The Dutiful Wife
The Dutiful Wife9 mins 351 9 mins 351
Suhaani investigated the mirror in her bedroom, staring at her reflection.
‘We ought to have a full-length mirror in our bedroom Abhinav. That is a must for any girl. I would have to wear sarees also after we are married. You anyways have to help me tie one’, she had said, smiling, awaiting his reaction.
‘Of course, I shall help you tie one. I wouldn’t give up any chance of touching you sweetheart’, he had replied.
She was jolted back to reality by the sudden sound of thundering outside. She realized that the corners of her mouth were curved slightly upwards in a smile, remembering him. She began wrapping the nine-yard of fabric around her narrow waist, tucking it into her petticoat. She then quickly began using her fingers to separate layers of the fabric lest the different layers touch each other too early to form pleats. She had learned to do this quickly in the last two years. She knew that she would have to do it on her own now. She then moved to set her ‘palla’. Within 10 minutes she was done wearing a perfectly draped saree. She looked at the clock above noticing how quick she had become at doing this alone now. The flame-red saree shone brightly against her pale skin. OH!! He had loved red on her.
She was a pretty girl. Guys were lined up for her right from when she was in school to the days she had spent in college in Delhi and so many of them had asked her to marry her but there was only one she had wanted to get married to-Abhinav.
His memories would always bring a smile to her face. Her woolgathering was abruptly interrupted as Vikram walked into the room and told her to hurry up.’ I will go without you if you don’t hurry up. Why do you take so much time getting ready when nobody even bothers looking at you? There will be many pretty girls at the party. I really do not understand why do I have such an ugly wife. Now come out in 5 minutes or else I shall go without you.” He had stormed out of the room right after saying that.
Suhaani stood exactly where she was staring at herself in the mirror. She brought her hand near her face and gradually traced the outline of her face using her fingers. Maybe she really had become ugly now. She began applying her makeup and realized while doing so, that a couple of years ago she hardly needed any makeup but now she could not step outside without putting on layers of foundation and concealer. After all, she needed this mask if she had to face the world pretending to be a newly married couple who are besotted with each other.
She carefully applied the concealer around her neck hiding the marks left by Vikram where he had tightly gripped her neck yesterday morning digging his nails into her soft skin. It had been her fault though. It always is. She then moved to her face applying layers of this paint-like substance around the corners of her lip where there was a crimson mark left by her fall as he had pushed her against the bed. She had fallen on the floor with her cheek hitting the corner of the bed. It had started bleeding and her lip had been swollen for days. Vikram was angry at her because she had gone to her parent's place without informing him.
She ran her fingers on her soft pink lips, touching them gently. ‘You have such kissable lips and I just cannot ever get tired of kissing you.’’. ‘Jolie lips’ is what Abhinav used to say. They were at a quaint little place that served English breakfast. It was a cold January morning and they were sitting on comfortable chairs soaking in the Sun. Abhinav had tucked her feet beneath his thigh to keep her warm. He was feeding her grilled fish with mashed potatoes and every now and then he would kiss her gently when nobody was looking.
If only she had the courage to follow her heart-to stand for what she really believed in, things would have been different. She laughed at her fate. She had been dealt a bad hand. Maybe the problem wasn’t her fate but her cowardice. Her choice had been different, but she was too weak to stand up for it. She gave it up after a few months of trying. After all, parents do want the best for their children and that is what she kept telling herself. She kept repeating this to herself when she met Abhinav for the last time.
“I am tired of trying Abhinav. They will never agree to get me married to you. We come from different backgrounds. They want a rich son in law who can give their daughter a secure future. It hurts me to see them like this. They have always been the best parents anyone can ever wish for”
“I am not asking you to leave them Suhaani. I just want you to never give up on me-on me. I want you to stand for what you truly believe in and to stay strong”.
“I tried Abhi but being tried now. I am convinced that they will never agree”.
“What are you trying to say”? He asked her.
“I am trying to say that….that….that I am ready to marry someone else, someone that they like and choose for me.” She had known that she was not ready to be someone else’s, not now and maybe never.
“Are you mad? What are you saying?” said Abhinav.
