“I Wish You Had Spoken”

A Fiction
(हिंदी मूल पाठ के लिए कृपया पूर्ववर्ती पोस्ट पढ़ें)

The Bank was to undertake a comprehensive training program for employee motivation. Since Rekha had an experience of training employees in the bank, she was also called for this job even after her retirement last year.

The event was being conducted by “Mind Move”, a HR consultancy firm, which organized a trainers’ workshop at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai to brief the prospective trainers how and when to go about it. Rekha also attended this workshop.

Rekha was a bit confused, when she saw the person accompanying the president of the bank. He looked a bit familiar. Someone told Rekha that he was Rohan Pednekar, the head of the consultancy firm. She was pleasantly surprised to see Rohan bald after about thirty-five years. The two faced each other during the introduction of the participants and then the session began.

The session was going on but Rekha was engulfed in a storm of memories.  Rohan and Rekha had started their professional career as Probationary Officers (PO) on the same day on 15th June 1984 in the same branch of a nationalized bank in Bhopal.

Being of the same batch, both of them were sailing in the same boat.  Within a few days they became good friends. The two used to spend most of their time together in the bank. She was born and brought up in Bhopal, while Rohan was residing alone away from his native place, Nagpur. Every Sunday, Rohan started going to Rekha’s house. Rekha’s sisters and parents were also impressed by his simplicity and personality.

After seven months, both were sent to other branches for further on-the-job training. Rekha’s position remained in Bhopal, but Rohan had to go to Akola.  That was not the era of mobile, but both remained in touch by “letters”. They continued to be posted at different branches of Madhya Pradesh, but never together again in any one branch.

After two years, both of them got confirmed in service. Rohan was finally posted at Satna, while Rekha in a branch in Bhopal. In the meantime,
Rohan got an offer from a foreign investment bank, and he took advantage of that opportunity. But before leaving for Mumbai, Rohan made it a point to go to Bhopal to meet Rekha. Rekha took him to a nearby temple, where they both prayed.  It was a very emotional moment for both of them.

With passage of time, both got lost in their own world and eventually lost touch. Meanwhile, Rekha got married to Salil, an officer working in the same bank, as decided by her family. They also had two sons.

Salil was a hot-tempered person, living in his own world, completely aloof from her.  When Rekha was diagnosed with breast cancer, Salil’s behavior remained indifferent and even rude during her treatment and chemotherapy.

One day Salil returned from the bank angrily over some issue in the evening, gulped down two pegs of his favourite brand and went to the swimming pool of the society without having breakfast. Salil’s body was found floating three hours later.

Rekha was in for another change in her life, a tremendous change.  His own existence was lost somewhere in children, school and the bank. Both sons grew up, got decent jobs after completing higher education. Finally, one son got settled in Singapore, and the other in Sydney. Now Rekha was all alone.

Rekha was not at all interested what is going on in the workshop. She was eagerly waiting for its prorogation.  Same was the case with Rohan. He too was lost in old memories after his five-minute inaugural speech. The old “picture” of Rekha had emerged.  Where was that high-spirited girl, Rekha swinging back and forth gleefully on the swing and where is this silver-haired, calm and mature lady!

The session ended, and so did the wait for both. Gossip continued for hours together.  Discussions ranged from professional life to children and parents. Rohan told her how he remained busy with the responsibilities of family, marriage of his sisters and his own career progression. The thought of getting married never came in his mind.

But Rohan accepted,
“I had tried to propose you many times in Bhopal, but could not speak. I was afraid that you might refuse. And then our friendship would also have ended.”

Rekha also then revealed the “secret” that she had taken him to the temple on the last day in Bhopal, so that both of them could talk openly.
Salil was surprised,
“But you didn’t say a word about it.”

Rekha then burst out, “How could I speak? As a boy, you had to take the initiative. I was in fact more hesitant than you about what you would think. I wish you would have spoken that day, Rohan.”

Rohan was speechless. He stared at Rekha. After some time, holding Rekha’s hand in his, he said,
“I couldn’t speak then. Should I speak now?”

Rekha just smiled back. Then Rohan said in a serious tone,
“Are you ready to end my baldness with the whiteness of your hair?”

Then both of them laughed out loud, as an acknowledgment of a beginning at the fag end of that day…

— Kaushal Kishore

images: pixabay

24 Comments

  1. Your heartwarming and beautifully told story, Kaushal is a perfect example that not all famous sayings are always true. I am thinking of Virgil’s “Tempus Fugit” because in its full version it says that time once lost is irreversible.
    Thank you, Kaushal, for the happy ending!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m really glad that you liked the story, as I don’t write stories so frequently. I think this world is full of possibilities and hopes. Thank you, Joanna for your lovely comment. Much much appreciated!

      Like

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