[#2] Emotions Questioned
Who tells Peter what to do?
The story begins on the Wedding Day:
Peter sat on the only couch of the living room in his not so flamboyant house. For people of Merrifort though, Peter enjoyed great luxuries. Though today, they had different things to think of. As Peter sat staring endlessly into the three-worded letter, everyone moved silently around him and most preferred to stay where they were. More than gloom, there was a sense of curiosity in the house. Neither his close friends nor the relatives had reacted to the situation as they waited to know how Peter felt. They would all have started fluttering and abusing Susan and her family had Peter even showed signs of revolt. But that didn’t happen. And so, they all just whispered to each other.
Peter’s consolation to Susan’s father was merely his reaction to a helpless old man in despair. He was too moralistic to shout at him in disgust. But he didn’t know how he felt. He was surely disappointed though. But whether that feeling arose out of his love for Susan, or inspite of it, he couldn’t comprehend. He struggled to find the answer in the letter but till he got an answer, he wouldn’t react. And he didn’t.
Soon, the many whispers in the background piled up into a grave noise which Scott found disrespect-able to the almost married man. It was either an obstruction to Peter’s attempt to come out of his helplessness or a sign of everyone getting tired of the motionless situation. Whatever it was, Scott, determined to act irrespective of what others were thinking, gushed out of the room and finally the house shouting, “I have to do something about this!” Everyone felt silent again with a few, including Billy, running after Scott to ask him what he was upto. But they had more looked at it as an opportunity to get rid of the numbness inside the room. And they had succeeded to move out — at least out of the four walls if not the situation. Peter was too involved in his own thoughts to stop him or say anything. Scott’s voice was just one of the many whispers around. As for him and his furrow that had turned even grave, they were both busy comprehending his feelings in the small letter.
Finally, Peter got up too and asked for a car's keys from someone in the air. Carmen, his closest cousin who revered him like she was his real sister, picked up a pair of keys she found next to her and not knowing who they belonged to, handed them over to Peter with a belief in her eyes that whatever he did would be the best. For Carmen, he could never be wrong. As Peter moved out with the keys, Billy stood at the door, a spot he found comfortable to know if anything substantial happened inside as well as to choose to leave and feel free of any obligation. Realising they were his car’s keys, he fearfully whispered with closed eyes, “They are mine,” disappointed and almost certain he wouldn’t get them back ever.
It was Peter’s mom, Mrs. Castillo, who broke the silence in the house after Peter left, “I hope he finds the bloody girl and shows her her true place!”
As Peter drove, he felt certain where he was going. Even as he drove into an old couple’s garden en route while trying to save a dog, he comfortably brought the car back onto the road so he could rush to his destination. Neither the couple tried to say anything nor the dog tried to moan as everyone in Merrifort had by now known that Susan had rejected Peter for another man. However shocking, the rumour passed from person to person in the townhall, through the delivery boys and specially through Mrs. Castillo’s enemies in the Sunday super market who always envied her for her handsome son. Whose wicked mind conjured up the rumour was unknown and no one bothered as it was nothing less than news for everyone.
Half an hour of restless drive with a continuous struggle to wade away Susan’s thoughts which were already too many to handle brought him to the broken porch of a dilapidated house which seemed tough like a man unbroken by harsh realities — just like Peter pretended to be then. As he rang the bell, a tall figure of a nurse appeared. Her timid and under confident walk upto the main door betrayed the irony of her life — a staunch, broad structure with a fleeting and weak heart. She had heard the news by then as was obvious by her unsmiling face with which she opened the door without asking why he had come.
“You obviously know..that..Susan didn’t come for the wedding. Funny it sounds, but yeah,” said Peter as he stopped Maria from going into the kitchen to get water for him.
“Yes, I know,” said Maria disappointed as if she was the one at fault.
“Know, or knew?” asked Peter whom Susan once told that Maria had become her secret confidant as she was the same nurse who had been visiting her every week since childhood.
“What do you mean? I didn’t even know she was marrying you until my neighbours told me,” said Maria, rising in confidence out of self respect.
“But how can that be true? You have always been her…” Peter tried to tell her that she could not lie.
“I had been. But not for the last 9 months after she..Anyways, I didn’t know. I am the wrong person to ask why she..”
“After what? You were mentioning something,” said Peter who had caught Maria trying to hide something.
“After she had done something I didn’t approve of. In fact it was something I would have never approved of in anyone. And Susan was like a daughter. But please don’t think I can tell you what because I won’t,” said a stern and lately christened nurse who wouldn’t want to be satanised by trying to break a God’s promise given to a fellow human.
“But do you not think I have the right to know the hidden past of a girl I was to marry till this morning?” asked a broken Peter who knew he had only limited rights to stay in that house and question a women he had met only twice before. He tried again, “See this is what she has left me with,” said Peter showing her the letter conveying how helpless it left him.
“You have all the rights Signor Peter but I don’t have the right to break my promise,” said an again apologetic nurse.
They both sat facing each other, one not wanting to see the other’s face and the second ashamed to look into the questioning eyes of the other. Peter left. He finally felt disgusted.
The story continues:
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