That Extra She
That Extra She
Zindagi ke raaste ajeeb hai...
Is mein is tarah chala na keejiye...
The lyrics became faint as Nandita was entangling her future with her past. She was enacting various scenes in her mind. The scenes which could have been better. The scenes which can worsen further. The scenes were vaguely based on her past incidents and future apprehensions. Abstracted, she tried to cut the peeled potato into pieces but cut her fingers instead. She suddenly came back to reality from her make-believe world and suck her fingers to stop the blood.
Bekarar karke humein yun na jaaiye..
Aapko humari kasam laut aaiye...
The lyrics became loud and clear once again. Nandita turned off the Bluetooth speaker as she was no longer in a mood to enjoy songs. She instantly decided to order the lunch for today and moreover, it has been over two months that she had her favorite pizza. She ordered herself a pizza and switched on the T.V. She switched from one channel to another but could not find anything suitable to watch. Irritated, she switched off the T.V.
A few minutes later, the doorbell rang and the pizza delivery boy was standing at the doorstep.
Nandita did not have change so she handed over a rupees two-thousand note. The delivery boy did not have coins and he had to return one-thousand two-hundred and eighty-six rupees. He requested Nandita if she can give six rupees change. Nandita suddenly got slightly annoyed.
“Yes! But you should have brought it.”
“Actually madam, most of them pay using a card.”
“Just because I do not have a debit or credit card, I should refrain from ordering a pizza at home. Right?”
The confusion was the evident answer if asked what was the expression on the delivery boy's face. He was not sure why this lady was overreacting.
Meanwhile, Nandita gave him six rupees change and the payment was settled. He went away and she closed the door behind her. She sat on the dining table to enjoy her pizza. She took the first bite of the cheese burst pizza and suddenly threw it out because it was too hot to eat. Suddenly, she felt a churning in her stomach. She was feeling uncomfortable. Tears suddenly were rolling down her cheeks. She pushed aside the plate and went to the washbasin to splash water on her face. There was this hurricane of emotions inside her but she did not know how to deal with it.
She wiped her face and sat quietly on the sofa. She was tired because she was suffering from insomnia since few months. She checked her phone – no messages, no notifications. She thought of calling Punit. Punit disconnected her call as he was in a meeting. Nandita thought Punit was avoiding her. She again dialed his number but cut the call after two-three rings. She was not sure if Punit even wanted to talk to her. She was worried as she thought that Punit might be with a divorce lawyer.
Their married life was going through a huge storm due to infidelity and because Punit was at fault, she thought that he would discontinue this marriage and move in with Tanima. Tanima was Nandita's first cousin and a girl in her early 20s. Suddenly, a five-months-old memory came floating in her mind. The memory still haunted her. She could not really forget the day on which she crashed against the wall and hurt herself. She still felt the pain as fresh as yesterday.
One year back, Tanima came to Hyderabad for the first time. Tanima and Nandita had good rapport since childhood so Tanima thought of visiting Nandita and her husband Punit in Hyderabad.
Punit is a friendly person and Tanima too is .e by nature. Both shared a bittersweet friendship as in-laws. As Tanima was in town, Punit planned a trip to Anantagiri Hills, approximately 79 km from Hyderabad. The trio had a great day and Tanima wanted to explore one more place before leaving for Kolkata. She came here for a week and wanted to explore as much possible.
“Aapka hukoom sar aakhon par! we will go to Warangal this weekend”, Punit said.
Tanima grinned and Nandita frowned. She was not liking the rapport between Punit and Tanima. Her growing insecurities made her dislike Tanima. She wanted her cousin to leave soon.
The weekend arrived and Nandita's insecurities touched new heights. She was constantly keeping an eye on Tanima and Punit. Tanima's cheerful personality was the most attractive characteristics in her, followed by her brown hairs which tumbled over her shoulders, perfectly complementing her beige-colored skin. She had forward helix piercing and a dandelion tattoo on one of her wrists. She had a kind of charm that could attract men and Nandita was scared to lose Punit. Her increasing suspicions also led her to check Punit's phone the previous night but she failed to get any clue.
