Diamonds- A woman’s best friend

He got out of the car and walked towards his house, a distance of a few feet appeared to be miles. Heavily sloshed with the smell of alcohol reeking from his body, stumbling, wobbling and tottering, he finally made his way to the door. He banged the door for what felt like ages, then laughed at himself when he looked at the lock on the door. With great difficulty he fished out the key from the pocket of his pants and opened it.

He hung onto the door for support. The house was pitch-dark; he felt the walls on the side to search for switches.  On finding them, he switched them on, all at once. The house lay illuminated, the bright lights blinded him. The house was in a mess, things were strewn all across the floor and it looked as if someone had torn it apart.

“Aargh!” he screamed in disgust and shut the door. He switched off all the lights in the house except the night light which was dim. He made his way through clutter on the floor occasionally tripping over and then using the choicest abusive words.

He walked into the bedroom and switched on the lights. A huge wedding portrait of him and his wife decorated the opposite wall. He walked towards it, every so often taking the support of the bed or dressing.

“You see this is how I want my house to be!” he looked at the picture of his wife and screamed at the top of his lungs.

“No light and no ‘chann chann’ sound of your bloody anklets! Understand you stupid woman! Otherwise why would I take a house in the far outskirts of the city?” he continued screaming.

He paused for a moment. “Shh…” he told and made a face at her by putting his finger on his lips.

“You are a mad woman!” he declared and let out a roaring laugh.

“No, no, Obsessed and crazy” he coughed and corrected himself. “Eating 5 small meals, watering your roses 3 times, brushing your hair a hundred times, and cleaning the house 4 times; still I put up with you and what did you do for me in return? All that I asked you for was your jewellery.”

He traced the outline of her lips and tried to pull her chin and jaws in the photo, “Not much use of that smart ass mouth of yours now, is it? Enjoy your stay, 6 feet below your own beloved roses” he told, mocking her.

He then jumped right on the bed, “Look I’m going to sleep on MY bed with my shoes on!” he taunted her with a harsh, derisive laugh.

He stretched his hand out as far as he could to switch off the lights, knocking over the table lamp in the process; he giggled at his antics and fell asleep.

Somewhere around midnight, his sleep broke.

“Chann, chann, chann” he heard the sound of anklets. Irritated he put a pillow over his ear.

He felt someone sit close to his legs, he ignored it.

“One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six”, he heard, in a voice being alternated between that of his wife’s and a coarse manly voice.

A chill ran through his spine, his hands felt cold, short of breath, he started sweating profusely, and his heart pounded.

With all the courage he could muster, he woke up and sat. He looked at the silhouette; it was of a woman perched at the end of the bed with her back to him, she was brushing her hair.

“Who is it?” he asked, his barely audible voice quivering with fear.

“Missed me?” the silhouette questioned.

Only her head turned to face him, she had adorned all her jewellery, dried blood from the wounds caused due to the blow on her head marked half her face, the rest was covered with scratches.

“I had to come back. After all, Diamonds are a woman’s best friend” she replied calmly to his frightened face.

He did the only thing his brain could tell him to do. He screamed. Over and over again, as her long arm reached for his throat.

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Petrichor

 

Once upon a time, in the skies lived the king and queen of clouds, they didn’t have any offspring so they prayed to the wind god for a child. The wind, pleased with their prayers blessed them with one of his daughters, Petrichor.

Petrichor looked bewitching and angelic, she had a special quality, she could entice anyone and everyone with her smell. She smelt wonderful and ambrosial like heaven and all things nice. Her smell was magical; it had the ability of stupefying the senses of people into bliss including those of the trees, plants and animals.

When she was of marriageable age, the king and queen started their search for suitors, many a mighty cloud came to ask her hand but all in vain.

They searched the skies and the earth for men who were gallant and brave, but none of them could woo her. So they gave her the choice of finding her match.

She got down on Earth to look for her suitor; everyone was in love with her but she couldn’t find her prince. One day as she was wandering the Earth, she tripped and fell into a trench. She called for help but none came to her rescue, suddenly she saw that the earth below her feet began to part and raised her to the sky, taking her back to the safety of her home.

She fell in love with the kind gesture of the earth, they would meet every day, sometimes she would come down to him and sometimes he would make the earth rise into mountains as a staircase to meet her.

Finally she decided that she would get married to him and declared it to her parents. Her parents gave their consent; one fine night they got married. The stars decorated the night sky; the moon wore her most shimmering dress, the clouds made snow and Aurora in her honor.

