The protagonist Nandini felt drawn towards Brad. She was seemingly under a spell. But, she walked back home. Was the imposing building her home, which had love, life, and her future? Her drunk, doctor husband raped her that night, when she was in deep sleep. Nandini died a thousand times that night. Find out what she was to discover later? Would her life be the same again? How, she a docile wife, transformed? All these and more would be answered, in the second and final part of the story, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
Nandini’s arms wrapped around Brad’s head while she stood on her tiptoes. Brad felt encouraged and picked her up and hugged her tighter. The mood changed as their bodies responded. Slowly she slid down his body till her toes touched the ground. The evidence of his arousal was so clear. Her face was now on his chest and she inhaled his scent. She could hear his heart beat change rhythm. His voice rumbled through his chest. “Nandini, please come to my studio. It is just above the coffee shop we visited.”
Nandini was in a trance. She murmured and then started to walk with Brad. Brad had his fingers laced into hers. When she reached the doorsteps, her mind froze. She stood still, and Brad tugged on her. Brad turned around looking at her still figure. “What happened Nandini, don’t you want to come home,” asked Brad?
Home! Where is home? Nandini thought. She turned and walked away without a single word.
She walked and walked, and then sat down on the sidewalk of her apartment. She looked up at the imposing building. Was this her home? The home which had love, life, and her future?
Nandini’s mind had stopped and all of a sudden she realized it was dark. She dragged herself into the apartment.
Her body felt nothing and her mind was confused, she lay down and fell asleep.
It was around 4 in the morning she felt her dress being pushed up. Pulling her sleep fogged mind to wake up she fought the groping hands. The hands were harsh and they were tearing her panty off and pushing fingers mercilessly into her.
Her eyes flew open and realised it was her husband. He was drunk and was smelling of female perfume. She protested and asked him to stop. His eyes were now glazed and had a hard glint. He used profanity he has never used before. He covered her mouth when she kept scream for him to stop.
Nandini felt her breath being smothered. She bit into his palm. She heard a very harsh growl and them her face stung, as he swung his palm on her cheek. Half dazed with pain and disgust her body stopped struggling. Vivek ripped her clothes off and plunged into her core.
After he was done he pushed her to the side and walked out to the next bedroom.
Nandini died a thousand times that night.
When the first light of the sky seeped through her window, Nandini pulled her lifeless body out of the bed and dragged herself to the shower. Standing under the hot stinging jet of water she let the pain wash over her.
She cried, and howled.
When she was able to pull herself back and come out of the bedroom, she found her husband at the breakfast table. He was reading the newspaper and drinking coffee. He was fully dressed to go to work.
Her body stiffened. Did last night happen?
Was that a nightmare?
Is she still asleep?
The only thing that betrayed the calm appearance was the anxious twitch on Vivek’s jaw. He kept his eyes on the newspaper. He did not look up or say anything.
As she was standing at the counter, Nandini thought she must talk to him. Rather ask him, what and why he behaved in that manner last night. She could not bring the word ‘rape’ on her lips. As she mustered the courage to speak, she heard the door slam.
She turned and found the room empty. Shocked and humiliated to the core, Nandini slump down on the floor. As the minutes ticked, she felt bitter bile of anger filling her being. She wanted an answer and wanted it now. She called up his office, and his secretary picked up the call. She assured her that she will pass the message as soon as he is back from his morning rounds.
She did not know. But she knew that she had to look, look for reasons, looks for answers, look for excuses. Something or anything that will justify his behavior.
The whole day passed with not a single call from Vivek. She tried his cell phone, and his office number many times. The cell phone was switched off. His office phone was not being picked after the third call.
Next morning Nandini had a plan. At least that is what she thought.
She took a cab and reached Vivek’s hospital. Standing in front of the grand building, she thought for the first time that she had never been to his workplace. It was strange that she was never here. She had not attended any of the social events which were held in the hospital premises.
She hardly knew his colleges. She had barely attended lunches or dinners with the doctor folks and their wives. At the beginning, she thought that it was fine, as she was not a very people person. But, now her mind was racing in different directions.
She walked into the lobby and stood for a second thinking what was she to ask the receptionist. Was she going to ask for Dr. Vivek Desai’s office? Who was she going to introduce herself as? Would they believe it if she said she was Mrs. Desai?
She mustered as much courage as she could and she walked up to the beautiful brunette at the desk. She smiled and said, “Hi there. I am Mrs. Desai, just thought to drop in and surprise my husband, Dr. Vivek Desai. But, it has been some time I visited him in this hospital, and I seem to have forgotten the way. Could you please tell me how to get to his office?”
The brunette smiled and seemed a bit hesitant. Nandini leaned on the counter and whispered, “It’s our special meeting date, and I forgot about it this morning. You know, feel so guilty. Wanted to make it up to him with a tiny surprise.” She patted her tummy and winked.
The brunette smiled a genuine smile and congratulated her, giving her the direction to Vivek’s office on the 8th floor.
Straightening her coat Nandini walked down the corridors feeling cheap every minute she neared Vivek’s office.
Standing at the door she felt fear and shame wash all over her again.
Taking a breath in, she knocked and opened the door before she lost her courage.
Vivek was sitting at his desk staring at his computer. His face blanched as he saw Nandini standing at the door.
He stood up and looked at her accusingly. “What are you doing here?”
“I need answers,” said Nandini.
“What do you mean,” Vivek shifted from one foot to the other, “I don’t owe you anything.”
Nandini did not know what she was going to do or where she got the courage from, she walked the few steps separating her from her husband. With a definite movement she slapped him hard on the face.
“If you are not a man enough to own your mistakes, you are not fit to be my husband.”
She looked at his dazed face, and then took out all the papers which she found in his closet. The house, the car and many of the bank accounts were in her name. Nandini’s green card was also there.
“You had never shown me these; you had never told me that I was already a green card holder, as I married a citizen.”
“Today you owe me my freedom. As you have broken the sacred rule of marriage and raped me.”
There, she said it.
“I could have walked to the police station, and told them everything, but I did not. As I am not like you and I cannot harm the person who I loved once.”
Nandini heard herself. She used the word ‘loved’. She used the past tense. She felt free all of a sudden. Free from those ethical bindings she thought she was chained to.
She walked to the door and looked back.
“Yes Vivek, I am going to stay in that same house, and drive that car. I will learn to drive, very soon. I will use the money you kept in my name to make myself capable enough to work. And no, do not come back to that house, nor contact me. Or else I may be tempted to do something rash, as this.”
She pulled out two pictures of Vivek and a red head woman nude and in bed. She had found out that she (the red head) was the wife of the surgical head of this hospital.
On her ride back to the apartment she made three phone calls. The first was to a locksmith to change the locks of her apartment and garage. The second one was to a security company to put up the security system in her apartment.
And the final one was to Brad. She had asked him to meet her for lunch. One day, she will be ready to meet him on other terms. One day it will be. One day…
©Anumita Chatterjee Roy
Pix from the Net.
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