Emotionally battered she breaks and finds herself battling depression and the conflicting emotions that she still feels for the man that broke her.
We meet her devoted friends and family who must helplessly witness the mutilation of a once strong, dynamic young woman at the hands of a sociopath.
How far will they go to protect her?
Years later, the web of intrigue unfolds as one dirty secret after another is revealed.
How many will survive the scandals, and how many will not?
"Footprints on the Moon" shines bright with the love and generosity of the human spirit while it still burns deep with anger and regret.
It will keep you reeling with conflicting emotions.
You will love the characters, and despise them.
You will feel their pain, and taste their passion.
You will bleed for them and break for them, and just when you think all is lost, this novel will gather you in its warm embrace, pull you close, and make you whole again.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.61(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Footprints on the Moon
By Nirvashnee Naidu
Partridge AfricaCopyright © 2015 Nirvashnee Naidu
All rights reserved.
I've often been led to believe that in adversity people find that they are so much more than they thought they were. In adversity I found that I was so much less.
I've also been led to believe that hardship makes you stronger. This, I've since learnt, is another treacherous lie. My hardship did not make me stronger. All it did was make me less susceptible to more pain. I didn't break less each time because I was stronger. I broke less because there was less of me to break.
I remember vividly how it all ended. I remember also how I got there, even though the journey in no way prepared me for the destination. But what I remember most vividly is the day it all started.
I remembered it so clearly because it was a day of many firsts for me. That day marked the beginning of the end.
It was the day he first told me that I was perfect. I would have held on to that more fiercely had I known how soon I would become imperfect to him.
It was the day he first told me that he loved me. I would have clung on to that more desperately had I known how quickly his love would become sullied by his disillusionment with me.
It was the day that I first realised how hard I was falling. I would have been more careful had I known that he was not going to catch me.
Looking back now, even though I remember all this, it is still almost impossible to pinpoint that exact moment that I lost myself, the day that I broke, that day when I realised that I was no longer the person I had always believed myself to be.
Was it the day I first met him, the day we started dating, or the day he first accused me of being a lying whore?
On reflection, I don't think it was any of these. I think it was much later. It had to have been much later because in that first year, I was perfect to him. He thought I was beautiful, talented, fun. He thought I was, well, just perfect.
I think my imperfections only became visible to him almost a year later. My metamorphosis from being perfect to being a nasty, cruel, cold, manipulative whore took less than one year.
But that was still not the point at which I lost myself.
No, that only happened the day I started to believe him.CHAPTER 2
They tell me that I am dying. At forty-six I am too young to die, but the fates beg to differ. I used to be afraid of growing old. Now I would give anything just to have that privilege. My death, when it comes, will be almost an anti-climax to my life. It will be predictable, uneventful, and undramatic.
The hospital sounds and smells permeate the air. It is a warm day, but I am cold again.
They moved me to a private room this morning. That is because they think that the end is near. But they think wrong. They don't get to decide when my time is up. I am not done yet.
He knows it too, this man of my heart, who has been my husband for twenty-three beautiful years now.
He holds my hand and tries to be brave, this man, who has loved me more than life itself. This man who found me a lifetime ago, a broken, shattered, lost girl.
He is trying not to cry. I look into his black eyes and I don't see tears, but I see everything else. I see so much more than he wants me to see.
I look into his eyes, and wish that I hadn't. His compassion floors me, but it is his pain, this undefended, naked pain in his eyes that finally undid me.
I know it is time for him to leave and as I look at him, I miss him already. How can I miss him so much when he is standing right in front of me?
He leaves me then, not wanting me to witness his pain. I wanted to call him back. There is so much I need to say to him. But I don't. I need to tell him how much he means to me, how deeply I love him, and how grateful I am that he had saved me. But I don't. I say nothing at all.
It was, I've always known, one of the many idiosyncrasies of mine; my uncanny ability to say exactly that which I should not say, and my ability to say nothing when so much needed to be said.
I will tell him when the time is right, and so far the time has not been right. I watch him go and find myself alone again. I am alone with my thoughts and with my fears. I am once again alone with my guilt and alone with my memories, in a sterile white and purple room, where death lingers, and life fades gently and calmly into the night.
I think back on my life, incoherent and broken thoughts of a moving tapestry, interwoven with the colours and shapes of places I have been and people I have touched, with each traveller adding a new thread into the kaleidoscope of names and places and things. And then my thoughts go unwillingly back to another place, another time, and another love.
His name was Yadav and we met in my first year at university when he was twenty-three and I was a naïve, impressionable eighteen-year-old. Ours was the kind of love story that they make movies about. The kind that people who have experienced it identify with, and the people who haven't, spend their entire lives denying that it exists.
