The Bright Side
Cliff Walk at Pourville by Claude Monet, 1882
She’d thought about this moment, imagined it, for years, but she’d never expected what happened, or rather what would happen, when she came home to share the most joyous, happiest news of her life.
“I want a divorce.” He said.
Four simple words that delivered a death sentence to a life merely scraping by. Her heart stopped beating, blood froze in her veins. Surely, she hadn’t heard right. Dinner... maybe he is asking for dinner. Even when the mind knew what it heard, the heart refused to believe it.
“I’m sorry.” He continued to speak although the words were beginning to blur in her mind. “I thought I could make it work but I can’t. I can’t be the man you deserve. I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”
They hadn’t been married that long. She knew she wasn’t the love of his life. He had made that clear to her the first time they met. The match was arranged for her by her uncle, a man who took care of her, if you could call it that, after her parents died in an accident. He was still stuck on the memories of a love he once had and she was desperate to escape the strangling tendrils of a home where she was considered a burden. And just like that, a match was made! A match not made in heaven but a match, nevertheless.
Although she had learned early on to not expect anything from him, she’d tried her best to win his heart. Yet nothing she did, as she painfully realized now, could free him from the clutches of his past.
A noise from the bedroom roused her back from her reverie. She followed the noise to find him zipping a large suitcase shut, unable to meet her gaze, refusing to acknowledge her presence. She knew this wasn’t easy for him. In all the time she had known him, she had never met a more kindhearted person. He was a good man who made her feel safe and protected; he gave her everything, everything except love.
Not for the first time, she wished her parents were alive. What would they have done? What would they have said? “Look at the bright side”, her mother always used to say. But bright sides were for the happy and privileged, not the depressed and desolate, or the abandoned for that matter. She knew her parents hadn’t abandoned her on purpose. But in moments like these, she could not help but feel rage and envy at her parents for taking off on a journey without her. They were so close, the three of them. She was always with them, never leaving their sides, and the one time they left her behind, they never came back home.
Her mind cut across to a poem she had learnt in school, about a woman in a war-torn place unable to move as she watched her husband’s limp, lifeless body being carried away. She felt like the widowed woman, rooted to a spot, her silence echoing a million screams as she watched him move to the door, preparing to leave her house and her life, once and forever. His voice pulled her out of her thoughts. She caught the words ‘settling finances’. He would make sure she would be taken care of, as if money was the answer to all the problems in the world.
In the end, she knew it was time to let go. No point stopping him when he had already made up his mind. She was tired of trying, of living a lie, of hanging on to the frivolous hopes of a love she knew she was never destined to experience. After all this time and after all her efforts, she could finally see him for what he was, a ghost of his past, consumed by memories of a different time, unwilling to step into the present and embrace what life had in store for him. She had to let go, for his sake and hers. And yet, even as this realization dawned upon her, she wished he would stay. It was hopeless, she knew, yet she wished. She felt as if death had claimed her and taken her away to a faraway place where her body was numb and empty, but she willed herself back. Death can wait. It had to, now that her biggest prayer had been answered.
As she watched him leave, she gently placed a hand on her stomach and whispered a silent prayer, for the life that lay ahead of her and for the life blossoming within her. She had longed for this moment, imagined it even, for years, and couldn’t be happier. She knew it was too early, but she could actually feel her little one move inside her. She had rushed home early to share this news with him, only to be met with another one of fate’s cruel twists. She knew he would have stayed if she had told him. But she had had enough of being in a loveless marriage. He needn’t know. It was better that way.
Closing the door behind her, she walked back to the bedroom. Lying on the bed, she could see the moon shining brightly through the window. ‘This isn’t the end’, it was telling her; ‘this is only the beginning, of a beautiful and rewarding new journey in life’. And yet, she knew the path ahead would not be easy. Some memories can never be erased. But it will soon be replaced by two tiny hands and tiny feet and a toothless grin that would steal her heart away. It was only a matter of time.
For the first time in her life, she had something to look forward to. The light at the end of the tunnel. For a fleeting second, she heard her mother’s voice saying, ‘there’s your bright side’. A smile played on her lips. Her mother was right, she finally had her bright side!
ABOUT THE WRITER
Naomi Nair is a bibliophile who actualises in writing and looks to words to help her make sense of the world. She sees life as a long lesson punctuated by impactful insights, and incubates those moments to come out with soliloquies expressions.