Saturday it was and the trio was ready for Warangal. Punit hired a car and they started their journey. They spent a night in Warangal and came back by Sunday night. The weekend was over and Monday had come. Tanima had a flight to Kolkata in the evening and Punit assured his sister-in-law that he would come home and drop her to the airport. Tanima expected Nandita to accompany her but Nandita did not show much interest.
Tanima reached Kolkata and Punit also got back home at night after finishing the remaining work at the office. When Punit got back home, he saw Nandita who was evidently upset.
“What happened Nandu? You look so sad.”
“One month back when I told you that I wanted you to come home early because I felt like watching a movie, you did not turn up. Today, you left your work mid-way and went to the airport?”
“What are you talking about?”
Punit was shocked. He knew where it was going.
“Don't act like you don't understand anything”, said a visibly upset Nandita.
“You need to take rest dear and free yourself from these suspicious thoughts.”
“Or you need to free yourself from this marriage?”
Punit kept mum. He looked at her affectionately. He came closer to her and cupped her face.
“Darling, everything is going to be okay. I love you.”
“Let me check your phone.”
“What happened bachcha? You look so tense.”
Nandita was vexed. Without wasting a minute, he gave his phone to her.
After an argument that lasted for about thirty minutes, both had their supper and went to sleep.
Days turned into months and Nandita's health did not seem to get better. She has been getting into depression and anxiety. Day by day, Punit was trying his best to keep her happy but Nandita thought that Punit is cheating on her and that is the sole reason, he is trying to be extra nice to her.
One day, Punit forgot his phone and went to the office. He took a colleague's phone and informed Nandita that he reached office safely and that he will be late today. Nandita knew his phone's password and this was a golden opportunity for her to clarify her doubts. She browsed through her WhatsApp, Messenger, text Message and gallery.
Twenty minutes later, she found herself crying in a fetal position. She was shattered. She was broken. She cried uncontrollably that day. A few minutes later, she went to the washroom but as she did not have her lunch and was under emotional turmoil, she felt weak and fell crashing against the wall and hurt herself.
Suddenly, her phone rang and she saw Punit calling. Nandita was back to reality again and received his call.
“Sorry! I was in a meeting sweetheart.”
“Did I ask?”
“I know you are angry.”
“Does that matter to you Punit?”
“Bye!” and Nandita hung up. She still could not forgive Punit for cheating on her.
Punit got worried and came early from Office.
Punit was somewhat used to this tone of his wife. He could not even share why he could not receive her call. He refrained himself from sharing any work-related matters with her. He knew how career-oriented his wife was. She aspired to complete her executive MBA in HR from any of the leading B-schools after 5 years completion of her career in IT. But towards the end of almost four years completion and just after marriage, she was not able to lead a balanced life. Moreover, increasing workload, high stress and lack of appreciation were making her lose interest in the job. She thought of quitting this job and wanted to make a move. She was trying to get a switch with better hike and opportunities. But her stars were not favoring her. Tired of increasing workload and rejections in interviews, she finally thought of quitting the job and started her preparations for MBA entrance examinations. But leaving a job can get you landed up into depression soon. For the first few days,
Nandita used to call and text a few of her previous coworkers. She used to wonder what she would be doing in office now had she not quit her job. It was a real lack of reconciliation for her ego and mind. She thought that her job did not care to have her back. Soon, the absence of financial independence, that is, stoppage of the constant flow of money at first place made her regret her decision.
Seeing the current growth of her fellow friends in different sectors of life and comparing it with her life, she gradually befriended anxiety and depression. This impacted her MBA entrance examinations and she had to be under constant observations and medications. She could not continue her MBA entrance preparations but her husband was very supportive of her.
