Monday, May 16, 2011

The Bride-to-be

She sat on the bed. The phone clutched in her hand. Twice she had dialed the number, then disconnected it before it rang. Her hands trembled and her heart fluttered. Was she right? Should she? She closed her eyes.

She was getting married in two months. And yet there was no trace of happiness on her face. No blushing bride coy smiles. It was not because she had to go to work. No. She stayed home. Idle. Whiling away time. Hoping that she would be able to spend time with her family before she would finally go off to her husband’s house. Her husband who was her Boyfriend of six years.

She had left her job because he had asked her to. He stayed in Paris and he had wanted her to come stay with him. She did. Without thinking of anything but the joy of being with him, she complied. Went to Paris. Stayed with him for three months.

What did she remember of her stay in Paris?
That from dawn to dusk he would pound away on his laptop following the Cricket World Cup, as well as watching the same on TV? That the day was punctuated with ‘Make breakfast’, ‘Make lunch’, ‘Make tea’, ‘U r growing fat’, ‘U have become shapeless’, ‘Why don’t u go for a walk?’? Or that the nights she spent with him started and ended with his needs? That there never was a ‘You are beautiful’ phrase escaping his mouth even while he was inside her, grating and grinding against her bruised womanhood?

What did she remember of her stay in Paris?
That whatever she wore was ‘Ugly’? That whatever she cooked was ‘not like what Mum makes’? That the man she had fallen in love with was an insecure, pathetic negative person? That while he had promised to send her back in 3 weeks, he kept her with him for 3 months? That every day she was with him, she loathed him most of the time?

But what did she remember most of her stay in Paris?
That she cried copiously every time he hurt her with his indifference? That she delighted in the admiring glances other men gave her, while she was sulking because he had passed some more snide comments on her appearance, and she had believed him? That every time he remembered her existence and claimed her body, she deceived herself with the comforting that he would be marrying her? That the only time they actually sat down across each other and talked was when he had disagreed with her religious convictions.

She thought of the first time they had met. 

At a party.  He had been intoxicated by her vivaciousness and vitality. He had stalked her for six months until finally she had said yes. Gleefully they had rushed straight into love. When her parents forced her to marry someone they had chosen, he had cried and cried, but not faced her father. That should have warned her. That he would never stand up for her. That he did not have the guts to fight against the world for the woman he loved. And yet she let him smother her in his embraces.
Slowly there were things that he made her change. His possessiveness meant she had to stop going out with her friends unless she had told him of her plans in advance. Gradually they started spending more and more time with each other. She welcomed the change but felt stifled at times. Yet her love for him blinded her to the sacrifices she was being made to give. Her opinion began to be ignored. Every decision was his now. Even when he decided to tell her of his plans to do his MBA from abroad, she had not known until one week before his departure. He had not thought it important to discuss with her! That should have been the second warning sign. Yet, she, the fool, ignored it. Silenced the alarm bells ringing within her mind.

Now six years later, he had told his parents about her. Their dowry demands were huge. But her parents could not afford so much. He should have understood. She had already told him of her family’s condition before they had talked about marriage. So she saw no reason for them to demand so much dowry. She expected him to stand up and fight. But like earlier, he did not. He hounded her asking why her family could not afford such a ‘meagre’ sum. Never once did he ask her about her family’s health or her fears before marriage. Never about whether she would be comfortable in being attired in saris all the time, a contrast to her undying love of western clothes. Even at her own house, she had not worn anything other than jeans or skirts. She hadn’t complained. Just taken it in her stride. The fact that she would be sitting idle even after having done Post-Graduation. She had silently agreed to be a part of a family that would not understand her love for painting or writing. She had agreed, to follow his footsteps. Wherever they would lead her. As long as he was with her, she would put up with anything.

What a Fool she was.

It didn’t work like that. These past 3 months after the parents had talked, discussed, negotiated and finally agreed to marry for whatever her parents were ready to give her, had gone by in a continuous haze of daily fights and crying sessions. How could someone who promised to take care of her like ‘a flower in my palms’ become so insensitive to her feelings? He was revolted by her. She could hear the disgust in his voice every time they talked.  Why?
Now she had had enough. Yesterday he had gone so far to say that he would have to rethink. Rethink what? The marriage decision? So all those nights and days that she had given herself upto him had not mattered! All those six years of erasing a part of her life, her desires, her independence, her vital spirit, inch by inch, had not mattered! If only she had put a stop earlier. Before she had got emotionally attached. She couldn't even look at another man, forget forging a new relationship in her life. And all the grief she had given her parents, with her stubborn insistence on marrying him. With what face could she go back and explain to them?

She had had enough. It would have to end.

Now she sat on the bed. Crying silent tears of Shame, Anger, Frustration. She picked up the phone ‘Rohan, I want to end this relationship. It is not working out. I cannot marry you like this. I call off this marriage.’
At the other end, Rohan exclaimed ’Not another of your nautankis, now. I’m not in the mood. Stop irritating me with all your bullshit…………’

She didn’t hear anymore. She couldn’t. 
She was busy.
Hanging from the ceiling fan. Blue, Grey and Mottled.



Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weight of Sorrow


Oh,
To have this sadness tied around my neck.
Pulling at my tendons 
until 
I’m broken into two.
Snap. 
Into two.
If I could just 
pin it to this roadside,
much like a milestone on a highway.
If I could just pin it down here
and 
never have to pass by it again.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Mirage

With my broken wings,
I glide.
Seeking what I would 
never find -
Shelter in your arms.
The dust that my butterfly wings
left on your heart,
You wash away, nonchalant.
Crawling, Dragging, 
Seeking what I would 
never find -
Love in your eyes.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Memories of a Rain-Drenched Mind

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 20; the twentieth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

I look up at the sky. Pregnant with rain. Grey, Dark, Angry. Ravan with his ten heads. Or Kanhaiyya the Dark-one. Or Yama, God of Death Himself. I smile. Open the window to let in the Wet-Earth smell. I want to eat that mud. That musty-smelling wet-earth. Oh, when will Anuj be back? I must sit here. Wait for him. I could have had something to eat, but If I go, and if he comes just then, I would miss his arrival, n then I would get to talk to him only at night when the household sleeps. I cannot wait till then. I want to be able to rush out to him as soon as I see him at the gate. Rush out. Inspite of the rain. Into his arms. And tell him I’m pregnant. No-one but Anuj must know first. Oh agonizing hours of endless wait! Impossible. I cannot but, sit here. Now the rain falls. Plip. Plip. Plop. Plop. It falls, slowly at first. Then getting berated, n soon in a frenzy, now it pounds against the pane. It is soothing, somehow. This mad incessant rain, trying to get at me.
                                                                    ***
‘Here, Darling. See, what I brought! Your favorite sweets. Rasmalai n Gulab jamuns. Don’t u want to eat them.’ Father prattles on, while Mother dabs at her red-rimmed eyes with the end of her pallu. They come waddling in everyday. Sometimes, Father spends the night with me. Sometimes Mother. I still refuse to fall asleep. Instead, sitting by the window, I wait. They coax me, lure me away from this seat saying that Anuj stays far far away. And will take many days to come. That he is busy with his work, yet sends me these sweets to Father and Mother to give them to me. So I eat. Bite into the luscious Jamuns n let the Rasmalais leave sticky trails on my chin. Until they call the Woman in white to jab at my arm. Just a pricking jab and I drift into welcoming Blackness. Daily jabs and daily Drifts.
                                                                    ***
Today again it is a different house. It is white. Stark white. The walls are white. The windows too.  And the humming machines. Strumming. Humming. Sometimes it is the old blue and yellow house I grew up in. Sometimes the gardened, orcharded cottage I lived in as a bride. The only constant memories I have are all of rain-filled days and nights. Funny. That it should rain all year round. While I hesitated to lower my feet onto the squelchy ground, on my first visit to Anuj’s house. My red and gold sari blushing at the spots where the rain fell. While Anuj’s mother ushered me in, cooing throughout the ceremony, the rain lashed against the cars and the trees and the footwear and the paper decorations. While I lay with Anuj for the first time, legally, as his wife, trembling in the memories of our rain-filled passionate outburst the week before. Anuj’s wonder-filled eyes and then hazy-lazy lusty eyes. How I remember all those details so clearly!?! Of the week before and of that night. Both. When the raindrops glistened on my belly, toes, fingers, nose. How Anuj licked away each one. The steam that arose from our bodies that night and the next and the next and the next. But to have come to these lonely nights, Oh!
                                                                    ***
Father shakes his head. Another man has come a-visiting now. With his mouth smelling of tetanus injections. I don’t know what that smells like. But that is all I can think of when he speaks to me. Rusty smelling tetanus injections.
‘There is no rain outside, Paromita. See? There is no rain!!!!!’, he says peering at me.
I deny and gesticulate and explain myself. How can he say there is no rain?
‘Look outside. Here. Here. Don’t you see these drops on my hand? See how my face is dripping wet. Smell. The smell. Can’t u smell the wet-earth? And my wet hair too.’
I cry.
‘Don’t tell me it isn’t raining. It is. It is.’
‘Look Paromita, read this. Read this please. And come back to us. There is no rain. Come back to us from wherever you are.’ Mother thrusts the yellowed newspaper cuttings into my clenched fists. Another rain from her eyes falls on my hands, and the pieces of paper. Folded and Refolded many times.
It seems familiar. This heading. These letters. This print. Oh Yes, Anuj had spilled his tea on a newspaper with the same heading.  Twice in a row. While his Mother admonished him, like a child, I had giggled in the corner much to his chagrin.

I read aloud. 

The Madhopur Daily.
‘Man Dies in Road Accident.
Last night, while returning home from work, Anuj Bannerjee died in a road accident. He was 25 years old and lived at Nilayan Estates, Madhopur. He is survived by his Mother and 22 years old Pregnant Wife. Anuj was driving on the dark patch of road between Madhopur and Janasgram when he was hit by an oncoming truck. Readers might recall that the Local MP, Narain Babu has been lobbying for this particular stretch to be lighted up. The ambulance reached the site only after 4 hours, during which time, Anuj slowly asphyxiated to death wedged between the window and the steering wheel. It is believed that the dark road coupled with the dangerous driving conditions due to the heavy rains yesterday is believed to have been the cause of the fateful incident.’

‘Do you remember this, Paromita? Tell us what you know.’ the man asks.
‘Of course I do.' I reply. 'Poor woman. His wife. I must go to see her. Console her perhaps. Oh Mother, see the rain has started again. I’m fed up of waiting for Anuj to come home. Before his mother smothers him, I must be the first one to tell him of this good news. Oh Mother, look, look there is the rain hammering against the window.’
In the window pane glass, I see the shimmery ghost-like reflections of Mother, Father and the Tetanus-Injections-breathed man all shaking their heads together. Father muttering '6 months. 6 long suffering months it has been since the accident and the miscarriage and yet, and yet...' He breaks down.


I turn towards the rain; Feel it caressing my face and hands, while I wait for Anuj to come home.
The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.


Credits

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Defeat

This cloud of your Love,
Your so called Passion
Suffocates me.
Gags me.
I want to pierce 
this Mouldy lid
this Fungus shell around me.
But time and again,
I am taken in by
your Lies.
Your False Promises.
Everytime I gather the strength to break free,
you Defeat me
with Saccharine.