My best friend for 20 and husband for 2 years.
Anil, the guy who was a marine engineer, studying when I first met him so long ago when he fell in love with me.
At that time I was not aware of what love meant and he scared me away by coming on so strong. I was hugely attracted to this guy I had met through friends and started dating him, but the day he professed his love for me, I didn't know how to react.
I ran away and stopped seeing him.
I would go to shoots at that time when I was an assistant director, or be at edits and return home really late in the night, and find him waiting there for me almost every night. He would tell me he loved me and wanted to marry me, and I would tell him to go away.
Then I fell madly in love with somebody else, or so I thought at the time, and started to run after the man like Anil was running after me.
I could not reveal to anybody who it was I was obsessing, so there was nobody who knew.
Finally, realizing I must tell Anil, because he wasn't giving up, and I felt like he thought I was leading him on because for all practical purposes I was single, I waited for him to turn up one night, instead of him waiting for me.
We went off to the beach, late in the night and sat there, because I told him that I wanted to talk to him.
He listened patiently as I told him that I was in love with this man who was married and was my boss. That I was in a relationship with him and that nobody knew about it.
Anil sat silently as I started to cry and only put his arm around my shoulder and drew me closer to him. He kissed me softly on my cheeks and told me that he would be there for me as long as he lived. I told him not to do that but he was determined.
I didn't think he meant it.
Life went on for both of us, and Anil went to sea soon after that.
Each year, without fail, whether he could be in town or otherwise, he saw to it that he was there at the stroke of midnight on my birthday.
Every party, every place I was at, on my birthday each year, Anil would find out where we were and be there, with a bunch of red roses and a present. The present was always the worlds best and the most expensive perfume. He would stay over the night after the party and right through the day of my birthday until the next day. We would talk about everything under the sun and I would update him about my love life and he would tell me about his.
By now, my life was known to one and all and the man I loved was unable to take a call between his wife and me. Life was a mess. His wife knew what was going on, and the most painful days spent by perhaps all three of us were, my birthday, his birthday and his wife's birthday alongwith New Years Eve etc, because he would be torn and all of us would be miserable.
As years went by, Anil had been out with every girlfriend of mine, married or not. And I would ask him why he was not settling down and he would tell me that he will settle down in marraige once Lippy settled down.
Lippy was his ex girlfriend.
Anil was Lippy's first boyfriend and she loved him to bits. Anil loved her a lot too, but for reasons unknown to me, they were not seeing each other anymore, and had moved on to being the best of friends like he and I were. He would tell me that once Lippy finds someone, he will be ready to take the plunge himself.
Then, as life went on and I began to learn to live with the complications of my life, Anil dissapeared.
For five years in continuation I did not see him.
I waited for him each one of those birthdays but he would not turn up.
I would recieve random calls from one end of the earth or the other, but none were too clear about what he was up to. He had moved to the US to live with his mother and sister and would go to sea from there and tell me that he never wanted to come back to Bombay again. Then for months and sometimes even a whole year I would get no call from him and I wouldn't know what he was up to.
Lippy and I had still never met each other. We had only heard of each other from him.
Thing went on and my life started to fall apart as my relationship with the man I loved started to end and although he was there for me whenever I needed him, it was over.
I couldn't let go and was afraid.
It was Holi roughly 7 years ago when Anil suddenly landed up at my doorstep with some friends. Lippy was with him and this is the first time Lippy and I met.
As Holi came and went, so did they, and neither Anil, nor I got in touch with each other. He had told me that day that he was now back and resettled in Mumbai, after having tried to make a life in the US. He had got married to an American and got divorced and never wanted to go back to the states again.
Anil was very like that.
I had told Anil nothing about what was going on in my life. There was nothing to say. It was all over for me, but I was holding on to threads of the past to make my present work.
When Anil went on the ship again, Lippy called me. She told me that we should meet up. I was excited. I was lonely and pained and needed to do things other than my work.
I was uncomfortable with my friends from the past because all of them had a look of 'we told u so' on their faces when I met them. Oblivious to the kind of things that had happened in their own lives, they were judgemental about what was happenning in mine and it used to make me sick. They had all predicted at one point in time or the other that it would never work out for me, and that I was headed for disaster.
They were right. I was now in the post disaster phase, hunting the debris for my soul.
Lippy, her sister Dolly and I became the best of friends and started hanging out together. By now Lippy had told me that Anil had asked her to call me, before he went to sea because he had felt like I needed friends.
When Anil returned, he turned up as a surprise at my office with a gang of friends to pick me up and whisk me away to Lions Gate where we were going to go aboard a ship.
We spent a fabulous evening together, at the end of which he asked me to his house and I went.
We made love for the first time.
We were inseperable thereafter.
I was making White Noise and he would go for short trips to sea and return before I could say I was missing him.
So much water had flowed under the bridge by now. He would take me in his arms and I would cry for hours.
My film got released and I hit disaster.
I tried to recover from the hit but it was endless.
Now came the time when me and my ex married lover were not even going to remain friends.
As the world around me crashed, Anil held me in his arms four birthdays ago and told me to leave it all and come away with him.
I made the decision to do it in a split second.
By the early morning, we were on a flight to Goa and the next day, we were married.
We returned to our shocked and surprised friends and celebrated like there was no tomorrow.
While here I was thinking all my problems had ended, I had no clue that there was a a bigger disaster awaiting me.
