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“Now listen, homosexuality has always existed… The all knowing ‘silence’ has hidden it in her womb… let silence hide our love too…” A short story.
“Dreams…are invariably seeking to express something that the ego does not know and does not understand.” – Carl Jung
We passionately explored each other’s bodies bringing out intense pleasure. I arched my body supporting myself on one hand and played with Jenny’s curly mop of hair with the other hand as we made love. Beads of perspiration, satisfied moans and smiles indicated our happiness. Even as I lay in bed with Jenny, happily exhausted, I couldn’t help comparing Jenny with Revant.
Jenny is the aerobics instructor at the gym, which I had joined four months ago to shed my post pregnancy weight. She is of my age and she is an absolutely simple and practical girl. Our attraction was mutual and in a moment of madness, I had surrendered to my passion. Our love was hidden well from the society’s prying eyes. Jenny understood my thought- the spoken as well as unspoken ones- and she loved me for what I was. To us, love and care, without any sort of pretense was most important. Ours was a love between two equals, nourishing mind and body, without any ego hassles or botheration. Jenny’s love had made me calm and peaceful.
My husband Revant is handsome, educated, rich … but there has always been a certain unspoken distance between us. His approach is that of entitlement and his love is centered on his happiness and pleasure, rather than mine. Ours, like millions of others, is a relationship where the two sexes compete instead of complimenting.
Actually, Revant isn’t all that bad; he has a soft side too. He is a good provider, a good son and a son-in-law. When my father was sick Revant had supported my parents in every way. My parents are very proud of him. But, I find Revant’s chauvinism and dominance absolutely suffocating. I alone face this part of him every day. I have always questioned if it is natural and normal to treat one’s life partner shabbily, taking her for granted, treating her as nothing more than an object to satisfy carnal desires or, just as a reproductive machine? Why can’t men support their partners, recognizing and encouraging their intellectual potential or ambitions? Why is a woman often left at the receiving end?
Before marriage, Revant had promised to support my career but a few months after marriage, I had to give up my well-paying job to maintain sanity at home. My career was not for money alone, it was also to satisfy my soul, my being. My pregnancy was accidental and I was totally unprepared to go through it. Revant had ruled out my plans to terminate my pregnancy. I carried that grudge for a long time till Devansh began to make his presence felt, then, of course, I fell in love with my baby, more than anything else in this world. I still resent Revant’s unilateral decision making on such a serious issue which involved my body and mind.
Whenever I grumbled, mom said, “Everyone makes mistakes. If you think of Revant as dominating and self-centered, you too aren’t above that, I find you myopic and selfish! Think about it. Accept realities of life. Rarely do you come across men who really respect their wives and support them.
Not all women are blessed. Staying single is not a good option either, as you will have to forgo so many other facets of life in the bargain. Society can be very inconsiderate and intolerant. So, compromise is the key. You win some issues and lose some others and it is best to ignore the rest. That is life. For a marriage to survive and mature, one has to sacrifice a lot and also compromise. A woman’s role here is crucial. That is why we call her a Homemaker.”
“C-o-m-p-r-o-m-i-s-e, how much of it and for how long? Can’t men and women simply cooperate and coexist? Where is the need for this one-upmanship?” I had screamed.
Revant had left for Switzerland on his company’s deputation when Devansh was hardly one month old. With Devansh and Jenny claiming my time and attention, in all these months I had not missed Revant a bit; rather I was free from our daily frictions and I enjoyed my freedom. I must admit that Jenny’s love had changed my world; loving her had been a path of self-discovery to me. I never knew my own bisexuality till I met her. Perhaps I would never have…
Revant called up a couple of days ago, informing about the completion of his project and his return from Switzerland. That’s when I lost my sanity. I suddenly become aware of the reality of my life and my commitments, from which I had tried to run. Was giving in to my passion a mistake, or was it a sort of therapy to learn and discover myself? I had to now choose between my commitments and my passion. I was greedy; I wanted it all, I did not want to sacrifice one for the other…
Jenny instinctively looked up and asked,“What happened love? You are tense. What is bothering you?”
I hugged her tightly and mumbled, “Jenny, Revant will be back shortly and then we may not be able to meet like this. We have to end our affair before …”
Jenny cut my speech in the middle, “Love, if you can’t live with him, divorce him. We can live together happily. Let us raise Devansh together.”
How simple was Jenny’s ‘childlike’ solution? My mind was like a beehive. I rolled over to the other end of the bed and replied, “It is not that simple. I am already feeling very guilty for having given into my desires. If Revant gets to know about us, he will throw me out of his life and I will also lose Devansh! Revant is very headstrong, you see.”
Jenny had come out of the closet long ago; she had faced society bravely from a very young age. But I was married and also a mother of a six-month-old child. Divorcing Revant would be tough; that would affect all my other relationships too. My own parents wouldn’t support me. Society loves moral policing but it doesn’t try to help the hapless souls stuck in unhappy relationships. Especially we, women are totally stuck. We need miracles to help us out. It is still a man’s world!
