The completed picture.

“It must be somewhere here only. It has to be.”, said Soumil, to himself. Searching through a pile of pages, he was looking for some important documents that would be needed at work the next day. Manasvi gave him a tough look every time he asked her for help.

“When I tell you to keep your papers organised, you don’t listen. Now, suffer.”, she said, annoyed.
“I will keep them in order from the next time, but please help me today. It’s important.”, Soumil pleaded.
But Manasvi was in no mood to heed. “I am gonna sit here, laugh & watch you suffer. Neither you keep your things properly nor you let me organise them for you. You’ll have to learn. I am not going to help you.”

The sternness in her tone confirmed that she was determined to make Soumil learn his lesson. Soumil sighed. The pile wasn’t even letting him turn on the fan, that would’ve blown away all the papers. The yellowish tinge those papers had irritated him more. He was not very fond of things that showed signs of ageing. Maybe that’s why he never bothered to keep his things organised once they were no longer in use. Despite Manasvi’s insistance, he never discarded the old stuff, but never bothered to keep it properly either.. However, right now he wished if he had listened to his wife earlier.

He opened the cupboard again, thinking he might get lucky finding those papers lying just like that in some corner. Giving in to his stupid thoughts, he started searching the cupboard. His hands suddenly froze as he found his marriage album kept in the most ignored corner of the cupboard that was opened once in a decade. He didn’t remember the last time he laid his hands on it, but he hadn’t forgotten how it felt on touching.

“Should I make you some tea?”, Manasvi asked from the kitchen. The strong wave of memories took Soumil along with it. Forgetting all about the papers he was looking for, he starting turning the pages of the album. He was unable to recognise himself in the photographs. How much life has changed since the time those pictures were taken.
“Do let me know if you want something to eat. And please, finish off this mess soon. I need to tell you something.”, Manasvi said from the kitchen.

Soumil didn’t reply. He experienced a certain anguish in him, which he thought was dead till today. The pain it triggered left him teary eyed, but numbed him too much to close the album & put it away. He kept on turning the pages, reminiscing the past in fragments. He was happy in his present, but the edges of his broken dreams were still sharp enough to make him bleed.

Manasvi came into the room when Soumil didn’t answer her for long. She found him lost in thoughts. She guessed the reason & felt guilty for not helping him earlier. Had she helped him, he wouldn’t have found the album while looking for papers. Silently, she arranged all the papers in sequence, finding the ones Soumil was looking for, organising them properly in folders.

Soumil came out of his thoughts when he felt Manasvi’s hand on his shoulder. Hiding his tears, he closed the album & locked it in the drawer. “Sorry, I was just…”, he felt his voice breaking. “Here. Take this. I found the papers you were looking for.”, said Manasvi. Soumil didn’t look at the papers. He kept them at the table and went out of the room. Manasvi went to the kitchen & made some tea for both of them.

Sitting on the garden swing, Soumil was thinking of Payal, their marriage & how much he changed after her death. He wondered if he’d been alive if Manasvi wasn’t around. He missed Payal, or maybe he missed how he used to be when he was with her, but it didn’t make him love Manasvi any less. She was different from what he expected. Never did she feel jealous or irritated if Payal was mentioned. He wondered what she saw in him when he was all broken and already someone else’s, & how hard it must be for her to realise that she isn’t his first love. It was Manasvi’s love that helped him heal with time, & made him realise that it’s okay to grieve over what one has lost.

As Soumil opened his eyes, he saw Manasvi standing in front of him. “I made you some tea.”, she said, handing over the cup to him. “Are you okay? I am sorry for not helping you with the papers. I should have.”
“It’s fine really. No problem. You found it anyway. My job is done.”, Soumil replied jokingly, trying to ease the situation.
Manasvi was still serious though. “You’re okay, right?”, she asked again. Soumil pulled her close & kissed her forehead. “Yes. I am. Nothing can be wrong with you by my side.” Manasvi was in his arms, smiling.

“I have to tell you something.”, she said.
“Yeah. Go on.”
“I am pregnant. You’re gonna be a father soon.”
Soumil’s happiness knew no bounds. He smiled radiantly & kissed Manasvi repeatedly.
“I love you. And I want a girl.”, Soumil said excitedly.
Manasvi laughed.

“And we’ll name her Payal.”, she declared.

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