“Aparna, it was the editor,” Ashutosh said, brimming with joy, “he has agreed to publish my novel!”
“Oh! I am so happy for you.” Aparna said as tears of joy gleamed in her eyes.
She was always so very proud of her him. Her husband was an all-rounder right from his school days. Apart from being an outstanding student, he was also a gifted writer, orator and a table-tennis player. Though he had a well- paid job as an investment banker, he has always acknowledged that his true calling was writing. And now he was on the verge of realizing the dream which has always been lurking in his eyes since his childhood. Ashutosh had always succeeded in achieving whatever he had craved for by sheer determination and hard –work.
‘He always was and will always be the winner of the way.’ Aparna thought as she handed him his lunch-box as he was ready to leave for work.
● ● ●
“Is this Mrs Sharma?” An unfamiliar baritone asked as Aparna picked up her phone late that evening.
“Yes” She answered with a thousand quests an uncertainties dancing in the background of her mind.
“This is Inspector Joshi here. I am sorry Ma’am but we have a bad news to share with you.”
Aparna’s heart raced like the engines of a rocket. Her throat parched and a cold sweat trickled down her forehead.
“Ma’am, are you there?” Joshi panicked as he couldn’t get any response.
“Yes” Aparna somehow managed to find her voice.
● ● ●
“Ashutosh Sharma, the accident case brought here in the evening.” Aparna’s dripping eyes pierced through the receptionist at the hospital, as she asked, “Where is he?”
“Are you his wife?”
Aparna turned to see a bald man with a huge pot belly who was wearing a white apron with a stethoscope embracing his neck. “I am attending to him.”
“How is he?” Aparna asked amidst of her struggle to breathe.
“He is doing well, except for ….”
Words betrayed him and he scratched his head as he couldn’t quite make out as how could he possibly break the news to her in the mildest way.
“What?” Aparna asked in a wavering voice as she was not sure whether she wanted to hear the rest of it or she did not.
“He has lost his eyesight, Mrs Sharma. The injury is so severe that even a transplant won’t help him see again.”
Aparna stood as still as a statue while the crowd moved to and fro past her busy in the world of their own, absolutely undeterred by the bolt of lightning that had struck her and had crumbled the castle of her dreams to dust. She was unable to assimilate what she had heard a moment ago.
“Oh God! why have you done this to him?” Aparna muttered to herself as she came to her senses and tears flooded her eyes again. “And that too when he was so close to achieving the biggest dream of his life. How can he finish his novel now?”
Aparna hid her face in her hands and wept hard but the torrential flow of tears would just won’t stop pouring.
“God has the answer to all your queries.” An old lady who was passing by consoled her. She was deeply moved by Aparna’s sorrow and was kind enough to stay with her till she gathered herself up. “He holds the key to all the closed doors.” She said as Aparna’s sobs subsided.
Aparna climbed the steps of Shiva temple near the hospital. Though, she had already lost her faith in the omnipresent power and thought, ‘What door is there to be opened at a dead-end?’ But she couldn’t ignore the advice of the old lady at the hospital who has played the role of an angel in the darkest time of her life. She was mesmerized by the idol of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathy in their Ardhanareeshwara form. The right half of Lord Shiva’s body was fused with the left half of his better – half Parvathy. She lost the count of time and kept staring at it for what seemed like an eternity.
“It is the concept of an ideal husband and wife according to mythology.” A priest who has been watching her staring at the idol clarified. “They both lose their individuality and merge with each other to form a new identity. When two souls have already intermingled homogeneously to form an inseparable bond where lies need for two separate bodies?”
Suddenly, a flash of lightning lit up the sky and Aparna felt as if a new ray of hope has lit up their dark world.
“I have nothing to live for, Aparna.” Ashutosh said as tears drenched his face.
“You don’t need sight to weave a story, Ashu.” Aparna said as she placed her hand on his, “The characters, the sequences and the words are all envisioned by your soul, not by your eyes. As for writing them down, you don’t have to bother about it. I will do that for you.”
Ashutosh’s tears stopped midway down his cheeks. He felt as if Aparna’s eyes were leading his way to the world of his dreams.
● ● ●
“It’s your book, Ashu!” Aparna’s face was bright with excitement as she tore open the packet that the courier boy has handed her. She proudly ran her hands over the cover page of the book but the next moment her eyes widened in bewilderment.
“Why does this book has me as the author and not you?” A dazed Aparna asked, “I haven’t written the book, it was you.”
“Well, it won’t be wrong to say that you have written,” Ashutosh said emphasizing on the word, “the book in the literal meaning.”
Aparna burst out laughing and said, “But, that’s not fair.”
“Read the name once more – loud and clear this time.”
“Aparna Ashutosh Sharma.”
“It’s our book, Aparna.” Ashutosh said as he felt her hands, “That’s what we call the concept of Ardhanareeshwara.”