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I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down.
Geet lay on the edge of her side of the bed, suppressing an occasional shiver her body went through whenever she thought of her angry husband, hence in anticipation of punishment she was shivering almost constantly. What will he do? Ignore me like every day? No... that would be too easy on me, my luck isn't that good.
Maybe he will shout at me, like he did downstairs... Geet curled her hand into small fists and pressed it against her stomach which was starting to hurt from all the tension. Well if he shouted, then I'll just listen quietly, I will not question him about these people downstairs or ask why he has a drinking gala every night...
But he won't hit me.. Will he? He doesn't look like wife beater but.. He is so big and strong... What if he sends me away? Back to.. Oh no!!Geet curled into a ball, as despair increased with every tick of the clock.
Sometime later Geet didn't dare to move and look at the clock, when she heard the door open. Closing her eyes tight she prayed and wished that maybe her husband could just forget that this evening ever happened. After a few seconds when she didn't hear any more noise, Geet peeked open one eye and small horror filled scream escaped her mouth. Discarding all pretence of sleep, she leapt up from her prone position and plastered herself against the headboard as far away as she could get from her husband standing at the foot of the bed.
Geet opened her mouth to apologize, to beg, but nothing came out, she could only stare at angry Adonis, who stood near the other end of the bed wishing her dead with his eyes, holding a broken bottle in one hand, red blood glistening from its broken edges. Geet gasped as he raised his hand slightly and drew his attention, effectively freezing his hand in mid air. He only tortured her with his dead gaze for a few seconds more before abruptly turning away, dropping the broken bottle in trash and going into the bathroom for his daily night bath.
Only when she heard the water running in the bathroom Geet unplastered herself from the headboard. That's it?
Geet woke up late next morning late enough that Maan was gone by the time she woke up, she hadn't been able to sleep last night, even though some instinct told her that Maan won't hurt her, she couldn't ignore the facts and fall asleep, plus there was the question of whose blood was on the broken bottle.
She hadn't expected Maan to wait for her to wake up or even wake her up.. Yet she had expected atleast a small scolding.. Or a few words of disapproval for her disobedience.
Was this it?
Is this how he will always react no matter how she defied him?Maybe... The concept would have cheered up any other person. Any other person who hadn't seen his glittering hate filled eyes last night.
No, she'd rather have him shout at her and be over with the repentance, than be pinned by those eyes again. Geet wasn't even sure she could sleep the coming week as long as the image of him from last night was still vivid in her mind.
A week later Geet was sure. She'd rather Maan had shouted at her or... or even slapped her...
It was bad enough in the first week of their marriage. He used to accept his morning tea, the breakfast she made the dinner with polite indifference, now everything he did was as if he was hatefully fulfilling obligation of being her husband. If she made him tea, he would drink it obediently but looked that he would be gladder to drink poison. Now he wouldn't even nod to her good morning's or goodbye's. He would just walk away or around her as if she was piece of furniture. An ugly, hateful, detested, piece of heritage furniture, which he couldn't throw out due to family obligations.
Geet sighed as she made breakfast and ignored the servant moving around just as they ignored her sighs... Was this it? Is this what her whole life has come down to? Atleast earlier people used to hate her as a person... now...
Geet sighed again and opened the refrigerator for some vegetables. She didn't even know what Maan liked to eat.. He ate everything, never asked for second helping but always ate what was put before him, no matter how much or how little.
"Ramsingh? Kal aap sabjiyaan nai laye?" she asked Ramsingh. After Maan, he seemed to be the person who had any say in what happened in the house... Geet wondered where she was in the pecking order.. Most probably under the rock bottom. Geet couldn't help but sigh again.
"Ji madam wo... Kal sahib ne kuch aur saman lane ko keh diya tha..." Ramsingh replied looking uncomfortable with all the questioning.
"Kuch aur saman? Kya saman? To saath mei sabziyaan bhi le ate aap..", Geet persisted wanting to establish some authority, some say. She really wasn't a piece of furniture to be ignored. No matter her sins.. She didn't deserve the rock bottom.
"Ji wo... raat ke liye drink... Hum uss saman ke sath sabziyaan nahi late." Ramsingh said with dignity and left before Geet could close her open mouth. Like she knew he was getting booze.. And why can't vegetables be bought along? Was her morale standard even lower than that of a servant?
Geet moved around the kitchen aimlessly for some time and then slapped her head. Ofcourse! I should get the groceries!!
It would be a totally valid reason to go out and get a change of environment. Not that Maan would say anything but Geet feared his hatred may only increase.. How, she didn't know, but somehow he would make her feel even more unwanted.
Quickly getting ready for a trip outside, Geet called and informed Ramsingh and left for the market.
