Sakhi's Laghukatha

Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

It was the year 1972. Since Alekhya was neither good at studies nor good looking by general standards, her wealthy family thought best to get her settled in life. She was soon married to Sunil, a young, extremely handsome guy who held a stable job in government, albeit not very rich. Alekhya was all of 18 when she was married off. With the dream of love and fun-filled life in her eyes, she shifted from Hyderabad to Mumbai to be with her new family.

New life was far from what she had imagined. Sunil was a quiet guy; he was not really interested in her, nor was he interested in anybody or anything else. He would keep to himself. Their physical intimacy was few and far between. This frustrated Alekhya to the core. At her maternal home, she would throw tantrums and was used to getting things her way, but her tantrums would not work here, simply because no one really cared. She would look around her tiny matchbox chawl room of Mumbai and compare it with her sprawling home at Hyderabad. She cringed every time she had to stand in queue every morning at not-so-clean community toilets. She would curse her destiny and her family for subjecting her to this torture. At the same time, youthful Alekhya dotted on her husband and tried to find meaning to her new life. A year flew by and one evening, as they were having celebratory family meal Alekhya heard a thud. She saw her young husband sprawled on the floor in front of her, in violent seizures and frothing at mouth, getting soaked in his own urine and faeces. Alekhya was horrified beyond words. She, bewildered, looked at other family members to find them completely nonchalant. After a couple of minutes, the horror stopped, and her husband lied there, lifeless. Her mother-in-law asked Alekhya to pick him up and get him cleaned, as if nothing had happened. 19-year-old Alekhya, sat down with her unconscious husband and cried. She did not know what else to do, so she just cried. After a while, when Sunil groggily came out of his stupor, she supported him to take him to the bathroom. She had many questions, but Sunil avoided to even look at her. On the day of their first anniversary Alekhya was gifted by the news of her husband being a chronic epileptic! She wasn’t sure how was he able to hide this for so long.

Alekhya now became full time care giver to her epileptic husband. She would always be scared when he would go in to seizures. It happened so many times that people would come drop him home as he would have fallen on streets. Having emergency medical card in pocket would come in handy but this did not take away the fear of losing him to accidents. Medical advances in epilepsy in later years would reduce the number and intensity of attacks but not without central nervous system side-effects of long term seizures and medical treatment. Alekhya started brewing from within. She felt cheated, both by her father, whom she loved and revered dearly, and by her husband. Sexual frustration and loveless marriage intensified her dormant manipulative character.

Alekhya had always loved to be in the center of attraction all the time but it cannot be said when she started enjoying her victimhood. Whether due to guilt or out of pity, her father started lavishing money and gifts on her, sometimes even against the wishes of his own son. Alekhya started playing the devil sister-in-law that you would see in Bollywood movies. It was amazing to see how an innocent looking lady can be so devious in her actions and motives. Probably, even she did not understand why and what she was doing as there was no direct gain visible of her petty conduct. She gathered ire of her near and dear ones, including her children (yes, she did have children, whom she abhorred!!). Her children grew up to dislike and love her at the same time. After all she was their mother! She inflicted mental and physical torture on them till they were dependent on her. Sunil never came to their rescue, most of the time he was not aware and other times he just ignored. Maybe he was too dependent on Alekhya for his own survival that he chose to look the other way when his children suffered atrocities by their own mother.

There was another side of Alekhya that was surprisingly opposite to her general behaviour with her family and friends. She loved taking care of people who worked for her as house helps or anyone who was not directly related to her. She would go out of her way to take care of them and they her. Many layers of Alekhya!

Years passes with her mundane, home bound and dormant life. Alekhya tried to make it interesting by taking up hobbies like crocheting, making pickles, jams, mouth fresheners etc. and selling them. This kept her happy and also helped her with little pocket money. Money that she received from her father was spent lavishly on no-body-knew-what! However, nothing gave her more pleasure than scheming, gossiping and lamenting about her own life and that of others.

