He didn't… he couldn't talk to his kids. He couldn't be around them. They were too much to handle. Depression slowly grew inside of him; his thoughts became fuzzy, he was a burning soul trying to cope up with the solitude suddenly thrust upon him.
It didn't seem real – the person who cared for him the most, who was by his side through every triumph and trial, was missing. The one person who was dedicated to him and his family, the one who invested her entire life in his, was enjoying the deep sleep while he burned in his own hell on Earth.
He would give up anything for just one more day. Just one more conversation with Mala. When he could sleep, he dreamt of what he'd say.
"Can you believe how the kids have grown?"
"I can't trust Vivek anymore."
"Let's start over somewhere new. I'll get a new job in the city, like you always wanted."
These dreams made waking up even more painful. He would roll over and try to kiss her, only to suddenly remember her absence. It was like losing her over and over again. The void grew into a gaping hole. His soul mate was missing. Part of him was gone. He started talking to no one in particular, often saying, "Leave me alone," over and over. He knew it didn't make sense to beg to be alone when his loneliness crushed him, but it was all he could say.
Two months passed and still the shock of her absence wrapped around him like a blanket.
Thud. Thud. Thud. A rampage of thuds hit him.
She's gone and she's not coming back.
The proverbs like, "Time will heal," did not work. They stung him like lies.
As the shock wore off, his pain only increased. It sucked the joy out of him. When he was awake, tears trickled down his face in perpetual streams. This kind of grief was difficult to sustain – constantly climbing in and out of the abyss. Waiting every hour, every minute, every second, for the day to end, just so he could sleep away from the pain.
He wanted to move on. He wanted to feel happy again. But what exactly did moving on mean? What did happy feel like?
The loneliness was unbearable. It hit him wherever he went. People around him would say, "Move on Raj. Be happy. Mala would want you to start fresh."
It's easy for them to say when they go home every night and enjoy a perfect dinner with their spouse.
One night, after lying in bed for hours unable to sleep, he wailed "I want this to be over! I want to be better! I want to be free!"
His voice woke both Sneha and Ankur.
Sneha was used to hearing her father's muffled sobs. She listened to her brother's cry every now and then. She cried too, no better at coping with her mother's loss. Their collective sobs just became one of the apartment's natural noises, like the sound of creaking floorboards.
When she heard her father that night, she woke up and ran to his room. She opened the door to find him kneeling down on the floor, crying and wailing. Mom's photos were scattered across the room. Papa kept saying, "I want to be free. Please help me, God!"
Sneha hugged her father tightly until he calmed down.