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A short story on how a reckless judgment can take us to the verge of an end. Maybe next time, we judge someone, we give that person a chance.
This post is one of the part of a special series on #FreedomToBe, where we share stories about one’s relationship status and the judgement that often comes with it.
After having checked all lights, fans, and the gas cylinder for the tenth time, I stepped out. My eyes fell on my ‘one-week-old’ neighbor. She came out, carrying a bucket of clothes. Lowering the bucket with an angry thud, she glared at me. Picking up a wet shirt she whipped it in the air. The air smelled of detergent; stepping backward, I covered my nose even as my whole body was rocked with a sudden sneeze. Giving me a scornful look, she continued with her work.
I could hear a faint, disdainful ‘Hmm.’
I wondered, “What’s with her? We haven’t even met or spoken. I don’t know what she heard about me that invoked such a reaction.”
Walking to the gate, I hailed an auto-rickshaw and asked him to take me to the bus station.
The lady clerk at the oval window handed me the two tickets and tossed a knowing, friendly smile. I blushed deeply.
“No, no… Dharani, positive thoughts, Breath,” I self-hypnotized.
As the bus gathered speed, the neighbor’s scowl faded and Vivek Sharma entered my thoughts. I longed for his tight embrace.
“Vivek Sharma… you make me feel strong and vulnerable at the same time,” I wanted to say aloud.
What would Vivek Sharma do when I would say that to him? Would he pull me closer to himself or would he lift his head and laugh?
What would Vivek Sharma do when I would say that to him? Would he pull me closer to himself or would he lift his head and laugh? What had he planned for my birthday? I chuckled as I recalled how Vivek hated being referred to as, ‘Mr. Sharma’. It reminded him of his ruthless father who disowned his kids after his sister married outside the caste and Vivek helping her. The bus finally reached Warangal.
Twenty minutes later, I pressed the bell to Vivek’s flat.
Vivek opened the door and looked stunned at me.
“Surprise,” I screamed with my hands in the air, brushed past him and entered the living room.
“Hey, you were not supposed to come until tomorrow. How come you are early?”
That was when I saw her. She might be in her early twenties. Dressed in a peach salwar suit and her hair left open, she seemed pretty sure of herself. My mind was in turmoil. Who was this girl in Vivek’s flat? Or, most probably his life!
Vivek introduced us to each other.
“She is Malati, my colleague,” he said to me and turning towards her, said, “And meet Dharani… You know who she is.”
She smiled, but I was already consumed by fire. Holding Vivek’s arm, I dragged him into the bedroom.
“What’s going on here? Who and why is she here? Are you having an affair?”
“What?! Are you insane?! She is a client of mine and I am helping her with her divorce. She’s here only for the weekend and will leave when she finds a new place.”
“Oh, please… Don’t all relations start in the same way? These young bitches come into our lives and we lose our partners to them,” I muttered.
“Watch your words, Dharani. I will not allow you talking like that.”
“Oh, so now, it is her over me…?”
Within no time, our argument escalated and we were screaming at the top of each other’s voices.
Vivek’s, ‘Lawyer-client confidentiality issue’, seemed baseless to me. I felt cheated and furious.
“Okay, be with the bitch. You deserve each other,” I said, picking up my luggage and rushing out. I was filled with rage, disgust, and humiliation. How can he do this to me? I tried hard not to cry, but the tears just wouldn’t stop.
The next couple of days, both Vivek’s and my colleagues tried very hard to negotiate a peace treaty. But I could not be swayed!
Monday morning, hearing a knock on the door, I opened it and saw a lady dressed in a police uniform standing outside.
“There is a complaint from your neighbor that you are running a prostitution racket.”
“What?!” I screamed, wide-eyed. I tried to explain my situation to the lady police inspector, but she wouldn’t listen.
“You can say whatever you want in the court,” she said, pulling me behind her.
The neighbors stared at me. Curiosity, disgust, and condescension filled their eyes.
Like Sita Mayya, I wanted the earth to split open and suck me into its womb.
Like Sita Mayya, I wanted the earth to split open and suck me into its womb. Even as the lady inspector dragged me behind her, my neighbors stood staring at us. I wished my heart would stop pounding and I was dead. In the police station, I pleaded with the inspector to allow me to make one call.
Couple hours later, Vivek, rushed into the Police Station and walked over to the inspector, “Sir, she is my wife. I work in Warangal and she in Hyderabad. We meet on the weekends.” He showed the wedding pictures to the inspector. I was finally released on bail.
As we walked out, my thoughts flew to my scowling neighbor who had taken upon herself the arduous task of casting aspersions upon my character. I felt hot and angry. I wanted to fight. Then I thought about Vivek’s face on the day of our fight. How hurt he looked! And Malathi all the more stunned.
Realization dawned upon me. I had behaved just like my unthinking neighbor. Perhaps Vivek was speaking the truth. I should have listened to him. Remorse washed over me. “Vivek, I… am sorry?” I muttered, wiping my tears. I was guilty to even look into his eyes.
“Hey, Calm down. It’s okay,” he said wrapping his arm around me.
Cover photo via Shutterstock
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