I do not know how to begin this as I have a guilt feeling for not doing what may have prevented a sad happening. I have to get it off my chest.
In the previous locality I used to take our dog for walk after her morning feed at about 6:30 or so. I became friends with another morning walker, Prakash a couple of years younger to me. Initially we just crossed each other without any contact. After a few days he asked me about breed of our dog and that is how our daily meetings started. In a short time we developed a strong bond as we shared lot of common ideas, major being that we both believed that once children grow up we should treat them in friendly manner thus encouraging them to share their feelings with us without any hesitations. Due to daily rush of life we could not spend as much time together as we may have liked. Apart from our morning walks, we at times went together to market or for some other chore. We did visit each other a few times. He had retired from Government service and his wife too had been a teacher. Their son, Sahas, stays with them. He is their only child. He is working as Manager Marketing in a MNC which involves a lot of travel out of city and many times country too. A very well mannered young man with modern outlook and a lot of compassion for others.
A year down the line Prakash told me that an ex-colleague of his had suggested a match for his son. He wanted us to accompany him and his wife to see the girl as they stayed in the same city. He also told me that he had known her father during his service time but had not met him for a very long time. I asked him if his son knew of this. His reply was affirmative and that Sahas had given his go ahead. He added that earlier his son had liked a girl very much and they too had given their blessings but her father did not agree. So Sahas had let the girl go by her father’s wishes.
We visited the girl’s house in a decent locality. Her father did most of the talking while mother seemed mute spectator. Her younger brother, a final year MBBS student, after initial curtsey stayed out of the room mostly. The girl, Nisha, appeared smart and well mannered but seemed reluctant to speak. I put it down to feeling shy. It was told by her father that she is working as Manager in finance department of a reputed company. Prakash insisted that boy and girl must meet independently to decide. Her father said that once he has agreed there was no such need. But he was ruled out by my friend who stated that it being question of their life, it was they who should decide and not we elders. They met a few days later and decided to tie the knot.
Their marriage was solemnised at their native place as per wishes of Prakash’s old mother. We could not attend it. We invited them over on their return and found Nisha to be rather very quite. Again I thought that she is in the process of adjusting to new role so it seemed natural. Our morning chats continued and Prakash seemed to be quite contended.
A couple of months later I saw perceptible change in his composure. He seemed preoccupied in some thoughts. On my asking reasons for this, he initially said there was nothing to it but a couple of days later he asked for my help to solve what was bothering him. He told me that on seeing Sahas a little distracted for few days, he asked for the reason. Sahas had stated that Nisha told him when her father informed her about their marriage proposal, she had confessed about her liking someone else. She had been in love with that boy for over five years. Her father not only refused to agree for her marrying him but threatened her with grave results if she even talked of it any more. Knowing her father’s strict outlook she had no option but to agree for marrying Sahas. That is why she did not say anything about it when they met before marriage. However she had not been able to forget that boy and they continued to be in touch. On being asked she had stated they both had been very close. Sahas told her that it was natural to fall in love at that age and to succumb to temptations. He advised her to let the past be past and she must stop all contact with that boy to get over her feelings enabling them to have trust in their marriage. She had promised that she would try to. This is where Prakash was worried as though Nisha’s office got over at 5 PM and even with little extra time of work and evening traffic she could easily drive back by 7 but she generally reached home around 8, even much later when Sahas was away on tours. He had not thought much about it earlier but after coming to know of what she intimated Sahas, he was very upset with all kinds of thoughts. I asked him not to let this burden his mind and let them resolve it between themselves. Though he reluctantly agreed but did not seem inclined to it. A couple of days later he asked me to check out on this or speak to Nisha. I promised him I would. He seemed to have changed his routine as I did not see him much on morning walks. We shifted out from there a month or so later.
A few days ago I came to know that he was hospitalized. On visiting him I was shocked to see him reduced to almost skeleton with far away look in his eyes. He hardly recognized anyone or responded to questions. I was told by Sahas that he seemed to have gone into deep depression on something which lead to this. I just could not bring myself to tell him about what his father had confided in me. This makes me feel guilty as I could have at least spoken to Nisha as we did share nice rapport. If that had not convinced him, I could have made a pretence to checking on her and given clean chit. This may have helped him to get over those nagging doubts.