(A Quarterly International Peer-reviewed Refereed e-Journal
Devoted to English Language and Literature)
Rosy is currently working as Assistant Professor in the Department of English at TBAK College for Women, Kilakarai, Ramanathapuram, Tamilnadu. She can also be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org.
He’s not fair and strikingly handsome, but tawny, strong and has been blessed with sharp and fine features which made him suave and attractive. His pack of muscles brought a pack of she-wolves preying behind him. When he blew his whistle positioned between his lips, the girls regularly came in his bus for him ogled at him. They stared unblinkingly at him and sometimes he just, would pretend that he didn’t notice, or he was so busy with his giving tickets to the passengers, then these girls would come closer to him and position themselves right in front of his eyes. He would stifle his smile and give each one of them his casual and sexy smile without offending each one of them. He is Divakar, a Govt. bus conductor plying from Tiruchendur to Madurai. His shifts of three days of work and four days of leave every week left him in his hands ample time to dilly-dally and being playful.
His mother, Chandra is a simple and ignorant woman didn’t notice all these changes in her son [pertaining to men’s world] and most of all, she trusted him completely. Once, Laxmi, a nosy neighbour, a voluminous woman, a mother of two cherubim boys, warned her that his son is a complete playboy, and she chided and chased her away cursing her and her generations to come.
After a few months after this incident, Divakar’s mother got for her son, Nila, a wife, a woman- lovable and laudable. She is pious and spends hours together on her knees in prayer evoking the blessings of the Saviour of the world, Jesus. They started with plain pleasures of life. Nothing in her excited him except her physical mounts and valleys. But, Nila loved him wholeheartedly and gave him her everything. The Romeo didn’t stop his roaming but flirted with girls attracted to him.
A sweet, lovable wife is Nila and this flirt really doesn’t deserve a wife like her. Pious and patient, she is waiting endlessly for her love to be returned after doing her seamless chores and extending tireless, unwavering duty, and pledging devotion to her new family and to her husband, in particular.
For a beginner like her, making chapatis is a prodigious task. In the beginning, when she thought the flour, she accurately kneaded and made into dough would get her soft and supple chapatis, but her calculations always went wrong. Either it got burnt or was hardened like a hard, stone plate. The first attempt ended in disaster. But, he didn’t complain and ate without lifting his head, but reduced the number of chapatis he normally ate, from five to three. After two days, he smilingly enquired to her, “What was that which you gave me two days back?” And he also added jokingly, “Don’t put in great efforts to make chapatis. I’m afraid I may end up losing my teeth biting one of your chapatis”. Only such simple and rare conversations filled her life with happiness and her whole world revolved around him.
Till her head bobbled, she waited and waited for him whenever he returned late, and suddenly, she would spring from her dozing. She splashed the cold water on her sleepy face and continued the wait, till her husband came. Not noticing the puffiness and tiredness in her eyes, he would demand a plate of hot rice when she had struggled for an hour or so to make his favourite chapatis which she had mastered in making after so many unsuccessful attempts.
When he was not there, when she felt all alone, with her empty vastness hanging and looming in front of her, lurking to attack her anytime, she talked to the birds nesting in the trees near her house and the plants which she watered and nurtured with her engaging, loving words. She shared her happiness and sadness to the flowers she cherishes, and their slight movements in the gentle coaxing breeze, were their nodding and answers to her tormented heart, which in turn brought her some solace. She yearned to go to her mother’s house, but he never encouraged it. So, nowadays, she had stopped asking permission to visit her mother’s house. Instead, she spoke to them on the phone and that too, he didn’t encourage. She slowly stopped making calls to them, and they became anxious at first and visited her one or two times and that too stopped after some months. So, it was only her and her nature then.
