La douleur exquise-3


Dear Diary,

…….I need to pull out of these emotions with an escape velocity…. Is it really possible to jettison oneself out of emotions? May be not. I guess the emotional being, in contrast to the physical being, is doomed to be put under a tyranny, of love, loss and sometimes, hope.

She paused, and stared at the computer screen, looking at those words with a renewed curiosity, wanting to extract them and feel them through her fingers.

In the middle of the night, her extended exspiration mixed with Rohan’s fuzzy snoring.

“I love you…” Rohan had declared his love eight years back, on a rainy morning in the middle of a Delhi street.

Tia had blushed, not because she felt shy, but because that’s what the Bollywood heroines of the ’90s (which she grew up watching) did in response to the proposals of love.

So much for the renderings of Sylvia Plath, Kamla Das? She would think many years later, after the deflation of romantic love.

However, at the age of 21, Rohan’s proposal was a triumph for her. After all, she had not fallen for the gaffé of those young, immature boys her age, but a man, who was seven years older than her. The settled, self-assured man- the man, who like Howard Roark had the prowess to wield control over her.

Earlier in the evening, when she had opened the door for Rohan, she saw him conversing on the phone.

“Oh yes! Our society’s value system is flawed,” he finished this sentence on a high pitch.


“That’s what I’m trying to say Adhir! People are unsure about themselves, and that’s why they cringe when they come across self-assured personalities.”

Tia observed the contours of his face, his strong jaw line, his inflated pupils, she knew that Rohan was a leader, who loved giving commentaries on society.

“Yes! Yes! Sure Adhir. The deal for that is still on.”

“Why not? It would be a privilege for me. Sure I’d be there next month. Alright. Bye. Take care.”

Rohan turned towards Tia, and gestured her to sit on the dining-table. The food had already been laid by her- his favourite, rice and kidney beans, onion and tomato salad, and apple custard as dessert.

“It was Adhir’s call. He wants me to speak at the newspaper’s conclave next month. They have tried to call people from diverse backgrounds- bureaucrats, film directors, photographers. What do you think?”

“Sure. It is a privilege.”

He continued, “Just five years in service and such kind of offers. I feel lucky!”

“What else was he saying?,” Tia asked.

She didn’t wait for an answer and continued, “How are his wife and kids?”

“I don’t know. Let’s have food,” Rohan had started thinking about his office-work’s deadline.


“So how was your day?” Rohan suddenly asked her.

But she wasn’t interested in telling him. She was angry. And, she was scared too. Frightened of her continuous assessment by him, her each and every answer under scrutiny.

Misunderstood, that is how she had summed up her dynamic with Rohan. Though, she no longer felt surprised at her mismatched wavelength with him.

She would sometimes say scathing things to fit into his negative assessment of her. But today was not that day. And therefore, she tried to be as precise as possible.

She had been working with an orphanage for a year then. The NGO was involved in saving infants thrown on the streets by their parents, for reasons like mental or physical retardation, and often because they didn’t want girls. Because, in India, girls are a burden.

After much deliberation, this NGO wanted to open a mother milk bank, so it could provide better nutrition for infants brought in. This was the breastfeeding awareness month. She went for a talk in a girls’ college, the next day, it was going to be a flash dance and then a short street play.

“That’s good. I hope you garner a response,” Rohan said as he mixed a spoonful of rice and kidney beans in the plate.

“Oh yes! I think I would. I need to. For the benefit of the premature infants,” she said.

“How was your day?” She asked him more out of courtesy than interest.

“Oh it was ok. I hope I get out of this conveyor belt, Weberian cage soon,”

She laughed. “Yes I hope that too.”

“Hmm. They are soon going to declare transfer order. Err, I have applied for Headquarters this time. There’s a lot of work otherwise, and I need a break from this mundanesness!”

She could see the frown on his face, his quivered lips.

She knew that he was serious, she understood that he felt stifled in bureaucracy, with its boundations.

Her eyes had shone when he mentioned to her during their courtship, eight years back.

“I’m a different person Tia. I wouldn’t stay in the job. I don’t know what I’d do, it could be politics or teaching children, but bureaucracy sure isn’t my final destination. Would your parents be okay with it?” There was an earnestness in his voice, which she had liked, and appreciated at the time- there was an ambition which she found attractive.

But, no longer.

She’d heard, ‘if a marriage reaches the seven year mark, it is bound to be an ever-lasting one.’ What they don’t tell you, she thought, is that, the marriage sustains, not necessarily the companionship.

The night before, she dreamed about attending her burial, like a Christian, not as the Hindu that she was; and saw people in black dresses moaning her death, when suddenly, she stepped forward and her necklace of pink pearls fell off. As people tried to make sense of her, a murder of crows attacked the coffin, and she couldn’t be buried again.

She didn’t tell Rohan why she woke up shrieking last night. She didn’t tell him about Aakash, too.

-(To be continued)




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