Over the years, Sunil gradually became more and more dependent on Alekhya as his health deteriorated significantly and she too got used to her dreary life. Children grew up and went their own ways, one of them vouching to never return to the parents-that-were-never-there and the other hanging on the periphery. Alekhya being Alekhya, tried to create wedge between her own children and their spouses too. She made sure that her son and daughter-in-law did not have one peaceful moment till they decided to leave them and start their lives separately. Grand children weren’t spared either.

After a pitiful death of Sunil at the age of 65, Alekhya thought she would finally live her life the way she wanted; watching movies in theaters, eating whatever she liked, dressing up however she wanted! Alas, Karma had something else in store for her. Within a year, she health corroded. Multiple hospitalizations and surgeries left her in vegetative state and at a complete mercy of the very people she had wronged.

On one of the rare occasions that Alekhya gained consciousness, she looked into her daughter-in-law’s eyes, held her hand and said, “I know I have done a lot of mistakes in my life, please forgive me.” Gopi, looked at her, without much emotions and held her mother-in-law’s hands, not giving away the pain and hurt and loathing that she felt at the particular moment. She also felt pity at the elderly, wrinkled mass of skin and bones but not forgiveness.

Life had come full-circle!

****

Disclaimer – Based on true life events. Certain details of Alekhya’s life has been modified taking literary liberty.

To Read About Gopi’s Angst, Click Here

Taunts

Posted on: July 12, 2011

“Did you read this today?” asked Rahil, “Men need to cuddle and women need sex to be happy in a relationship.” He was referring to the latest research outcome reported in the newspaper. “Really, hun?” he smirked at his wife, Sati. Sati’s face crumbled with embarrassment.

She was timid and more docile when it came to the physical intimacy with her husband, even a year after their marriage. But his regular taunts were getting on her nerves. It wasn’t that she was not interested or was frigid by any mean. She had a healthy libido but somehow Rahil could not just arouse her. She could not help it!

But enough was enough… she looked at her husband and smiled like never before. Rahil could sense the difference and was taken aback. Something was changed in Sati suddenly. Sensuality oozed from Sati, her kohled black eyes, her big red kumkum bindi, her long loose hair, her sari draped lithe body… everything seemed different. This was not Sati he was used to. He was a bit scared at the transformation. Sati moved towards Rahil with a grace of a tigress. She came and sat on Rahil’s lap and started muttering sweet nothings in his ears. Rahil could hear blood pounding in his own ears. He sat there dumb struck. Sati went about the task at hand. What ensued was beyond Rahil’s wildest imagination. He was taken to heaven and back and then back to heaven again. Sati did not wait for Rahil to take her anywhere, she took Rahil with her. The journey started tentatively and became more adventurous as they went ahead. Sati looked at her exhausted husband and his shocked, idiotic smile. He did not know what hit him but he was not complaining at all. Sati gathered her clothes, went to wash room and smiled; a satisfied, triumphant smile; at her own reflection. She could see Rahil, spent and sprawled on their bed. She half turned and smirked at the sorry figure he cut.

She looked at her reflection in the mirror again, redone her smudged kumkum bindi and murmured “Sorry Jay, but I could not take the taunts any longer. Hope you understand.” With that she was gone to her daily chores and called out to her husband to come and finish his breakfast.

Yes

Posted on: February 21, 2011

“Why are you not ready yet?” shouted Meenu’s mother with irritation. Meenu’s eyes welled up yet again. She was going to be subjected to the torture once again. She went into her room and stood in front of the mirror to assess herself, which she did a lot more often these days.

What she saw was not comforting, especially just minutes before the prospective groom’s arrival. She heaved a deep sigh and started getting ready for the circus. She took out a mustard coloured kurti with crimpson patyala salwaar and crimson dupatta with golden border. It was a beautiful dress and accentuated her pleasingly plump frame. She put a small red bindi between her well shaped eyebrows, applied a little lipstick and let her beautiful, dark, long tresses loose. She appraised her reflection in the mirror again and smiled a bit. “Not bad”, she thought.

As soon as her mother saw her, annoyance showed on her face again.

“How many times have I told you not to wear such bright clothes! Look at your colour…” she scoffed her off.

