Ritu was lying in the hospital bed in the dreary blue room. An intravenous was attached to her left hand, a bandage on her forehead, her hands. The lips were swollen and there were tears dripping from her closed eyes. Her mother was sitting on a stool beside the bed. Asleep but in pain.
Ritu had married one of my best friends, Nirav. Tall, handsome Nirav who always spoke with a soft voice. He is a gentle person, always ready to help others, He is the person who will help someone who had problems with Maths, explain some scientific concepts. Ritu was very happy when Nirav had proposed to her. Theirs had been a simple love affair. After a courtship of 7 years, they got married with their parents’ blessings as per the Hindu traditions.
Ritu and Nirav were the toast of any get-together. They looked like the perfect couple embarking on a prosperous future.
After 4 years, some rumours started floating about Nirav as an alcoholic. Once, I met him at a restaurant. He was having dinner with a group of friends. It looked like they were having lot of fun. I waved out to Nirav, but he didn’t notice me. I ignored it thinking maybe he didn’t notice. He would later ignore my casual queries about Ritu.
Ritu stopped attending our get-together. I attributed it to a busy family life.
And today morning, another friend informed me that Ritu has been brutally beaten up by Nirav in an alcoholic stupor.
It came as a big shock. Was this really our Nirav? Does he have the capacity to hit out at anyone, leave alone hitting his wife? Various images of Nirav passed in front of my eyes. But I could never imagine him as a wife beater!
Is this guy, truly my friend? He is stranger than a stranger.
I looked at Ritu in the hospital bed. She would soon recover physically. But would she ever recover from the fact that the person she loved and married is now a person she hardly recognises? Hopefully, she does. I will be there beside her to help her gain her life.
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