Story 54

In continuation of Story 52 and Story 53


She had felt it. The feeling, which told her that something was not right. It was momentary but she had definitely felt it before entering the house of her neighbour. She had stopped for a moment and then stepped in. She had purposefully neglected the feeling telling herself that everything would be fine, now that she had taken a bold decision of moving out of the house.


She had always been scared of getting out of the house. She had never had a social life; and as much as it was his fault, it was hers too. She had gotten too comfortable with the life within the house. She wondered, if it hadn’t been for her neighbour, if she hadn’t had a choice to do something differently; would she have taken the step she had taken? Would she have moved out of the house and walked confidently on the streets? She knew what the answer was. However much she ignored it, she knew that it was true. She moved out of the house only because she had the support of her neighbour. She had put her trust from one man into another. It was not late for her start living her own life; she was going to be a mother and she had to be confident for the sake of her child. She had to take a decision and soon.

---



When he opened his eyes, the bright light hurt his eyes. But the pain in his arm was gone. He squinted and looked around. He was in a hospital. Someone had brought him to a hospital. He searched for her. He was sure it was her; it had to be her. She had seen him collapse on the ground. It had to be her. He called out her name.


Instead of her, some dude showed up and smiled at him. The man looked like a homeless person. Welcome back, the man said. They would not let me stay here with you but I wanted to see whether you are fine, the man told him. He closed his eyes. So, it was this man who had brought him to the hospital. 


Now you have seen that he is fine, get going, a nurse said as she entered the room with a medicine tray. The homeless man nodded. On his way out the man slipped the morphine injection from the nurse’s tray, in his coat pocket but the nurse caught him by the arm. Give that back to me, she said and put her hand in his pocket, recovering the injection. Get going you, she said and the homeless man walked away shaking his head. 


Lucky you to be spotted by and brought to the hospital by that man. However much unhealthy he is, despite his stealing habits; you really owe it to that man. He brought you here on time, he pushed the pushcart you were sprawled on, almost dead, the nurse told him. 

Is there anyone else waiting for me? He asked the nurse. 

No sir, there is no one waiting for you, the nurse said. Can you tell us your name and whom to inform? The nurse asked. 
He told the nurse his name but said he did not want to inform anyone about his condition. He did not want his health to be the excuse to bring her back in his life. He knew where she was and even though he was tempted to barge into the house of the neighbour and bring her back to their house; the changed version of him decided to give her some time. He wanted to give her a chance to choose. He wanted to be a part of her life, part of his child’s life but it made no sense forcing her. 


It was late but he realized that he had forced her all her life. He had made her dependent and even though he had provided for her, took care of her he had not really done her a favour, he had done himself a favour. He had kept her for himself; someone to come home to and feel secured. He should have cared to know whether she felt the same. Even though there were little things he did for her; obviously they had not been enough. Had they been enough she would have not walked out on him. She would have not entered the house of a stranger. 
Was the neighbour really a stranger or did she know the man? A question plagued his mind and a moment later the world went dark.


---


She looked around the house while the man made coffee for her. There were a few photographs on the mantel. His family, she assumed.
That’s my wife and my son, the man said as he handed her the cup of coffee. She’s with her parents and so is my son, he explained. Of course, it’s just for a while, he added. She nodded and took a sip. 


You did the right thing moving out of the house, he told her. Had she? She thought. Had she done the right thing? She knew he’d be disappointed after reading her letter. 


“I have always been there for you whenever you needed someone to look after you or have sex with; now I am not sure whether I want to do that anymore. Priorities change, people are changed because of changed priorities. My priorities have changed. I need some time to decide what I want in life. I am going away; maybe for a while or maybe forever. 
You have provided for me, given me shelter and taken care of me; yet there are times when I am scared of you. The sex does not bother me so much as the beatings do. It’s inappropriate yet okay to hit me if I do something wrong; how can you hit me for something that is wrong in you? I cannot explain how I feel when you do that. It makes me lose my respect for you; it makes me forget all the good things you have done for me. I can forgive you for the day when you bedded me the first time and for all the times after that but I need time to decide whether I can forgive you for hitting me for your sexual gratification; especially now when I am pregnant with your child. 
On one hand, I want you to be a part of the child’s life; on the other hand, I am not sure whether I want to bring the child into the house where alcohol forces someone to become a monster who humiliates and beats a woman only so that he can perform.”