Meenu tried not to be perturbed, and in any case, this was not the first time that she was ridiculed by her mother. She always sought her mother’s approval and the quest continued in adulthood, though in vain. She stood there with downcast eyes which made her mother even more irritated.

“Now just don’t stand on my head and hope that this man likes you else…” her voice trailed off as she rushed to open the door. Her mother’s voice modulated to a sweet melody as she received the guests.

Meenu knew the routine by now. She had to wait till she was called for and go with downcast eyes and not to speak much. She sighed again and looked up as if asking God, why he had chosen her for such torture. She shook her head in resignation.

She used to be such a happy child. Her mother was always like this but her father loved her a lot. He used to make up for all the hurt her mother bestowed upon her. He never compared her with anyone. He loved her as she was and she basked under his love. She was an intelligent child too, did well in school and went on to become an engineer. Her father was ecstatic when she won gold medals in university examinations. Her mother was hard to please though. She could never come to love her. She chided her father for his affection for their ugly duckling.

“All these medals and certificate will not help in marrying her off!” Meenu had heard this line so many times that it lost its edge, so to speak. Her father would kindly smile or wink or make faces after her mother to make her smile. It was also his way of telling her that don’t take her seriously, you are doing fine. And her heart would swell with love for her father. He would hug her and they would go on to discuss something about current affairs or politics or something silly as which boy was after which girl in the college or how stupid boys were! They would laugh together and her mother’s venomous words would be drowned in their love.

Meenu was awakened from her reverie by her mother’s harsh voice.

“What are you doing standing like a wooden doll?” Meenu smirked at the word “doll” and followed her mother to the lounge.

Even though she was told to keep her eyes downcast, she stole a look at the prospective groom and she froze in her track. Was this a joke? Had he not seen her picture before coming over (she no longer looked at the pictures since she thought it was a futile exercise)? What was the problem with him?

Her heart started beating faster. He looked like a Greek God to her. He was fair and handsome, polite and soft spoken. She cursed herself for not looking at his biodata. She hoped he was not just good looking. As she was floating in the air, her eyes fell on her mother and her jeering look brought her down on earth. She looked at the man in front of her and compared herself with him mentally.

“What is point of coming here and mocking me? One look at me and he will be out of this house. Why insult a girl like that?”

But by the look of it, he was still having polite conversation with her father and stealing looks too. He did not seem like he is going to run away. Their eyes met and he smiled softly at her. Meenu’s pulse quickened and she blushed. His smile broadened at her discomfort.

“Did he make out that I am blushing? Oh come on, Meenu, whom are you kidding? With your colour? Keep your feet firmly on the ground.” she reprimanded herself mentally.

She was startled when she heard her name. He was standing and she knew the meeting was over. As usual she was rejected because she did not fall in the conventional category of being beautiful. No one noticed her delicate features, beautiful coal lined eyes or long, flowing dark hair. No one was interested in her intelligence. It did not matter that she was witty and could make a guy laugh till tears ran down his cheeks. It did not matter how beautiful she was from inside. All that mattered was that she was chubby and dark. She had all the qualities to make a good wife, she had it in herself to turn a house into home, but no one was bothered about it. Her eyes welled up again and she sat there with her head bowed.

She was startled again at her mother’s sweet voice calling her and she looked up to see that he was still standing and looking at her with a quizzical look on his face.

“Shall we?” he asked. She was bewildered as to what was going on. She looked at her father and he smiled at her with his usual soft smile. “Go, talk to him” he nudged her towards him.

More that surprised, she was shocked at the turn of events. “He really wants to talk to me? ME?” she could not believe it but here she was, following him in their garden to find a suitable place to talk.

What followed was unbelievable to her. She could not believe her luck. They talked as if they knew each other always. They seem to share common tastes in music, books and even food. It seemed like a fairytale to her, too good to be true!

“I think I am fine with this match. What do you think?” he asked her. She could not believe her ears. When she did not reply, he went on.

“I can understand if you do not want to answer right away. You do need to sort out by yourself if you would want to spend your entire life with a stranger. A stranger who has a three year old paraplegic daughter!”