Post their wedding she shifted down to the Earth. Because of her beauty, the clouds in the sky and all the living things on Earth would look at her in awe. They were all in love with her, despite her being married they would always do things to impress her and win her heart.

The Earth turned into a jealous man; he conspired with a witch and cursed Petrichor with a spell. The spell turned her invisible and the Earth kept her with him underground, never to see the light of the day. The King and Queen were furious over this; they tried everything in their power, from causing floods to tornadoes to thunderstorms but the Earth didn’t deter.

Petrichor on the other hand cried all day on her fate. The Earth couldn’t look at his wife be so unhappy, he decided to concede, but the spell couldn’t be reversed. The witch turned round the spell in such a way that though she remained invisible, when the clouds cried, she could be free from his captivity, roam around the Earth and skies for a while and then had to return back to him.

To this day whenever the clouds cry in her memory, Petrichor rises from the Earth and visits and entices them by disseminating her perfume everywhere.

The Vows

I looked at my watch, 10.05; he was already 20 minutes late. With every passing second my heart pounded faster. Oh, I was beginning to regret this already.

One look at my parents and I knew that they had the same amount of tension that I had, yet they didn’t let it show. My mother gave me a reassuring smile and continued talking with my father; I presumed she too wanted to distract herself from the ongoing situation.

I held the pleats of my sari and walked down the steps, I chose a spot which was shady and sat down. The heels I wore were killing my feet, such a bad decision in hindsight. On second thoughts why do we get to know that our decision was bad later on? Why can’t it be like the movies? Where every fatal accident/person/incident is marked by a different tune or a song.

My sister looking at my worried face came to me, she put her hand on my shoulder, tried to pacify me, that I was getting worked up for no reason. She explained me that just because he got late, it didn’t mean that he wouldn’t turn up. She tried narrating a few funny incidents of our childhood, but I was in no mood to laugh, I just wanted to be left alone.

I looked at my phone; I had already called him 5 times and messaged him thrice. I locked the screen of my phone and looked at my reflection. Here I was, dressed in a simple yet traditional white and red sari with my shoulder length hair left open, kohl rimmed eyes, a hint of lipstick with a little bindi on my forehead and a pair of jhumkas. Much against my mother’s wishes I had chosen to go simple, initially I had planned to give the sari a toss but had to concede after her emotional blackmail, after all it was my wedding!

I had watched this scene numerous times in movies, where the bride gets left at the altar by her commitment phobic groom. Never had I once imagined that it would happen to me. It was 10.30 now, I was losing patience drastically and fear crept in my mind. I was the quintessential left at the altar girl now, sitting on the steps of the court with our wedding rings and garlands. The only thing left that could make this look like a movie would be rain and a sad song in the background.

All the while in the movie when the bride cried, I would call her a sissy, expect her to get her life back on track, be single and fabulous, fall in love with someone more deserving and try to reassure her that she was better off unmarried. I tried to tell all of this to myself, I failed miserably.

Suddenly it started drizzling; my worst fears had come true. Now almost in tears I thought of the signs that I had to look for. He was more than happy yesterday night, non apprehensive about the wedding, as a matter of fact he suggested we write our own vows too!

I decided that it would be in vain to think of the past, I picked up the last bit of strength I had in me and went to tell my parents that the wedding was off. Atleast I would be able to salvage the few remnants of my self esteem.

Just as I climbed the stairs, I heard his voice, he called out my name loud.

I turned to find him running up the stairs towards me, his parents trailing right behind him. He looked at my face and immediately realized what had gone through my mind.

He gave me a hug and whispered in my ears to add “Not taking tension when my husband is late by an hour” vow to my existing list.

You and I – Part II

As per plan I woke up late, later than my normal scheduled time that I follow on weekdays. Usually I wake up early, a habit imbibed in my by “him”, initially I cribbed about it. I am not a morning person, I atleast need gallons of coffee in me to function well and not snub others. But slowly I got used to it and discovered that waking up early actually did give me a lot of time; to prioritize my daily workload both at office and at home, to either read a book or meditate, to go to the gym on time, or to finally make the breakfast recipes that I had bookmarked in my favorites on the browser.

Despite all the advantages, there is a different feel to waking up at your own pace, no harsh sound of the alarm ringing and no running around the entire day. Ah! Bliss!

I wake up lazily and roam around the house aimlessly. The weather outside was cold, almost tempting me into snuggling back in the bed sheets. I brushed, made a club sandwich and picked up a romantic book, out of the many that I had in my collection.

