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"Should I make Aloo Gobhi or Paneer Sabzi Vineet?" Shruti asked.
"Make whatever you like yaar. Don't bother me." Vineet replied and went back to the video he was watching on his phone.
This was a standard reply that Shruti usually got but each time it hurt her.
Are the facebook updates, twitter news, whatsapp conversations more important to Vineet? It was not about the food. It was about paying attention to his wife and paying attention to what made her happy.
Shruti was a new mother to a 6 month old and had taken a break from her work after the baby was born. She had always worked so not going to office left a big void in her life. It was not that she did not bond with her baby. She loved her baby and her baby always smiled ear to ear whenever she cooed to him. But postpartum depression was taking the better of her. She was always a matured and confident girl but being at home all day and taking care of the baby drained her out. She felt lost and lonely.
Vineet and Shruti had a love marriage and they loved each other deeply but their outlook towards life was very different. It had started affecting their relationship. More so, after the birth of the baby. While Shruti was an extremely emotional and loving girl who believed in doing everything possible for the ones she loved, Vineet was practical, more career oriented and believed in some space in every relationship. He often said things to Shruti he did not mean to, which left a scar on Shruti's heart who was already battling her inner demons. Perhaps, Vineet was struggling too. He had to financially support his family singlehandedly now. He was a doting dad to his baby and took equal part in nappy changes, bathing and feeding the baby solids but perhaps he had forgotten to be the friend who Shruti could confide in her fears.
Shruti felt unsure about how she would return to work. She took immense care of the baby but she always craved for Vineet's attention. She wanted him to ask how she was, how was her day, hug her, ask her if she needed something, hold her hand and walk. Was it too much that she desired? A smile after she prepared his favorite food? A thumbs up when she wore new clothes or a head massage to relieve her of the demons that were killing her? Was it really so difficult? But Vineet was either lost in his work or his phone when the baby slept.
"Vineet, tomorrow is little Shweta's 1st birthday and her mother has invited us. You will come with me, right?" Shweta was a one year old baby who lived in Shruti's neighborhood. Shweta's mother had invited her to the party.
"Umm..I won't be able to come Shruti. You go with the baby." Vineet replied without looking up from the phone.
"Oh..Okay..no problem. Hey, its been long I have gone out. Can you help me select a nice suit?"
"Wear whatever you like Shruti. It is just a birthday party. No big deal".
Shruti went back to the bed where her baby was sleeping. She wiped the tear that was stroking her cheek and lied down next the baby. Shruti was falling into a pit of depression badly but Vineet could not understand.
Vineet came back from office and knocked the door. Nobody opened. He took out his spare keys and opened the door. There was no one in the living room, nor in the other two rooms or in the bathroom. Vineet started wondering where Shruti and her son went so late in the night. Oh yes, birthday party! He recollected and felt relieved. An hour went by. A notification popped up on Vineet's phone- "You have memories to look back today" When he clicked on it, he found a 7 year old pic of him and Shruti when they were in college. He had styled her hair and it looked so funny. Oh and Shruti looked so adorable in that yellow top. How much I loved that yellow top on her? I used to request her to wear it every now and then and she used to make a face and say "Don't I look good in other clothes." "You do, my love but that yellow top looks magical on you."
Doorbell rang. Vineet was stunned when he opened the door. Shruti was wearing the same yellow top and she looked so beautiful.
"Wow, Shruti! You look amazing."
"Thanks Vineet. The little munchkin has slept. I will put him on the bed and come back."
As soon as Shruti came back, Vineet held her hand and asked, "How come you wore this? Its beautiful but it is so old. You have so many expensive dresses. You could have worn one of them. You look amazing though!."
"Vineet, If you remember, I purchased this in college from the local market that we used to frequent for 300 rupees. 300 rupees were a lot then and I am not sure if you remember but I had borrowed 100 rupees from you as I was short of cash. I just got it altered so it fits me now and I just felt like wearing it. It might not matter to you but this dress is a big deal for me. You always loved seeing me in this, you requested me to wear this all the time and wearing this just made me feel loved again. That friend who loved me deeply, who could not say those 3 words for a year so that it does not spoil the friendship, that boyfriend who blew kisses in front of everyone much to my dismay, the boyfriend who could not let go off my hand, the husband who planned maggi dates on sunday nights- This top has seen it all. It is my memory of all the wonderful days of love that we have shared and which may not come back. But at least the memories remain." Shruti broke down as soon as she said these words.
Vineet was stunned. How did he let this happen? How did they grow apart? Why did he not see her moist eyes? Why did he not see her battle that she was fighting all alone? He made her sit on the chair and returned with 2 bowls of steaming maggi. It was never too late to change. He hugged her as she smiled. Genuinely, after many months.
Image Source: son2man.com