In the last two minutes, this was the second time that she could not believe her ears. What did he just say? A three year old paraplegic daughter?

He was saying something and stopped in mid sentence when he saw her shocked face.

“You knew about my daughter, didn’t you? I had told your parents at the off-set.”

She was no longer with him.

She wanted to look into her father’s eyes just once before saying yes.

Storm

Posted on: January 30, 2011

It was as if a volcano had erupted and she was burnt alive. The scars were not visible but they were there and quite deep. She was so shaken that not a single tear was shed.

There was not a single place in this house where her mother had not left her fragrance. Zeenat remembered her soft hugs and her vibrant smile, her constant chatter and love-filled anger. Zeenat knew and so did everyone else that Zeenat was her mother’s universe. As Zeenat grew up she became more of a friend to her mother than a daughter. Lately Zeenat had started teasing her mother about the glow on her face and twinkle in her eyes. She would blush like a young maiden and then they would both giggle.

How she missed her mother!

Suddenly Zeenat felt extremely lonely. Now that the relatives had also gone, the house seemed like a haunted place. It was only her dad and her. Zeenat was never felt close to her father and now that the bond that tied them together was gone, she felt even more alienated. Zeenat felt a pressing need to be with her mother. With trembling hands Zeenat opened the box in which she kept all the cards and little gifts her mother had ever given her. She spread them all on her bed and hugged them as if she was hugging her mother. Zeenat opened them one by one and revisited each event with the most precious person of her life.

While going through her treasure Zeenat came across a sealed envelop with no name on it. Not only was she surprised but a little scared too! She opened the envelop with trembling hands and thumping heart. She was not wrong; the letter was indeed from her mother!

“My Dearest Bunny,

I know you will find this letter sooner than later.

I want you to know that I love you very much. You are my daughter, my friend and my confidante. Since you came in my life, this life felt like worth living. You filled colours and laughter in my mundane existence. You gave me reason to look forward to evenings when you would be back from your classes. When your friends came over our place and complimented our friendship, how proud I felt! That time was very nice and I felt blessed.

Then one day he came in my life and life looked even better to me. He was everything your father was not. In his presence I felt alive, I felt myself. Do you remember, you said one day that I sang well? Baby, I always sung well but I had forgotten that I could. He made me realize what all I had lost in all those years being wife to a person who did not even acknowledge my existence. If it would not have been for you I would not even have lived this long. I know that what I did would never be acceptable in our society. But it felt just right.

Everything felt just right and suddenly one day you saw us together when you came home unexpectedly. I know you saw us together. You went away and did not even ask me anything. You tried your level best not to show it on your face, but I did see confusion and hurt there. I wanted to talk to you but did not have courage to look into your eyes, did not know what to say.

I think I will never be able to look into your eyes. I don’t know if it feels such a right thing when I am with him, why I feel so miserable when I think of facing you. I do not have answers but I am sure that I will never be able to face you. At the same time, now I can not imagine my life without him. I can not choose between the two of you. So, to end this misery I will have to go.

Please forgive me.

Ma

P.S. I love you very much.

Zeenat kept staring at the paper in her hand. Slowly tears started trickling down her cheeks and turned into a storm. She felt as if her heart was being crushed. She crumpled the letter and hugged it tight as if her life depended on it.

“Ma, if only you knew how happy I was for you!”

fiction_stamp2Kumud was excited about Achinta’s engagement. She and Achinta were friends ever since she could remember. She was a single child and so was Achinta. But they never missed having a sibling. They were like soul mates. “Bestest” friends, as Kumud likes to put it! Everyone was surprised when Kumud got married to Aunurag. It was assumed, even by their families, that Kumud and Achinta would marry. They rolled their eyes in unison on this assumption. Kumud easily moulded herself in her role as a wife. But Achinta always remained her best friend. Aunurag too accepted Achinta as a part of their family. So when Kumud called him about Achinta’s impending engagement Aunurag too smiled ear to ear. Kumud’s excitement was contagious.