He thought I was perfect, and who was I to deny him that conviction? He loved everything about me from my long, curly black hair to my pale oval face, to my large black eyes. But he said that what he loved most about me was my beautiful soul. I wish my soul had been less attractive to him. Perhaps then he may have felt less inclined to steal it.
I hadn't thought about him for a while, but here I am now trying to remember what I had spent my whole life trying to forget.
Oh, how he loved me. How I had loved him.
How I had hated him, eventually.
I hated him for him, but mainly I hated him for me, because I was incapable of being a better person when I was with him.
But it wasn't love or hate that kept me thinking of him. It was my guilt. If he had never met me, and if he had never loved me, everything would have turned out so differently for him.
I was suddenly exhausted. I was a woman who was suddenly saddled by guilt, disgruntled by unfulfilled promises and once again disturbingly haunted by a sordid, squalid past that refused to stay in the past.
Guilt lingers in the purple room, overshadowed only by the smell of impending death.
Soon after though, guilt retires, when she is satisfied that she has done enough to undo me, as is the way with guilt. She leaves soundlessly and undramatically, mercifully giving way to a less demanding emotion, that of quiet reflection.
Whenever I reflect on him, somehow, I never go back right to the beginning. I always seem to go back to that stormy day.
That wasn't the day it started though. That was just the day that it started to end.CHAPTER 3
This was the day.
I felt it with an overwhelming conviction, as I felt the cataclysm of pain consume me. I sensed it with the staggering certitude that one in danger senses the endangerment. This was the day that I was going to fall, that I was going to break, to shatter irrevocably into a million, nanoscopic pieces. This was not sensationalism. This was not melodramatics. There was just no way to trivialise this.
It was a nasty, stormy spring morning in the year 1988. I had just gotten to campus. Pregnant, lumbering clouds hung menacingly in the air. Heaven spewed down torrents of water as if she too could no longer contain her heavy elephantine affliction.
I carried my weary body out of the parking lot and saw him standing there, in the foyer, just beyond the rain, waiting for me. I stepped into the storm. I welcomed the rain on my face. It hid my tears.
I was teetering so very close to the edge of the abyss. One harsh word from him, one accusation, and I would fall over the edge into the stormy, tempestuous waters below.
'Please, God', I prayed, 'please, please, please, let him be gentle with me today.'
I was looking for the benevolence of a kind, sympathetic god even though I was starting to doubt his existence.
One look at his cold, grey eyes and his flaring nostrils and the scene was set for the next act of this epic saga.
He said that he had called me the night before.
'Why didn't you answer?' he asked coldly.
I said that I had taken headache pills and fallen into a deep sleep. I didn't mention how tempted I had been to take the entire bottle and just fall off to sleep forever.
He didn't believe me. He accused me of going out without him. He accused my mother of lying to him that I was asleep. He said that she was probably a liar just like me.
'You know what I think?' he asked. 'I think that you are lying to me. I think that you are a liar because you take me for a fool.'
Well, I thought to myself, I'm glad that your insecurities haven't diminished your powers of deduction.
'What do you take me for, a complete fool?' he asked.
I didn't answer. I did ponder the question though. No, I thought. I could never take you for a complete fool. I couldn't even take you for half a fool, for a fool would never be able to crush my feeble heart with one hand while he caressed it lovingly with the other.
I didn't fight back. There was just no fight left in me. I didn't even try to defend myself or retaliate in any way. I was at a loss for words. I just sat there and watched him walk away ... again.
I was falling. I had indeed teetered over the edge. But I was confused. Did he push me, or did I jump?
I was shaken out of my confused stupor by the crashing sound of thunder, and I was left bewildered as to how to pick up the shattered pieces of my soul that lay broken amidst the rain and mud at my feet.
I walked to my car in a daze, and cannot recall how I drove home. I managed to drag myself into bed. I felt like I was dead, but I knew that I wasn't. Death could never be that painful.
As I lay there, I had this odd feeling coursing throughout my body. It left me cold and afraid. I had a lump in my throat that I could not swallow, a colossal weight on my chest that I could not carry, and an excruciating pain in my heart that was just too much to bear.
An elephant was sitting on my chest. I had such a savage tightness and heaviness in my body that I was physically unable to get out of bed. I was confused and disorientated. I didn't know who I was any more. I hated myself. I was too weak both emotionally and physically to get out of bed.
I lay in bed the whole day. I didn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I just felt an emptiness envelop me. I was only slightly aware of my mum, my granny, and brother walking in and out of my room. I heard the three of them kneel next to my bed and pray for me. I also heard their muffled sobs. I was aware of another person. It was a priest. He recited a prayer and rubbed ashes (holy powder) on my forehead.
