He turns around. He’s clearly taken aback. But he smiles. ‘You remember what we decided on our wedding night?’
I look at him blankly. I’m clearly not in the state to remember what happened twenty five years ago. All my veins seem to have got tangled up in my head. I shake my head dubiously. Yesterday I did the same. I shook my head and apprised him of our elder daughter’s result. I told him to be hard on her. I complained that he was the one who spoiled her in the first place. I took all my frustration and anger out on him. But now I remain mum. I want to hear him out.
He continues, ‘how can you forget? We decided we’d take a trip to Paris on our 25th Anniversary.’ He grins, ‘Just the two of us.’
Oh, so this is why he’s checking out the Europe tour packages. I roll my eyes. This man is clearly oblivious of all the problems in our life. How can he plan such an extravagant trip? We’ve tons of expenses lying ahead. I have a sigh of exhaustion. I earnestly hope this is just a dream. I can’t deal with all this mess for real.
‘I’ve been saving money for this trip. I thought I’d surprise you by directly handing you the tickets. But I’m falling short of some forty thousand.’ He exhales noisily. ‘What to do?’
I feel sorry for him. He’s a good man. A tad too good for this world. I love him. For the first time, this dream doesn’t seem cruel, vicious and ghastly. I smile and open my mouth to speak but the noise is back. It’s not faint anymore. Rather it is grating. It’s numbing my senses. I press my hands over my ears. It’s intolerable. I can’t take it anymore. I squeeze my eyes shut and it seems my soul is being pulled away. I open my eyes with a start. It’s a room where everything looks white and dull. I’m lying in a bed. The tranquility starts to scare me. Where am I?
The voice startles me and I look to my left. It’s my husband. He looks haggard. His eyes are swollen. I feel his hand on mine.
‘What happened?’ I ask.
‘You had a heart attack last night.’ He says softly.
A heart attack? Oh. So that stifling feeling, the stinging pain and the numbness were not part of a dream. I was having a heart attack! I swallow hard.
‘Mom, how are you feeling now?’
I look to my right and find my daughters sitting by the bed. Their eyes are still wet and puffy. I stare at them blankly as my mind starts playing bits and pieces of the dream in my head. When did they grow so big? It seems like yesterday when I would fix their toys, do their hair and read them bedtime stories. When did we drift so far apart that they started holding back their desires from me? Or did I really impose my unfulfilled dreams on them?
I turn my gaze to my husband. ‘I’ve managed to save some money too. Not a lot but some fifty thousand.’ I smile. ‘Would it be enough for our Paris trip?’
He looks at me in awe. ‘What? How do you know?’
I interrupt him. ‘Only the two of us. Neera is going to Mumbai for three months and…,’ I look at my daughters. ‘Mihika will opt for Arts. She can go stay with her grandparents for two weeks.’
My daughters spring to their feet in surprise. ‘Mom’ they cry out in unison.
‘Mom knows everything.’ I give a sly grin.
I don’t know why or how it all happened. It was surely not a dream. Neither was it a time travel. It was possibly a place closest to death – a chance to revisit all that your conscious mind chooses to ignore. A place that connects life to death. The awakening of your sub consciousness. One last chance to realize your life’s worth. I look up, close my eyes and smile.
It ends here…
Written by Chirasree Bose