“Can you please pass me a glass of water?” Atul said with a hint of hesitation in his voice.
“Kruti …please !” Atul repeated.
“Ohh yeah… sure… sorry I don’t know when I had fallen asleep.” Kruti woke up from her slumber and passed on the glass of water to Atul.
She looked at the wall clock. It read 3: 45 am. She realized that after a few hours, Atul would be discharged from the hospital. The last three days were a nightmare for her. Atul had come back from work, suddenly complained of pain, and then fainted. She did not know what to do in the new city where her husband had been recently posted. She knew no one and yet she had managed to admit Atul to the hospital at the right time. The doctor had said that it was a mild heart attack and the world had come crashing down for Kruti that night. Today she was relieved when the doctor announced him to be out of danger.
Kruti & Atul left the hospital and drove back to their apartment with the prescribed medicines and a long list of dos and don’ts from the doctors.
Their apartment was a cozy 2 BHK flat. Kruti had taken up the task of decorating it with her DIY hacks. It looked beautiful just like Atul & Kruti looked beautiful together. Everyone often teased them to be the perfect couple! But little did they know about the inside story.
Atul & Kruti had been married for about seven-odd months now. It was an arranged marriage. Everything fell right into place. It was all picture-perfect for everyone except for Atul & Kruti. Behind the closed doors, the equation between the couple was far from normal. It was so mechanical that even after spending night after night in the same room, their marriage had still not been consummated! They did not even speak much. And none of them ever tried to solve this entangled situation between them.
Just when everything about their distorted married life was replaying in Kruti’s mind, she suddenly felt something heavy against her bust. As she looked down, she found Atul resting his head on her bust. He was sitting on the couch in the living area while Kruti was standing beside him lost in her thoughts after returning from the hospital. Then Atul embraced her in his arms. Her skin stiffened at his touch. That’s when she could not control her own emotions and tears welled up in her eyes too.
“Thank you, Kruti. Thank you. I owe my life to you today! And I am sorry you had to go through all the hassle all alone. “Atul cried out.
“Shhhh … let me go, make something delicious to eat. The hospital can save one’s life but will kill one’s will to live with its so-called ‘ healthy’ meals.” Kruti tactfully said to avoid the confrontation of their emotions and went into the kitchen while managing to hide her own tears.
As usual, Atul & Kruti went into their separate rooms after having lunch. The day was about to end as an uneventful day when Atul heard a knock on his door. By then the night had descended. Kruti slowly entered the room with medicines for Atul. She kept them on the side table and sat on Atul’s bed. Atul looked surprised at the rare sight but decided to keep quiet as usual.
“Why … why Atul? Why do you always keep quiet like this? Why do you not ask questions? Why did you not ask me anything, when I denied going on our honeymoon? Why did you keep quiet when I rejected your sexual advances every time? Why did you silently agree when I wanted a separate room for myself when we got transferred here? Why? “, she cried out.
Unable to answer her questions, Atul looked into the eyes of his wife, probably for the first time. After a pause, he spoke.
“I just thought you probably had someone else in your life just like my ex-girlfriend who cheated on me. I am not sorry to say that I loved her more than anything and probably will never heal from the backstab. I saw her naked, on top of my own best friend in my absence! More than an insult to my manhood, it was a direct attack on my own self-esteem. I broke down at many levels. I have never been able to trust anyone after that. It was only because of my mother that I agreed to marry. When you seemed to lack interest, I chose not to force you to be mine. That never works, right? And, I did not have the courage to ask you questions because I considered myself unfit to love someone else. I am sorry if I have hurt you, but my intention was never to sabotage your freedom.”
“Really? Is this your explanation for the mental trauma that I have been undergoing for the past couple of months, Mr. Atul Mohanty? Do you even realize how difficult it is for a woman to feel safe, to surrender herself to a man when all she is taught her entire life, is to preserve her dignity at any cost? And I thought, just like my ex, you just wanted my body and when that was denied you stopped existing just like most men! Lust can not be the only binding force between us. Never! Hence, I chose to keep myself away from your lane.”
Atul had never seen this avatar of Kruti and he did not know how to react. Just when he thought he had seen it all, there was more!
Kruti turned around and removed her loose-fitted yellow top. She stood before him topless with her back towards Atul, in just her grey pajamas. She had several tiny cut marks on her back, one after the other, in a straight line that started from her neck and stretched to her mid-back.
“What the hell is all this? “Atul was slowly touching those marks with his fingers.
