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But I was not excited, rather I was edgy, imagining what is going to happen in the next few hours. Will he be gentle? Will he force himself upon me? How do I say no today?
“Let’s keep the lights on today, darling.”
“No!” I almost screamed, then somehow controlled myself. Taking a deep breath, I tried to sound as sweet as possible, “Please dear, you know I don’t feel Ok with the lights on.”
“But, I want to see your face while making love. You never agree.” Despair was clear in his voice.
“Please,” I repeated, with a much pleading voice, and my sweet husband, as usual gave in.
And the lights were turned off, before we embarked on our bedroom ritual.
We had a love marriage three years ago. Samudra was a good friend, who proposed to me at the right time. Right time, as in, I was single, 27 years old, and my parents were searching for the perfect groom on matrimony sites!
My answer to him was yes. Did I love him? I’m not sure. Did I trust him? A big yes.
Basically, I was afraid of intimacy. No, no, don’t get me wrong. I do not have any aversion towards romance. Poems and songs of love were the poisons I thrived on. Whispering sweet nothings, lost in each other’s eyes and discussing everything possible under the sky, was my idea of ideal romance. But, physical intimacy made me anxious. I didn’t know if it was a problem or just my mind playing with me, but, I could never discuss it with anyone.
So with this ‘touch-me-not’ syndrome, the very idea of arranged marriage and sharing bed with some stranger made me cringe from the core. Samudra was my quick fix. Did I tell him that? Of course not. Never.
A brief period of dating, mostly spent in coffee shops and discussing how to convince my conservative parents was the real history of our affair. Within a few months the wedding date was fixed with our parent’s blessings. Everything fell into place.
In the few meetings post engagement, Samudra did try to get cozy, but very diplomatically I dodged it. He took it as the shyness of a typical Indian girl and I thanked our overrated ‘sanskriti’ for the narrow escapes.
Soon the D day arrived. It was our first night together. The mushy details read in books or seen in movies crowded my mind. But I was not excited, rather I was edgy, imagining what is going to happen in the next few hours. Will he be gentle? Will he force himself upon me? How do I say no today? Anxiety was killing me from within and I must have looked all flustered because the first thing he said on entering the room was, “Are you feeling okay? You do not look so good.”
Timidly I replied that I was too exhausted after the day’s ordeal and a good sleep would cure me. He placed a quick kiss on my forehead and added, “Why are you so distressed? We have the whole life together. Why don’t you get some good sleep now?”
Oh, what a sweetheart he was! I felt so guilty.
Tougher days were ahead. It was not possible to avoid him on our honeymoon and though we had consummated the marriage, I could feel something was amiss. The passion, the sensuousness that I read or heard about were just absent. I just wanted it to end. And I realised I was just not interested in sex. But, somehow I could never gather the courage to confess that. Rather, I decided to play along.
At first it was hard, but my acting prowess improved with time. Darkness helped. At times I felt I was cheating Samudra but, I consoled myself. Wasn’t I otherwise a good wife? He was my best friend. We watched movies, cricket, attended parties together and planned our future with passion. I really liked him, so what if I was not physically attracted to him? I fought within myself and life rolled on.
It was almost after a year of our wedding. We were lying on the bed, each busy on their own phone. Suddenly he complained, “You never make the first move. It is always me who is trying to start the act. It seems like you never want this.”
It was an unexpected blow, and I decided to take it head on,
“Maybe I am asexual?” I blurted out.
A few seconds of silence were followed by a chuckle. “What’s that?”
“Someone who does not experience sexual attraction.”
“For anyone? Like not for any man or woman?”
“Nope. ” I replied, in a grave tone.
“Huh, don’t make things up. There is nothing like that,” he turned around and was soon snoring.
Lying wide awake in the dark room, I remembered the conversation I had with a shrink I had visited secretly a few months after marriage.
“Yes, I think you are asexual. In our country, where talking about sex is a taboo, we don’t get to know our orientation before marriage. This is normal.
I understand in a world where sex and relationships are everywhere, life for someone who has no instinct for those things can be very isolating, lonely and distressing. Many asexuals feel ‘broken’ because they do not experience the same wants and desires as ‘everybody else’. Many asexuals lead unhappy lives by trying to be ‘normal’. You can confess or just carry on the act. Now the decision is yours.”
But, I could never confess. Today I had my bravest attempt, but, maybe Samudra isn’t yet ready to accept the truth.
“Shall we try again tonight?” Samudra asked gently.
We have been trying for a baby for some time now. But, my acting wasn’t being sufficient I guess.
“Yes, we have to. My calendar says it is my fertile day. Please put off the light.”
“Let us keep the lights on……”
Someday I need to come out of this closet. Samudra needs to know the truth. Just not today.
Image source: a still from the film Thappad
Sreeparna Sen, Banker by profession, finds her solace in writing. A Computer Engineer by education, she is a voracious reader. When she is not dealing with the loan documents, you can mostly find her nose read more...
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