! SHE ISN’T DYING OKAY? SHE IS VERYMUCH ALIVE AND VERY MUCH CAPABLE OF DOING EVERYTHING BETTER THAN YOU AND I! I WANT EVERYONE OUT OF OUR HOUSE RIGHT NOW!” He yelled. First time in the whole of eight years that she had known him, he yelled. Even in his anger he cared for her. He hadn’t changed.
When the air failed to move for a few more minutes, she whispered, “Sameer?” She strained her ears to listen to the shuffle of his feet, even his exasperated sigh, but there was nothing. She was alone, her and darkness, for the first time in two months.
It had been two months now since Ayesha had lost her eyesight. One fateful day had changed the way Ayesha looked at her life. In fact, it barred her from looking at anything at all. It was the 26th of March and it had been raining on their anniversary like always. Sameer was singing in his croaky voice when out of nowhere another bike cut their way and Sameer lost control of his own bike. In a moment, the world turned upside down and Ayesha slid all the way down the flyover with the bike on top of her. Sameer remained motionless on the top, unconscious. When he opened his eyes he saw everyone staring at him with moist pupils but his wife. Soon enough he was told that Ayesha had suffered a traumatic head injury which had damaged her retinal muscles completely. It struck the daylights out of Sameer to know that Ayesha, the only person who mattered to her, will never be able to see the light of day.
Ayesha had taken it in a different stride all together. She was dejected and angry at the same time but she never blamed Sameer. She knew that it wasn’t his fault. She knew he would never hurt her even in her dreams. But those first few weeks were gruesome.
After waking up every morning, she would lie in her bed for ages, trying to stretch her eyelids apart with all her might, hoping that maybe if she tore her iris apart by pushing them hard enough, she will be able to see a tiny speck of light one morning. Tired, she would get up; put her feet down on the ground to find her slippers at the same bloody place every day. Furious, she would kick them only to convince herself that she will be able to find them again. Some days she would, some days she would fail and most of the days she ended up crying. She would feel nervous when she would feel Sameer’s piercing gaze at her back, the only man who would pray that may she walk to the bathroom without stumbling into the furniture; furniture which disappeared every day, one piece at a time, just like Ayesha’s passion. She would feel ashamed when Sameer would strip her to give her a bath and excited when his fingers would run down her spine. She would be frustrated every time Sameer would sigh at her naked beauty and angry when he decided against making love to his blind wife. When Sameer would leave for work, Ayesha would sit in front of the muted TV. She would continue staring at it till Sameer came home and would only move when he lifted her up to feed her. She often wondered whether Sameer cried when he saw her scribbling random letters on a paper, when he saw her genius slip away in vain with each drop of ink. At night, Ayesha couldn’t differentiate between her dream and her reality. Because all she ever saw now, was black.
After three weeks, Ayesha had accustomed herself to everything ‘new’. She got used to the stumbling and the black holes in her life while Sameer continued his occasional sobbing through the night. Until one night when Ayesha bared herself to him, took his hand and put it on her breasts. She knew Sameer wanted to love her and she knew she wanted to be loved. As the night dropped down so did her inhibition and the fear that Sameer did not love her anymore. The bodies melted together in unison as the hot summer sky ignited their passions even more. Next morning the slippers weren’t where they should be and Ayesha was happy.
Ayesha began familiarizing herself to her own house. At ten steps to the front was her dresser and at 27 to the right was her bathroom. She had started cooking too. In a week she figured out how her OCD-struck mind had organized the whole kitchen. Her hours of sitting idle in front of the TV were replaced by her obsession, writing. Her whole existence had found meaning in those five hours when she would write for her online magazine. She found happiness in doing things that she would have found tiresome otherwise. She would go to dinner every Sunday with Sameer. She started listening to things which no one else could hear. The chirp of the bird in the cacophonic city life of Bombay, the click of the lock at 6.15 sharp every evening when Sameer would come, the periodic dripping sound of water echoing through the house, and the soft ‘tsk’ of Sameer’s kiss on her lips. Every sound meant something to her now. For her, everything that was simple earlier had become complex except for her life. Overnight, a complex whole of her had become so simple that she no longer recognized herself.
Sameer too had realized that Ayesha was the same person if not physically different. The sway of her hips was still breathtaking and her hair left the same fragrance in every room she had stepped into. Her food had the same phenomenal taste and her eyes…well her eyes were deeper now. As vacant as they looked, they held so much of meaning. As much sorrow as they held within them, they still managed to make him laugh every time they crinkled at the edges. If possible he had fallen in love with this new Ayesha who had embraced life in her own unique way.
