I met him when Tara was 6 years old. We were colleagues in a popular private FM station in Delhi. He in the corporate sales department and I a part of the programming team. His suave sense of dressing, articulate conversations and a pedigreed education from Mayo Boys School and St. Stephens College made him irresistible to my own convent sensibilities. Though not good looking in the conventional way but he was tall, dark and I found him to be handsome too. Sparks flew from the word go and before I knew it we dove deep down into a roaring affair.
Staying back late after work, talking for hours at length, sharing cigarettes, enjoying the hospitality of the city’s diners and cafes or simply listening to the 80’s music, we both grew up to soon became a happy routine. As did sneaking to the roof of the office, where the large satellite dishes were mounted, to steal a peck or simply driving out of the city at the drop of the hat, exploring destinations, enjoying year ends and new beginnings together.
He was quite certain from the beginning of the end. The relationship would not culminate in matrimony. I refused to see the elephant in the room; my present was so beautiful for me to worry about the future. It remained a gnawing thought at the back of my mind at best but I was one never to be bothered by the mundane practicalities. Or maybe my lovelorn heart hoped things would work out somehow. The universe would conspire, I couldn’t be unlucky again, the God’s would relent for sure. So what if he was from a different religion. So what if I had a past failed marriage and a child in tow.
The feeling of having someone to go back to was all I needed to help soar and tangibly create an ideal world for myself and my surroundings. He would motivate me to follow my heart and that’s all I needed. From filming a documentary in the most militarized zone in Kashmir, bringing forth the plight of humans stuck through an earthquake. To traveling extensively spreading the word, quoting John Lenon’s ‘Imagine’ in the most religiously polarized audiences. It seemed, I could bring about a change. I felt beautiful and it reflected in my persona.
The night we broke up, as he had finally decided to move on, complying with his family’s decision of getting married to an untainted Muslim girl, we both howled in each other’s arms, hopelessly. ‘I will burn in hell for what I put you through’ I still remember his remorse that night but he was bound by his family and the perceived norms of the world we cohabit. I was confused questioning why but that didn’t help heal a broken heart.
Only by the end of a heady romance of 3 years, did it hit me for the first time, like a bolt from the blue. I saw myself as how the world perceived me. A divorcee with a liability. In my own bubble I failed to recognize what the world promptly envisaged. My transformation from a strong headed idealist, starry eyed girl who would take on all the ills of the world, into a woman with a failed past. Overnight it seemed, the bubble burst, making me realize that I no longer am Simply Suparnaa, as I so proudly proclaimed. I am a woman who took unpractical decisions and did not cut the mark of an ideal life partner any more, as one would want in the perfect alliances of this world.
Soon after, he called to share the news of his wedding, as by then it was fixed and he wanted me to know from him first than anyone else. That was the last we spoke. I chose it that way. He had made a decision and we needed to part ways for good. No calls or texts or seeking each other’s company. And so it was for many years. His mother would message on occasion, sharing recipes that I so enjoyed earlier or just dropping in a note simply to stay connected. It meant a lot before, since he revered his mother and it made me feel like I belonged and who knows, maybe it meant my acceptance for who I am within his family.
Subsequently, I politely requested her not to connect, as it hindered for me to move beyond what was now my past. That was the last I heard of her, much later over a long distance call, catching up after many years, he shared of her passing away. Someone he was the closest to in this world. Now he had a small girl who he and his wife had named Tahira. So close to the name Tara, I remember thinking then.
Over the years our contact remained to an occasional birthday or a New Year wish. That too dwindled, consciously on my part first and then it never really occurred. Consciously, Cos I got an inkling from his conversations that all was not well in paradise. I was pretty sure to stand by the decision we took those many years back to let go and not look back.
Having said this, I must admit, I did sometime look up his social media profiles, trying to see what Tahira looked like or how beautiful his wife was or how happy they were as a family.
Of late he seemed to have disappeared from all public platforms. His last seen whats app time was many months ago. And his status read ‘What goes around Comes around’ for many months at stretch. I was intrigued, since before his disappearance he called to ask if I was OK. He did this earlier through our relationship when he would have a dream or his eye would twitch or he had a passing thought and would enquire about my wellbeing.
After over a decade, he did it again and I was quite amused with what he shared. He had dreamt I had tumor of the brain and was very sick. I laughed it off. Thinking vainly, he must be looking for an excuse to connect.
His status continued to be the same and his social media absence quite conspicuous. It led me to text an old colleague to figure if he, in fact, was OK. The colleague confirmed that indeed he was, up untill a few months back that is, and offered to find out more, an offer which I promptly declined.
The same colleague messaged me a few weeks later, that he, alas, has passed away and is survived now by a wife and a daughter. Died of a heart attack, enjoyed his last biryani meal and succumbed to the 90% artery blockage. The drift of the conversations outside his house, where along with me some of our old colleagues from Radio came to pay their last obeisance, shared stories of stressed work situations and strained home scenarios. He had cut himself off from every one of the past, except a very few. He had gone off all social media platforms and changed his numbers too. Infact things within the family had gone south and the day after, his now last day, they were to fly to Singapore to another old colleague’s house as an attempt to forge familial ties.
Now he lay in the morgue of a hospital. And the last I saw him, I realized, was that night we howled after a meal at the Café-Flavors, underneath the fly over near the office. It felt like a distant memory.
I saw his little girl, Tahira, walk out of the house with her didi close behind. She looked at me and I at her for a brief moment. Her forehead- broad and wide just like his. She smiled a half smile and walked back, unaware of her Abbu’s absence from her life now forever.
Tahira now, is just as old as what Tara was when we met him for the first time.