Stars or just a single Moon?

“It’s the moon.”

“What’s the moon?”

“That. That’s the moon”

“Sweetheart, that’s not the moon. 
It’s a cloud.”

“No. The glow is the moon.”

“It’s a star.”

“I’m telling you mom, it’s the moon.”

They sat in the plane and kept arguing, both mother and daughter peering into the 
window while the rest of the mortals on the plane were busy dreaming 
in the REM cycle. Maya always looked out into the sky when 
she travelled by air. She felt that she was seeing a side of 
the sky which she rarely ever saw- which always changed from 
the last time she saw it. She saw the belly of the clouds that
 rained on her; she saw the gurgle of the fluff which smiled at her… 
This was her first ever over-night flight.

“The moon has a mark, then why is it beautiful?”
“That’s because it doesn’t believe that it has a scar.”
“But why? Is it not good to be aware of ones shortcomings?”
“Yes, but we shouldn’t let it over power our sense of belief and beauty dear.”

Maya slumped back, not too convinced by the answer 
her mom gave. She was sleepy and tired but the window kept 
luring her back to itself.  She looked at the glow again. 
Was it the moon or was mom really right? 
No, it WAS the moon.

***

“Mayaaaaa!”

“Neel? Hey, what’s wrong?”

“She left me Maya, she left me and went away”

“ Rhea? Shucks, why?”

“I don’t know. She just left. Without a word. To another country.”

“But she loved you.”
“Yes.”

“And she left you.”
“Yes.”

“Did you call?”

“She left her phone. She’s going to take a new one there.”

“Where there?”

“Stupid-America, there.”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why did she leave? Even I did not know.”

“Family issues”

“Oh.”

“And she left. No good-bye. No I’ll miss you.”

“Nothing?”

“No.”

“Mail her. Don’t sweat. She’ll call you when she can, trust me.”

But Rhea never called and Maya was happy that she did not. 
Neel was moving on, but not with the one she hoped he would. 
Maya was always his friend. She was never any more or any less. 
She was just one of his stars, but not his moon.

***

“Ma, why do we lose things we love?”

“We only love them after we lose them child.”

“But what if we loved them already?”

“Then your love increases after losing the thing.”

“But why do we lose them in the first place?”

“Because we don’t care much when it’s nearby.”

“And what if we do?”

“Then, we never allowed it to understand we cared. So it goes away.”

Maya wasn’t sure what her mother had replied to. Did she understand 
Maya’s reference to Neel or was her mother referring to something 
else- someone else? It was raining outside. The seatbelt sign went 
on and an announcement was made. Maya locked herself in.

***
“Aaaaa. Drive carefully Raj.”

“Hold on tight. I love you.”

“That does not give you the right to murder me!”

“Why would I do that?”

“Look in front.”

“No, I would never lose you.”

“I am more worried about me losing you, dumb-ass.”

“I am Immortal. Hahaha.”

“And I am batman.”

“Really?!”

“Shut up. Raj, drive carefully.”

“Relax babe, you’re with me. Smile!”

“I cant. You just freakin’ jumped a signal”

“Maya, wait.”

“For that, you need to stop your bike, right?”

“Oh yeah, sorry.”


“Shucks, it’s the road, why are you sitting on the road?”

“Will you, please, let me talk this time?”

“Yeah”

“Maya, we’ve been together for four years now. It’s a verylong time. 
No, very, very, very long time. I know you like I know myself.
It’s a lot, but it’s still not enough.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Maya. Shush. What we have is a lot like love but I’m not sure it is. 
I mean, I love you. Do you love me?”

“Yes, I love you. What are you talking about?!”

“Maya, then will you marry me?

“Shucks.”

“Shucks?”

“Yes I love you. I will marry you Neel. I will.”

“Neel?”
***

Maya shut the window. She did not want the moon to see her pain. She was 
tired of replaying the conversation. She was tired of analysing where
 she’d gone wrong, why she’d said Neel instead of Raj. 
She glanced at her mother;she saw her reading a book.

“Have you ever felt true love Ma?”

“Yes , I have.’

“Who was it for?”

“You”
“Me?”

“Yes, you.”

“I mean real, movie-type love…”

“True love has just one type. True love is pure.
 And the only pure love I have is for you.”

“Can we feel true love for more than one person?”

“Yes, why not. It means so much more than what you think it does?”

“It does?”

“Yes. Ever thought of it this way- turn love around and add a ‘ve’ to it.
 It becomes ‘evolve’.”

***

Maya re-opened the window. She wasn’t in pain anymore. After thirty years of life 
and one marriage later, Maya still loved Neel- True love, pure love, and infinite love. 
She smiled at her reflection on the double window. It had stopped raining
 but the plane kept jerking. The seatbelt sign remained on.

***

“I can’t take it anymore.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean it’s enough.”

“What is?”

“You. Your tantrums. Your entire presence in my life. It’s enough.”

“Then what do you want?”

“A divorce”

“It’s not that easy.”

“I know. I just want to be out of it.”

“Fine”

“Fine?”

“I know this is just a phase. I’ll wait for it to be over and then we’ll talk.”

“It’s not a phase.”

“We’ll see.”
Three months later, Maya was free. She walked out of it without a penny. 
She was happy. USA had made life much simpler for divorcees. 
Maya decided to go back to India. Her mom came over to help 
her make the move and that’s how Maya was on this flight.

“Ma, did I make the right decision?”

“As long as you’re happy- yes”

“I am happy. Now”

“Later?”

“I don’t know.”

“Maya, beta what happened?”

“Between him and me?”

“Yes.”

“Don’t you know?”

“I just supported you through this. I know what you did, I don’t know why.”

“But I thought you knew. Why did you not stop me?”

“Do you regret it?”

“No.”

“Then I think I did fine by not stopping you.”

“But I thought you knew!”

“I asked you why.”

“I didn’t feel happy with him.”

“That’s it?”

“Is that not enough?”

“For how long were you unhappy?”

“25th March; last year”

“But you got married on 20th.”

“I did not love him.”

“That’s the real reason.”

“Maybe”

“It is.”

“If you say so, Ma”

“I know so.”
***

Maya did not respond anymore. 
She felt as if she was spiralling downward with each question her mother asked. 
She felt naked. She felt revealed. She felt exposed. 
She had hidden her love for him so well, but not from her mother.  
She loved him. She hoped he loved her. But she knew he did not.
 He did not love her even when he was her friend. He did not love her 
when he was married. Or even now, when he is alive. 
And he still lives without loving her. 
He lives without knowing her love for him. 
He lives, breathes and lives again, but he’s ignorant about 
the one true love he could have shared.
He missed out. 
Right? 

Maya knew she was the moon and not the star. But then again, he was the sky.
She knew the glow in her sky was the moon.

“It’s the moon Ma, it’s the moon”
Her mother just smiled and Maya felt like a little girl who was lying to her mother.

She knew and for the first time- agreed, 
she would always be just a star in his sky but a moon in her own.

“I’m telling you mom, it’s the moon.”
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