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Vimla must have just drifted off to sleep when her husband Sailesh woke her up. It was well past midnight and the summer s heat was oppressive. It was annoying to be woken up but she realized that the matter had to be urgent for Sailesh to disturb her knowing that it had been a long day for her. They had entertained friends and the group had left an hour earlier. Vimla had put off the cleaning up for morning declaring that she was tired. Together they had put away left over food in the fridge, changed into soft home clothes after a refreshing bath and fallen flat on their respective beds – Vimla preferring to use a mat spread on the floor.
Vimla, there is something I wish to tell you
Can it not wait till morning?
I think I am getting attracted to SRP. I need your help.
Whaaaaaaat??? You mean to say that after 30 years of our marriage you find yourself attracted to a female colleague about half your age? Are you crazy?? Do you know or understand what you say? And what about her? Does she reciprocate or is it one sided? Do you expect me to talk to her husband and request him to divorce her? What do you take me for? I am surprised that you have the gumption to even admit your misplaced interest in a married woman. You should have nipped off such feelings the moment they arose in your mind
Vimla was hysterical.
I have no one to turn to but you. Yes, SRP knows of my interest in her and she derives sadistic pleasure in taunting me. That drives me crazy. I may end up doing something that I do not want to do.
What does she do?
She deliberately ignores me and talks to a colleague walking by my side. She is pleasant to everyone including the peon who serves tea and engages him in meaningless conversation when I am around. I know that she does it on purpose.
Considering your age I am sure that she must be having a good laugh behind your back in the ladies room. And as for the other ladies they too must be having a good laugh at your expense. How could you let yourself become a laughing stock and that too when you are nearing retirement? And why am I listening to this nonsensical declaration from you. If you do not have your head on your shoulders the problem is yours not mine. If you do something stupid I am not coming anywhere near you. You will face the consequences alone. I am leaving for my brother’s place as soon as I get a confirmed ticket.
Please don t do that. Tell me what I should do. I promise to listen to whatever you say.
Leave me alone please. Did you ask for my permission when you allowed yourself to fantasize about a married woman? What do you expect me to do now?
Vimla wished she could pick up a suitcase and walk out. She needed time to digest the information given by her husband. She wondered whether she should talk to the girl concerned? Should she take her husband for psychiatric counseling? It however seemed that she could benefit by some counseling herself. The suddenness of the unfortunate admission left her head reeling and she wondered if she was on the verge of losing her mental balance. Would it be proper to leave for her brother’s place? Did Sailesh really need her support or was he taking undue advantage of her trust in him. But then how many men would be able to turn to their wives for help given the circumstances?
It was true that as a couple their compatibility was excellent. But was it? If she had been in her husband s place and made such a wild confession to him what would have been his reaction? She could not decide. It was all so confusing. She realized that tears were streaming down her cheeks. Were they tears of self-pity?
In the middle of all this it was surprising that she did not bear SRP any ill will. As a woman she felt like taking her side. She could laugh and talk to anyone she wanted to. Sailesh had no business feeling provoked. Their conjugal life was just about okay. Like most others of her age she thought. Perhaps this was the reason why she did not expect her husband to be attracted to another woman. But who gets to decide what was proper and what was not? Sleep eluded her but by daybreak she had decided. She would talk to SRP and let her know that she knew and that she was on her side. She had to stop her from seeking amusement at her husband’s expense. Being young she perhaps did not realize that it was not safe to provoke a man. She somehow felt responsible for SRP’s safety.
As for her husband of many years, he needed her too. She could not ignore his pleas to help him out. Striking a balance between her role as a wife and a woman was not easy. But she had to do it. She got up from bed and saw her husband reading Hanuman Chalisa in a bid to gain mental strength. He was making an effort. God help him. God help her too. She needed to be strong enough to help him as well as to make him realize that she could not be taken for granted. But she could not bring herself to find satisfaction by reading spiritual texts. She was far too practical and she needed to act fast.
Is there any end to the expectations from a woman by society? She found herself wondering.
Pic credit: Bill
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