• Sangeetha Vallat

All is fair...

"Daddy, mom, wants you to come inside."


Govind blinks at his adolescent daughter and slowly opens the ICU door and lets himself inside as the daughter comes out. Neha moves her hand among the wires attached to the monitors and winces as she reaches out to touch Govind, her husband of 16 years.


"Govind, I need to tell you the truth. Bare my heart out before I leave you. This is karma that's imposed this condition on me." Govind gently places a finger on her lips and gazes at her sallow face.

"Whatever it is, can wait."

"No, I need to get it out now. When death looks into my eyes, my guilt blinds me. Promise me that our daughter will never know this. Let her believe that her mom was the best."


***

Neha and Govind have come a long way from the day at the hospital. They watch their daughter, now married, walk away, hands entwined with her husband. She is flying to London to begin her new life.


Govind turns to Neha as the airport bursts with life. People around them, in the throes of passion at welcoming their loved ones, a few others sob clinging at those going away.

"I think this is the end. We stayed together this long to see our daughter settled. Now we can go our separate ways."Govind puts out his hand for a golden handshake.


Neha unblinkingly stares at Govind and pleads, "Can't you forgive me?"

"It was a good thing that the doctor came back with your blood results after you shocked me with the truth. Otherwise, you would have continued with the deception."

"I have always loved you, more than anyone else could. Is it wrong that I convinced my twin, Sneha of my love for you?"

Neha entreats. "I fell in love with her when I met her at the literary festival. We courted each other, spent many days talking on the phone. How could you do this to your twin and me? And you say you love me."

"You fell in love with her, a hollow person. All these years until I confessed you never realised you were living with me and not her."

"You have played with my emotions long enough. For our daughter's sake, I managed to live with you, an imposter."

"Hah, you call me an imposter. Sneha gave you up easily enough and swapped with me when a wealthy industrialist proposal came my way."

Govind's face exudes disgust, and Neha continues, "How can you forget the years we lived in love, blissfully ignorant of the truth, you revelled in the marital happiness."

Govind sniggers, "You cheated me, made me a fool, your parents and your twin too guarded your secret. I hate lies. I hate you."

Neha smiles with a dull pang of regret. "Alas! It's a pity, you never deserved my love."


Neha fades into the crowd as Govind freezes.

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