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My parents didn't realise how low, consistently, he made me feel with those scathing remarks over my complexion, body weight and even the size of my breasts.
My parents didn’t realise how low, consistently, he made me feel with those scathing remarks over my complexion, body weight, and even the size of my breasts.
Prateek had turned mysteriously taciturn since my return from the US. This bothered everyone in the house except me. I kind of found my solace in his silence.
Anyway, after waiting for a couple of months we decided to take him to an expert, Dr Ravi. A few sessions down, the doctor decided to talk to me about it.
“Your husband hasn’t been cooperating well during our sessions. He seems lost in his world. Perhaps, you know the exact reasons.”
The psychiatrist had a grave look on his face. He had a bald patch on the head and his thick, droopy moustache along with those broadly framed round glasses made him look, he took his profession too seriously.
I was still trying to understand his grey-shaded gloomy room and his equally dull words when the photo on the glass table fell. It was of him with his wife. His wife looked gorgeous. The glass table created a defined boundary between the two of us.
It made him the authoritative questioner and me a meek questionee.
He continued, “He says, it is to do with you.” He cleared his throat, took some sips of water before hesitating to move further with the conversation.
“Did you cheat on him…like a one night stand? I hope you don’t mind me asking.”
I gave the doctor a disgruntled look. Under the garb of his profession, he was invading my privacy.
“What makes you say so?” I asked keeping my calm.
“Well, he disclosed it during our previous session.” He responded.
“Did he say that with confidence?” I counter questioned.
“Not exactly, but he does suspect you. I don’t know what transpired between you two but I feel that’s the reason for his depression.”
“You have already tagged him as depressed. You just had two meetings with him,” I sniggered.
My response startled him and he got up.
It was when he stood up that I got a complete view of him. He was a stout man with a protruding belly that made him look as though he was pregnant with twins. My baby hadn’t even completed 3 months when Prateek had forced me to join the gym to get rid of my post-pregnancy weight gain. I recalled how tired I had grown listening to his sarcastic comments. My in-laws too took his side. And when I spoke to my parents about it, they felt that he just cared for my well-being and that he said it in jest. Little did they know how low, consistently, he made me feel with those scathing remarks over my complexion, body weight and even the size of my breasts. Physical bruises get their share of acknowledgement but the inconspicuous wound of mental agony remains, conveniently obscure.
I was never and could never look perfect for him. He made me believe I was a buffoon.
“Your wife doesn’t mock you for carrying extra flesh around?” I blurted out.
“Sorry!” He sounded offended.
“Is she happy with your looks? I mean doesn’t she mock you for being bald, fat…”
“Excuse me!” His voice turned raspy.
“Don’t get me wrong.” I continued. “But tell me how would you react to such unruly behaviour regularly from your spouse?”
He looked flummoxed. I knew I had turned the tables.
“There is a thin line of difference between pulling someone’s leg and ridiculing someone. And one needs to respect their spouse and their feelings. Body shaming is a big No.” Said he.
“So what would you do?” I questioned him.
“I might initially try to make her understand that her comments hurt and if it persists… I might just call it quits. You shouldn’t give anyone the right to demean you.” He responded.
“Exactly my point. Prateek has this habit of constantly belittling me. When I try to defend myself, he tells me that I’m not sportive,” said I. “I was at the annual event of my company about to receive the Award for the Best Performer. The recognition had taken its own sweet time to come and eventually I was at the right place anxiously waiting to receive it, feel it… embrace it, and live it as my present and I wanted to make the most of it.
I was to be called to the podium next. I had prepared a special speech for the event and had rehearsed it for almost two months.
That’s when his message popped up. I thought he would have written something special and opened it excitedly. I now curse myself for doing that.”
I passed my cellphone to the doctor for him to read the message.
“On the surface, all may seem calm, but things move forward exactly as they should, in tandem with an unseen natural rhythm.
Honestly, I never wanted to fiddle with that natural rhythm, of love and our marriage for the sake of our baby. But now, I think I’m done with it. Things aren’t normal Jaya, at least I no longer perceive them to be. I want a divorce. We’ll discuss this after your return.
Take care, Be happy.”
“What the fu…..,” the doctor stopped mid-way. “What happened next?” He asked, this time with concern in his eyes.
I closed my eyes and leaned back on my chair reluctant to relive those moments.
“I…I had a panic attack. I completely froze, when my name was called out, all I could do was walk like a zombie, collect my award and leave the venue. I forgot my speech…to thank people….It was a disastrous night.”
My voice choked, disengaging me from talking further.
He passed the tissue box and I took one from it to wipe my tears off. He later offered me some water. I took some sips of it and continued.
“When I confronted him about it over a call, he simply remarked he was joking as he always does and I should have understood that. He blamed me for making a mountain out of a mole. If this was not enough, then he had the cheek to comment on a snap that I was tagged along with a white man on social media.
He said we both looked as if we were representing day and night. It was a direct taunt on my skin colour. And that’s when in a fit of rage I responded saying that the bright day wants to spend some quality time with the sexy night.
I wanted to give him the taste of his own medicine, nothing else. There was nothing dirty in my mind.
And that’s it, since that call he’s been acting weird. I tried telling him it was just sarcastic humour but he won’t accept it and that one retaliation from my end has brought us to this present.” I slumped further on the seat feeling exhausted.
“You have suffered so much mental trauma. You too require some counselling sessions. We can find a way out for you two.” The doctor assured me.
I clasped my hands and thought for a while and later straightened myself and looked at him and said, “No, I don’t need you but a good lawyer.”
He gave me a confused look, “I didn’t get you.”
“Yes doctor, you already have given me the solution. Didn’t you tell me, you would have called it quits?”
I stood up, “There lies my solution doctor. I’m filing for divorce. Thank you so much for the advice.” I shook hands with him and left his cabin with a smile.
This story had been shortlisted for our December 2021 Muse of the Month short fiction contest. The author-juror Ranjani Rao said about this story, “When the tables are turned, better brace yourself for unexpected developments.”
Image source: a still from the film The Namesake
Finance professional,an avid blogger. I write to keep the child in me happy and contented. Contributing author of the poetry anthology Nyctophilia.Children's book Airavata and The Femme of Animal Kingdom. read more...
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