“Why you have reduced your identity to being wife –daughter of somebody? That’s not your only identity. You are gifted, you need to be known, appreciated liked or criticized for your own qualities and work.”
“So you are the one??”
“Is that a question or statement that you made?”
“JUST A STATEMENT ….”
“Yes I am the one … your husband’s girlfriend.”
“Are you not ashamed of yourself?”
“Why should I? I am not the one who is cheating.”
“But you are dating a married man …”
“So … ?”
“You came between us …”
“I guess you gave the answer yourself …”
“You accepted yourself that there was space between both of you.”
“And you filled it …”
“What do you want from me?”
“I want you to leave my husband.”
“So … here comes … you are here for yourself.”
“No … I am here for you.”
Radhika and Sumit got married four years back. This marriage was arranged by their parents but before the wedding she had dated her husband for two long years. Sumit was working with a software company and was recently promoted to the position of vice president at the time of their marriage .
Radhika was pursuing her post-graduation in English when her parents forced her to meet Sumit. She liked Sumit and all her plans for completing PH.D became distant. After her post-graduation examinations they got married.
She was told that she is lucky to have Sumit but what she actually got was a distant husband who was always surrounded by other women, the impossibility of returning home and the loneliness. He wanted a wife, a beautiful one but with no mind of her own. She must follow the instructions given by her husband whether on bed or at parties.
Gradually she lost sight of who she was. Her days were spent watching television and nights were spent preparing dinner for her husband. Sumit was not ready for kids so she was left with a house that was always empty, a husband who never took her on his long business trips. She was aware about his flings, but still she was too petrified to confront him. Poona was a beautiful city but she was forced by her personal hell to spend months indoors with her books. Books were the only companion she was left with.
In public they simulate a role of happy and madly in love couple. Sex was a routine affair which entirely hinged on Sumit’s mood and desire. There was no love left in between them – in fact it had never been.
Both her parents and Sumit were successful in seizing the self-confidence of Radhika. If Sumit left her, her life will be ruined. Whatever she is, it’s just because that she was Mrs. Sumit Shukla. Her parents kept on repeating that she can’t afford to lose Sumit. She was confident that Sumit will never leave her as he didn’t want to earn a bad name for his family.
And then she heard about Riya, a new manager at the office and his new love interest too.
Riya used to work in the same company and it was a casual relationship between them at the beginning. Sumit was extremely good looking, hardworking and could make her laugh so easily. From her side it was not love but she could feel the strong connection between them. At many times even Sumit confessed his romantic feelings for her. Sometime later he told her about his marriage, that he wasn’t happy with his wife and his marriage was a nightmare. They were physically intimate too though he couldn’t convince Riya of his unhappiness.
Each time their intimacy felt deeper than before. Despite feeling immoral, there was also a matter of loneliness and Sumit was making her feel special, making her feel loved. She allowed herself to get involved with a married man and it was not a one night stand. She knew that she was even letting her down in front of herself.
Then one day she got a call from his wife Radhika. She confronted her about her relationship with Sumit. After few days of chat they decided to meet.
“Come again Radhika, you are here for me …?!”
“You are his latest hook up. And you will not be the last one either.”
“But he says that he loves me.”
“He may love you, probably right now yes he does. But that isn’t what matters. What matters is what he is doing about it and what he is doing about your relationship is nothing.”
“He says he will do eventually and moreover right now both of us are focused on our respective careers. So I guess he is right that we are not ready for any kind of …”
“It’s all bullshit men spread to convince women of their role and position. Fact is men are shit–scared of talented women like you.”
Riya raised her eyebrow as if she was surprised to hear these words from the mouth of his boyfriend’s wife.
“My dear I know you love him, but please know that he doesn’t deserve you. You need someone who goes out of their way to make it obvious that they want you in their life. You are smart, in fact the most attractive woman I have met. But you are alone too, but don’t let anyone else make use of this sensitive situation.”
“At work too you are stellar; you could be a CEO one day or a successful entrepreneur.”
“Yeah … but without love.”
“What nonsense. With true love.”
Riya kept on staring at Radhika.
