She was missing Sameer like hell, did not know how to handle this feeling. Radhika had been married to Arup Ghosh for the last thirteen years. Marriage it was true but if it could be called one.
It’s been thirteen years now, over with Arup. He’s been working in the automobile sector, had erratic schedules, left for office on the dot of time but coming back home, on time, that was always debatable. It was any time after twelve midnight. Whenever asked he would justify it by saying that, being at a senior level these were the job demands. Radhika couldn’t say or argue any further and Arup was deaf to arguments. His career, his job demands, meeting deadlines on the job front were the only things that mattered to him. He was a good provider though.asks Sumeet, their only child, now twelve years old was studying in a reputed school. All day it was household chores for Radhika; packing lunch boxes for the two of them, doing the beds, preparing lunch for Sumeet in the afternoon and then having to teach him in the evening, overlooking what the maids did, washing clothes; the chores were endless and she had her hands full. Amidst all this and more she missed being the girl she was before. Plus being lonely did strange things to her mind.
Arup was not her lover just a husband for all social purposes. He suffered from erectile dysfunction, which he hid before marrying her. Hers was an arranged marriage. Baba, had given her a clear diktat before marriage that whatever may happen she’s got to adjust. He had told her another strange thing that he would be sending her off from his house as a bride and it would be Arup or their child who would perform her last rites after her death. She was clear that this marriage had closed all doors to her parental home, come what may she’s got to adjust.
The new bride came to Arup’s house with a lot of expectations and some love too for her new husband. Their first night however revealed Arup’s prowess in bed and his romantic side. To him and for him his satisfaction was must, he was the man in this equation. He made that very clear to Radhika time and again. Her frustration, her tears after each intercourse never really mattered to Arup. He was cold and withdrawn too from her, couldn’t even kiss her properly. She searched for passion and there was none. The time that Radhika spent with him in bed left her angry, frustrated and disillusioned. Arup on his part never did anything remotely to change this situation. He on the other hand would react very strongly, rather furiously whenever Radhika would discuss this topic and ask him to go and meet a medical practitioner. His standard response would be that he has no problem and is absolutely all right. Radhika on her part was tired of fighting over this issue. She’s had, had enough.
Those long, very empty, gloomy thirteen years were somehow gone. She would count each day that would pass from her life, feeling, that now she has one day lesser, to live with Arup. He on his part was blind to her emptiness, loneliness; compensating love, sex and romance which was never there in their marriage with gifts. Radhika tried her hand at working too however home life demanded more attention, so despite of desiring a career for herself she was forced to let go of her job and look after the house and Sumeet.
Sameer Chawla lived a few blocks away. She and Arup would visit their house often, being family friends. Sameer was fifteen years her junior, smart, academically sound, tad boring but so was Arup. Meeting Sameer for the first time, the emptiness in her life became all the more acute and visible to her. She longed for a companion, a lover; a man who would make her come alive, make her feel like a woman. With a million thoughts running through her mind each single day, a day arrives when she musters enough courage and messages him. He does respond but kind of guarded. Then it becomes a regular affair for the two of them. He would reply whenever she messaged. Even if for a little while, Sameer becomes her companion, if not a lover. Radhika longed to meet him in person, see him, talk to him and feel him. She craved for a man’s touch. Sameer was however not in favour of meeting her and had flatly refused her once so she never bothered him again.
It was her birthday that day. She wasn’t keeping well for quite some time and so was going to the doctor when en route Mrs. Chawla catches up with her and invites her home for coffee. She had no intention of visiting the Chawla residence and bump into Sameer but Mrs. Chawla was adamant. So Radhika, against all her good intentions went along. She finds out, that even Sameer is not keeping well and would be home early. She quickly finishes her coffee, in order to avoid meeting him but was unfortunate in her endeavour.
Sameer lands home earlier than schedule. She could easily sense his discomfort on seeing her. Even Radhika on her part wished to leave but Mrs. Chawla insisted otherwise. Once back home, Sameer goes straight inside his parents’ bedroom and stays there without coming out. Radhika could hear his mom say, “today is her birthday, go wish her”. However Sameer stays there, put inside his parent’s bedroom, not wishing to come out. Radhika was getting up to leave, when she overheard Sameer, ask his mom very softly, “has she left”? Without saying another word to Mrs. Chawla, Radhika leaves. Once on the road, she desperately tries to cover up her feelings but her eyes, they were dead giveaways. Tears started welling up in her eyes. She was married, yes. She was older to him, yes and so all this meant she couldn’t love? She couldn’t even search for a companion?
She felt like love was something that could be compartmentalised. This emotion was applicable for one and not for another based on social status, marital status, gender and age. Sameer had judged her. To him she was a vile, older married woman out to seduce a much younger man. Sameer had judged her for being attracted to a much younger man, for wanting him and for being married. Dabbing her eyes with a hand kerchief and wearing a fake, plastic smile Radhika starts walking towards her home. Myriad thoughts play havoc in her mind. She’s married, so she is not supposed to be attracted to another man.
Society doesn’t give sanction to that. She is allowed to hate him still better would be, to be completely indifferent towards him and all other men. Maybe indifference towards all men is the correct emotion to be displayed by elderly, married women. Maybe that’s how society perceives her and expects her to behave. Her emotions, mind, soul, thought and above all her body, all fitted into a box. They cannot break free. They have to perennially and quietly abide by society’s diktats or else they will be judged just like Sameer judged her; the vile, older, married woman. May be? Just may be?