“I am saying that I am no longer your Abhi.”
“You are just saying this because you feel a little weak right now. You really do not mean this. I know you can never leave me. We are meant for each other and we both knew that since the very beginning” said Abhinav
“I am sorry Abhi and I love you a lot. We were lucky that we found each other but I guess you do not always get what you wish for in life. Take care of yourself always. Bye”
She had then walked away leaving him behind fighting the urge to turn around run back straight into his arms. She had cried for days after that. Her parents kept asking her to meet guys they wanted her to consider for marriage. She used to meet them and would come back home, lock herself up in a room and would cry for hours. She had finally said yes and had agreed to marry one of these guys they had asked her to meet. She was tired of meeting one after another and her parents were confident that the boy would be good since he came from a good family. They were wealthy people, a notch above her own family. She was asked repeatedly to make things work with him and to be ready to adjust and be flexible and make them happy. He was a good match for her, they had said. After all, he was educated, came from a good family and earned enough to give her a secure future. So, it had been decided that she would soon be Mrs. Suhani Vikram Oberoi.
The day she got married to Vikram was the worst day of her life. Throughout the wedding, she kept on thinking about how good would Abhi have looked as a bridegroom. At the reception also she wondered how dapper he would have looked in this bandhgala suit and how he would have twirled her while both would have danced on the floor. She kept wondering how he would have reacted on seeing her dressed as a bride.
“At our wedding, I would wear a nice red lehenga, a Sabyasachi one with a simple chooda in my arms and a nice big nose ring adorning my face. I just can’t wait to see your reaction when you look at me like that”
“I am sure you would be the prettiest bride there ever was Suhan. You can wear whichever color lehenga you want to but beneath the kilos of fabric, I want you to wear the lingerie of my choice. It should be easy to rip off”, he had said
Even in the cacophony of sounds, all she could hear was his voice.
She was instructed not to cry too much at her wedding because her makeup would get ruined despite being waterproof, but she just could not stop crying. People around her thought that the reason behind her tears was the fact that she was leaving her parent’s house.
They had gone on their honeymoon to Paris. It had started with her husband shouting at her during the throng of tourists in Champs-Elysees. He had then pushed her aside holding her arm tightly digging his nails into her skin. They had gotten into an argument because of her accidentally brushing against some guy. He had called her a ‘cheap whore’ and commented that she liked men touching her.
Things and his behavior got worse after that. She had once got upset with him for forgetting her birthday which came once in four years. She was crying and wanted him to just hold her and tell her that he would make up for it. Vikram got agitated and shouted at her.
“You have no brain, you stupid girl. It was just a silly birthday. One more word from your mouth and I shall smash your face”, he had said.
Two long years she tried –tried to love her husband, to make her marriage work, to forget Abhi but she was tired of trying now. She felt worthless and stupid. Vikram had made sure that she felt that way. He kept saying how ashamed he was of having a wife like her. After a while, she had started believing that she was ugly, had no talent and was good for nothing. He told her how no other man would accept or stay with a girl like her and that she should be grateful that he is staying with her.
She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood-stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf. It had been a gift from Vikram. He used to give her gifts the day after hitting her and torturing her as if that would make things better. One day it would be a blue silk Hermes scarf for her to hide the strangulation marks on her neck and on another day, it would be a white LV pant-suit to hide the crimson scars on her right leg. He would no longer hit her and then give her an expensive gift to make up for that.
She picked up the knife wrapped in the scarf and shoved it into her handbag. The scarf felt a little silkier today she felt. She then got up leaving a 5000 Rs note on the table. She was feeling a little generous today. She then pulled down the white blazer she was wearing. The Vuitton fitted her perfectly. She had been saving it for an occasion like this. The spring in her step was back again after a long time. She walked straight towards a table at the corner of the cafe. A man sat there wearing a crisp white shirt with a pair of blue jeans holding a book in his hands. She had been observing him all along. She had always wanted to see him like this-wearing a crisp white shirt with a pair of blue jeans holding a book in his hands. He looked as handsome as before- the light of the setting sun falling on his face entering through the window near which he sat.
“Hello, Abhi. I have been waiting for you, you are late”, she said