A seperation worst than a ugly legal divorce between a man and wife, was taking place between business partners who had been ex lovers.
There were debts and there were creditors hounding us. There were legal suits against us from people I didn't even know, whom we apparently owed money to.
There were strange guys at my doorstep every day, causing chaos and commotion, calling me names and threatening me.
Anil would ask me what had happened and I, who had no idea what was happenning, had no answers. He was perturbed, specially so when guys started turning up at his door step. We were living in both houses, his and mine, as how we felt like.
It was difficult for me to say whose fault it was. Things had just happenned like that out of the blue and it was impossible for me to blame the man whom I had loved for more than 15 years for having done that to me. It was hard for me to tell who was the victim and who was perpetrator of the crime. We had brought ourselves to this and now as it came to a closure, it was uglier and dirtier than I had imagined life for anyone could ever get.
Between crisis management and absorbing shocks, there was nothing else I could do. Everything I tried to do, failed and I was a wreck. I knew I was breaking down and dared not to take Anil with me. I had a daughter to bring up and a life to put together again.
On his birthday, the next year, while Anil wanted me to get away with him, I couldn't. I had a hearing at a court and at that time I was crazy enough to fear imprisonment each time I went to the courts. I knew no difference between a civil and a criminal case. (I'm a half baked lawyer now, thanks to my inability to afford one due to which I have to stand for myself most of the time).
Anil walked out on me that night.
A week later was Ranjits birthday party on Salims terrace, and I begged Anil to come along with me. He refused and said he was now with another woman and made me talk to her on the phone.
Don't know whether the world had come to an end for me because of Anil who had walked out on me, or because of what I was going through on the other side.
Anil and I never spoke.
I ebbed and closed in. I gave up and succumbed.
I started letting things happen around me, and stopped trying to make anything happen.
I stopped working and closed my doors to everybody.
It was the year 2007, and my birthday came yet again.
I was alone.
Salim and Ranjit had landed up at my place to be with me because I was bedridden.
At a meeting with some creditors I had frozen with a few more shocks a day earlier, and as I tried to get up from the chair I was sitting on to leave, I couldn't.
I was taken straight to the doctors and then through the x ray machine, and I had a slipped disc.
Anil never came to see me.
He turned up at my door the day after my birthday, hugged me and said sorry. He spent the night with me and went away the next morning, as it was Dollys' birthday and made me promise I would be there for the party he was organizing for her.
My back was hurting bad but I went that evening.
Anil was a stranger. It seemed like I had never met him before, and it was the first time we were meeting.
I had probably hurt him so bad, that he wanted revenge that way.
I came back, knowing that I would never meet him again.
We never spoke again, neither on the phone nor otherwise, and also never saw each other.
I never asked anybody about him and never knew if he ever did.
As I fell into a hopeless zone I lost touch with everything.
Salim, was my only friend and Ranjit was there on and off. Salim took care of me like a mother would look after her child. He helped me get close to my family again from whom I had distanced myself so much.
He bridged my friendships and took me away from my troubles with a genteel like I have never seen before.
I wasn't working and he told me it didn't matter.
Between Ranjit and Salim, they saw to it that I was never alone when I went to the courts every month. Either of the two were by my side in seconds and saw to it that I got what I needed.
They took me away from the city every time it seemed like I was caving in and would bring me back healed.
And while time flew by, I still had no idea what I was going to happen next.
I would wake up and go to sleep aimlessly and began to expect nothing from life.
It didn't make a difference to me that I was living on small amounts of money I earned through odd jobs, and small funds I borrowed from my mother, sisters, brother and some friends.
I had even detached myself from my house which I loved so dearly and one I had made from my hard earned money.
Selling it to come out of the mess became inevitable but I kept delaying it.
It was 3am on the 14th August, last year.
A year had gone by since I had last seen Anil.
I couldn't sleep and tossed and turned.
I lay awake all night and called Salim as soon as it was morning to tell him that I could intuit an impending tragedy. He asked me to cheer up. He told me he was taking me away to Khandala the day after the next for a long weekend with his mother and himself. Ranjit was going to come along too.
Dolly called me at 1.15 pm. She passed the phone to Lippy. They were both in Pune. Lippy told me that Anil had died. He had been found lying on the floor of his house.
I was shocked. I wanted to go there.
Salim and Ranjit came running to my house and held me back.
The next two days are a blurr.
On the day of the funeral, after the post mortem and after having found out that he had had a massive heart attack I went to see Lippy, who was back from Pune, at her house in Mumbai.
She was ready to leave for the cremation. She said she would take me.
I told her I couldn't go. I hugged her tight and told her that in meeting her, I had said my goodbye to Anil.
I couldn't face Anils mother. I couldn't face Anils sister. Both of whom had been so good to me after we had gotten married.
As they took Anils body away, Salim drove me past Anils house and took me away to Khadala with his mother and Ranjit.
When we came back three days later, I put my house together and started to work.
I worked and worked like I have never worked before and slowly all my problems began to fade away.
Something told me inside, that Anil wished for me this before he went. Something told me that there was another power within me which was giving me to strength to be this person I had never thought I could be.
I was reborn and different.
I was fine.
Nothing henceforth was ever going to stop me.
I celebrate his life and know that he always loved me.
Much more than I could ever do.
Much much more than I will ever be capable of loving anyone...
He left this world one year ago, giving me his life...