Ego has been the biggest enemy of our marriage. If he had been dominant and self-centered, I too wasn’t an angel! In retaliation, I was also careless and extravagant many times, just to spite him. But giving into my carnal desires and throwing caution to the wind was my biggest folly. For the first time, I was thinking seriously about the entanglement I had got into. I should have been more responsible. Adultery couldn’t be justified!
Jenny stretched her arm and traced my profile lovingly. “Love, you are lost in your thoughts. Shall I make some tea for you? Cheer up, my girl! Together we can sort out all the issues.”
Jenny got off the bed, pulling up her track pant.
I stared blankly; I debated mentally again and again, over the pros and cons of our affair. Either way, I would be unfair! Suppression of my emotions in marriage had given rise to my resentment towards Revant, the institution of marriage and the societal norms. In my secretive rebellion, I had derived a strange gratification! But…
Jenny interrupted my thoughts again, “Mansi, I forgot to tell you that I have got a fantastic job offer from a club in Dubai…”
“Jenny, please don’t bother to make tea. I have to rush home. Devansh would have woken up. My mother-in-law can not handle him alone. I will talk to you later.”
I cut her curtly. I was lost in a world of my own still. I had to disentangle the web I had woven around myself. I dressed up hurriedly and left Jenny’s flat, even as she stared and frowned.
That night I had a strange dream, wherein, I had been hospitalized following increased blood pressure and abnormal heart beats. My heart beats were so loud that everyone around could hear! After checking me, the doctor gave a morose verdict!
“Yours is a strange case. For the first time in medical history, we have seen a case like this. It is unbelievable that nobody noticed this rare condition in you, in so many years! You have two hearts! Unbelievable! Their activity has been putting immense pressure on your arteries. At once we must operate and remove one of your hearts. It is a major surgery and a risky one too. We could save another life using your spare heart. Your case is so unique that the entire medical fraternity and the media would be equally interested in learning all about your case.”
“No doctor. I don’t want to get operated and have scars on my body. I don’t want to donate a heart of mine. I love myself the way God has made me. Please leave me alone, I don’t want my life under public scrutiny.”
“Mansi, listen. Your body would not be able to take the activity of two hearts. This is going against nature. Don’t be selfish, donate a heart and save a life”, the doctor said.
“Whatever God has given me is natural. Tampering with it is unnatural, hence going against nature. Please leave me alone! If I have been able to manage well for all these years, I can manage well in the future too.”
Even as I argued, pleaded and cried, suddenly Revant walked into the room. Abruptly and mercilessly, he pulled out one of my hearts and gave it away to the doctor! I was left bleeding profusely… nobody seemed to care… I screamed in horror and pain!
I woke up suddenly from sleep, soaked completely in sweat. What a nightmare! Other than me and Devansh, there was nobody in the room. He was sleeping peacefully in his crib. I pulled myself up in the bed. It was still 3:50 am. I went to the washroom and stared at my pale face in the mirror. The trauma of the dream was evident. I was still shivering. As I continued to stare at my image, some parts of the dream began to make sense. I quickly splashed cold water on my face and changed my nightdress. Then sitting by the window, I pulled a shawl tightly around me and looked at the street below. There was absolutely no one on the street. Although the windows were tightly shut, I continued to shiver. Even as I continued to stare at the night sky, I was yawning continuously but I was unable to sleep as my mind and heartbeats had not stabilized yet.
Dream replayed in my mind again. This insane dream had shattered my mental peace and it was driving me crazy! I shuddered again at the way Revant had mercilessly pulled out one of my hearts and given it away to the doctor in the dream. I could not even resist! I felt sorry for myself.
In a fortnight, Revant would be back! His mother had already planned a grand party to welcome her son. With Revant around, everyone would be happy and I too would have to act like a happy wife. This thought made me very uncomfortable. I was now torn between Revant and Jenny. Both of whom I loved and both had major roles to play in my life. To have one, I had to give up the other…
”Unfair!” screamed my heart.
Had Revant not gone away to Switzerland, I would not have got entangled with Jenny. I was guilty of cheating on Revant and for the emotional trauma I would be putting Jenny through. Would Revant accept and forgive my dalliance? Would Jenny forgive me for choosing to please society and giving up her love? If I gave up Devansh for Jenny, would Devansh ever understand and forgive me? If I break away from Revant, would it not disturb Devansh’s upbringing? Should he suffer because of our ego conflicts and intolerance? Should he grow up carrying the burden of my act? Lastly, could I stay away from Devansh and Revant? Where is the proof that my relationship with Jenny would stay fresh forever?
