I was twenty five by that time, love had a different meaning for me and craziness too took some sides in deciding that meaning.
But today the question of course is love. That how love that end all and be all of life consumes you. How often we think that one day that very concept of ever lasting forever will be our sole savior and life teaches us desperately the other way. They do call love blind, what they try to say is that it makes you dumb, crazy and deaf as side effects too.
I was seventeen and wanted to get married, I lose track of things. I am sorry. Sitting in alone in a room filled with empty bottles can get you a bit confused. You keep asking yourself which one might still have some of it left inside.
* * *
“But then does he know?” mother asked me smilingly.
I nodded in negative. I must have blushed a bit too because she instantly started to laugh as well.
Saleem. He and I went to school since I was seven and well when I began to picture him as the man of my dreams rather Sean Connery I cannot say. But one thing is for sure, he was everything I was looking for. His scores in mathematics always outdid mine, his lovely shining black eyes spoke of stories I always wanted to hear and his velevety textured voice brought me back to a heaven on earth.
“He is a musalmaan,” she replied. My best friend Neha had been liking a christian boy for five years. I knew, but because she could see the eventuality of that love from now she never spoke a word about it.
“Yes so!” I exclaimed.
“We are hindu. And hindu should marry within Hindu. Intercaste tak chalta hai,” she spoke in that “blasphemous” tone.
I scorned. I could not bare such distinctions. If biology allowed I was okay with a marriage between a human and an ape. I was a free woman of a free world. Love knows no boundaries, of course until then I didn’t know that boundaries are not only caste and religion.
* * *
“Ridhima, you realise its only a few years more and we would be in what one would say, “Every man for himself” zone,” he was smoking his marlboro and wistfully looking at the setting sun.
I nodded excitedly. I loved to hear him speak about culture, philosophy religion and love. Love. I waited for his rants on love every evening. They always never spoke of marriage but I always thought that part will arrive when he feels I am ready to hear. Yes I did wonder why I was ready to talk about sex, but back then I wondered more about his eyes and hair than perhaps logic.
“Will you allow me another light please,” he knew I would never deny and yet he always asked with such foreboding courtesy.
I blushed and gave him another white stick.
I enjoyed watching him smoke, the lilting fragrance of tobacco mixed with his pensieve eyes made feel more of a woman inside my head. A man who allows a woman to see him smoke must keep him in higher ground in his eyes. Smoking in our days was a man’s world. And women in parties stayed clear of smoking chambers, it was considered a taboo to watch a man smoke.
And here I was sitting next to him across the setting sun, gazing at the man who has my heart and a glowing marlboro.
* * *
He was putting on clothes by the time I could turn on the side. The last half an hour had been smelting hot for me. He had been all over my body. This time his hands had slipped way beyond what they had every last time and the pleasure had been all mine.
I often wondered if the sight of watching him smoke was just the sight itself or the impending lovemaking that always followed it. I could never deduce the right emotion for it.
It was five thirty and any moment mother would come knocking so like always the cleaning up act was a rather clumsy hurried one. Never in as much as a year, since it had begun, did we ever speak of the lovemaking as it is. The emotions plenty inside were swept underneath the carpet along with the ashes of the smoke.
* * *
“What on this earth gave you the idea that I might marry you?” he spoke in that mocking tone.
I had never heard of it from him. Never once in all these years.
Tears welled up in my eyes, but I knew better than to shell them. I had known what it felt like to be rejected before but never had I known how to accept it. Walking away from him that evening had been the hardest I have ever subjected myself too.
Yes more hard than the abortion I had to undergo the next morning. Because the abortion was just a process by then, his rejection had killed whatever was inside.
Next year the government made the minimum age for marriage eighteen.
Tyler Durden says in the book fight club, “That old saying, how you always kill the one you love, well, look, it works both ways”
* * *
Sorry for the story if it was too dark, blame it on rampant reading of Fight club. It is killing me honestly. Well in other news and also slightly related, long long back I had read a piece of Amrita Pritam’s translated poetry and loved it. Somehow I forgot to bookmark it (I know the cardinal sin!) and after that I found all her poems except for this particular one. I asked anyone who mattered and read to search it for me but all in vain.
But well God blessed me and one such person finally found it for me! This is especially for Tanvi who searched it and used her awesome Google skills to get it for me. Again a big hug and thanks. The poetry is as follows, hope you guys like it too 🙂
I was not alone— there were
two of us
A married woman and a virgin
To sleep with you
I had to offer the virgin in me
I did so
This slaughter is permissible in law
Not the indignity of it
And I bore the onslaught of the insult
The next morning
I looked at my blood stained hands
I washed my hands
But the moment I stood before the mirror
I found her standing there
The one whom I thought I had slaughtered last night
Was it too dark in your bed
I had to kill one and I killed the other ?
in silence, like a cigarette
only a few poems fell
out of the ash I flicked from it
But keep aside your body and keep it on the chair there
Like you have put off your shirt and the shoes
This is nothing serious
This is just different custom of different countries/people