As much as Kumud wanted to meet “the girl” before Achinta was officially fastened to her, she could not meet her till the day of engagement. When Kumud saw Achinta on the day of engagement clad in the traditional Bengali dress, standing tall and looking handsome than ever; her heart swell with love for her dearest friend. She almost ran to him and gave a bear hug. Both their families laughed at this childish display of affection. In all the merriment nobody noticed the shadow coming down on “the girl’s” face. Achinta introduced the two most important ladies of his life to each other. Kumud hugged Kakoli with equal enthusiasm and kept on chattering. In all her felicity, she did not notice that Kakoli was not sharing her exuberance.

*****

“Oye, what time are you coming for barbecue this Sunday?” enquired Kumud, as usual.

“Can’t, yaar. Kakoli is coming down for her shopping this weekend.”

“Aha… Dating-wating ‘n’ all, hun?” teased Kumud good-naturedly and both burst out laughing.

“Hey, why don’t you both come down once you are done shopping? I don’t think we will wind up party before 12. What say?”

“Let me see. I think we will be able to make it. Catch you on Sunday.”

*****

“Oye, sun yaar, I think we won’t be able to make it after all. Kakoli is having severe headache and she wants to turn in early since tomorrow early morning she has to go back to her place. Sorry buddy.”

“No problem… hopes she gets well soon. Hug her on my behalf”Kumud replied understandingly.

*****

This was two months back. In these two months Achinta’s visits to Kumud’s place reduced drastically. Their phone conversations, too, dipped. She complained about this to Aunurag, to which he just smiled and told her that it’s natural. She smiled a wistful smile. She hated Achinta’s absence, actual and virtual!

Kumud had expected to become friends with Kakoli too but Kakoli kept her at arm’s distance. There was this nagging feeling of unease when all four of them were together. The usual chatter and coziness were gone. Polite conversation took place of teasing. Achinta was the same when he was alone but the change was evident when the pair was together. He was not at home when he now came to their place.

As Achinta’s marriage date was neared a feeling of dread fell upon Kumud. She feared losing her best friend. She kept this feeling to herself but she knew in heart of her heart that it was inevitable. It was decided earlier that Kumud will be Achinta’s “best-woman” at his wedding. But that was before Kakoli came into picture. Now she was not so sure. Also Achinta had not mentioned it recently.

The duo came to invite Kumud and Aunurag for the wedding. The invitation was as formal as it can get. While handing over the card, Kumud’s and Achinta’s eyes held for a few seconds; Kumud’s eyes brimming with tears of losing her “bestest” friend, Achinta’s eyes brimming with silent apology.

fiction_stamp2“Come on, yaar! I think when one is older the need of a spouse is even more. Be it a man or a woman.” Pankti remembered her own words when she had vehemently defended elderly remarriage among her group.

“What if, God forbid, your father was to do the same? What will be your reaction then? Pankti, it is one thing to talk about something and other when you actually have to follow it!” Krish had argued.

“No, I will always be at my dad’s side if he chooses to remarry after my mother!” She had replied strongly. The discussion went on and ended without a consensus. That was about two decades ago.

Pankti had never, ever thought that she would have to take such a decision in her life. The only difference was that the decision was to be taken for her mother instead of father. Why call it a decision? Her mother had given her a choice… a choice for her mother’s life!

Of course, Pankti was not averse to the idea. Or was she?

Why, then, since she has heard of it is she so upset?

Were her debates and the talks of (elderly) remarriage just empty talks? No. And, anyways, who was talking about marriage here? They just have decided to stay together, a few days at her mom’s place and a few days at “his” place.

“Then what’s your problem?” She asked herself.

Though she was still not comfortable with the whole idea, she had agreed to meet with “the man” whom her mother thought was a “very nice person” and “she would love to meet him”!

As the duo approached him, pankti was increasingly feeling nervous. She looked at her mother and could make out that she too was not in her usual chirpy mood. Pankti went into a kind of a shock when she met Mr. Shah.  He was not at all what she had conjured up in her mind. He was a slight man with a pleasant personality and slowly she became comfortable in his company.

“What did you expect, idiot!!” She reprimanded herself. “He is supposed to be 65 years old, about your mother’s age.”