Geet shopped for an hour and then just wandered around, enjoying the freedom, the day. Feeling more refreshed and happier than she had in a very long time. It felt so nice to be outside like this free of censorious eyes, whispered glances, socials cuts.. The new town treated her kindly, as they would treat any new stranger. People on street were polite and it felt just nice to argue and bargain the vegetable prices. But being my luck.. How long could all this last?
Apparently Ramsingh had forgotten to mention some transportation strike in the afternoon and the rain god had decided to test her endurance level at the same time too. So there she was at the highway, trudging home, when it started pouring and now she was huddling under a tree. At complete loss of what to do. The thought of looking for a payphone and calling Maan never even occurred. Who wanted to get deepfreezed while sitting next to him if he came for her in a car? If he came... there was a strong possibility of him not coming.
And he came!! Geet straighten from her hunched position from under the tree and saw a black skoda Laura coming down the road. She recognized the no. and without 2nd thoughts of frostbites lurched towards the road and waved her hands frantically, shouting for his attention. The car passed her by without decelerating the slightest and Geet's upraised arms flopped back to her side. Maybe it would have been better if she had called and he just wouldn't have come saying he was busy..
Geet though miserably, returning to hunch under the sparse protection of the tree. Then a horned sounded, Maan had stopped some 200 meters ahead and he wasn't reversing back, but Geet wasn't about to crib over it.
Gathering the sodden supplies she had bought, Geet dashed for the car and stood outside the car as Maan rolled down the window to look at her an eyebrow raised in silent question.
"I... umm.. ah... I... went to buy some vegetables and there was strike in the afternoon and I didn't know about it and... I was... walking home... and it-" Geet shut up as the window rolled back up in her face. Was he going to make her walk after all? Geet wondered briefly but then the lock clicked and the door opened for her. Kashish quickly got inside placing the dripping bag on supplies on the floor and shut the door after her, heaving a sigh of relief. But once inside Geet instantly started feeling guilty and agitated, maybe she should have just walked home. The inside was car was pristine, clean, all done in expensive leather and smelling like Maan. And she was wetting it all, making it dirty from all the mud under her soles and on the bag. The car idled for a few seconds while Geet made this inventory and cringed as water dripped from her wet hair onto the clean dry leather seat and side casing. Hunching into herself to minimize the damage she risked a quick glance at Maan who was frowning and giving her person a complete once over. Suddenly Geet was even more conscious of her wet clothes sticking to her like a second skin, the hair curling in wild disarray around her, her muddy sandals and everything sticking to the leather.
"I have to go to this meeting first. We will go home then." Maan said and then started driving.
Geet wasn't even sure how to react anymore. Just when she was ready to expect the worst from her husband, he would overlook her mistakes and yet that overlooked ignorance hurt her more than, his cold words, orders and reprimands.
Folding her arms over her chest, Geet sagged against the seat and closed her eyes, nothing seemed to make sense about her husband. Not a single thing.
After driving around for half an hour they reached a resort on the outskirts of the city. Maan glanced at his watch with satisfaction he wasn't late for the meeting despite the worsening whether and the highway interruption, Maan cast a side long glance the woman's sagged from. Somehow seeing her on the highway wasn't a shock. After all she had gone for a whole week without an incidence, it was past due for some drama. Women were trouble. It was in their biological system to create some trouble from time to time. Without more unpleasant thoughts Maan got out and under the parking attendant's umbrella, went away for his meeting, forgetting about the little inconvenience in his car for some time after he made scheduled his car for a cleaning and cover change.
The meeting lasted for 2 hrs and then some more as everyone insisted on going to the resort bar and toasting for the successful signing of contract. Maan returned to his car by 8.00 pm and found the woman sitting in almost the same position he had left her. Maan didn't feel guilty for forgetting about her and not hurrying up. It wasn't his fault for the trouble she was in. She should have sent a servant for the shopping, looked into the weather and local new before heading out. She wouldn't get his sympathies. Besides, in Maan's world you give them an inch and they demand the whole bloody mile out of you.
"How did your meeting go?" the wet thing in his leather seat chirped. She had managed to get a towel from somewhere and with surprising good sense, had wiped herself and the all the mud from the car.
"Fine." Maan replied, wondering if this was going to become a long ride home.. He wouldn't hope. Not with a female so near, he wouldn't hope for any luck at all.
Sometime later Maan felt that his wife wasn't completely without sense. Atleast she knew when to shut up, but a few minutes later when they encountered a blocked road due to landslide, Maan knew lady un-luck was beginning to shine upon him. It was no use berating and hating his wife for it. It was inevitable, so instead Maan started looking for nearest shelter.
Sure enough after 15 minutes Maan had flat rear tire, no spare, and just enough petrol to make it to some abandoned house a few minutes away from the highway. With a dying mobile battery, Maan called his secretary and made arrangements for transportation which as expected would come not before 5 am the next morning. Resigned to his fate, Maan peered at the abandoned building from inside the car, wondering if remaining in the car would be a better option, but then something shifted in the seat next to him and that made up his mind.Under no bloody circumstance would he spend an entire night locked up in a small place with a female.