Together both of them wove themselves into a comfortable routine of life. Everything continued to go on as normally as it could till two days ago.
Ayesha stood in front of the mirror, gazing at something she could not even see. Her hand stuck to her belly. It was 6.10. Five more minutes and Sameer was to come home. She had never been more scared and excited at the same time. Tik. Tok. Tik. Tok. Each second punctuated her life. Click. She could hear his footsteps approaching. There was a certain bounce in them, she decided. Her heart dove deeper and deeper. Finally Sameer’s touch, he hugged her from behind and whispered, “You’re pregnant!”
The entire world came to a standstill. She could hear his smile but she could hear the scream of her own heart as well. She was joyous, no doubt, this was what she always wanted, but things were different back then. She clutched her stomach and sat on the ground. She couldn’t breathe for one more minute. She let out a piercing wail and hugged her own knees. For her it was almost like fire licking her already charred soul. To know that you will never be able to see your own child, it had to be God’s cruel game.
Sameer, confused and befuddled, asked what happened. How would he know? How could Ayesha tell that she was jealous of her own husband? Thick tears trickled down her cheek and onto his shirt as she held onto her husband tightly. Sameer’s hand went down to her belly, an action that invited belligerence. She pushed him away, got up and walked towards the bathroom. In that moment of utter grief, her quantum Physics had gone so awry. All the paths she had familiarized herself to were stranger today. She collided into every single piece of furniture. Each collision marked her defeat, yet again.
Scared, Sameer called up, her parents first and then his, to give them the news of the baby. Similar reactions of anger followed. The next two days Ayesha stayed stuck in front of the mirror, her hand rubbing the stomach and her eyes crying. She practiced opening and closing eyes to confirm her blindness. Only tears rolled out. Sometimes she wondered why she could even cry now that she had already lost her eyes. Sameer didn’t bother Ayesha too. He maintained his distance. For the first time in eight years he was unable to decipher Ayesha. He couldn’t think of why she would be sad when all she ever wanted was a baby.
Two days later, the parents stood at the door. Ayesha was wrapped in her mother’s arms. Anxious advices flew into her ears. Ayesha remained silent, answering in her own head.
“Don’t have the baby Aishu.”
“How will you take care of it?”
Just like everyone else does.
“You cannot see.”
I know, but how does it matter? I still have a heart. Didn’t you know that I was not well without even seeing my face?
“How will you manage?”
Like a normal human being. I AM A NORMAL HUMAN BEING!
In the other room Sameer’s parents ranted out their woes and worries. They oscillated between the concern of their own child and Ayesha. “What will happen to your future beta? With Ayesha’s condition you will have to be at home for the baby most of the time. And not only that, how will Ayesha run through the house when the baby cries? A mother should always be there on her toes for her child, will Ayesha be able to do that? Sameer, you have a job, you are the only earning member of your family. How will this work out? As much as we are happy about Ayesha’s pregnancy, we don’t want you to go ahead with it. Drop it son.”
That was it. It was his life. He had called them to celebrate not to deliberate. He stood up, went to Ayesha held her hand, let out a sigh and yelled, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! I DON’T WANT ANYONE’S ADVICE OR SYMPATHY! SHE ISN’T DYING OKAY? SHE IS VERYMUCH ALIVE AND VERY MUCH CAPABLE OF DOING EVERYTHING BETTER THAN YOU AND I! I WANT EVERYONE OUT OF OUR HOUSE RIGHT NOW!”
Ayesha came back to the present. Her heart felt contended. She had decided. One more time she whispered, “Sameer?” This time he heard her. Ayesha heard the heavy feet dragging across the room.
Ayesha spoke, “I am ready.”
Sameer was not really sure if he understood what she meant.
Ayesha continued, “I am ready to have this baby. If you believe that I am capable of doing all things better than anyone else then I should be. I trust you Sameer.”
Ayesha could not see, but she knew that Sameer was crying. A tear dropped down from his cheek on Ayesha’s foot. She moved a step forward, blindly. She stretched her hands to hold onto her husband, the only person who still thought of her, as her. He held onto her almost immediately. Her hands moved up to the familiar territory of Sameer’s wet face. She wiped the tears and kissed him on his cheek. He did not know what to say. A vacuum had formed around both of them. Voids created by the past were being filled by the news of the present.
He whispered thank you in her ear and clutched onto his wife tighter, seeking solace in her when she herself was searching for comfort in him. They both complemented each other, like always. Like they did from the first time he said, “Will you…” and before he could complete she had said “YES!” and like they did when on their first night together they realized that they fit in each other’s craters perfectly.
They stood still on the same spot, embracing their lives. For in that moment, they both understood that they are never alone.