For the Last Time
Ria was seated on the sofa and browsing through some important mails. She was an eminent professor in a reputed university in Kolkata. She had to browse through her emails, which was usually infested with conference invitations and research article submission requests. This has become her daily schedule for the last ten years. Today she was taking a casual leave since the last week had been quite a hectic one. Her husband, Anil, and her son had just gone to their respective workplaces. She was now all by herself and was casually checking the emails on her laptop, rolling on the sofa of a spacious lavishly furnished flat. But suddenly an email grabbed his attention. It was from Rishab. The email reads,
I have collected your email id from one of your research papers. I regularly go through them and feel quite proud of you. However Ria I am very sick, I can hardly move Ria or else I would have come to your place to see you for the last time. The doctors have given up hope. I won’t survive any longer. Please do visit me Ria, for the last time, I want to see you.
It was written to her last night. Ria closed down her laptop. She could still remember that she had to undergo lot of hardships for attaining freedom from the nuptial bonds with Rishab. They were college friends and their friendship soon culminated into a relationship. But things drastically changed after their marriage. Ria soon realized that Rishab was a drunkard and an absolute lech. She came to know that he was having an affair with his colleague. She tried her best to bring him back. But soon things got even worse. Rishab started assaulting her. She could not bear it anymore and she returned to her parents.
After her divorce, she met Anil through a common friend. And finally, she was quite content with her life since Anil was a very supportive and caring husband. It was only because of his unconditional support, Ria could attain such recognition in the academic field. Rishab was a closed chapter of her life. But this email had brought back all the memories. She used to madly love Rishab and could not even dream of leaving him. Now Rishab was on his death bed and wanted to see her again. She was in a dilemma. She completed her household chores and went on to take a bath. Her mind was occupied with the dilemma.
Suddenly a bell rang, and she looked through the peeping hole and found to her utter surprise, Rishab was standing there. She quickly opened the door and motioned him to take a seat on the sofa. She asked, “But, you mentioned in your mail that you were so ill, how did you manage to come over here?”Rishab replied, “I somehow managed, Ria. I had to come and see you for the last time.’’ Ria noticed that Rishab was a shadow of his previous self. It was quite evident that he was suffering from a lot of ailments. Rishab now continued, “I am very happy for you Ria. Thank god, you got separated from me or else your life would have been shattered. I always keep track of your achievements. You were recently awarded. I have seen your photos in the newspaper.”
Ria kept silent. Rishab went on, “You must be quite busy, Ria, I won’t take much of your time. I just wanted to see you and apologize for all I have done to you Ria. You loved me Ria but I discarded all your affection with utmost disdain. I have ruined myself, Ria. I am a total broke now. God has given me the apt punishment. I know it will never be possible for you to forgive me but at least I have apologized. I could never muster the courage to face you, but at last, I have managed to that. I will take your leave now, Ria.”Ria did not know what to say and just managed to say, “I don’t want to recall those days Rishab. I am now contented with my life. I have no grudges against you.” Rishab gave a wry smile and left the place.
Ria was near the gate of Rishab’s dilapidated residence. She could not resist herself after seeing him yesterday and decided that she must visit him. An old servant soon recognized Ria. Ria asked, “Where is Rishab? I came to see him”. The servant said remorsefully, “Sahib passed away last morning, madam. You are too late. He was suffering from a lot of ailments. The lower part of his body was completely paralyzed.” Ria could not believe her ears and was stupefied.