Without a word to his wife, Maan got out of the car and went to the house. It had a fallen roof and was overgrow with vines. Maan walked around in the rain looking for a way to get in, finally finding a broken window big enough for him to get in. Maan climbed inside and saw his wife trying to following him in.. silly woman, "Go to the font I'll open the door" Maan told her curtly and crossed a big hall to get to the front door. The rundown house was simple. The ground floor had nothing but a big hall and some room on the back and 2 huge spiraling, well decayed staircases going upstairs.
Maan opened the door and the girl scrambled in, which reminded him that he had to go lock the car. Leaving her to her own devices, Maan once again went out in the rain to lock the car and brought back a bottle of...Palinkini, something to warm him during the cold wet night.
Hurrying back inside the house, Maan closed the door after him and scanned for a place where he could rest. The big window with wide sill looked perfect, he could keep in sight of all the doors, it also gave route to quick exit and it was dry. While he observed that his wife had chosen to sit near the fireplace on a huge old chair. Maan watched her trying to dry her hair and self, using a soaked towel, out of the corner of his eyes. He didn't want her to know that he was watching her, and he wasn't. I am just... keeping an eye out on her.
Maan took out the Palinkini and took a long sip feeling warmth seep down his throat, warming his cold wet skin, as he settled on his seat, taking of his wet coat, shoes and socks.
"I am sorry." a small trembling voice announced. Maan raised the bottle to his lips again and turned his head to his wife. She looked pitiful.
"I am sorry for that night.. I .. I broke your rule and came downstairs.. I thought everyone would have left by then, I... I had forgotten to put your dinner on table and I-" she stopped suddenly midsentence. If she is waiting for my reassurance she can wait the whole night... Maan thought taking another sip and turning his face away from her to look outside. Because of her, he had acted violently, she had much more to be sorry about...
"I ... really am sorry. I... I didn't... I would like us... I... This marriage, I want it to... You said you don't believe in this relationship but still you did get married and even though you... I mean... I don't expect love either but... I would like this.. marr- this.. arrangement to be pleasant." She took an audible gulpfull of breath after her mumbling.
Maan couldn't help but look at her again, his eyebrow rose in question. What was she muttering about? What did she really want?
"I am sorry for that night, I swear it'll never happen again and for causing you inconvenience today... I was buying grocery..." she emphasized the last point. Like Maan cared what she does in her free time. As if his irritation would lessen by the contents of the shopping bag.
"And... I ...I...am sorry... I ...I...am not a virgin...i am...sorry. It was a stupid misjudgment of character on my part...i..i..i..am ..sorry..." She completed the sentence in rush in her barely audible voice. Maan's hand automatically paused in mid air, the drink suspended as he took in her words.
Do I care if she isn't a virgin? Not at all...
Maan resumed his drinking and gave his wife another look through the corners of his eyes. She sat huddled in her sodden corner, knees drawn up against her chest hands clasped around them, rocking a little looking expectantly back at him.
What was she waiting for? Holy Deliverance? Forgiveness? Maan wanted to convey his disinterest in her, in her mistakes and in her life. Make her understand that he didn't care, understand that she was there just coz he had decided to marry. He hadn't picked her out for any reason, infact he hadn't picked her put at all. His mama had chosen and he had married.
"It doesn't matter." Maan said after a while thinking of most polite words to convey his intentions. But then how could he have even for a moment discounted the fact that she was a female?
Immediately she perked her head up and gave him a small smile gratefully, "Oh you.. you, thankyou. I... thankyou! I mean.. I swear I wouldn't do anything stupid again. I would never go down again or.. Go out to shop when there is a strike. And.. I ... You don't expect it of me, as you already said. But I swear I won't have any affair either. It was a mistake, I was the convenient idiot and he used me and then dumped me. I... just... Thankyou." She said hiding her face back in her knees, muffling a small sniff.
Maan turned his head to look at her properly. Why did forgiveness mean that much to her?
"Hmmm" Maan made the sound taking another sip, but again paused mid way. His wife had definitely sounded hurt and pained when she mentioned the affair... Because she got dumped, was she abused?
"His name?" words slipped out of Maan's mouth without his permission and Maan frowned. This loss of control was annoying.
She looked up again, looking even more huddled and shook her head, not wanting to answer; not wanting to remember the blunder that ruined her life. But maybe it was his frowning face that scared her into answering a single word, "Ranjeeet Vohra."
Maan heard the loathing, regret and hurt all mixed up in that one word. Satisfied he raised the bottle to his lips again and drained the remaining spirit in one gulp.
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