Ringed by Adya Mishra

Reviewed by Bishakha Jain.
It has been 7 years. She wonders if she also flits across his thoughts and colours them with wistfulness as he does with hers. Are you still a wife if you no longer have a husband? The only remaining side of an incomplete equation, unbalanced. Varuni wakes up, without the help of an alarm clock her body having long adjusted to waking up at 7 in the morning. She pours water into the kettle to boil while brushing her teeth and sips the slowly cooling green tea while combing her hair and wearing shoes, ready to go jogging, ready to begin her day, ready to conquer the world yet again. Her earphones blast some motivational words into her ears as she tries to maintain a rhythm in her jog. Three kilometres down, four more to go. Just another normal day. Her mind is busy organizing how she will proceed with the day, meetings to attend, calls to make, things to study, videos to watch, day to get by and a life to live.Ankush picks her up sharp at 9:30 a.m. on the way to their firm where today will be spent in and out of meetings for both of them. He wonders if she would be up for coffee or more likely tea before she heads back to an empty house, not that he has ever heard her complain but having known her for years as a colleague and then as a friend he can sense her reluctance to return in the chats that last longer and the re-ordered teas. There is more to their friendship that he senses in the under-current and she refuses to acknowledge. He has, on more than one occasion tried to bring her to realisation,only to have her look away at the wrong moment or pretend ignorance. Resigned to the fate he is content in being her colleague and when she allows it, her friend. To say the least, today was an unmitigated disaster. Varuni left the tea shop in tears warning him to leave her alone for a while. He paid the bill and left the tea shop with a heavy sigh and a heavier heart.Reluctant footsteps walk along the beach as he witnesses the continuous onslaught of waves on the shore depositing some shells and taking some back from the shore. His friendship with Varuni is very similar to this to and fro motion he muses. They have spent the past seven years around each other,since the day her husband left her. He has seen her go to pieces and put them together. She has gone from being a jilted wife to a strong and independent woman. She heads the firm’s marketing division,in fact, there is not a single deal she has lost in recent memory. Today again when the conversation turned towards her personal life, she unknowingly started toying with the ring on her finger. When asked about her aspirations for the future, her roadmap is quite detailed on the professional front,but her personal life is still stuck in the whirlpool that she fell into seven years ago, the day he left without a word.
Varuni comes home, tired and emotionally drained. The treasure chest of forgotten emotions which she had stowed away with time and practice had been rattled again today. They see that he left her to fend for herself unaware it had been her who had reduced him to nothing. He had been an intelligent man who had loved her. Ambition had blinded her to his love and she had constantly berated him for not being good enough. He had been unable to fulfil her demands and desires, which at that point in time had been beyond his capability. The poor man had slowly begun to despair before finally giving up and admitting failure. He had left her with a note, an apology for having failed her.Today, she has everything that she can desire for, just not him to celebrate it with. Ankush is a good person and an amazing friend but in her heart, she still belongs to the man with whom she had sat on the park bench and listened to his heartbeats. She still yearns for the warm soap scented embrace and his laughter, the one that used to touch his eyes. Home isn’t always a place and hers had left seven years ago. She had him and wanted more, when she has all, she doesn’t have him. In the course of life, she has heard of miracles, she is awaiting one, his return. Till then she sits imprisoned by his ring with hiraeth as her only companion.