Interior by Vilhelm Hammershoi, 1899
Just as she stood there, fully drenched in rain, Maya did not know what came over her. Suddenly filled with a firm resolve, she fished out her phone from the pocket of her drenched denim, dialled a number and uttered three words, “I'm coming too.” Words she knew would change the course of her entire life. She was ready to take that leap now. Ready to choose herself.
As she drove home, she thought of how happy and satisfied she had been in the harmonious life she had had so far. Life's simple pleasures of family, love, and happiness were all Maya thought she had ever wanted. She was aware and had known of a raw world outside of her little bubble of oblivion. A world so diverse in opportunities and possibilities; one that had intrigued her for many years. However, succumbing to societal norms that were ingrained during her adolescent years, she chose the path of life that she was taught to walk on in order to be able to lead a full and happy life. Unknowingly and carefully she swept her worldly desires and her true self under a rug of mundane and simple.
Then unexpectedly, like a sudden breath of fresh air, he crept into her life. Like air that unknowingly enters an otherwise suffocated room, and slowly but gradually fills up the room with its freshness, leaving you feeling like you could no longer do without it and making you wonder how you've lived for so long without its sweet presence. That was what Matt felt like to her. At first, he was just like any other regular person introduced into her world. They went along with their lives, like two normal individuals who had just crossed paths. But without their consent, there was a chemical reaction that was binding them together and changing both their worlds. Matt’s infectious wit and good humour slowly tugged at her plain and simple existence and eventually won her over.
She was unprepared for him, for this new way of life that he was introducing her to. It was confusing yet interesting. Delightful yet taboo. He was good for her, he encouraged her to do new things, to look beyond what she knew, what she thought she wanted. Matt’s optimistic outlook, his philosophy and virtues and his sanguine perspective of looking at life submerged her completely. He showed her that there was a world out there with immense possibilities, waiting for her to step into and engulf. He showed her a world she never thought she ever wanted. A world she suddenly longed for. The tranquil and peaceful existence she had loved so far, suddenly felt mundane. She wanted more from it…So she tried. Tried to amend and change the mundanity of it. And she succeeded to an extent. Happiness was beginning to fill her life. The change was good for her. It made her feel alive and renewed. He made her days more meaningful and he gave her a purpose until life intervened.
Breaking out of her thoughts upon reaching home, she quickly walked upstairs for a hot shower. As she stood under the cascade of warm water flowing down her body, she contemplated her plans and how she would make them happen. She thought again about Matt and how he had changed her perspective of life and how he had reminded her of all that she had once desired from it. He reintroduced her to independence and to the importance of self-worth. But no sooner had their friendship begun, their connection and closeness were being questioned, scrutinised and looked at with contempt. She loved every moment with him. She loved the joy it brought her. The feeling of resurgence that he made her feel. But her harmonious life with Brian was calling out to her with a sense of guilt, a sense of duty and a sense of obligation to steer her back onto its peaceful course. How could she choose one or the other?
Once dressed she picked up a travel bag and started filling it up with necessities that she would need. The rest she planned to figure out later. She knew this was a step she had to take for herself, a step long overdue after all the heartache and unhappiness she tried to repress over the years. As she had stood there, soaked in the rain, she made the decision to go with Matt to start afresh. To take this chance and have a second go at life and live it in the way she wished for herself. To accomplish all that she had ever wanted, that which she had forgotten, or given up, or sacrificed. It wasn't impetuous and impulsive of her. Truth be told, it had probably subconsciously brewed in the deep inner recesses of her mind during all those years of unhappiness and despair. She then quickly sat at her desk and grabbed a pen and paper. She looked at the blank sheet for a few minutes comprehending what to write. Her letter to Brian had to be quick yet apologetic. It needed to be concise but it also had to gently explain all that she felt over the years and why she needed to do this for herself. But how can one sum up years of marriage on a single sheet of paper? She tried, as best she could, for Brian to understand her to a degree and not hate her for it.
Once done, Maya placed it in an envelope, addressed it to Brian, and left it on the kitchen counter for him to find. She looked around surveying the room assessing if there was anything else she needed to grab before she headed out. She picked up her bag, slung it over her shoulder, took one last look at the life that was and walked out shutting the door to her past.
Sitting in the cab to the airport, she let out a sigh. A sigh filled with mixed emotions of sadness and relief. But she felt confident and certain of her decision. It was not a choice between Brian and Matt that she was making; as people would surely think once they knew she had walked out of her life with Brian. It was a choice she was making between Brian and herself.
Choosing the wrong path in life or inadvertently sacrificing your own and opting to walk someone else's has never brought anyone any happiness. In the long run, all it did was rankle and ultimately breed contempt and resentment towards each other, eating at the core of the relationship and festering it from within, until it eventually led to a slow death of something that was once beautiful. It was something she realised too late but today, in the midst of that torrential downpour that she had fortuitously got stuck in, she suddenly had an epiphany of sorts. So, she instinctively took the leap.
As the airport slowly came into view, Maya readied herself for a new chapter. Getting out of the cab she saw Matt at the entrance waiting for her, smiling. She stood on the pavement, took the sim card out of her phone and chucked it into the nearby trash can. Then, she took a deep breath, smiled and walked towards her new life.
ABOUT THE WRITER
After a lifetime of growing up in Dubai; the Arabian 'City of Dreams', Ruth has taken a sabbatical from work and moved back to her hometown in India. With time on her hands, she does the things she loves; which include, reading, her favourite pastime; writing, a passion that was lost in life's rat race and nurturing her daughter. She aspires to better her skills in writing with an aim to freelance and perhaps, in time, to write a book. Her favourite reading genres include crime, murder mysteries and biographies.