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I could not ask everyone how and why I am expected to take it as normal, that ‘men stray’. But I did. I spent a few more years here, silent and dead inside.
The fifth winner of our January 2020 Muse of the Month contest is Sarita Nirjhra.
The newspaper had front page coverage of awards given to people with literary achievements. There was a picture of a women in her early 50s holding her book ‘Butterfly – Success Journey On A Broken Path’.
A familiar face made him twitch his mouth. It is been a few years, but his smashed ego was still in pain, and alas he could not do much. A woman made him leave his city and settle in this small town. He sat on the chair and closed his eyes, going through a volley of emotions and flashbacks of that day.
A corner villa of the society. Nicely done up garden with a few mud dwarfs making a cute picture.
Inside, there was a deafening silence.
Every corner of the home proved the creative streak of the owner. Tall brass statues and fresh flowers. Canvas paintings adorning the wall, with books primarily giving a feel of the library.
Aesthetically designed rooms with curtains flowing in the March breeze. The weather was comparatively hot for the pre Holi days, but then global warming is no small issue, and maybe the heated arguments of the night before had raised the temperature of the villa.
The kitchen had few sounds of utensils. Apart from that there were sounds of breathing. Some tense, some relaxed, some with anticipation and some were gone.
The bell rang.
“Barnali, please check,” a male voice came from other room.
“Ji Bhaiya.” A girl in her 20s, most probably a house maid, went and opened the door.
She returned and said, “Bhaiya, sabziwala is here with the weekly vegetables. Memsahib ordered it early in the morning.”
The man looked up. Resentment visible on his face.
“She ordered it in the morning?”
“Hmm… pay him and tell him that now onwards we will manage and collect on our own if anything is required. Do ask him if any dues are left.”
There were a few other faces in the house.
Perplexed and confused.
How could she plan so much before leaving.
This house has never been without her. 24 years and this house has seen her changing from a young girl to graceful woman.
She embraced her marriage and motherhood in these 4 walls. She was one of the strongest pillars of the house handling all relationships together, but today all stands bare as if it was always decayed and she somehow managed to keep the odour in control. People saw what she wanted them to see, and now she is free from all.
“What exactly did she write? Read that letter,” a man in his late 40s, said to the young man.
“Chachu, I don’t want to. I know what must be there. I am just accepting the fact which was inevitable, but don’t really want to read it again and again.”
He looked towards a girl sitting near window looking out, lost in her thoughts. ”You read. You were mom’s favourite and you idolized her. You being daughter of the house should be know what is happening.” He handed over the letter to the young girl.
The girl in her mid-twenties was dressed in last night’s clothes. Hair tied in a messy bun and with specs on her nose, she made a pretty picture.
During all these a figure with stern look, helpless yet angry was sitting on the corner chair. His face had intense emotions and giving away his frustration to his defeat.
The girl open up the letter and adjusted her specs and started reading.
This letter is for no one particular as my reason for going away is not a secret. Things have long been in front of everyone, but it has been a deliberate choice to keep it dusted under the carpet as if it was normal, and that I being the woman should accept it.
I know that the first question will be why now?
You all might reason with me that the past few years have been according to you all, happy, peaceful.
I had always had this question in my mind – what is happiness all about?
Is it the peace in one’s home at the cost of self respect?
Is it the priorities which we woman are expected to follow, considering everyone and everything above us?
Is it the duty assigned to us in unwritten form while we enter the wedlock? I have also always thought – why is wedlock called a ‘lock’?
Maybe it is a barrier around a woman, whose key is with the man who moves around in the world keeping the key in his pocket, hence becoming the master.
I have always been the talkative one, who loved to share the minutest details of the day, without understanding that every step of mine is being weighed upon some invisible scale!
I always scored less.
So the long talks become short, short ones became statements, statements converted to information, and hence over the years I learned to be to the point.
We were 2 people who grew up together but in different directions, and were together only for the sake of children and society. Let’s accept this; I have accepted this a long time ago.
So after 24 years of marriage, my leaving the house with a few belongings that I consider mine, with the divorce papers kept on the table, might be not an acceptable situation.
Yes it is not.
Neither was the scene when I was made the scapegoat for everything wrong in the marriage, when the can of worms tumbled out in the form of extra martial affairs.
I never could muster up the courage to slap you back for that one day.
I could not ask everyone how and why I am expected to take it as normal, that ‘men stray’. But I did. I spent a few more years here, silent and dead inside. Seeping and sinking into depression time and again.
Yet I did. I did this to prepare myself.
I did what looked like ‘accepting’ the situation, but I was just preparing for the life I choose now.
I waited to finish off my duties.
I waited to become financially independent again, and make a comeback in my career.
I waited to make myself believe that this man does not deserve me.
I waited to make my children understand the trauma a broken relationship can bring, and make a golden triangle with me and them.
I waited to make children understand that most relationships work. They won’t fail in their relationships as I did.
I waited to make them independent and fly in their sky.
I waited to make you relax, and then give you the jolt of your life.
I waited to make you regret forever.
I waited to leave once the time was right.
I waited to take up a decision on my own, without anyone’s interference.
I waited to make you suffer… now alone.
My address is mentioned below. Sign the papers and send them there.
The terms and conditions are written here. Let me remind you there is no money involved. I became independent long back, financially, emotionally, mentally.
I want you to enjoy your wealth alone, or with your rented companions.
Before you react and raise your usual slurs for me, please understand that I won’t hesitate to make every proof of my accusations public.
Your high profile stature is in danger, along with your fake personality.
It might sound like threat, so accept it that way only.
Do the needful.
The letter ended. The with expressions on every face had changed. The man with the stern look was pale faced, as if he has been bared in front of everyone.
The young man got up. Opened the envelope and saw the papers.
“Sign it Dad. She has gone from your world to make her own universe. Needless to say we are more happy in her universe. I am sure it would be a better place as she has decided what she wants for herself. The world would be better if women could decide what they want. I wish she could have mustered the courage long back.”
The papers fluttered and he opened his eyes. The newspapers fluttered with picture of the writer poet and entrepreneur woman – who chose her success journey on broken path.
Editor’s note: It’s the new decade of the new millennium, and here’s a fresh theme for our beloved writing contest, Muse of the Month. In 2020, we bring to you quotes feminist women achievers around the world – we hope to bring you some food for thought, and look forward to the same engaging short stories that are a hallmark of our Muse of the Month contests.
Here’s the woman for January 2020 – sassy, bold, clear in her vision about what she wanted from life, an unconventional Indian woman who broke all rules about the ‘good Indian girl’, Sushmita Sen came into the limelight when she was crowned Miss Universe 1994. She then went on to do modelling assignments and films, but is better known for her life choices – be it adopting her two daughters as a single woman, being unapologetic about openly being in a relationship with a much younger man, or her dignified way of dealing with all that life threw at her. The cue is this quote by her: “The world would be a better place if the woman decides what she wants for herself!”
Sarita Nirjhra wins a Rs 500 Amazon voucher from Women’s Web. Congratulations!
Image source: shutterstock
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