Story 40

He walked out of his apartment and locked the door.
“Did you lock the door properly?” his wife’s words echoed in his mind. He pulled at the lock to make sure; just like he always did when his wife asked him the question. This time, however, she was not here to smile at him when he pulled at the lock and looked at her with ‘are-you-satisfied’, look on his face.

She was not here with him, she had not been with him for quite some time, she had not been a part of his life; yet she was still a part of his life.
Finally today he was going to end it. He had given it a thought for a long time, he had cried, he had begged her to stay, but finally he had given up. She did not want to be with him. He was not the kind of man to drag a relationship just because he wanted it that way. He was not the kind of man to force someone to be in a relationship with him because he did not want to let that person go. Also, he was not the kind of man who could easily end it; as if it did not mean anything. 

He had given everything to the relationship, he loved his wife more than she could ever think of. He did everything he could do to keep his wife happy. He had agreed to start a family even when he was not ready. She was, she said. She wanted to be a mother, so he let her become one. He worked hard, harder day by day to provide for his family. When his daughter had been born and he had held her in his arms for the first time; he had cried. He was happy, very happy.

All the hardships, the overtimes, everything was worth the little bundle of joy. He worked and he played with his daughter and his wife complained that he did not spend time with her. There were moments when she ill-treated their daughter because he loved her more than his wife. His friends and their wives asked him to understand her. It was all due to hormones, they said. He believed. He tried to understand her, even when she started going out the moment he came home; leaving him alone to take care of their daughter. She returned home late, sometimes very late. He did not question her; did not get offended by the way she treated him; not even when she pushed him away as he tried to kiss her.

Days later she told him that she wanted a divorce. He was devastated. He tried to convince her to change her mind. She said she was going. He cried, he begged her to stay. She walked away. From the balcony, he saw her walk towards a Mercedes car, a man stepped out of the car and hugged her and when he helped her into the car, the man turned to look towards the balcony and smiled – a smile that said – I won.
Won what? He had wondered. He was never the part of the game, whatever it was that the man was playing. Was he supposed to know? Had he met the man before? Had his wife given him hints that she was seeing someone else? He could not think of anything.

Weeks later, he had received a brown envelope with divorce papers in it. He had stared at them for a long time; she had already signed the papers. He looked at her signature as if looking at it would dissolve the ink. Finally he took out his favorite pen – the one she had gifted to him and signed the divorce papers. He kept the papers back in the envelope; he put the pen inside, too.

The ding of the elevator brought him back to the present. He saw a couple step out of the elevator; hand in hand. They turned away from him, towards their apartment, talking and giggling. Every time he had seen such couples he had felt a sadness inside of him; today however he did not feel anything. Such little things meant nothing to him now.

He stepped into the elevator and pressed the ‘G’ button. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Finally, it was the day to end it all. On the ground floor he stepped out of the elevator and continued walking without looking at the people around him. People knew, people talked, people whispered, people looked at him with pity. He ignored everyone; he did not want their vibes to ruin his state of mind. If he was not happy, he was not sad either. He wanted it to stay that way; at least until all this was over.

He reached the courthouse before she did. He waited. She arrived in the Mercedes car he had seen her get into when she had walked out of his life. She stepped out of the car and a minute later the man stepped out too. The same man who had been with her the day she had walked away. Great, he thought. Their name were called and they entered one of the courtrooms. The proceeding of their divorce went smooth. Both got what they wanted. They signed the papers and when they were supposed to say their goodbyes he did not look at her. He shook hands with the man standing next to her – Good luck, he said and smiled and then he walked away; leaving both the man and his ex-wife staring at him.

The woman who had left him and her daughter for another man was bound to leave that man for someone or something else, he thought as he walked out of the courthouse.

He walked aimlessly for some time and then checked his watch. It was time. He smiled. He changed the course of his walking – the energy in his steps evident of the happiness in his heart. Finally, he was free. He was happy. Now, he could be with the person he loved the most. He smiled. He continued walking until he reached his destination. He saw her from a distance. Her angelic face filled his heart with love. He never loved anyone the way he loved this girl – not even his wife, now ex-wife.
He walked closer to the girl and she saw him.
“Papa” she called out to him from the playground of her school, giggled and went into his arms. He wrapped his arms around her, picked her up and kissed her – his little bundle of joy.

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