I just stared at the ceiling until my dad came home.
Daddy stood next to my bed and just stared at me. I saw his pain and his confusion. I looked into his eyes so much like my own and was unable to off er answers to questions he was too afraid to ask.
He said nothing.
Very slowly and infinitely tenderly, he wrapped me in a blanket and, with my brother, Sachin's help, carried me to his car. He lay me gently on the back seat with my head on my mother's lap. He and Sachin then got into the front of the car. They were all crying.
There was silence in the car, punctuated only by occasional sobs and the sound of everyday traffic around us. The driver next to us sang loudly along to a catchy song on the radio, blissfully ignorant of the fact that in the car right next to him, a broken girl lay shivering in her mother's arms, while the mother tightened the blanket around the girl's trembling body in the hope that it would keep her warm and that it would also keep all the broken parts together.
I didn't know where they were taking me to, and I didn't care enough to ask. We arrived at my uncle's surgery a few minutes later.
My uncle was outraged. He ranted and raved at my parents. Why did they wait so long to get me help? Were they waiting for me to die or to kill myself first?
I was admitted into hospital that evening. I was given antidepressants and had a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist assigned to help me. The diagnosis was scary in its foreignness. I was suffering from acute depression and anxiety.
Depression — what a sad word, what a foreign word. What was this affliction that so crushed my soul and stole my light? It stole it from right beneath me, like a cunning thief in the night. It broke into my soul and took whatever was bright and light within me, leaving only darkness and drudgery in its trail.
My family grieved like I had died, and in a way, I had. The old me was dead. She had died a tortured, twisted, lonely death, and she had left only a battered, fragmented corpse in her wake.
I half-heartedly tried the therapy as I knew that I would never be whole again. Nothing would ever take me back to who I was before I met him.
I found a public phone in the hospital and called him. I didn't want to, but I knew that there would be hell to pay if he called home and I wasn't in. I called him and I didn't know how he would react. I expected him to call me a drama queen who was just looking for attention again. But he didn't. He didn't say anything at all.CHAPTER 4
He came to see me the next day. He held the biggest bunch of roses I had ever seen. It was so huge that he struggled to carry it. I was shocked to see him. I was not expecting him.
He was wearing his grey scarf, the one that matched his eyes. Grey, the colour of coldness, a dull, dreary, emotionless colour. But his eyes were anything but emotionless. I looked into them and tried to fathom what I saw there. Pain. Hurt. Guilt. I saw guilt there. It was an emotion I recognized all too easily. I think I also saw shame, another emotion that I was too familiar with.
Tears fell unabatedly and unashamedly down his face. He lay the flowers on the table next to my bed. He then wrapped his arms around me and didn't let go until we were both sobbing, and struggling to catch our breath. I wanted to just drown in the familiarity of his smell, and his touch.
'Thank you for the flowers,' I said. 'Why so many?'
'One hundred roses,' he said softly, and sadly.
'One rose for every year that we will be together. That is one hundred years.'
I know. I can do the maths, I wanted to reply. But I didn't.
I also wanted to ask whether there were also one hundred thorns, but I didn't. I didn't know what to say to him. I just stared at the flowers, thinking about what they say about the number of roses being proportional to the guilt.
The roses were gorgeous. They were a brilliant red, the colour of blood, off set dramatically by sprays of pretty white baby breath, the colour of innocence. They were set in a beautiful colourless vase, the colour of my life without him in it. It was also the colour of tears.
'I am so very sorry,' he said. 'I never meant to hurt you.'
I thought, You keep saying that you never meant to hurt me, but you keep hurting me.
'Can you find it in your heart to please forgive me?' he asked.
He had asked me for forgiveness many times before, and like all those times before, I told him that I forgave him. But this time I lied. This time was different. This time I knew that I would never ever forgive him.
Sorry just couldn't cut it any more. Sorry could no more erase the insults from my mind than it could heal the torture in my soul. I didn't want him to say that he was sorry; I needed him to act like he was. Acta non verba. Actions not words.
He stepped closer to me, and took my hand in his, trying to bridge that scary chasm that was growing between us. There had never before been a greater distance between the tall, handsome boy with the grey scarf around his neck and the broken girl who lay in the hospital bed with a noose around hers.
As I lay in that bed and he stood beside me, there was an ocean of pain between us. But if it was just pain, I would have swum that sea to get to him. I would have battled the wrathful waves and braved the raging tempests. I would have dived into the murky green waters of the Indian Ocean, and I would have swum to him.
Excerpted from Footprints on the Moon by Nirvashnee Naidu. Copyright © 2015 Nirvashnee Naidu. Excerpted by permission of Partridge Africa.
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