This story is about Madhvi, who was shattered after she heard about his death. Will she be able to change her life after she received a kiss from a complete stranger? Read this story by Rituparna Chakraborty to know.
Madhvi looked at herself in the mirror. Dark circles, puffy eyes, red nose, and a tired face. This is not her. She never used to look like this. She used to be a bubbly girl, full of life. Her friends told her the same thing. But then, there was no way, anyone could make her understand. After all, she was heartbroken. She was shattered. There was a void in her soul now and there was no way she could make anyone understand that.
Just then her phone rang. It was from her friend Riya.
Riya: Hey, aren’t you coming for practice?
Madhvi(with her choked voice): I don’t feel like.
Riya: But why?
Madhvi(with tears welled up in her eyes): You know why?
Riya: Come on Madhvi. Grow up! You cannot sulk like this for him.
Madhvi: I loved him.
Riya: You are mad. I don’t understand how immature can someone be. See Madhvi, we gave a commitment to that organization, and we must perform.
Madhvi: But how am I going to dance with his thoughts hovering on my mind.
Riya(irked): That I don’t know. We are waiting for you. Come fast. See Madhvi, we all tried to make you understand. How long are you going to brood over this? Is it even meaningful? And you know, you must perform. You are our lead dancer.
Madhvi(knowing no one would understand her pain): Hmm.
Madhvi went for the practice sessions. There were 4 rounds of practice sessions. Since the dances were group performances and everyone had to dance in sync, absence of even one dancer would affect the show. Madhvi pulled herself to the sessions. Although her heart ached, she had to perform.
On the D Day, her friends helped her with the costume and make up. She would have to keep her smile intact throughout the performance. How was she going to do that? ‘His’ thoughts kept on sailing all over her heart. Every moment she realized she was not going to see him again; her heart would sink.
She missed his voice. She missed his smiling face. Her work would begin with his voice. On her way home from work, his voice would make her feel happy. After coming home from work, she would finish her kitchen chores with her air pods on, with his voice soothing her soul. How much she loved him. But he left her soul damaged. She never thought he could do this to her. But, yes, he did. He left her broken. She tried telling her friends about the phase she was going through, but no one understood her. All they told her, was to forget, move on and grow up. Was moving on that easy? Was forgetting that easy? No!
Madhvi’s parents lived in a different town and if she told her parents all that she was going through, there could be other sets of issues. First, they would be hurt, Second, they would be worried. And she did not want, either of those to happen. All she could do now, was put her heart and soul in doing something she loved, so that she could forget the fact that he left her.
Madhvi loved dancing. An organization had invited her team to perform. The team had agreed. There was a huge audience there. Saying no now, would mean massive disappointment to the audience. Trying to gather every ounce of energy left in her, Madhvi got ready to perform.
She and her team reached the venue. The stage was set. The arrangements were perfect. The organizers’ committee had arranged comfortable seating arrangement, dressing rooms, clean bathrooms, snacks, water and what not. They were looking forward to the performance of the ‘Artists’. Yes, that was the name of the dance group of Riya, Madhvi and their team.
They were going to perform three types of Indian classical dances, followed by salsa and contemporary dance. The music system, the ambiance, the arrangements, everything was enthralling. The audience waited eagerly for the performance to begin. As the ‘artists’ began their performance, the audience was delighted. Some of them began grooving in their seats. Few of them cheered, ‘Once More’ and then the show went on. In all this, Madhvi seemed to forget ‘him’ for some moments. Of course, ‘forget’ is a strong word for her emotions. But, even for some moments if she felt a little better, she was thankful. But she knew, after this event got over, she would feel the same emptiness again.
After the performance, Madhvi grabbed a chair and sat at a corner, while her friends interacted with the organizers. As she was trying to distract herself from ‘his’ thoughts, she noticed someone was looking at her and smiling. Madhvi was in no mood of smiling, but then, it would be rude not to smile. Madhvi smiled back at the person. The person at the other end waved at Madhvi and then began walking towards Madhvi. Madhvi stood up as the person came closer. Madhvi smiled and said, ‘Please have a seat.’ The person looked at Madhvi and said, ‘Please have a seat.’ Madhvi sat, and the person sat beside her.
The person then looked at Madhvi again. Madhvi did not say anything. The person smiled at Madhvi and suddenly held Madhvi’s hand. Madhvi looked at the super good-looking, charming and pleasant person, surprised and said, ‘Ummm, how are you?’ The person held Madhvi’s hand, smiled again, and said, ‘How are you?’. Madhvi replied with a choked voice, ‘I…I…I am not fine.’ The person then looked at Madhvi and said, ‘I am not fine..’. The person then brought Madhvi’s hand closer to her lips, planted a ‘kiss’ on Madhvi’s hand and began brushing Madhvi’s hand softly.
Madhvi felt a warm breeze entering her heart and pain evading her soul. That ‘kiss’ had an ardor which made Madhvi feel that something was melting deep in her heart. Was it all the sorrow that melted and left her body, or was it love that made her feel happy? Before Madhvi could respond or say anything, a nurse came, and told the person holding Madhvi’s hand, ‘Julie Aunty, let’s go. Time for dinner.’ The person repeated after the lady, ‘Julie Aunty, let’s go. Time for dinner.’
The nurse then made the person aka ‘Julie Aunty’ sit on a wheel chair and told Madhvi. ‘I have been working in this Dementia care old age home for 4 years now. Julie Aunty does not remember much. She has been a patient of dementia for years now. She repeats whatever others tell her. The only thing she remembers is her granddaughter. Apparently, Julie Aunty used to hold her granddaughter’s hand and take her to the park to play. Every time, she sees someone resembling her granddaughter, she would come and sit beside that person.
Her granddaughter got married and moved to a different country. She comes to visit Julie Aunty whenever she is here. Julie Aunty needs utmost care and hence her children have kept her here with us. They come regularly to meet her. But, since they are all working, and Julie Aunty has a habit of opening the front door and going out, it’s risky for Aunty to be kept alone at home. Our Dementia care old age home ensures quality care and time for all our patients here. Today, the way you ‘Artists’ brought smile to everyone’s face, we are immensely thankful to you all.’ Saying that, the nurse took Julie Aunty to her room.
Madhvi had been devasted with the death of her all-time favorite singer Kiran Sawant. Madhvi would always look forward to his live performances. Her friends always felt Madhvi was acting silly by crying for a celebrity singer. Her friends felt liking a celebrity was one thing and feeling so emotional about a celebrity was another thing. Madhvi had grown up with Kiran’s songs and his sudden demise was a big shock to her. However, today’s performance made her realize that there is love everywhere. Yes, it’s going to be immensely hard for her to accept that her favorite singer left this world, but Julie Aunty taught her that love is forever. Julie Aunty forgot everything, but she did not forget her granddaughter. Madhvi’s love for her favorite singer will be forever, but that love will always be a happy memory and not a sad one. Madhvi wiped her tears, looked at the sky above and said, ‘Dear Kiran, you are alive and will always be. Love you brother.’
Also read: Shringar
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Rhituparna is a content developer and soft skills trainer. An ardent fan of diaspora writers like JhumpaLahiri, she has written around 199 stories so far, some of which have been published in The Sentinel. She writes a blog https://rheetuparnachakkravorty.medium.com/