Lila was seething with anger when she put down the call. He is mine, dammit! she thought. And even as she did, she knew getting angry won't get her anywhere. Nothing would change. It was just one more week, one more cancelled visit. And he would not even mind it. Plus, hadn’t she suffered through many of these already? And hadn’t she decided to come to terms with all this and get on with life? But she knew why she couldn’t move on. Life without him meant nothing to her. Although, everyone in her life told her, this obsession of hers was unhealthy. she needed to move on. But she still held on tight; didn't know for how long. She didn’t even remember when she had stopped counting the years. He didn’t seem to mind the distance anyway. He didn’t feel the need to call her every day; although, she still remembered the time he was dependent on her. Oh, those were the days! But all that had changed. His attention had wandered and then Maya had come in his life!
Even today, Lila hated the fateful day she had laid eyes on Maya. As much as she loved him, she hated Maya more than that! And why wouldn’t she? Wasn’t it Maya who had snatched him away from her? Wasn’t it Maya who had taken him away from her? Wasn’t it Maya who had shown him that he could live without her, in fact tried to replace her in his life? But Lila had warned him. She won’t be anything like me. She had told him. She had told him he needed to wake up and look at reality. Maya was taking him away from her!
And what had he done? He hadn't cared! He had let Maya persuade him to go away with her. He had let Maya take charge of his life! He had let Maya let her be reduced to one phone call a week, sometimes two, if he had some work for her to do! How had it come to this? She wondered. He was so close to her, and yet so far! He stayed in the same city, but met her maybe once a week, and that too never alone, never like before. Nothing is like before now anyway. A lot had changed in the past years. A lot...
But why? She asked herself this all the time. Why can’t anyone understand that he is mine! Why does everyone expect me to understand instead? I have loved from the moment I saw him. I was in his life first! He loved me first! Even before he had met Maya, even before he thought he loved her, he loved me! And what do I get for showering all my love on him? Giving him everything I had? I get one phone call a week! And I am supposed to take what I get and stay put. Why? What did I do wrong?
Was it wrong to love him? Was it wrong to give him all the time I had, all my care and affection? Was it wrong to give him everything he asked for and then even what he didn’t ask for? What? What did I do wrong?!
Everyone says this is normal, that I need to move on; find something else to engage my mind. But no one tells me how! Everyone tells me I shouldn’t be bitter. They say I need to understand that it was my time then, it is Maya’s now. But why? My sister told me, my biggest mistake was I loved him, a lot, but never enough to let him live his life, respect his choice of life. Is that true? Is that what I did wrong? But how can I accept that he chose her over me! How can I forgive her for replacing me!
Maya saw him come into the room and put the phone away. She could tell from his face who he must have been speaking to. It had to have been her. Who else? She knew it when she looked at him, heard his voice when he spoke on the phone; who he was talking to. She knew every single line of his face, every little crease of his smile and every little crinkle that had begun appearing near his eyes when he laughed lately. She knew what ticked him off; and she knew what made him happy. She knew what he wanted, what he wished for, what he yearned for; and she knew what he didn’t like, what made him mad, what he seriously hated with all his guts!
He was the most loving, caring and attentive man Maya had ever met! He had swept her off her feet from the first meeting. But she wasn’t sure she loved him, not initially. They were only friends then. But when the friendship had begun meaning more to them both, neither had known. Neither had known when they began to depend on each other, began to need each other. It was a feeling neither had admitted to, but had always cherished. It was no surprise then, that neither had known when their relationship had reached a stage, where asking the other to be a part of their life, permanently, was a mere formality.
Of course, it hadn’t been an easy ride. How could it have been? Lila was a big part of this life then. And it hadn’t been easy for him to make room for Maya as well. For a long time, even after Maya and he had made a home together, Lila’s presence could always be felt. She was everywhere. Suffocating Maya, looking down on her, making her feel guilty about having come in his life and taken him away! Its natural, she was here first, I came only later; this is normal. Maya had tried convincing herself. But things went out of hand. And when she couldn’t take it anymore, he had decided enough was enough!
Now, Maya was wary every time he spoke to her. She couldn’t trust Lila at all; especially since she knew what Lila was capable of. Hadn’t she seen it first hand? Maya knew the extent to which Lila could go to have him back with her! The lying, the name calling, the mind games, the endless nights Maya had spent crying on his shoulder; she hadn’t forgotten a single thing. She knew Lila hated her, had hated her from the first time they met. She had always tried to show her who was in charge! She hadn’t wasted a single opportunity to show Maya how incapable, how insignificant she was according to her.
But why? Maya wondered. What did I do wrong? I love him! Is that such a crime? And if it is a crime, he is equally guilty as I am! So why am I the only one that is punished? So what if Lila was in his life before, it is me now! Why can’t she just accept that? Can’t she understand that he chose me? He chose me, dammit! Not over her, not instead of her, he just chose me! I didn’t ever think of driving a wedge between the two of them, honestly; I just was just trying to fit in! I am not as heartless as she made me out to be. And she was right in telling him I won’t be to him what she was. Of course I wouldn’t! I will always love him, but not the way she did. I will always do everything for him, but not the way she did. I will cook for him, clean for him, I will do whatever he asks me to do; but I won’t do anything the way she did. How can I? Aren’t we two different people? Aren’t we two different women? We have been raised differently, we have different dreams, we have different aspirations! Even the reasons he loves us both – oh, yes; you better believe it, he loves us both – are different! He likes different things about us, he admires different things in us; he wants different things from us. But most importantly, he wants us both to be okay with each other!
I know that it is too much to ask - from her, even from me. But I only wish she would understand his choices in life and accept them. What has happened in the past cannot be changed, nor forgotten; but maybe the future wouldn't be so bitter if only she accepted and respected his choices in life....After all, I am his wife; and she is his mother!