A house in Kathmandu
- They eloped to Kathmandu leaving behind everything-home, family, friends, and the village-for the sake of their love
Feb 5, 2017-
They decided to move to Kathmandu when they realised their love could no more blossom back in the village.
One day Shila asked Ramesh to meet her at a nearby secluded temple that was visited, if at all, only by secret lovers like them. Ramesh had no clue that he had been summoned to discuss a serious matter. Arriving at the temple 10 minutes before Shila did, he thought of gazillion things they would talk about, but the one conversation he didn’t foresee was what Shila had called him for.
As Shila approached Ramesh, her face spoke volumes about the chaos that she was carrying within. She looked much unhappier than the last time he had seen her. Her face flushed and her eyes puffed, he could tell she was going to break down any moment.
“Our journey ends here. You have to forget me.”
“What happened all of a sudden? Is it your result that’s bothering you?”
Shila did not reply.
“See, the sky hasn’t fallen upon you. SLC comes every other year. You’ll pass it with flying colours next time. We don’t have to break up.”
“It’s not as simple as that anymore. My parents have decided to marry me off to a rich man next month, because I cannot do much in life without an SLC certificate. They are never going to let me marry you-a man without financial security.” Tears welled up in her eyes as she retorted.
Ramesh immediately knew that this grim situation required and an urgent action. Understanding the gravity of the circumstances, he mustered up the courage to make a proposal, “If you love me, let’s elope to Kathmandu. We can start a new life together. You can complete your schooling and I’ll finish my college. I’ll also do part-time jobs to sustain our lives until I find a good job.”
Ramesh had stolen Shila’s heart four years ago. She was madly in love with him and looked up to him for his maturity. She happily accepted his proposal.
They eloped to Kathmandu leaving behind everything-home, family, friends, and the village-for the sake of their love. For the first couple of weeks they just slept over at a friend’s two-room flat. But once Ramesh found himself a temporary source of income, they found a one-room flat for themselves.
Some days Shila terribly missed her parents, other days she consoled herself by saying “They never married my brother off even when he failed SLC thrice. But, I failed it once and they just declared that I was useless.” With Ramesh by her side she felt confident.
For a year, things went on as planned. While Ramesh worked two jobs and finished his bachelor’s in Education, Shila prepared for her SLC examination. While she didn’t pass with flying colours, she got through the ‘iron gate’ anyway. Although, she could have pursued higher studies or at least searched for a job, she neither had the motivation nor the enthusiasm.
Because they led an unsophisticated lifestyle, whatever Ramesh earned was enough to sustain them for a couple of years. Ramesh had found a teaching job after his graduation and Shila was comfortably growing in the homemaker’s role. But, when their daughter was born, things and needs changed. Ramesh’s salary was no longer enough to lead a comfortable life for three. While their
baby-girl had brought them lots of happiness, her growth also escalated the family’s needs.
Years had passed by and the family was still living from hand to mouth, when a much-needed opportunity knocked on their door. One early morning, Shila received a call from one of her distant relatives working in Dubai, who offered a lucrative job in the same city. They were unsure, but after much reflection the couple decided that Shila should grab the opportunity, while Ramesh stayed home and looked after their three-year-old. So, Shila left for the Emirates.
The goodbye, the long-distance, the lack of daily communication, none of it was easy. But, they believed that there is no gain without pain.
The first five months away from her husband and daughter were difficult for Shila. She missed them terribly and the job was not fulfilling its ‘lucrative’ promise. She even gave herself an ultimatum and decided to give up and board the home-bound plane; if things didn’t get better.
But things got better. From the sixth month onward, she started sending money home and everything fell into place. Things started looking good for the family. With Shila’s remittance and Ramesh’s salary, the family’s lifestyle got an upgrade. While Shila felt empowered with her newly-earned breadwinner role-sending in money every month as if she had a money tree abroad, back
home Ramesh shifted into a larger apartment, bought a two-wheel ride, and enrolled his daughter into a decent school.
The hardwork they put in, the
compromises they made, and the risks they took were all reaping results now.
When Shila came back home on a month-long vacation after two whole years, the father-daughter duo was very excited. They received her at the airport, they cooked for her at home, and they showered her with all possible love in the world. However, something was odd. Shila’s voice hadn’t changed, she still sounded upbeat and positive about life. But her eyes told a different story. They looked perpetually sad-they didn’t gleam even at the sight of her little girl she had missed so dearly.
Ramesh could see something was bothering her, but he couldn’t break her shell. It was as if she had built walls to keep him out. She was so close, yet, she felt so distant. Even when they made love, Ramesh could see she was distracted.
The one month passed by in the blink of an eye. It was time for Shila to go back to Dubai. She had a flight next morning, but her bag remained unpacked. When Ramesh asked if she needed help with packing she just said that she didn’t want to get her hands on the bag until the next morning.
When Ramesh asked, “What is bothering you?” one more time, Shila decided to give in. She looked into his eyes before letting tears roll down her cheek. She held his hand and said, “There is something you need to know. And it will probably change our lives forever. You will most likely never love me again.”
“I will always love you, no matter what. I am here for you.”
Shila took a long sigh before she confessed.
“This apartment, your motorbike, our kid’s schooling; all the convenience and comfort we have today come with a huge price. I had to myself for it all.”
Ramesh slipped his hand out from under hers as he listened to rest of the story.
After five terrible months in Dubai, Shila had decided to come back home. But, over the phone she had learnt how things were not so great back home. It was difficult to find a good school for their daughter, and Ramesh was overworked. To make it worse, there was the debt they had taken to fly Shila to Dubai. There was no way she could come back home.
The only solution in front of her then was to accept the proposal made by her old pervert boss. If she fulfilled his sexual hunger, he’d pay her enough to solve all her financial problems, and then some more. While she was glad that she could help her family prosper, it was killing her inside. She was deeply unhappy and guilty.
“I have saved enough. We are at a better position now. Please ask me to stay. Please tell me I don’t have to do it anymore.”
Ramesh didn’t react. He stayed there still and silent.
“You know I did it all for you and our daughter right?”
Still no answer. That night no words were exchanged. They both kept tossing and turning until the sun finally rose. When Shila opened her eyes that morning, Ramesh had already made her some tea. Shila didn’t know how to react when he looked at her lovingly and stroked her cheeks.
“Here, drink some tea. I don’t blame you for anything, it was just the circumstance. I accept you for who you are and I am thankful to you.”
“Is everything okay between us?”
They acknowledged the good things in their lives, smiled and affectionately shared a hug. While hugging Ramesh, Shila saw a packed suitcase at one corner of the room.
“Why is my suitcase staring at me?” She asked in bewilderment.
To which Ramesh calmly answered, “Oh, I wanted to make sure you don’t have to rush. I already packed your bags, now let’s get you ready.”
“Ramesh, I thought you understood. I don’t want to go back. I thought you would ask me to stay.”
Ramesh smiled, “You have earned enough to get us out of poverty. You have started saving too. If you work in Dubai for three more years, we will have enough to buy a house in Kathmandu. After that we won’t have to worry about anything at all.”
Shila lay there mortified, unable to decide what’s right and what’s wrong anymore.
Published: 05-02-2017 09:06