My reading process suddenly interrupted by a call from my mother, we talked in length about our daily routine, she told me about what was going on at the school she worked, petty talk about the relatives and ended our conversation just like she always did, by put in subtle hints that it was time that I thought about settling down since all the children of her friends were getting married. Mothers! They have this uncanny knack of nagging and I have learnt the golden rule to this- “When you can’t escape it, pretend to listen and later forget it”

Now that I had been separated from my book, I wasn’t in the mood to get back to it. I updated my blog, watched some TV, prepared and had my lunch and finally proceeded to enjoy my afternoon siesta.

I sat on my bed, my thoughts drawn to him yet again. It was on days like this that we would spend our maximum time together. I would drop by at his place in the morning, we would cook lunch together or dine out incase both of us were feeling lazy or on days that I would force him to go out with me and then come back, wear his clothes and enjoy a good afternoon’s sleep.

I still remember his touch, the way he would spoon me and rest his face on the nape of my neck with his breath lightly brushing my hair. While sleeping his hands would occasionally trace the length of my arms, I would push myself a bit, deeper into his arms and indulge in the raw smell of his skin. His skin, oh it was all soft and supple! I would occasionally tease him that he must have been a prince in his last life to be blessed such smooth skin. Midway through our nap, he would ask me to turn around and face him. He then would rest his face in my arms, pull me closer and entwine our legs.

I woke up from bed, feeling uneasy; his memories were beginning to smother me. I wanted to call him, to tell him how much I loved and missed him, but I refrained. We both had to find our ways back to each other; I didn’t want to force him. If spiritual attainment was important to him then so be it. I loved him so I set him free, hoping that someday he would come back. I read our love letters, the numerous ones that we had written to each other over 6 years, I laughed and cried and read them over and over again. I held them to my chest for a moment and safely put them back.

It was past 4, I got up and made myself a cup of coffee, I smiled; he had taught me how to make it his way. Over the years I had become more of a reflection of him and his habits, I picked the ones that I knew would help me. My flaring temper had now reduced to a manageable one, I started waking up early, I exercised and ate right, made no excuses for my actions, did only those things that kept me happy and most important enjoyed solitude.

I plonked on the couch with the cup of coffee in hand and my laptop, I checked out if there were any new movies running at the theatres and planned my evening. A movie at 6 and a dinner treat to myself for sticking to my exercise and diet schedule, after all I was allowed to cheat once a while.

The door bell rang; I walked up to the door with my coffee cup in hand, opened it and found him standing at my doorstep.

Initially I thought I was hallucinating.

“Oh good! There is still time to keep my promise huh?” he inquired, his boyish grin accompanying the question.

“What?” I asked half surprised half dazed.

“Will you ask me to enter in or do you want us to have our first date on the doorstep? I haven’t forgotten you see” he answered with a wink.

I let him in, and I could hear the sound of things setting right in place, the gears of time had reset to 3 years back, like the missing part of the puzzle of my life had finally been placed.

You and I – Part I

I jogged my way up the stairs, 7 down and 3 more floors to go, I thought. Just as I reach the top floor, half panting like a dog, I stop; I put down my yoga mat and handbag and hold onto the railing. After the initial feeling of fatigue washes me over, I start walking towards my class.

As usual I’m late; I choose my spot towards the end of the room not wanting to disturb the existing crowd and lay down my mat to start the regimen.

“Namaste! Let us begin by closing our eyes, then observing our breathing and finally concentrating all our thoughts towards the happy place”, the instructor instructed.

I command my brain to take me to my happy place and refrain it from playing any movie songs in my head.

 

“Hi!” he told, a calm smile reflecting on his face.

“Hi” I replied back, I was feeling a mixture of emotions, I was happy to see him but also annoyed that he wasn’t as excited as I was.

“So, this is your happy place? My room? Really?” he enquired with a twinkle in his eye.

“Ah! Yes, this is the same question that you ask me every single day. Please feel free to bask in the flattery; by the way it is not your room per se which my happy place but you!” I replied back.

He sat there for a while just looking at me and smiling.

Oh! How much I miss him, his smile, his sarcasm and our comfortable silence.

“So, I don’t see a lot of shoes around” I say, a desperate attempt to start a conversation.

“What?” he asks, with his charming half amused expression.

“Well you always told me that promise breakers are shoe makers”, I said.

“Now when did I break a promise? He questioned.

