Here are four stories from a novella that deals with love, marriage, and relationship, by Meenakshi, in the weekly column. Here’s the first part, exclusively for Different Truths.
Hi! Well now that you want to hear about me, let me tell you, it’s pretty boring. I am a housewife who gave up her career 16 years ago to take care of the children and run the household. Which I think I managed quite well for a while and yeah, that’s all there is.
What do you want to know about my relationship with my husband? It’s the usual I guess… what all men do… Go to work, earn a living, to afford a decent lifestyle and cater to the kids needs and save some for a retirement. He’s a hard working man…. Very handsome. Let me tell you how we met! See, I am blushing! Gosh! What all this man does to me is not funny! It’s been 16 years and see how excited I get about the day we met!
So the story is, he is a distant relative of my America cousin whose husband was a drunkard…. Yeah! A sad marriage that was! She was always crying and the poor thing had nowhere to go. He beat her and tortured her and made her have two children! And she is still living with him…. Prays every day to all the Gods for help…. God only has to help her! Anyway…. Coming back to our story, this cousin was doing some Pooja in her house to help her husband stop drinking so we were all invited and so was Ravi. Now Ravi is basically very introverted and doesn’t talk much. He is very shy and he will keep a distance from all relatives. So that day also, he was sitting in the corner of the living room, in a light blue shirt, drinking coffee. We entered the house and the first thing I see is him! And at that exact minute, he also looked at me and I was lost! What boyish charm he had, what a cute dimple on his cheek and how sweetly he turned away embarrassed! I was so smitten! I couldn’t control myself and I started asking my cousins who he was and every single detail I could about him. I couldn’t stop looking at him all that day and some of my cousins promised to fish his phone number somehow.
We went our separate ways that day and I had this burning desire to spend more time with him, get to know him better and yes, hold him! Listen, before you get any bad ideas about me, I am not like those kinds of girls okay! I am a one man woman and I’ll always wait for that one man in life to come sweep me off my feet! Which Ravi did! So, we went home and I spent three feverish days waiting for news about him! AND then on the third day, I get a call from this America cousin…. She heard about my interest and called me. Now, let me also clarify one more point. My America cousin was in America when she met her husband… his drinking was so bad that he was asked to leave his job and come off to India. But for reference sake, we always call Meena, America cousin because there is one more Meena who lives in Mumbai. I didn’t want to confuse you!
Anyway, Meena calls me and tells me his name and gives me his number. Then what? I called him up! He was stunned! He didn’t expect that I would call him and he was very sweet and agreed to meet also! Even today, he tells me, if I didn’t call and push him to meet, he would have never married!
So we met that day and we met almost every day after that because I realized his office was on my way to my office. He was very friendly and slowly he started opening up to me and told me he was not excited about getting married because he had just about broken up from a girl. But for me each day I spent with him, I was becoming more and more attracted to him. Then finally after 3 months of us meeting each other for the first time, I told him I loved him and I wanted to marry him! Just like that, I said it! I was having butterflies in my stomach but just kept a straight face in front of him and told him I loved him! He was shocked and he just laughed! He said I was being silly and to calm down and we will think about marriage later. After two days I asked him, again and again, he said he wanted to think. But by now I was getting worried because at home they were looking for a boy for me and I didn’t want to marry anyone other than Ravi!
Finally, I broke down in front of him and told him I didn’t have much time and that he must decide quickly so he said okay! And he came home, spoke to my parents, by then Meena also spoke to my parents and told them what a wonderful guy he was and before we knew it, 6 months later we were married!
Then what? The same story, I resigned from my job because he was earning very well, we went on a honeymoon, had the best trip ever! Came back and settled down in a new rented house. I set up the house beautifully and learnt to cook some exotic dishes and did laundry, cleaning, and washing. Slowly, we got used to being husband and wife and we were happy.
Two years later we had a boy and three years after that another boy! What else could one ask for? He was very sweet with the children, some days he would come late from work and still play with the kids. He would help me give them a bath and get them ready for school. He is a nice father.
Regrets in this marriage? Actually, to be honest, this was what I wanted all along…. A supportive husband, two children, decent in-laws…..what else? Well, yeah, some things we have kind of had problems! Actually, I don’t know if they are problems! Like all husband and wife, we too had our differences. He loved travelling…. But I hate it! Actually, I hate packing, I hate planning what to wear on which day and I hate planning what to do when we reach our destination. But he loves the whole idea so much that he will start planning for a holiday in May, in January itself! He is that crazy! He likes eating local food, trekking, parasailing, and most of all he loves walking! He will walk and walk and kill me and the children in the process! What I like is, during the holidays, to sit on the bed or on the couch and read stories together, read poems together, watch movies together. Which he hates completely! He gets annoyed with the stories or poems I write and I love to discuss authors, their writing styles, and their lives in such detail! Which he won’t even listen to for the first two minutes!
The other and the main difference is the way he likes intimacy. Initially, I thought we were both very young and we didn’t know what we exactly wanted. But later, I realised that we were both so physically incompatible that we would just give in to each other just for the sake of the relationship. I liked steamy hot sex, the type you read about in books and the type you watch on porn! He, on the other hand, wanted vanilla sex! So just imagine, one wants hot, super spicy Hyderabad biriyani and gets a cold vanilla ice cream! We tried quite a few times to discuss what we must do and how we must do it but that area remained grey for us! Then after 10 years, I gave up. I would just roll over and let him do whatever he wanted and slept off after that!
How did that feel? It felt awful! I hated doing it and would come up with the standard, “Darling, I have a headache” line! Then would look for reasons to sleep with the kids and now we stopped doing it totally! He too I guess grew tired of the acting.
But he loves me and he loves the kids. So when I heard from him that he was in a relationship, I was confused! I didn’t know if I was supposed to feel happy or sad. The last few years in our relationship, we have literally grown so apart that nothing bothers me anymore! Yes, I want him, but I want him because he is the only provider in my life. Where will I go if I leave him? I haven’t worked for so many years….none will employ me. How will I manage with the kids? And I want to stay in a marriage also for the kids. They don’t deserve this mess their father has got into! And children who come from divorced houses become criminals and get mentally and emotionally disturbed for the rest of their lives. So yes, I will have to stay and somehow save this marriage.
What will I do? I don’t know….. I’ll stay and we will see….. Maybe he will get bored of that girl and leave her. Maybe he will understand his mistake and come back to us. Maybe, that girl will ditch him and he will come back crying! I don’t know! But honestly, this relationship has worn me out totally. I am tired of giving in and doing these mundane things….. I should have been the one getting a boyfriend not him! He didn’t give me the intimacy I needed, he didn’t give me the intellectual intimacy I needed and he did what he wanted all these years!
(To be continued)
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Meenakshi is an alternative therapist/ healer, recruitment freelancer, volunteer at the Spastics Society of Karnataka, works for a women-centric NGO, Durga, and an entrepreneur. Recently she started an enterprise in association with some weavers, in sarees and accessories. Writing poetry, prose, articles and short stories is her favourite pastime. A keen observer of life, she gets her inspiration from everyday situations, and people that make her canvas come alive with their lives, styles and emotions.