“Why are you looking at me like this?”
“You are not angry? You had every right to insult me.”
Radhika looked at her for a second and then shook her head and gave a sad smile. She took a deep breath and then replied …
“A man remains a man no matter how poor his conduct. A woman, even if she were to stray for one instance, from the role given to her by men, is branded a whore. She is viewed with lust and contempt. Society closes on her the doors it leaves ajar for a man stained by the same ink. If both are equal, why are our barbs reserved for the woman?”
“Saadat Hasan Manto …”
“You know this quote…!”
“Yes Radhika I am a big admirer of his way of writing.”
“Tell me what you do Radhika?”
“I am busy doing nothing …”
“So you are a home maker …”
“Why do you say so? Do you think that housewives do nothing?”
“You said it yourself”
“Let’s change the topic. What do you like to read apart from Manto?”
“Ernest Hemingway, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Firaq Gorakhpuri and …”
She was interrupted by Riya in between.
“Don’t tell me it is Ismat Chughtai …”
“Yes she is the one … I adore her.”
“Not only are our name initials but our likes also same.”
“Yes! Even the man in our life…”
“Fuck him! Tell me more about you?”
“Nobody knows I am alone
Smile is fake, I am not a Sloan
The real me is left far behind
Not ready to condone …”
“Wow … who is the writer of these beautiful lines?”
“Not any one renowned …”
“They’re written by me …”
“What? You are such a gem! Do you know this?”
“You are flattering me.”
“Not at all! I never say anything to please anyone. Why you have reduced your identity to being wife –daughter of somebody? That’s not your only identity. You are gifted, you need to be known, appreciated liked or criticized for your own qualities and work.”
A few minutes of silence prevailed between them.
“You love travelling Riya?”
“Yes I do …”
“Traveling is like …like…”
“Healing session …?”
“Radhika I am getting a feeling that you are my lost soul mate.”
“The feeling is mutual.”
They talked and talked on several amazing issues. They even laughed and cried together.
Radhika felt heard, complete and strong.
Riya felt that she was not alone anymore; this was the association she was yearning for.
“Radhika …thanks for coming here. Before meeting you I was little sceptical about my relationship with Sumit, but now I am sure about my decision.”
“Good. I never met any of his girlfriends before. But with you everything was different. He doesn’t deserve you because you are a warrior who deserves a warrior who would go to the ends of the earth bending every norm of this society for holding you once in his arms.”
“Awe …..so sweet . But right now I want to hold you in my arms.”
They hugged each other.
“Radhika, you are my beautiful fierce woman. He doesn’t deserve you either. He had lost his sun in the quest of running behind shadows. I know you are wilted. I know you are physically and emotionally drained but you have to collect all your strength and leave this abusive relationship.”
“But …what about my parents and what will society think about me?”
“You have given enough to your parents. Now it’s their turn to understand your suffering and be the stepping stone of your life. And if they would fail you again, stop seeing them because then they never loved you. And stop thinking about what others will think about you. It’s their job not yours.”
“But how will I survive?”
“I know you fear coming out of your comfort zone. The abuse which you are suffering has placed you behind an invisible line that you just can’t find the strength to cross. But see – a few minutes ago you were not even comfortable enough to talk about your goals. But now you are discussing about the ways of rebuilding your life. Shed the skin of this weak woman and bare yourself.”
“And where will I go …?”
“Hmmmm …Come to me.”
“I had been searching for a flat mate for my new rented apartment. You could move in with me. Many companies are hiring creative people like you. I can even help you with the job hunt. Who knows, you may end up being a successful writer. Many stories are searching a writer like you.”
“You are offering me a place to stay with you, but how will I repay you? I don’t have …”
“You need not pay anything till you fetch a job for yourself. And after that don’t forget to pay your share.”
“I will be joining you soon Riya.”
“I will wait for you. I think I am in love, can’t wait to share the apartment with you. But yes before that we need to settle a few things.”
They giggled together.
“I am going to kick out that ass from my life. What are you going to say to him Radhika?”
Radhika held Riya’s hand and whispered in her ear …
“Bid him Adieu.”
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