She had poured out her heart in that small letter; ending it abruptly, leaving it at a point where she accused him. She had not signed the letter because she did not know what she was supposed to sign as. Who was she to him? She felt conflicted mainly because she was in love with him; in love with the man he was when he was not drunk. She had not forgotten how he had cared for her, how he had protected her even from himself. That day when they had sex for the first time; she had wanted it as much as he had. When she had seen him staring at her, she had the option to close the door but she had liked the effect her naked body had on him. She had liked how her body had responded to his touch. She had liked the feel of his lips on hers and she had liked the way he had tried to assure her that the pain of losing her virginity would go away. She had liked the way he had tucked her in bed after sex. 


After she had woken up, she had been confused about how she was supposed to react when she came face to face with him. She had busied herself in the kitchen giving herself some time to figure it out. Then, he had suggested watching a movie together and she had agreed. It had been an awkward situation. How was she supposed to behave? Was she supposed to sit far away from him on the couch or was she supposed to snuggle close to him. She thought of all the times they had spent together. She thought about the sex they just had. The sex that had changed something in her; the sex that made her feel different – in a good way. Finally, she had snuggled close to him. 


The thought made her feel woozy. Or was it something else? She thought. She tried to clear her head. She was sitting in the living room of her neighbour. She was drinking the coffee he had offered and she had been thinking about her decision of leaving the house. All this while, the neighbour had been quiet. He had been silently watching her as if waiting for something to happen. Before she could put a finger to it, she passed out.


--- 


The doctor insisted that he stayed in the hospital for a couple more days but he told them he felt better. He had lied. Nothing felt better. He was physically okay but his life had been shattered. There was something else, too. He could not explain it, could not really understand it but something was wrong. It was as if his instinct was yelling at him to get out of the hospital and be at home. 
The doctor prescribed medicines for the next few days and insisted that he came back for check-up. Paying the hospital bills had messed up his finances but the chaos inside his mind was the mess he was more concerned about. 


He had hired a cab back home and rushed inside the house; hoping to find her back home. He had read the letter she had written to him and cried. She had written about being pregnant. She had not meant to hide it from it; that was a relief. But, that was momentary. The weird feeling was back. Something was wrong. He read the letter again. Everything that he had suspected was mentioned in it. The letter made him sad but at the same time it also filled his heart with hope. If he could convince her that he was willing to give up alcohol and seek professional help; she would consider coming back to him. 
He wiped his tears and looked towards the window; that’s when he had seen it.

---


When she came to, she felt someone groping her breast. When she opened her eyes she could see her neighbour bent over her; lust evident in his eyes. She was half-naked; lying in her neighbour’s bed. 
Since the night I had seen you having sex with that man, I had wanted you for myself. I wanted to touch you and feel your soft skin, she heard the man say as he stroked her thigh. 


I am pregnant, she blurted out as if that was going to stop the man. After a moment of hesitation, the man laughed and pinned her down. He bent over and kissed her; she tried to resist him with all her strength. That’s when he hit her and she was paralysed with fear. 


The man unbuttoned his jeans and took it off, he was about to take off his underwear when she heard the front door being opened forcefully. Even the man was shocked. Before he could move from where he was standing, she could see a figure rushing towards the man and punching him. The neighbour fell to the ground and when she sat in bed, holding the bedsheets to cover her chest she saw who had hit the man. She had been relieved to find that it was him. Pushing away the bedsheet she had rushed into his arms. When the neighbour had tried to get up, he had beaten the neighbour until the man crapped his underwear.


She vaguely remembered being carried in arms. When she woke up she was back in her own bed and he was sitting on the chair next to the bed. He was crying. When he saw that she was awake he got up from the chair and sat next to her in bed. 
I am sorry, he said and she placed her head on his lap. He bent over and ran his fingers through her hair; he promised her that he would be a better man. 
I love you, she said and looked at him. Her vision blurred as tears from his eyes dropped on to her face and into her eyes merging with her own tears.

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