Trisha stood at Terminal 1A waiting to board the flight from Chicago to New Delhi. Clutching her over stuffed, sky blue handbag with one hand, she restlessly waited for the boarding announcement. Thoughts of her previous visit to India felt like tasting sour curd. But memories were like stubborn stains, the more you want to get rid of them, the longer they stay.
Leaving behind the warmth of known faces and the fear of the unknown did not deter her spirits. She refused to crush her dreams to dust. Leaving Rohan behind was undoubtedly the toughest thing for her. Long distance relationships were never easy. Distances sure made the heart grow fonder, but they also stretched the miles longer than they were in real.
Rohan’s stinging silence, the bitterness of their arguments, the ache in her heart, the salty tears that dried on her cheeks, hardening her skin, everything flashed before her like scenes from an unforgettable movie. “I have to go” she had announced to Rohan. “It’s always been my dream.”
“You worked hard for this Tri. This is big” said Rohan, his voice dropping with the weight of his own words. “I am not going to stop you. But it’s not going to work out between us. We have to let each other go”, he finished, hugging her mechanically and kissing her on the forehead before he left her alone on the terrace.
A tight embrace and a pillow soaked with tears was all that Trisha left behind for the man she had ever loved. Her relationship with Rohan had begun two years ago. After they met at a common friend Sanjana’s house, a quick exchange of numbers and endless cups of coffee had nurtured their relationship like sunlight to the morning blooms.
Rohan never spoke much. He was a great listener though. Hours of her talking did not seem to bore him. He always looked interested and she knew that he paid enough attention because he always helped her pick up conversations from where she left.
Trisha had proposed to Rohan in her living room at 5 p.m. on a Sunday evening. Kneeling on the cold granite floor, she offered him a tea soaked Marie biscuit in place of a ring. Mouthing a “Will you marry me?” with a million dreams in her eyes. At first, he burst out laughing.
A minute later he said, “I need time to think.” Disappointed, she nodded silently. Rohan was everything she had ever asked for. They got along like a house on fire, he understood her like nobody else had ever before. There was a glimmer in his eyes every time he saw her. It had to be love!
Two weeks after she proposed, Rohan said yes. Ecstatic, she had introduced him to her parents and changed her status on social media. It all happened so fast and felt so good.
Assuming it would only get better, Trisha never doubted their relationship.
One year into her Masters program in the United States, she was a mental wreck. Trisha had always thrived in academics, but this one was a struggle. Her break up with Rohan, just before she left India had devastated her more than she could imagine. She did not have long hours to sit and brood in a corner. Her assignments would pile up if she wasted a single second. It was hard. Struggling to meet deadlines of projects and concentrate in class, Trisha thought she had made two of the worst decisions in her life. First Rohan. Second, getting admission to the Masters Program. Life was a big black hole. No second thoughts.
Trisha was beside herself as she always thought nothing could break her focus. Her career had always been her priority and her memories with Rohan did not have the strength to break her. She was wrong. It had shattered her from within. It was impossible for Trisha to study. Maybe she should give up and go back to India. This was not meant to be.
A phone call changed everything. It was her fifteen-year old niece Aditi, calling her at 1 a.m. U.S. time. Rubbing her eyes, Trisha answered the call, without registering the caller. “Hi maasi (Aunt in Hindi)*” an excited voice jumped over the phone. “I am sorry I called so late. But this could not wait,” Aditi’s innocence flowed through her voice. “I have been selected for a scholarship program from my school,”. She was screaming in excitement by now. Trisha sat up on her bed, smiling with pride. “Congratulations! Super proud of you.”
“All because of you,” said Aditi, her voice softening. “You are my inspiration. Mom told me how focussed you were always, like Arjuna and the fish from Mahabharatha,” she laughed like a gurgling stream. Trisha could picture her niece, bright and confident, eyes full of dreams and heart filled with pride. “I want to be like you” said Aditi. “You are my role model.”
Feeling light and happy after a long time, Trisha looked at herself in the mirror intently for the first time in many months. Today, her face glowed. Not because she was an achiever. Because she had made a difference. Discovering something she never knew about herself, gave her the power to surge ahead, leaving the rotten past behind.
- Surabhi Kaushik