With her face towards the wall, Kruti stood there stiff like a lifeless iron rod.”My ex cut me every time we shared an intimate moment together. ”
“This is the symbol of my love, he would say and I like a fool believed him till one day when I dared to voice that I felt objectified when he did that to me. Do you know what he did next? Can you even imagine? That bastard slapped me hard and called me a slut! That moment… how do I say! I died a little death then. I started hating all men and never wanted to marry. It was my father’s last wish on his deathbed to see me married. And see… now I am here, in front of you, baring myself, showing you the proof of my sluttiness!”
Atul had tears in his eyes to see the pain that Kruti had been hiding within her and he never had any hint about it. He slowly advanced towards her and kissed her bare back. And then turned her towards him. He took her top lying on the bed and made her wear it . He then slowly kissed her forehead and held her in a tight embrace.
It felt warm. It felt safe. And Kruti closed her eyes. Only she knew the courage she had mustered to say everything to Atul that night.
“You are Mrs. Mohanty, my better half, and you better be excellent at it! That spineless will definitely suffer for his inhumanity. If he ever comes in front of me, I am going to break every single bone in his body. Today should be the last day when you talk such bullshit about yourself. You are a strong woman & I want every bit of you in my life. Let’s write our story on a blank slate. I know this won’t be easy but we can at least try! Can we, Kruti? “, Atul whispered in her ears.
“Only if you agree to my condition.” Kruti shot back.
“Really? Tell me what is it.”
“Promise me to be my best friend. A friend who takes care of his health. A friend with whom I can sign this partnership of life with every clause included. Included. Understood? “, Kruti said with a wink.
Atul could not stop laughing when he discovered this naughty side of his wife who had seemed robotic from day one.
“Nice to meet you. Kruti Pattnaik. Welcome to my life, my best friend. I promise.”
“Yayyyyy. Nice to meet ….”
Kruti could not complete her words . Atul had already locked his lips to hers. And for the first time in years, she felt truly loved in his embrace. She gave in too.
And, that’s when they, Atul & Kruti, finally met! Seven months after their marriage, they met for the very first time !
This story is written for StorytellersBlogHop Season 3 ( for theme titled Shades of Love ) hosted by MeenalSonal and Ujjwal Mishra.
16 Comments Add yours
Good one. Sounds like conditionally unconditional! :-). All the best.
Lovely ❤️😍 Awesome ending 😄🥰
Everyone searches for the true love in life and happy that Atul and Kruti finally discovered their shade of love in each other.
LikeLiked by 1 person
A unique shade of love. While reading your story a scene from the movie Bangalore Days was flashing in front of my eyes. Though the story was different there but I felt the same warmth here. And all along the story I was searching the reason behind the beautiful title, and finally I reached the answer at the ending. What a beautiful happy ending of this story, there couldn’t have been something better than this. So loved reading it.
The plot the narration and the theme was spot on. Loved the dialogues and how you brought out their love slowly and gradually
What a beautiful and heartwarming story of resilience and care. Marriage is definitely a partnership where love and respect go side by side and your story brought out all the shades of love wonderfully.
Such a lovely story, well done!
What a wonderful tale of finding love the second time Chinmayee!
The story is special at different levels. It shows how a trauma in the last could affect someone future and also how the basis of every relationship is friendship first. Loved how they decided to start afresh as best friends.
Romantic story with strong leads . Enjoyed reading this it felt so moving . To understand the pain of the other individual is a different level of kindness and courage.
They really needed this conversation. Communication in a relationship is very important. Loved this ending as it was avatar of a new story.
Sometimes opening up clears all doubts and shows the door to a lovely future. A nice modern-day love story with sound dialogue.
Love includes a lot of clauses too!
gripping narration. loved how you gave scope for both the characters to develop.
So heavy and yet liberating! I could feel the pain in kruti’s denial and Atul is a thorough gentleman. Loved it.
Wow Chinmayee, this story really moved me, especially the way it ended, or should I say how the lives of Kruti & Atul began! When you are heartbroken from the first love or abused, it really becomes difficult to trust others, forget getting married and living a life. In your story, I could feel the pain of your characters, the seven months that they must have undergone bearing the weight of their secrets, anticipating and judging their current relationship. And I must say the immense courage Kruti & Atul have portrayed when coming out to each other definitely takes this story to another level. So much complexities, that takes the reader through an emotional roller-coaster ride! I am so happy that I could read this!