“We still didn’t go out on our first date” I complained.

“We have had so many dates!” he answered, confusion clearly visible on his face.

“We didn’t have the coffee date that we planned for our first date! So that makes you a promise breaker” I replied back smoothly.

“So, how do you like Rahul? Seems like a decently good guy. You always wanted stability and security, looks like he can give you the same. And may I remind you that it has been 5 days since he asked you out but you still never replied back. Long overdue don’t you think?” he interrogated.

“Don’t change the topic! Why should I date other people when I have you?” I replied back.

“You have to move on” he advised.

“We have still not broken up; our relationship is on a pause. Just because we become distant doesn’t mean we stop loving each other. Once you do realize the same and get back, we can start off where we left” I answered back coolly, now the ball was in his court and I would love to see how he would dodge that one.

 

Just as he opened his mouth to answer, he vanished! I felt someone pat my hand.

 

Irritated I opened my eyes and found Mahi, my yoga class friend, looking at me with hope and anticipation, like she expected me to declare her the winner of a lottery!

“What?” I ask her.

“I have been asking you whether we could double date! I found a really nice guy to set you up with and if you say yes then let’s confirm plans for tomorrow!”She squealed with delight.

I gave her my not-interested look, collected my belonging, walked out of the class and into the elevator as I heard her tell me how fantastic the guy she was setting me up with is.

 

I was having my peculiar case of “physically present but mind absent”. I didn’t want anyone to talk, I just wanted some quiet. It was silence that brought him to me. He came to me when I was alone at home or in the shower or when I was sipping coffee at a coffee shop.

Today exactly marks 3 years. 3 years of our separation, though I wouldn’t term it so.

Both of us relocated to new cities and got lost in our busy schedules. I was concentrating my efforts into climbing the corporate ladder and he into getting spiritual. Unknowingly the messaging became far less frequent and the once in a while calls too stopped.

Since I was living all alone in a new city, I became busy setting my life in order and chasing my dreams and he discovered that all the relationships were ultimately some or the other form of attachment and unless he got out of them he wouldn’t attain the higher purpose of life.

As I made my way out of the building with my friend who was still chattering, I noticed that it had started drizzling. What a wonderful way to start the weekend! I pulled out my car keys, bid goodbye to my friend and thanked God, for tomorrow I would be able to sleep late! I could almost listen to his disapproving “Tchh” but I laughed it away and drove back home.

The Proposal

Armed with a mike in hand, she looked around. Everything was as per plan; she had her set up right under his balcony, the guitarist thankfully showed up on time and arranged the speakers, the bouquet of roses that she had ordered had arrived and the ring! She patted the pocket of her jeans to re-ensure that she had brought it.

The only unfortunate part was that there was a little crowd of enthusiastic spectators mostly comprising of the neighborhood folk; she mentally kicked herself as to how she forgot to account for this.

She checked the time on her phone, 5.56 pm it showed. 4 minutes to go, she thought to herself.

Now that the time had come she was petrified, charged and nervous, all at once.

She dialed his number and made a nonchalant conversation, just to make sure he was at home or else all her efforts would be in vain.

 

*5 days earlier*

 

She lay idly on the sofa and watched Shah Rukh Khan croon a romantic song for his lady love on TV.

Oh! How she wished she could spend her entire life in his arms!

Her Nani walked in, “SRK movies? Again?” she chided.

She gave a sheepish grin, made place for Nani to sit on the sofa and lay on her lap. Visiting her grandmother’s place was a must during extended weekends, the sheer bliss of being stuffed with delicious food and stories; where gardening, long walks, sleeping and eating were the only things on her schedule.

“So, How is your SRK?” Nani asked.

“Don’t ask about him Nani”, she scoffed.

“Did you have a fight?” Nani enquired.

She sat up straight and started narrating her woeful story, “Nani we have been together since the last 7 years, both of us love each other and want to settle down, yet he hasn’t made any romantic gesture, no enormous declaration of our love to the entire world. He considers all the mushy romantic stuff to be silly. For all you know, he may not be my SRK.”

Nani looked at her distressed face and gave one of her precious advices, “So what if he isn’t your SRK? You can always be his SRK, right?”

She looked at Nani perplexed.

Nani went on to explain, “Why is it that he has to do something romantic or profess his love for you to the entire world? Why can’t you do it instead?”

 

*Present day*

 

She checked the time; it was dot 6 pm. The crowd around her began to thicken; there were now a few people peeping and glancing at her from the windows and balconies of the apartment.

