When the feeble knock came on the window, Rupesh thought that it was just something he heard in his head. He couldn’t be blamed for the mistake, for it was almost a decade since it was shut.
The tales of most windows are intriguing. They are often the only connect to the outside world, besides bringing some light and air to the house and its people. But closer home in Bangalore, this window was like none another. It connected…..
But then, I am getting a little ahead of myself. A little explanation would help readers be in the loop.
There is often an ongoing debate that fictions are purely a figment of the author’s imagination and is farthest from reality and another lot who swear by the adage that ‘truth is stranger than fiction’. It is often the case that life as we live and experience it, takes the trajectory of a story.
Rupa and Rupesh, brought out the womb within seconds of each other made the world go ‘Ooh’ and ‘Aah’ except for the parents who found the whole chapter of their birth through their infancy and early childhood, enervating for use of better word. Their mother felt that she had her first undisturbed sleep only on the day they started school and that too after bawling for close to an hour wondering how the little mites would be faring on their first day at school. She could rest easy only after her husband promised her, “I would wait outside for the entire three hours!”
As they grew older, they were each other’s ‘bestest’ friend yet, they hated each other as only siblings could at various stages of their life. They were one another’s confidante, competitor, supporter and friend. They consulted counselors to know, if their dependence was actually unhealthy. But, after realizing that both could operate better when they knew the other had their back, they were left to be and soon entered adulthood. They rarely opted for longer stays away from each other than necessitated by their education and job requirement.
Their far sighted father, realizing the need for the twins to be as physically close to each other so as to bring out the best in them, decided against popular practice of demolishing ancestral property and constructing match-box sized flats. He opted, instead for constructing two units out of it. The house built with predominantly refurbished materials, was both a vision and an epitome of practicality. Hence the two houses were ostensibly independent with separate entrances, but had a window in the dining area which connected the two units. This suited the adult twins. That would ensure that they stay together yet, be independent enough to suit their own family’s growing needs. The siblings accepted and respected each other’s personal space yet nurtured the space so that it doesn’t turn into a chasm. The entry of spouses into each other’s lives and the birth of children did not take away the camaraderie each shared.
Hence, it was baffling that the window remained closed for over a decade and rarely was there a deeper interaction among the adults in the two families. They spoke yet they stopped sharing. They smiled at each other but the smile was as watery as the sun that was having a bad day. It was not that the window was slammed shut and the air between them turned hostile. The differences between them were so insidious that the window eased itself shut for lack of communication. The communication waned and it started creating a wedge between the two siblings. It turned into a crater as years slipped by as there was a lack of effort from either side.
It all began when Rupa’s husband, Anil lost his job when he was given a ‘pink slip’ because of the company’s policy of downsizing. A bleak period followed and Rupesh who was running a successful venture along with his wife Ankita, offered to take him onboard till the time Anil could find himself a suitable job. ‘Ego’ the nasty three letter word raised its monstrous, hydra head and Anil found it oppressive and felt slighted at every turn. Rupa, who was on the receiving end of this constant whining found the whole situation quite stressful and the green monster called ‘envy’ started manifesting itself. She started reading between the lines in the interaction she had with her brother and sister-in-law and came up with whole new chapters. A relationship where we need to be true to ourselves is often the place where we turn overly sensitive to criticism both real and perceived. It is one of the paradoxes of life.
To compound matters, each avoided confrontation for fear of things getting out of hand. By the time, Anil found a job that suited him fine; the window and doors that needs constant oiling to remain ajar was closed to insulate oneself in a cocoon.
Rather unfairly, Rupa found herself feeling resentful towards her sister-in-law. Though, she knew Anil nit-picked rather unnecessarily, it was easier to blame someone else rather than her spouse.
The stalemate might have continued if Rupa hadn’t discovered an ominous lump during one of the self-examination. She needed her soul mate and she realized that the closed window was having a final laugh.
Awaiting the results after the biopsy, she spent an agonizing night worrying. Anil made a tentative suggestion that she open the window for he knew that she needed her twin more than any support he could ever give her. Giving her an awkward hug by way of apology for the trying time he had given her, he urged her to take the first step.
Her tremulous knock preceded the struggle with the rusted latch and when she finally got it opened, it was to see Rupesh on the other side as if he was standing right there watching her window for all these years.
One look at Rupa’s face had Rupesh saying over her brimming tears, “Hey, as our mother used to say, nothing like a freshly brewed tea to weather a storm. I will come over! ”
And just like that, the window stayed open.