Punit made her understand that health is of utmost importance. Punit suggested her to join Yoga Classes but she refused to follow this. Punit advised her to read good books that could divert her in some way or the other, but that also could not be followed. Punit even suggested gardening or knitting as hobbies because Nandita liked these but nothing helped. She was losing focus. She was losing interest in hobbies she loved or liked once.
Slowly, she started thinking lowly of herself. The depression was entering her crevices. She lost confidence in herself. She formed insecurities of her own and always was suspicious of Punit and doubted the foundations of their marriage.
Returning from his chain of thoughts, Punit thought of making two cups of strong coffee.
A few minutes later, he entered the bedroom only to see her sitting cross-legged. He went closer to her and caressed her brown hairs. She gave him an annoyed look and continued to focus on nothing in particular. He knew that she was just trying to avoid him. Punit placed the hot coffee on the table next to their bed and hugged Nandita from behind. She tried to free herself but he did not loosen his grip. He gently caressed her on the right cheek. He gently turned her and she was now facing him. He pulled her up and kissed her on the forehead. Though she was not much happy with him yet she reciprocated his kiss.
Maybe it was the hormones or maybe just for the sake of older times. She kissed him on his lips. Both wanted to melt in each other's arms. He made her sit on the bed and gently pulled her closer. He leaned closer to her and kissed her heart-shaped lips. She kissed him back. Their tongues were now exploring each other’s mouth. She disengaged her lips from his and looked at him with starvation in her eyes. She unbuttoned his shirt and gently removed his Prussian blue checked shirt. She lifted herself a bit and leaned over him such that his head was resting against her bosom. She pulled him closer and pushed him playfully. She started undressing and removed her top, tempting Punit to come closer. Punit came closer to her and unhooked her bra. He was about to nestle his head between her bosoms but Nandita’s phone rang. She ignored the call and pulled him closer. He kissed her ample bosom and caressed her back. But Nandita’s phone rang again. Punit insisted on taking the call. Nandita followed and answered the call. It was her mother.
“How are you beta?”
“I am fine Maa.”
“You are taking your medicines on time, right?”
Punit kissed her on her lips.
She hit him playfully on his hand.
“Maa, how are you?”
“I am fine beta”, her mother’s trembling voice replied.
“Are you crying? What happened?”
Her mother hung up. She could not bear the fact that her daughter was suffering for months.
Nandita wanted to call her again but saw her phone’s battery draining. Nandita wore her top back and left the room to find her power bank. Her phone only had a 4% charge.
While searching for the power bank, she found an ear top on a shelf, which was the shape of a three-petal flower. She found only one ear top, not a pair. It was kept on the same shelve as the power bank. Made of diamond and based on gold, it indeed was very expensive. She was surprised to see that because Tanima left for Kolkata months back and this seemed to be her jewelry. She sat down on the floor. Tears rolled down her eyes. She could not move her lips. Tears were traveling on her cheeks to reach her lips after originating from eyes. After a few minutes, Punit came out of the bedroom searching for her.
He saw her sitting on the floor.
Nandita looked at him and got up. Her untied brown hairs were caressing her cheeks. She used her fingers to tuck her hair behind her ears. The right fingers came across something on the upper cartilage of her right ear. She touched it only to realize that she had a forward helix piercing. She quickly ran towards a mirror and saw that she has piercings in both of her ears but only her right ear has an ear top. She was confused as Tanima has the same piercing. Visibly bewildered Nandita looked at Punit.
Punit came closer to her and hugged her. He held her left hand in the air only to make her see the reflection of the dandelion tattoo on her left wrist. Punit narrated the story of her first ink. He bit by bit explained to her why she inked dandelion four years back.
There is a very famous quote associated with the dandelion - Every breath is a second chance.
Most people get it inked, signifying that life is not about yesterday or tomorrow, it's about today.
A few minutes later, Punit gave Nandita her regular medicines. Those were the medicines of schizophrenia.
Punit kissed Nandita on her lips and whispered under his breath, “I hope you get better soon sweets. I hope you understand what is a reality and what is not.”