But his grey cells were nowhere near 65 years… he was a jovial man and well versed too. Slowly Pankti relaxed and forgot how apprehensive she was before coming here. And she looked at her mother, her smile was worth anything.

Later that night when she was thinking about Mahadeve i.e. Mr. Shah, she realized that she never had any problem with her mother being friends or more with anybody. But she was afraid of how the other person might turn out to be. It was as if she was thinking about her child’s matrimony and not her mother’s!

Today when she endorsed their friendship with a smile she truly felt she had become her mother’s mother!! 🙂

fiction_stamp2Khyaati woke up with a start. She tried to get up but slumped down due to excruciating pain in her left leg and she was hurting all over too. She was disoriented and didn’t remember what happened and where was she. She tried to focus around her but couldn’t recognize her surroundings but could make out that it was some sort of a hospital. She just lied there and tried to remember something, anything but she couldn’t come up with anything. As if a part of her was erased from her life! A grumpy, middle aged woman came to her and gave some sort of a shot in the tube that was running in her right hand. She remembered that she was with Kenshuk on her honeymoon. But how did she come here? What happened to her and why was Kenshuk not with her? So many questions clouded her mind. She wanted to ask the nurse about herself; what had happened to her, how did they get her here? But she couldn’t form the words. She lay there and closed her eyes. She dozed off again.

*****

She heard a lot of hushed voices and she tried to open her eyes. There she saw Kenshuk and tried to smile. There were worried lines on his face as he stood there listening to somebody who seemed to be a doctor in his white apparel. She tried to call him but she couldn’t talk. Her eyelids felt very heavy as if somebody had put a lot weight on them. She dozed off again.

*****

She opened her eyes and saw Kenshuk sitting besides her reading something. Her mom and dad and in-laws were all there. She tried to look around but her neck hurt a lot. The room was different. Kenshuk saw her and was on his feet at once. He ran to call the doctor and within a moment the room was abuzz with a lot of activity.

*****

She wanted to know a lot of things. But right now she was just pampered. The aches and pains were getting duller and she seemed to be her old self again. But she felt something amiss since she didn’t know what had happened or how the accident occurred. About two months were erased from her life when she was in coma and nobody was willing to fill in for her. Today she was to be discharged and was very happy to go home after so long. Once at home she pestered Kenshuk about the accident and why only she was affected. What happened? How come there were a lot of stitches around her private parts and also on her hands and legs. There were a lot of questions and now she needed the answers. Kenshuk finally snapped.

“You were raped!!”

Damn, he didn’t want to sound so rude. He had rehearsed it umpteenth time in his mind. The words didn’t sink in at first. Kenshuk covered the distance between them in a stride and held his wife with all the love and affection he had for her. He had thought of this moment and thought he was prepared for it. But he was wrong. He just held her as she broke down in his arms. Suddenly she felt a lot of emotions; anger, shame, furious rage, guilty and much more… with in a few minutes. She didn’t know what to feel and how was she going to face herself. Once she stopped crying Kenshuk told her how she was found in a dump at the side road from where she was taken to the local hospital and the rest was history. Her family had tried their level best, pulled the necessary strings and the case of rape was not lodged with the local police and they were able to get her to her hometown. She felt numb, didn’t know what to think, how to respond! She stayed there in Kenshuk’s arms for God only knows how long. She felt blessed for her husband and the family. The next morning was the worst. Everything started closing down on her. She couldn’t look in her mother-in-law’s eyes. Had she tried she would have found more love than ever. She couldn’t understand her own behaviour. She was also angry at her violator and her family too for letting him (or them) scot-free to ruin some one else’ life. She was angry with God too. She was angry with Kenshuk for being so understanding. She hated her being. She knew it wasn’t her fault but still she felt the way she felt!!!

*****

She looked at her 7 year old and felt blessed. The horrid incidence is far behind her. She has come to terms with the life with lot of love from her family and a great psychiatric help. She still doesn’t trust people around her baby completely. But she tries, tries hard not to become paranoid. She has battled the demons in her own way and she has won most of them.


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Sakhi's Laghukatha by Sakhi (aka Dr. Dhara Shah) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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