She is sitting by the open window, the cool evening breeze softly caressing her tear stained face. She is back in her old room, the room she shared with her elder sister. The twin beds are placed in the centre of the room, the heads of the beds pushed towards the central wall. The broad windows are on the same wall, overlooking the home garden.
As always, the seasonal flowers as well as the perennial plants adorn the four sides of the green lawn. It is not even a year since she got married and she is back in her maternal home, perhaps never to go back to her husband again.
Her sister, Preeti, is two years older than her and had got married three years back. Like hers, Preeti’s has been an arranged marriage too. Seeing the love and understanding between Preeti and her husband, she came to believe in arranged marriages. And of course her parents’ marriage was an arranged one too, just like most of the elders in the family. There were only a few exceptions.
The proposal from Arun’s family came when she was at the final phase of completing her doctorate from one of the best universities in the region. She was also teaching in the same university. Her field of study was human psychology. The family seemed really nice and Arun came across like a decent guy. He did not speak much and seemed like an introvert. She was an introvert herself and felt that their personalities matched.
Arun was the only child of his parents and worked in a managerial position in a PSU. He was posted in Gurgaon while his parents stayed in Tezpur, a town in Assam. She and Arun got married after a year of their engagement. After being engaged, they spoke on a regular basis over the telephone and met only once before the wedding. Arun’s shyness appealed to her as she had always admired men of few words. Even her father, whom she adored, spoke very less but his actions spoke volumes.
Two days after the wedding, Arun went back to Gurgaon and she moved to Tezpur to live with the in-laws. Arun’s parents were very loving and kind to her. Surprisingly, Arun did not make any immediate plans to take her to Gurgaon. Even after the wedding, he had not shown any kind of physical interest in her. She was astonished. Since childhood, she was considered to be the prettier of the two sisters. Her beauty had broken many a heart. But Arun did not even look her in the eye. He is too shy, she thought coyly.
After three months Arun came home for the Durga Puja holidays on a week-long leave. She was overjoyed. She was hopeful that this time Arun would make arrangements to take her with him. She was hopeful that they would finally consummate their marriage. She dressed up carefully for him and cooked his favourite dishes. But Arun was indifferent to her. He even snapped at her for no reason. In bed, she felt as if she laid next to a log. She cried in silence wondering what had gone wrong. On the fourth day, she decided to confront Arun.
Shedding her own inhibitions, she asked him straightforwardly whether he found her attractive, whether she had offended him in any way, whether he was unhappy with the marriage and whether something was wrong. Arun was silent for a few minutes. But she didn’t let him go and questioned him again.
This time Arun answered. He told her that she should neither touch him nor come near him. She was taken aback. Composing herself, she asked him slowly if there was someone else in his life. He replied that there was indeed someone back in Gurgaon. And he was not interested in women, he added after a pause. She felt as if the ground had been snatched away from under her feet.
The next morning she spoke to Arun’s parents about the situation. She was shocked to learn that they had already known about Arun’s homosexuality but could not accept it. They thought he would change if he got married. Also, how could they explain it to the society if Arun didn’t get married? She could not stop the tears after the revelation. She told Arun and his parents that they had destroyed her life for their own selfish motives. She decided to leave as there was no point in her staying on in that house. Nobody attempted to stop her.
It was now two months since she had come back to her maternal home. Her parents and her sister were shocked. Was it just a year back that she she been married off with such aplomb? How would they explain it to their family and friends?
They are scared that their child will be ridiculed by society. But what will happen to their child if she is forced to go back to her marital home? No, they can’t kill her with their own hands. She is precious. She needs to regain her life.
It is almost dark. Her mother is preparing the evening tea. She will be summoned soon. Once again, her thoughts drift back to Arun. He didn’t have the courage to face her. He neither called her nor came to meet her. But he did send her an email. He apologized for not being courageous enough to be honest with her or himself, he apologized for cowering under his parents’ pressure. He wrote that he will honour any decision she makes and that he is sorry that he cannot love her the way she deserves.
She laughed at herself silently. What an irony, she thought. She has a doctorate in human psychology and yet she could not comprehend the man she married. Her trust has been broken. Her heart has been scarred for life. She might not be able to trust and love another man again. But she has made her decision. She is not going back for the sake of society. She is going to take the reins of her life in her own hands. She did not hurt anybody, it is not her fault. She will leave Arun for good and start life anew.
Tomorrow is going to be a new day, she thought, as she heard her mother calling her name.