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Now for the latest instalment....
------------------------------------------------“You’re so cute when you lie,” Kavitha says, her eyes bright with amusement.
“Okay. That’s enough of my personal life.” I get annoyed.
“You’re even cuter when you get annoyed.”
“I am not annoyed… See,” I give her an insane smile.
“It’s too bad you’re wife doesn’t know how good a lover you are,” the chicken bone is now clean, completely stripped of any meat, yet she’s still sucking at it.
“It’s too good you’re husband doesn’t know how bad a lover you are,” I retort.
“Liar!” she throws the bone at me. I duck.
“You know what happens to liars? Heard of Pinocchio? Your nose will grow long and long and long till you need an extra support for it… There!” she exclaims pointing at my nose. “Your nose just grew an inch longer!”
I touch my nose impulsively. She laughs. I laugh with her.
She points to my half-finished chicken rice, “Can I have that?”
I push it to her. She scoops a spoonful of rice after sprinkling oyster sauce on top of it. “The way you made love told me that you’ve been — like me — starving for years. Starving for love,” she swallows the rice. “And, remember,” she shakes her spoon at me, “Sex outside marriage is a sin. That is called adultery. But not love, love is no sin, it is God. Love is God. Haven’t they taught you that? So there is no need to mope around feeling guilty for having ‘sinned’ “ she makes a “quotes” gesture with her hands.
“Interesting theory,” I say, “but we did have sex, didn’t we? Besides, I am not too worried about the sin of adultery — in fact, I don’t believe in sin at all — but of the guilt of betrayal…”
“But the sex we had was so much outweighed by the love we had. And love being God, the net result of our action was so much more positive. Can’t you see? The world is a much more beautiful place now. And where is betrayal? Whom did you betray? Your wife? Hasn’t she been betraying you by starving you of love?”
“Well, I don’t know… I feel good physically and maybe mentally. But morally, this nagging guilt…”
She looks deep into my eyes and says softly, “I will help you overcome it, Dil. Believe me, we haven’t done anything wrong. We were starved souls seeking nourishment. We have just momentarily quenched our thirst. Now go to the living room while I clear this mess. I need you to help me unpack those cartons.”
I am not convinced at her, rather silly, theories on morals to soothe my guilt. But then, guilt is just another feeling that I was sure I would overcome. In due course, with or without her help. It’s a lovely world, this world of routine, of repetition that dulls sensitivities and diminishes feelings of guilt, of betrayal and, to a much lesser extent, of sin. Is this tiny guilt because I, perhaps, do love Nisha in some unexplainable way? Do I love her, my wife of thirteen years, mother of my only child, to whom I, as Kavitha claims, have never made love? For a moment, I ponder this heavy thought. I look at it differently: would I shed a tear if I were to know that she had suddenly died? I don’t think so. I will get on with life. Collect her insurance, be secretly happy in the knowledge that I would no longer need to pay the HDB mortgage, perhaps bring Pooja over, perhaps… remarry? No, I don’t think I would do that, any way certainly not within the first few years. Not after one bad experience. Bad experience? Was it really so bad? Was she really so bad? I have had happy moments with her. The first six years of our marriage was really quite blissful, and the three of us were actually happytogether. Well, almost, but then there is no such thing as a perfect marriage, is there?
Did she love me, and hence by some unwritten law I am duty bound to love her in return? Did she love me? Would she in turn cry for me if, say, a bus were to run over me tomorrow? Cry for this loser of a husband who can’t even afford a decent car? Her cheeks would remain dry like the deserts of Arabia, I am sure. Then what is this that has kept us together in miserable matrimony in these thirteen, sorry, seven long and winding years? Why wasn’t that D word — that horrible horrible word — ever thought of as a solution to this misery? Why is this seven-letter word so unthinkable for me? Is it my old-fashioned Indianness, that genetic legacy, that accursed adaptability, which prevents me to even think of that seven letter word? Or is it this sheer current of life that has overwhelmed me like a little leaf in a monsoon drain so helplessly caught in the gush of routine to even think of myself, my feelings, my self-respect, my happiness, my separateness? Or is it…is it this snip of a woman, who has opened me up like a pomegranate and showed me my desires sleeping within me like red rubies…
------------------------------------------------(To be continued...)