The raindrops pelt lightly producing a rhythmic tune. “He kicked me here,” she points towards her lower ribs with her shaking fingers. I stare at her abdomen. I fight the urge to lift her T-shirt which boldly says I AM HAPPY.
She is not happy. Not with her life. Nor would death be a pleasant option. As if reading my thought, she sighs, “ if only I didn’t have baby Reksel!”. I take a glance at the nine months old bundle of joy who has just learnt the usage of his limbs to explore the world outside his crib. I sigh after her. What does baby Reksel know?
My Best friend since High school days, Peldon, was no less than Aishwarya Rai Bacchan. Well, literally, little less than Ashwarya for she was just five feet tall. Otherwise she had the same sparkly eyes and the general gaiety with which she carried herself.
I was shocked to hear about her marriage to Penjor, our classmate. I mean Peldon and Penjor never even casted a second glance at each other while in school so their communion out of the blue had us all with our mouth wide open.
“This is God’s way of punishing me,” she shifts her eyes to the dancing raindrops outside, turning her blackish blue left cheek towards me. I knew what she was alluding to. When she first told me about their marriage, I found it cute and endearing like any love stories.
She had completed the first year of her professional life as GNM and as a dutiful daughter had promised to take her parents to Bodhgaya for pilgrimage. But when her parents arrived Phuentsholing on the specified date, she chose to comply to her three months old budding romance. Concocting an alibi about her leave she parceled her illiterate parents with the people from her village while she set off for a week’s rendezvous to Siliguri with Penjor.
“If only I had gone to Bodhgaya that year!” There are only if-onlys in a decade old failing marriage. I learnt how the naughty boy image that Penjor had set while in school days had never changed even in his adult life. The image that won many hearts back in school lost its soul in the professional world. Constant reprimand from his bosses turned him into bitter beast.
Bunking office, drinking till late night and not bothering about his responsibilities as a husband: that’s how I met them after twelve years. Peldon was two months pregnant then. But things got worse after the third mouth appeared in their household. The (incomplete) man started to use his muscle power. I would have easily suggested divorce but I knew how much Penjor meant to Peldon. I still saw that love smitten look in her eyes even when she complained about him.
Sitting across Peldon, I wanted to show her my own bruises well hidden under the full sleeves shirt. I wanted to shake her whenever she talked highly of my husband who took good care of my family. I wanted to give her spectacles to see the gruesome side of my hubby well- hidden from the public eyes. I wanted to hold her hand and tell her how I had quarreled with my parents when they went against my wish to marry this man; the man of my dreams. “If only I had listened to my mom….”
And I let my thought drift to Eagles singing LOVE WILL KEEP US ALIVE. Indeed.