Other than these fan followers who were just the water under his bridge, he had a secret affair with a married Muslim woman even before his marriage. She lives with her old and sick father in a large house, and her husband had abandoned her long ago. One day, she happened to travel on his bus and was drawn towards him by his sheepish smile, wandering eyes and immaculate charm. She went on his bus continuously for a week intending to ensnare him in her vibrant and virulent net, and he fell for her evil spells. He gave him imported creamy chocolates and fed him with almonds, pistachios and dry fruits which she got from her brother living abroad. She started spending lavishly for him, and he was caught in her lecherous love. He set off to her house when he had his ‘day off’ and whenever he was on fire. She sent him lustful messages in WhatsApp and wanted him to lust after her. Both parties were in high spirits after the accomplishment of their shares of ‘wants’ got fulfilled.
Nila, unaware of his affair naively, thought that his affections would turn to her when she expresses her sincerity and pure, unconditional love, in absolute obedience and obeisance. At first, she wrongly guessed he might have been in love with someone and misinterpreted it as a love failure. She reflected, “That’s why he remains silent, not showing the affection for me, his newly married wife and remains an introvert and dare not express any loving emotion to her.” “With my conjugal love, I would relieve him from all his pains, lighten his sorrowful burden and light a whole new world for him”, she thought.
Fate played in his life in the form of an accident and his shoulder bone got dislocated. Nila screamed, glancing at his bloody arms soaked in patches of blood. She wailed, sobbed, and sent hundreds of prayers lifting her head in tears. She waited on him not even sipping a drop of water, waiting endlessly at the foot of his bed in the hospital. When he slowly recovered, he slowly discovered her love for him.
But, the evil clutches of the lady did not stop, but she spread her nettle by sending dry fruits like raisins, dates and fig. She was keen on making him come back to her right away when he recovered. The love messages kept on chiming whenever she left him for a while. Nila noted all these things vigilantly, but never asked him, like a good old wife, prudently.
Once when he went to the washroom, she became curious about their affair, and started exploring his mobile and found instantly a plain green shirt neatly folded, with a crisp new look. Obviously, she realized that the lady had sent him an image of a new shirt which she had bought for him. Her blood boiled: “Who the hell is she to buy a shirt for him?” Since there was no place to vent her anger, she hit hard into her pillow with clenched fists and crawled in their bed and started crying. Her cry ended up in sobbing and sniffles. When he came out of the washroom, he never noticed the grief of his wife, and just went out whistling happily to join in one of the street cricket matches with his friends. She remembered the kisses they shared and the sheer ecstasy her limbs and her aching body still now, remember in his rough lovemaking. She cried her heart out and cursed her whole life for being born as a woman and then becoming a wife of someone who could never be wholly hers.
The very thought made her sickening and searched quickly through the chest of drawers for the sleeping pills which she regularly gives her father-in-law, a wilted and worn out old man in the house. Taking a handful of it, she gulped them through her throat, choking and breathing roughly; when she gasped for air, she ran to get a cup of water. When she slowly let in all the pills into her food valves, they started working its magic. For peace, she craved, and he was steadily extending its hand in the form of sleeping pills, and she huddled it with love and warmth which she had never experienced from her husband. Her fluttering eyes began to close. She was taken to the world of torrents of beautiful rain, dance and dragging her towards the blissful sleep.
Having sopped wet in vomit, bitterness spread throughout her mouth, watering her eyes, and burning her throat. Suddenly, she felt splashes of water thrown into her face. Her throat ached after she had fainted, and vomited in her semi-conscious state. After giving a stomach wash, she was enquired by her sobbing mother, nervous sisters, brothers and her dearest angry father. She racked her brain and somehow, understood that she’s in the hospital worrying her whole family. Her mother shook her, wept and wailed wiping her rosy nose.
Nila’s husband came late looking anxious and guilty. He bought some dry fruits which were rare in their place, and then, she knew for sure, they were from his mistress. She turned her back to him and didn’t taste it, but he popped some into his mouth. Nila looked sideways and felt like throwing up again, after seeing her husband munching and relishing it. She prayed earnestly that the fruits should be rotten and the very next day, they got spoiled and were not fit to eat. Nila suppressed her smile like a naughty child hiding its own mischief after pulling down the forbidden sweets in the topmost shelves and smashing the bottle right on the kitchen floor.