Nervous yet determined, she took the mike and tapped it to check if it was working fine.

She texted for him to come out to the balcony, then announced on the mike, “Sweetheart, this is for you.”

She gave cue to the guitarist and proceeded to sing “Tujhe dekha toh yeh jaana sanam”, it was their song.

It was the only song that they liked collectively, much against their varied taste in music.

She looked up at the balcony to find him looking amused and wide eyed; he stood transfixed in bewilderment, awe and exhilaration. She continued singing and smiling while the crowd and the people from the other flats of the building cheered her on.

He suddenly walked out of the balcony, she almost stopped singing and the crowd let out a gasp.

Within minutes she saw him walk towards her from the entrance of the building. He stood at a little distance away from her so that she could finish the song.

Just as she was done, he gave her a bear hug. She presented him with the bouquet of flowers first, then fished out the ring from her pocket and popped the question.

She got down on her knees, opened the little box and asked, “Will you marry me?”

The entire crowd remained silent for a moment.

He pulled her up and replied, “Yes my dear SRK, yes! For now and forever.”

She slipped the ring onto his finger.

“I ask you to sing just once for me and you end up doing the same in front of such a large crowd, is it?” he teased her playfully.

They both giggled, bid goodbye to the guitarist and walked back towards his apartment amidst loud applause and exuberance.

Cycle of viciousness

“Is the curry supposed to look this way? It looks way too yellowish!”

“Yeah! Let us add some chilli in it to balance out the taste and colour”

“So, rice is done and so is dal, the curry is on the boil and the last thing left to make are the rotis”

“You make the rotis, I’m not that good with flour”

“Oh yeah? Okay fine I’ll make the rotis and you wash the vessels”

“Don’t throw flour at me!”

“You don’t throw water at me!”

 

She sat on the resting chair and smiled as she listened to the conversation and the delightful squeals of laughter from the kitchen. She peeked in to find her son and daughter-in-law, each holding a wooden spatula, ready to battle it out in the food fight.

She got back to her chair and closed her eyes; still smiling, she was glad that everything had turned out just fine.

This is how she wanted her family to be.

Where laughter and happiness were in abundance; where incase of any trouble, financial or otherwise, they had each other’s backs. Where there was respect for each other, enough respect to be able to identify each other’s mistakes and tell them, as well as the ability of not getting offended cause of the same.

She thought about her life; how she was married off to a stranger. A stranger who was mean and sadistic, who never loved her, not one bit. He always put himself on priority. His needs, his demands and his thirst. She shuddered at his very thought.

She traced her arms with her fingers; she still felt the marks left by the cigarette butts that he stubbed on her. She let out a sigh; life had been difficult, but god heard her prayers. After the birth of her 2 children, in a matter of 5 years her husband met with an accident and was paralyzed neck down, silently she was thankful cause she couldn’t bear his torture any longer.

They were shunned by most of their relatives. Since she had to earn a livelihood, she took a loan from a bank and set up her own beauty parlor.

Financial independence set her free from the cage she was living in; she continued to take care of her children and husband. She single-handedly raised her children, she taught them to respect elders, to have fun but to stand firm on their values; she nudged them to pursue whatever they felt like, to fly as high as their wings would take them.

You can’t have freedom without responsibility; she repeatedly reminded them of the same.

When her children were well settled, both financially and emotionally, she got them married. She didn’t want her children to face the same horrors that she had. She asked them to find their match, someone whom they would be happy living with, someone next to whom they could wake up every day with a smile, someone who would be their rock.

She made sure that she didn’t accept dowry during her son’s wedding nor paid any during her daughter’s wedding. She kept in touch with them regularly, being their anchor was her responsibility.

Her husband passed away a few years earlier, she forgave him for all his misdoings. To deal with the void that formed, she shifted into a flat next to her son’s place.

She met her relatives rather frequently post her husband’s demise. Most of the women in the family were oppressed when they got married; they were ill treated and considered only as house help. But after their children got married, they swapped sides with their daughter-in-laws. It was their revenge strategy for all the humiliation and degradation that they faced.

They made sure that the next line of women faced the same problems. She was disturbed as to how people never learn, how the trauma of being a daughter-in-law had to be passed on.

 

“Ma, lunch is ready”, her son called out for her.

She walked into the dining to find her son help his wife set the table and serve food.

At that instance she knew that she had raised her children right.

 

After all someone had to break the cycle of viciousness.