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Who did you love?

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Laila was one of those sad souls that people thought were joyous. After we got married, I initially felt victorious for conquering her tempests, but soon realized that tempests are meant to rage and when you bottle them up, they lose their magic. My wife was the soul of boring lectures back in college, she always had the answers. Everyone adored Laila but her heart belonged to Lynette. They were inseparable. Lynette was mysterious, she studied neuroscience, she had what we call dark academia vibes and no one could beat her in her major, she ranked first effortlessly. When college ended, no one knew what caused the rift between them, but everyone could guess: Laila wanted more and Lynette wasn’t ready. Shortly, after that we started dating and eventually, we got married. I was standing at the door with tears brimming my eyes when I saw Lynette after seven years. The audacity she must have to attend my wife’s funeral, surprised me. 

Sunlight danced its way into the church, birds chirped and the sky was impeccably azure with fluffy white clouds dotting it. Lynette walked up to me with a solemn look and stood next to me for a minute, distraught and distant.  Suddenly she jolted out of her reverie, heaved a sigh and facing me she said, ‘Did you notice anything different about Laila during her last days?’ I wanted to choke her but instead I shook my head and managed a feeble ‘no’. I didn’t want to tell her how Laila had changed. She weakly smiled, the little daredevil and pressed a thin envelope into my hand and left without even taking a last look at Laila.

Two weeks passed and when I was lurking in her room, I found her diary on the bedside table. I sat on the bed and flipped the pages and my heart, whatever was left of it, shattered into a million more pieces. Permutations of Lynette’s name were scrawled in every page along with lines of raw yearning. I knew that my marriage was falling apart, but I didn’t know that my wife was never in love with me. A monstrous rage and excruciating pain, both took hold of me at that moment. I have asked Lai many times why she loved me, why she chose me when she could have anyone. She always jokingly lied, ‘there are no causations in love, only correlations. I love you but I cannot tell you why, because I don’t know too.’ I threw her diary across the room, when a polaroid fell out of it. Hoping against hope, that it might be an indication of her love for me, I crawled and picked it up. Hysterical laughter and endless tears choked me as I looked at the photo in my hand, of Laila and Lynette and the date showed that it was taken a month before my wife died.

The unopened mails piled up in the living room and I felt numb right down to my bones. Suddenly, I remembered the envelope. It had two lines scrawled sloppily across the page, ‘It is my fault. She loved you, too.’ I grabbed my coat and my stalking finally served a purpose. I hailed a taxi and told the driver the address of Lynette’s house that I had memorized long time ago. I don’t know what took hold of me but I wanted to make sure that Lynette was alive and well. That is what Laila would want.

I rang the bell once, twice and thrice. No one opened the door. I decided to break in and I managed to enter through the low window that was open. I saw Lynette sitting on her couch, holding a picture of a brain. She had a noose on the teapoy and for some reason, I started laughing like a maniac. 

‘What? Now, you’re going to die? Is it not enough for me to feel guilty because of my wife’s suicide? Ha-ha, at least she loved you.’

‘You don’t have a reason to. But I do. I should have noticed it before… it’s my fault. I confirmed it today. Why would she suddenly want to be with me again…’

That’s when I felt that her melodic voice was infused with pain. 

‘What do you mean?’

‘There was a brain lesion… and she… that is why she behaved oddly and I think… that is why she committed suicide. Laila… was not herself… I am so stupid, I thought she was giving me a second chance. We went out and I really… couldn’t see…’

‘She was depressed at home too, just… we were falling apart and I thought it was because of that. It’s… my fault too. I was ashamed to tell you before.’

‘She’s gone. Because of me, my inadequacy, my wishful thinking…’

‘We messed up. Lynette, I don’t even like you. But I love Laila and I know that she’d want you to move on… Let’s get through this together.’

I took the scissors from the kitchen and cut the rope into tiny pieces. We sat in silence all night, each consumed by our own grief and questions that will haunt us for eternity. Guilt weighed me down but answers clawed at and scratched my soul. Who did you love, Laila? Why couldn’t you be clearer? Why did you suffer in silence? I never told Lynette about the diary. 

At around 7 in the morning, I heard children’s voices out in the quiet neighborhood and when I looked out the window, I saw a girl of three or four. She stood with her back to me, bent and put her head on her stomach and as she tried to bend more, she tumbled and fell on the lawn. She got up and started giggling. I felt a fleeting sense of strength for the first time in what seemed like forever. 

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