I shuddered at my own thoughts. How could I go away from my bundle of joy, who gave a new meaning to my life and femininity? He was a part of my body for nine months… abandoning him for my new found love, couldn’t be justified. I cringed. Thoughts were choking me… I felt like pulling out and throwing away my brain and heart to stop their contradictions. Revant’s action of pulling out one of my hearts mercilessly and giving it away was perhaps the right thing to do! Much as I loved Jenny, I had to give her up and save my marriage. Yes… that was the hidden message in my dream!
There was nobody to whom I could bare my heart and seek advice. Nobody could be trusted. They would judge me without understanding my dilemma. People think of life only in terms of black and white; they forget that there are so many other colours in all hues and shades, between the two. Bisexuality wasn’t something I planned or even dreamt of. It just happened; it showed a new persona of my own self that I was unaware of. A beautiful story of love, forbidden by the society, had fallen in my lap and I had to lose it now to live a life of respectability within the prescribed confines of the society. Why… why did the almighty bring this forbidden love into my life, when I had not sought it?
My eyes fell on our wedding photograph that sat pretty on the side table. I picked it up and stared at it, Revant and I, both looked so innocent in it! Dreams and hopes for the life ahead were evident in our eyes and smiles. In just a span of three years, without really working at fulfilling our shared dreams, I was ready to nix it all. I was really selfish and bigoted. I had lost sight of the bigger picture due to my stubbornness and resentment. As I moved my fingers on Revant’s image, warm feelings rushed in. All my tender feelings for him which were hitherto lost behind a veil of my pride surged in. How had I not once thought of Revant, before getting involved with Jenny? How would he feel when he gets to know about my affair with Jenny? How would I feel had he done a similar act? Unthinkable!
It is true that Revant had trampled my ambitions and emotions but how could I forget his pampering, patiently overlooking my impulsiveness and shortcomings, possessively supporting me whenever my own mother or his mother criticized me? He had only gone back on his promise regarding my career while I had broken all the sacred vows I had taken during our marriage! In what way was I better, what kind of revenge had I taken? Oh! I hated myself now. Tears flowed unabated. Now my selfishness or helplessness or lack of conviction called for my sacrifice of Jenny. I had no options…. My three year old marriage weighed heavier than my four months old affair!
I had to undo the damage I had caused. I checked the time; it was 5:30 am. Jenny would be getting ready for the morning classes. Wiping my tears, I dialed her number.
“Hi! Good morning”, Jenny responded energetically.
Poor girl! She didn’t know that I was about to break her heart. I blurted abruptly, “Jenny, I have decided not to see you anymore, I am sorry, please forgive me.”
“Hey! Love, what are you saying?”
“After reviewing my life’s entanglements the whole night, I realize I can’t lose Devansh or Revant. I can’t or rather I don’t have the guts to go against the norms of the society. I realized that I love Revant a lot and I can’t lose him”, I sobbed.
“Love, listen, did anybody…?” Jenny’s voice quivered.
“No, Jenny, I am guilty of cheating on my hubby and hurting you. I can’t go with you and lose all my relations earned so far in my life. I am being selfish. But I will confess everything to Revant when he returns and shall seek his forgiveness. I want to start my family life afresh!” I said, amidst my sobs.
“Mansi, don’t be stupid, don’t even think of confessing to Revant. I will be okay. In fact, I should be blamed for leading you, knowing fully that you were married. Now listen, homosexuality has always existed within the confines of the four walls. The all knowing ‘silence’ has hidden it in her womb. In the best interest of everyone concerned, let silence hide our love too…
Revant will not be able to accept our affair. Giving up a life prescribed by the society is difficult for you and I can understand your predicament. Let our love be hidden from the world, inside the deep crevices of our hearts. You were a good wife and a mother before and you shall continue to be the same.”
I continued to sob. I regretted my actions; I was ashamed of myself.
“Mansi, relax! I need to get ready for the classes. I will speak to you later”, Jenny’s voice cracked. Ah! She was hiding her heartbreak and putting on a brave front!
“Jenny, please forgive me…”
“It is okay Mansi. You have taken the right decision. They need you more than I. Just treat our relationship as a fantasy and forget it. Well, it is nearing six. Isn’t it time for Devansh to wake up? Go, get on with your duties. Bye.”
I collapsed to the floor and cried till my eyes were dry.
That afternoon while I was busy organizing Revant’s cupboard, Jenny called up and said without revealing any emotions, “Mansi, I have taken up that Dubai offer and will be leaving the city in a week.”
“Jenny, I am sorry. I am selfish… I can’t rise to your level of selflessness!” I started crying again. Between sniffles, I continued.
“And also, thanks. Your selfless love has taught me to be a better person. I will now work hard on my marriage; I realize what it means to be selfless. I want to compensate whatever Revant missed out all this while. I don’t know how to compensate you for the heartbreak I am causing you. I will always pray for your well being and happiness. My best wishes will always be there for you- my friend, philosopher, and guide. I think I can’t do anything else for you…Please forgive me.”
As our call ended, tears streamed down my face, but I wiped and smiled and cried again.
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