She got discharged after a day or two and went home with a heavy laden heart knowing that he’ll go back to her when he’s relieved from his duty of taking care of her in the hospital. She must quickly come up with an excuse to stop him, but he’s neither a prisoner nor a child to be easily subjugated.
While leaving his house, he was cheerful and came back very late that night. He brought with him a green shirt and a ‘kora’ silk sari. “It’s a gift from my friend who has come home from America”, he murmured. She could instantly recognize the shirt. She cringed in anger and disappointment and asked him, “So your so-called friend is a woman”. Without looking into her eyes, he asked, “Are you jealous now?” When he didn’t get a reply from her, he lifted his guilty eyes towards her and noticed the tear-stricken face and now he knew it was serious. Purposefully, he raised his voice saying that he was foolish enough to bring her this sari and just told that he was going to return them. But, Nila was not now thinking of this sari, but how her life was full of woe and wretchedness.
She poured in her heart and asked him, “How long will it take to forget her?”, “Won’t her husband ever mind about her affair?” He bluntly said to her, “You know of nothing”, and added slightly, “Don’t keep on broadening your wild imagination”. When she started to question about it more, he became very much annoyed. In order to show his rage and prove she was wrong, he called her bad words and slapped her with his hardened and rough palms. On her face, immediately formed thick reddish lines, and she screamed in sharp and smarting pain.
A few days later, Nila being powerless and a vulnerable wife gave in to her husband’s whims and pretended as though nothing happened. Days moved on, but the affair continued and became a routine object of his life. Sometimes, he came late and rarely earlier. One day, he came and looked for Nila in the entrance, but he could not find her there. He looked for her in the kitchen, bedroom, prayer hall and came to the backyard. He searched her beside the well, looked surreptitiously into it but found no trace of anything into it, and he let out a sigh. Then, he went to a petty shop guessing she must have gone there to buy dosa batter. She was not there.
Slowly, he walked towards the old country church, peeped into it, then stepped into a silent and empty hall and then looked up the cross, saw the verse on one of the walls painted, “You will not be afraid when you go to bed, and you will sleep soundly”. He retraced his steps to his home still in forlorn fear- “What would have happened to his wife?” He closed his eyes, opened and peered meaninglessly into the empty ceiling, waiting for her to return on her own. Hours passed, and nothing happened and the seconds seemed to trickle painfully slow. He felt his cheeks wet and realized he was crying and took out his mobile and tried to dial her number which in his new bothersome distress he had totally forgotten. His hands shook, and then he realized it was without battery and it had switched off long back.
He plugged it into the socket, and within five minutes his phone vibrated, and it was Nila, his wife. He exploded in an absolutely, angry tone, and enquired about her whereabouts. Then she told that she was in the hospital and laughed light-heartedly ignoring his cold anger and peevishness. He told her that he was rushing out to meet her there, and he could now witness the tears of joy in his eyes. She was beaming happily at him, and he wondered what had delayed her in the hospital and why she was there in the first place. When he neared her, she said, “Two months”. He was confused for a flicker of a moment, and then he summed up everything that a new life is formed, there in her deep cavern of the womb. He rejoiced and lifted her unaware of her abashed face and the stares of strangers. The doctor came in just a moment later asked, “So, this must be your husband” and he informed him that she was very weak, and she needed complete rest.
Those words reverberated in his mind resounded in his brain and seeped deep into his heart. Nothing could separate him from Nila for a split-second. He took care of her needs, nourishing her with all delectable fruits and savoury items. He had forgotten about ‘that lady’ and kept on ‘cooing’ to the tiny ball lavishing his love for it and it transformed him wholly. Never did he return to his bad old self and Nila was in absolute ecstasy. Their life sweetened with the mounting of her stomach, and she keeps on uttering a thousand thanks to the God for her baby, a bundle of joy to drown her sorrows and for her husband who has turned into a new leaf.